Soft plastics still a problem in recycling bins

Friday, 02 November, 2018

Soft plastics still a problem in recycling bins

Plastic bags and soft plastic remain the largest problem items in recycling bins, according to a survey of randomly selected bins by Willoughby City Council.

The EPA-funded survey saw the council inspect 1500 bins on two occasions, finding plastic bags, thin plastics (cling wrap, food wrappers), bagged recycling, tissues, napkins and textiles (clothes and shoes) to be the most significant problem items.

Other unsuitable items found during the checks included:

  • coffee cups
  • polystyrene/styrofoam
  • metal (eg, tap fittings, pans, paint tins)
  • wood
  • food
  • other glass (eg, plate glass)
  • ceramics
  • building materials (eg, concrete, concrete bags)
  • vegetation
  • e-waste

In the first survey round in August, 227 bins contained items that were not recyclable. In the second round, a month later, 262 bins had unsuitable items. Bins were given either a red or green tag, based on the inspection results, outlining which items were incorrect or congratulating the householder on their recycling.

A third and final audit of the same 1500 bins began on 22 October.

“What is positive is that when council officers spoke to householders, they were keen to improve and get their recycling on track,” said Willoughby Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney.

“Many people said they just didn’t know they shouldn’t put their recycling in plastic bags, but our message is ‘keep it loose’ — your recyclable items need to go in the bin loose, not in plastic bags.

“Residents are keen to get on board with improving recycling and we have work to do as a council to ensure residents are informed about how best to recycle.”

With UNSW research recently finding that three out of four people believe the contents of recycling bins isn’t being beneficially recycled, Willoughby City Council is keen to reassure residents that all acceptable material is processed and recycled.

“It’s more important now than ever to recycle,” Giles-Gidney said. “If in doubt, leave it out.”

Residents can find detailed recycling information on the Willoughby City Council website.

Top image credit: © М

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