I love recycling. It is a great way to reduce your impact on the environment as it saves resources being thrown into landfill, and enables materials to be remade into something new. However, it is a minefield to navigate what can and can’t be recycled. I have spent countless hours researching this and I sincerely hope in the future recycling will become more straightforward. In the meantime, I hope this resource helps you to navigate the recycling minefield more confidently.
The majority of homes have access to a kerbside recycling bin that is collected on a regular basis by your local council or government. However, there are limits to what can be recycled in these bins. Things like glass, paper, cardboard, cans and some plastic can be placed in these bins. But what about everything else that can and should be recycled?
Here are some ideas to help you become a recycling whizz:
Batteries, phones and e-waste
How many old phones do you have lying around the house? And do you have old computers and other electronics in your cupboards? And how do you dispose of batteries? The good news is, you can recycle them all!
There are many major stores that accept these items, which makes it easy for you to access, including:
- Ikea; and
- Apple accept old Apple phones and third-party devices (as well as accessories); and
- Mobile Muster has drop-off locations and a mail back service.
- Officeworks accepts computers, keyboards, mice, monitors and printer cartridges;
- Harvey Norman and Domayne accept computers, computer accessories and TVs; and
- many local resource management centres collect e-waste.
For me batteries are the big one. We seem to go through more than I would like with toys, so it is a great way for me to counterbalance this by recycling them. I collect them in an old large hommus tub, and bring them into Aldi when I get a chance.
If your light globe leaves you in the dark, there is no need to put it in the landfill bin. Ikea offers a free in store recycling service. When we change a light globe at home, we use the box of the new globe to prevent the globe from breaking on the way to Ikea.
Many stationary items such as paper and cardboard can be recycled in your home recycling bin, but what about the humble pen?
Officeworks has pen and highlighter recycling collection points in selected stores, with plans to go national. If your local store doesn’t offer this program now, collect old pens ready for recycling when the option arrives near you.
Biome offers pen recycling instore, or you can post your pens direct to Biome.
I don’t go through a lot of pens, but like other recycling, I collect them in an old tub for the next time I am near Officeworks.
Have you recently cleaned out your wardrobe and have a pile of old clothes and linen to get rid of? Firstly, if they are in good condition, with no stains or holes, you can donate them to your local second-hand store or give them to a friend. If they are in poor condition, even if it is only a small hole, don’t donate them. They will most likely end up in landfill.
Instead, drop them off at one of the following stores:
- H&M – any brand of clothes and textiles;
- Zara – any brand, including clothes, linen, shoes, accessories and jewellery;
- Sheridan – any brand of sheets, towels and quilt covers;
- Country Road – County Road brand only; and
- UNIQLO – UNIQLO brand only.
Some Op shops will collect old clothes and sheets to make into rags. Contact your local store to find out what they can take.
The Tread Lightly recycling initiative offers collection points across the country for old sports shoes. You can find a local collection point here.
If you are after home collection, UPPAREL provides this service for a fee. You do get store credit in return. They collect shoes, clothes and linen in any condition – just make sure they are clean.
As an alternative to recycling, you can also repurpose these items. I have cut-up old clothes to use as rags, and I use old sheets as ‘drop sheets’ to protect the carpet when painting or doing messy activities. A friend once made my son a pair of cute overalls from a polo shirt. Be creative and you will be surprised at what you can do.
If you have old broken toys at home that can’t be donated or handed down, Big W has a recycling program in all stores. Find out what toys are included in the program here.
Priceline offers a makeup recycling service, with collection points in all stores. A range of items can be recycled. I don’t tend to wear make-up, but plenty of other things can be recycled such as lip balm tubes and sunscreen bottles. We seem to go through endless tubes of sunscreen with the kids! Check out the list of what can be recycled here.
Another great option is MECCA. You can recycle any brand of cosmetic, skin care and hair care items. A list of what can be recycled is found here.
M.A.C provides a service called ‘Back to M.A.C‘ that enables customers to return primary packaging of M.A.C branded cosmetics to stores.
Chemists’ Own has launched a trial program to collect empty blister packs for recycling. There are 50 pharmacies participating in the trial across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. A list of locations is found here.
Fortunately, many companies have made the switch to using cardboard bread tags which can be composted at home. However, if your bread still comes with a plastic bread tag or you have a collection waiting to be rehomed, you can send them to the Breadtag Project. This is a creative project that reuses the tags in art and single-use plastic awareness campaigns.
Lids4Kids collects plastic bottle lids such as milk, UHT milk, and soft drink lids in some states across Australia. Some sites also collect additional items such as bread tags, blister packs, wine corks, metal lids and squeezy yoghurt pouch lids. You can search by state on their website to find your closest collection centre and what items they accept.
What else can be recycled? You will be surprised at the list! Some things include:
- sunscreen tubes and pump packs;
- toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes and floss;
- shampoo and conditioner bottles;
- razor handles; and
But where can you take them? There are a few options. Firstly, check out the TerraCycle webpage. You can investigate the types of items that can be recycled, and find a collection hub service to accept your materials.
Planet Ark has a fantastic resource called ‘Recycling Near You‘. You can search by type of material and postcode to find collection sites near you.
Flora and Fauna offers a TerraCycle recycling program for customers and provides store credit in exchange for recycled items. You need to post your items to use the service. My box is almost full to send to Flora and Fauna!
Biome also offers a service where you can send in a range of recyclable items.
Another option is to check in with neighbourhood houses, schools and daycares. They may collect old clothes and items such as lids, containers and milk bottles for craft activities. My children’s daycare are currently collecting milk bottles to make a giant igloo for the children to play in!
In an ideal world, recycling all items could take place from the comfort of our homes. However, this is not the case and it does take extra motivation to recycle items that can’t go in your kerbside recycling bin. Pick a few items to start with while you get into the swing of things and build up from there. You will feel good that you are not throwing away reusable materials and your landfill bin will be super empty!
I actively recycle as many items as I can. Even with two kids, our landfill bin would be lucky to be full after five-six weeks. Recycling makes a massive difference to the environment and is a great way to make your own ‘Local Impact’!
If you have more hot recycling tips, I would love to hear them in the comments below.
Keep a look out for the next article on ‘Embodied Energy’.
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Very well put together. We do a lot of recycling too- both with all the household items that you make mention of, but also with our olive oil business. With all our local customers, both individual and business, we are given back our cardboard boxes and dividers so we can reuse them. I am also pleased to see there are plans for separate bins for different categories of recyclable products. The sorting process as it is must be a nightmare.
Lifting awareness and discussion is a great objective.
Hi Chris, thanks for your lovely comment. That’s a fantastic initiative with reusing boxes and dividers in your business too. Thanks for sharing. Yes, fingers crossed a new recycling system is developed nationally soon! Cheers Megan
I was in our local Rebel store and I noticed that they have a recycling bin for old sports shoes.
Hi Jill, thanks so much for sharing! What a great initiative. I looked into this further, and Rebel Sport are part of the Tread Lightly recycling initiative. They partner with a range of stores who act as collection points for the program. I have updated the article to include more information. Cheers Megan.
I love the ideas here, many of which I wasn’t aware of, yet try so hard to be informed about all the recycling and sustainable options available in Australia and my local community. I will refer to this again and again and share where I can. Great work! I would love you to write a guest post on my blog StPa if you have the time to further awareness in my blogger community.Cheers,
Hi Amanda, thanks so much for your comment! I’m glad you have found the article useful. I would love to write a guest post on your blog. Can you please email me at email@example.com and we can chat more? Cheers Megan
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Awesome. I will do that! Thanks ever so much.
This is a great article, very useful information.
With regards to Apple, they don’t just accept Apple phones, they also re uncle anything electronic such as computers, cables, speakers, batteries etc. I’ve even recycled an old hairdryer and a microwave there!
Hi Hannah, thanks so much for letting me know! That is awesome to know they accept more than just Apple products. And how cool they accepted a hairdryer! I checked out their website and I can see now it says they accept third party devices too, so I will make an update 🙂