Sustainable Campus Bulletin: Recycling Hacks

Have you been in the situation where you are holding a packet in your hand and just have no idea what to do with it? Does it go into the recycling bin? Should it go in general waste? Do I need to wash it first? Is the wrapping recyclable as well as the container? Here is a short guide to clear up some recycling myths and provide us all with some helpful tips.

What do the numbers mean?

The numbers identify the resin composition of plastic containers that are meant to be recycled:

‘1,2,3 you can recycle me
4,5,6 you can’t recycle this’*

*But in the ACT, plastics with number 5 can be recycled as well.

A message from ANUgreen: Coffee cups can be recycled in the ACT

A war on take-away cups has been declared throughout the country. With the statistics saying that every half an hour as much as 50,000 disposable cups in Australia are wasted and end up in a landfill, that’s reason enough. Many Canberra cafes, including some on the ANU campus, took this seriously and have offered a discount if you bring your own cup with some going even further, banning the disposable cups altogether.

Whilst it is better to avoid the waste in the first place and bring your own cup, it is worth to mention that in ACT, unlike in other states, paper and cardboard based cups can be recycled. So don’t forget to throw away these items responsibly and into a yellow bin. The disposable cups received at the Material Recovery Facility will be baled with other paper and cardboard and sold for processing while the plastic layer will end up in landfill.

Soft plastics can be recycled at Coles REDcycle bins

One of the most common mistakes made is throwing soft plastics into the recycling – they actually damage the recycling process and often get caught in the machine, creating delays and repair work. Soft plastics include: shopping, salad, bread, and frozen fruit bags, fruit netting and any other non-rigid plastic. While it would be ideal to stop purchasing goods with plastics, it’s a hard ask. So, remembering to separate soft plastics from your general waste can make a difference – and it’s easy to drop them off the next time you shop.

Milk cartons & bottles
To recycle rigid plastic or glass milk bottles properly, remove the lid, put the container in general recycling. Bottle lids, similar to straws and plastic forks, are too small to be picked out by the sorting machines in recycling factories and are therefore recommended to be left out of recycling. Milk and juice cartons, which often made with layers of cardboard and plastic, can also be recycled.

ACT A-Z Recycling Guide

As the year begins drawing to an end, the question of where you put all of that accumulated stuff begins to arise. While it’s tempting to leave it all in the general rubbish, the ACT has a pretty comprehensive recycling network. There is an online guide called A-Z Waste and Recycling Guide – from eyewear to yogurt tubs this guide provides guidance on where items can be recycled or reused in the community.

E-Waste
If your technology is reusable, drop it off for free at The Green Shed at the Resource Centres at either Mugga Lane or Mitchell. This service is provided in conjunction with the National Television and Computers Recycling Scheme. Be sure to advise these centres before you drop off your goods. If your items are not reusable they can also be dropped off at the Hazardous Waste Facilities, or at Mobile Muster collection points at Australia Post in the ACT. There are also businesses, like Charity Computers, who accept working and non-working computers

Recycling Apps are here to help

Along with the ACT Guide, there are a range of other materials to help maximise your recycling prowess. Recycle Smart App lets you choose your location and provides you with recycling directions for any product, relevant to the municipality you live in. Planet Ark’s website, recyclingnearyou.com.au is also a useful resource.