Get up to speed on recycling

Not in the recycle bin: Cr Kerry Brown with plastic bags that do not belong in the recycle bin but can be recycled at RedCycle outlets at Coles.
Not in the recycle bin: Cr Kerry Brown with plastic bags that do not belong in the recycle bin but can be recycled at RedCycle outlets at Coles.

Do you know what items can be put in your yellow recycling bin?

It seems Blue Mountains residents aren’t always clear what does belong in there.

The most common offender in the yellow bin are plastic bags, and includes the plastic bags and wrapping used around newspapers, catalogues and subscription magazines.

“Plastic bags and wrapping can be recycled at RedCycle outlets in the Blue Mountains,” said a Blue Mountains City Council spokeswoman.

“Coles Katoomba and Coles Winmalee are now an official drop off point for soft plastics, while many other supermarkets in the Mountains also accept soft plastics for recycling.”

Ward 1 Greens councillor Kerry Brown who has been pushing for plastic bags to be banned, said people want to recycle, but there was a lot of confusion around what could be recycled and this varied between local government areas.

“We need legislation that sorts out the complexity of plastics that get down to much simpler rules of thumb … so people are confident what can go in the recycling bin,” she said.

On Friday, Woolworths announced it would phase out single-use plastic bags around the country over the next 12 months. Then three hours later Coles followed suit. At Woolworths more durable plastic bags would be made available at a cost of 15 cents, along with multi-use hessian bags.

The ACT, Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania have already banned single-use plastic shopping bags, while Queensland plans to ban them next year. 

The decision was welcomed by Cr Brown, who had urged councillors at the June council meeting to be proactive on banning plastic bags. Her original motion was defeated in favour of a simpler motion from Cr Romola Hollywood.

“The game-changer by our largest retailers is a response to millions of Australians who care about the natural world.  This is how we will become a sustainable society,” Cr Brown said.

“The people have led and the markets have followed while government drags its feet, as it did on council last month. I am happy that a motion derided as too complex turned out to be so simple that it has happened anyway.”

At the next council meeting she will ask councillors to consider sourcing products made from recycled soft plastics when installing new street and park furniture and infrastructure.

Cr Brown said there were a lot of simple things everyone could be doing to help the environment, like taking their reusable coffee cups along for their daily caffeine fix rather than using disposable coffee cups.

It seems Mountains residents could all do with some clarity around what can and can’t be recycled.

A council waste audit of 220 residences across the Blue Mountains from 2016-17 revealed that in 12 months, 1400 tonnes of material that could be recycled, was going to landfill via the kerbside bin collection.

This figure is a vast improvement on 2014, when 2600 tonnes of recyclable material was going into landfill.

“This is an improvement of almost 50 per cent compared to the previous waste audit in 2014 which demonstrates the success of the new waste service in reducing waste to landfill. In the 12 months following the introduction of the new waste service, the overall amount of waste to landfill from households has reduced by almost 6700 tonnes,” the council spokeswoman said.

For a list of items that can be dropped off at RedCycle by Katoomba and Winmalee Coles visit:

What doesn't belong in your recycling bin

  • Plastic bags
  • Food waste – which could be composted
  • Soft plastics and plastic film – which could be taken to RedCycle outlets
  • Food and liquid in a recyclable container – empty contents
  • Soiled/contaminated paper – can be composted
  • Garden waste – which could go in the green bin
  • Wood and timber
  •  Nappies
  • Ceramics, dirt, rocks
  • Electrical items

Items commonly put in red bin that should be in the yellow recycling bin

  • Paper, newspaper, magazines, cardboard
  • Recyclable plastics from kitchen and bathroom'
  • Steel and aluminium packaging and drink containers
  • All rigid plastics
  • Whole glass containers with lids removed