Getting Your Recycling Sorted
Author: Brad Gray
Even though Australians are good recyclers almost all of us have some questions about the process. What happens when recycling leaves the kerbside? What is the biggest mistake (and am I making it)? What are the benefits of recycling?
Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week, now in its 20th year, is the right time to find the answers to these and the other big questions.
What Happens to My Recycling
Having an understanding of the recycling process helps make sense of the rules and why it’s important to put items in their correct bin. After the truck picks up your recycling it gets taken to a material recovery facility (MRF), where it is put through a series of processes designed to separate out the different materials. Fans blow the paper into one area, magnets pick up the steel, and light beams and jets of air are used to separate the plastics.
These processes work well for the materials they are designed to sort. When items that aren’t supposed to be in the recycling bin arrive at the MRF they can cause a range of problems. Polystyrene foam, for example, is a plastic but acts like paper in the sorting facility. The fans pick it up and send it to the paper collector where it prevents any of the paper it’s mixed with from being recycled.
Check out our animation of the sorting process to see what happens to your recycling.
The Biggest Mistake
We asked 115 councils around Australia what the biggest recycling mistake was. Nine out of ten agreed that putting recycling in plastic bags was the biggest mistake. When a bag of recycling arrives at the sorting station it is removed from the conveyor belt and sent to landfill. The staff at the facility can’t open the bags for both time and health reasons.
Recycling needs to go in the bin loose. If you (like us) get frustrated when your family, housemates or neighbours put recycling in plastic bags we might have the answer. Print off and display our ‘don’t bag it’ poster.
What are the Benefits of Recycling?
Pretty much everyone knows that recycling has benefits for the planet but it also has benefits for profits and for people too. Some examples include:
- 75% of all the aluminium ever produced is still in use today, which greatly reduces the need to mine and produce more.
- Australian Paper’s new recycling facility can process 80,000 tonnes of Australian waste paper and provides more than 240 permanent green jobs.
- Residual toner collected through ‘Cartridges 4 Planet Ark’ is being added to asphalt to make a product called TonerPave, which improves the performance of the road surface and means it uses less energy to produce.
- These are just some of the benefits of recycling. Visit the Recycling Week website for more.
Author: Brad GrayBrad is Planet Ark's Head of Campaigns. He trained and worked as a history and geography teacher before moving into the health education sector for 14 years. With a strong passion for human environments, Brad started with Planet Ark in 2007 as Recycling Programs Manager before taking up the role of Head of Campaigns in 2010. Brad works with every team in the organisation to create positive and action-based programs designed to engage Australians with the environment.
- Going plastic free: what does it take? »
- 14 Items You Can Recycle - But Probably Aren't (Part One) »
- Flings Save Tonnes of Paper »
- Schools Recycle Right Challenge Winners »
- Get Crafty this Christmas »
- How to Reduce Spending and Your Eco-Footprint This Christmas »
- Soft Plastic - Scrunch and Recycle »
- Cleaning Up Confusion for National Recycling Week »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Planet Ark Launches 100% Recycled Office Paper »
- Win a YEAR'S SUPPLY of Naturale Toilet Tissue »
- The Naturale Schools Recycle Right Challenge Kicks Off »
- Giving Coffee Pods Another Life »
- Post Back Your Post Packs »
- Donating Your Old Smartphone Could Change Someone's Life »
- Provide Feedback and Win One of Five Battery Chargers »
- The Rise of the Coffee Pod Machine »
- Grow a Green Thumb »
- How to Recycle Whitegoods »
- Recycle Right and Have a Cuppa »
- Toowoomba is Buzzing About Free Rechargeable Battery Recycling »
- Waste and Resource Recovery Facilities Workshops »
- A Quick Recycling Guide To 3 Tricky Items »
- Working It Out At Officeworks »
- Battery Stewardship Solutions for Australia »
- Learn From The New Wave In Innovation »
- Who Made the Top Ten Cartridge Recyclers »
- Cash For Containers In NSW - It Pays To Recycle »
- Reimagining Rubbish as a Resource »
- Fashionable Questions - Who Made Your Clothes and Where Do They End Up? »
- Four Eyes For Recycling »
- Have An Eco-Easter »
- A Tablet for Your Thoughts »
- Have A Light Bulb Moment With Broken Bulbs »
- Power Tool Battery recycling creates buzz in Brisbane »
- Get Your 2016 Environment Action Planner »
- 'Tis the Season to De-Clutter »
- Drink Coffee? Take our Coffee Recycling Survey »
- Best Fling Ever »
- Recycle Right »
- Recycle your old mobiles & help the Salvos »
- Have an Appy Christmas »
- Re-Wrap It Up »
- Celebrate Recycling at Work »
- 'Appy' Christmas gift from Planet Ark »
- Save the date! 'Waste Not, Want Not' Day is coming »
- $50,000 Rebate Open for NSW Businesses to Increase Recycling »
- What's In a Label? »
- Is it Gold For Australia? »
- Make Recycling at Work, Work »
- Let the Flings Begin »
- Recycling Role Models »
- Are You Making the No 1 Mistake? »
- Inspiring Performers »
- Answers to the Big Recycling Questions »
- Test Your Recycling Knowledge! »
- Advanced Waste and Resource Recovery Facilities Training Workshop »
- Help Save Safe Toilet Paper! »
- Planet Ark's new packaging tool a finalist in Banksia Sustainability Awards »
- New Label Makes Recycling Easy »
- Garage Sale Trailing Right Around Australia »
- An Office Fling Is Good For Circulation »
- Awake to the Fun of Recycling »
- Planet Ark Project - Answering Kid's Questions »
- Declutter Your Office E-waste for FREE »
- Power Tool Battery Recycling Pilot Launches in Brisbane »
- Reduce Your Pet's Paw Print »
- Bagging Waste »
- Wise Words From An Eleven-Year-Old »
- E-Waste Busters »
- Identifying Asbestos »
- One House, Four Hours, Four Tonnes of Recycling »
- The art of upcycling »
- Happy Eco-Easter! »
- Creative Composting »
- Clean Clothes for Sensitive Souls »
- PREP For Better Recycling »
- Turning Trash Into Treasure »