How (and Where) To Recycle In Perth
Being a better recycler takes a little more effort. There tends to be different drop-off points for different things, and just because something is recyclable, doesn’t mean it is collected at our kerbsides.
If we want to be better recyclers (and of course we do!), we definitely shouldn’t limit ourselves to kerbside recycling. So much more can be recycled! The kerbside bin is a tiny part of the whole story.
I thought I’d use the place where I live, Perth, as an example of where different things can be recycled (and where I drop things off). Whilst you might not live in Perth, hopefully you’ll have similar services and options in your own towns.
The Yellow Lidded Kerbside Recycling Bin
For years in Perth, the different councils and different Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs – the place where the recyclables go to be sorted) have had different rules for what can go into the yellow-lidded recycling bin. This makes recycling very confusing, as people move suburbs or visit friends and family and suddenly whole new sets of rules apply.
For the first time ever, in August 2018 the three MRFs in Perth agreed to be consistent with what they accept into the yellow lidded kerbside bin.
The current recyclables accepted are aluminium and steel cans, empty glass jars and bottles, plastic containers and bottles (plastics 1 and 2 are the most valuable), cardboard and paper (including paperboard cartons).
The following are all considered types of contamination (whilst it is hard to believe, one MRF reported receiving 400 soiled nappies in the recycling stream in a single day):
Specific information about specific materials that many people think are recycable – but are not (at least in Perth):
Aerosols: whilst made of recyclable metals these are no longer accepted in the yellow lidded recycling bins. This is because aerosols should be put in the recycling bins empty, but many aren’t. Aerosols have caused 5 small explosions in the compactor of one of the MRF operators over the last year. There is also the concern that people are putting all types of aerosol into the recycling bin, including butane canisters which are potentially extremely hazardous.
(Aerosols can be taken to one of the 13 Household Hazardous Waste facilities throughout WA for recycling.)
Coffee Cups: although a similar material to milk cartons, coffee cups are not recyclable through kerbside because of their shape (they would not be sorted by the sorting screen), and also because these materials would represent a contaminate in the cardboard stream.
UHT Milk and Juice Containers: if sliver lined, these cartons are not recyclable through the kerbside system. These materials are composite packaging. Paperboard milk cartons which do not have a silver lining are acceptable in the kerbside recycling bin.
Meat trays: these are not recyclable because currently it is too confusing to know what the material is therefore if it is or is not recyclable. There may be an issue with raw meat contaminating the plastic material also.
Tops on or off containers? – Containers and bottles must be empty, and the lid can only be placed inside if it is the same type of plastic. The lids are not recyclable, they end up as contamination if they are in the recycling bin as they are too small to be collected.
Shredded paper: this should not go in the recycling bin. The shredded paper is too small to be captured and it contaminates the glass stream.
Recycling Soft Plastic: Redcycle
Soft plastic cannot go in the yellow lidded recycling bin, but it can still be recycled via the many REDcycle collection points at Woolworths and Coles. Soft plastic needs to be clean and dry, and sticky soft plastic (like stickers and sellotape) isn’t accepted as it gums up the machines. You’ll find more details on the REDcycle website: redcycle.net.au
Here’s a comprehensive list of what soft plastic REDcycle does and does not currently accept:
Recycling Hard-to-Recycle Plastic
Not recyclable in the yellow-lidded recycling bin or REDcycle? That doesn’t mean it is not recyclable!
Terracycle run free and paid recycling programs for various types of difficult-to-recycle packaging and other products. Currently in Australia their free programs are for: contact lenses and packaging, beauty products, mail satchels, various coffee pods, and dental care recycling.
The paid programs (which are usually free for consumers to use and are paid for by businesses or workplaces) are for: beard and hair nets, binders/folders, cigarette waste, media storage, office supplies, plastic gloves, safety equipment and snack wrappers.
The Terracycle website has a map detailing local collection points: http://www.terracyclemap.com/
They are often at schools, many individuals also host collection points, as well as ethical businesses such as local bulk stores. The two most local options to me are Urban Revolution at 284 Albany Highway, Victoria Park, and Perth City Farm at 1 City Farm Place, East Perth.
CLAW Environmental is a plastics processing facility at 5 Forge Street, Welshpool that will accept almost any type of plastic (the only exception is black polystyrene meat trays). In particular, they recycle expanded polystyrene. They are open Monday to Friday and will accept drop-offs from the public.
My absolute favourite recycling hub is the one at Perth City Farm, in East Perth. As well as being a drop-off location for Terracycle, they accept many other hard-to-recycle items, including craft items, corks, CDs and DVDs, lightbulbs, printer cartridges, batteries and eWaste.
Other hubs include some libraries and local council offices (the Town of Victoria Park has a few recycling drop-off bins in their admin building), some Bunnings stores, and Ikea.
Other Useful Places to Recycle
Textiles: I take my non-compostable, completely worn out textiles to the Perth CBD H&M store for recycling. It’s a free service, and I figure taking my old clothing is the least they can do, considering they pump so many textiles (the majority being plastic fibres) into the world.
eWaste: Most local councils offer a free eWaste collection service for computers, televisions and IT equipment a couple of times a year, otherwise Transfer Stations usually accept eWaste. Some businesses such as Officeworks also have collection points. Total Green Recycling is a local Perth-based electronics recycling company with good ethics.
Glass: I’ve talked countless times about how glass put into yellow-lidded recycling bins in Perth is not recycled back into glass. It is crushed into a grey powder and companies are paid to take it away and use it for road base. The reason for this is the nearest glass recycling facility is in Adelaide, in South Australia. If you’d really like your glass recycled back into glass, Tamala Park Landfill actually collect glass and truck it to Adelaide.
Planet Ark run an Australia-wide database for recycling, so if need to find out if something is recyclable, and how to go about actually recycling it, check out their website: recyclingnearyou.com.au
Now I’d love to hear from you! If you live in Perth, do you know any other useful recycling hubs or destinations for other materials? If you’re from outside Perth, what options do you have near you? How does your kerbside recycling differ from ours? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Thank you so very much for taking the time to help clarify what goes where. I really appreciate it. Theresa
Happy to help Theresa! Let’s just hope the rules don’t change again in three months time… :/
Love this!! Thank you SO much!!
OK so I’m still confused about plastic bottles and lids – so you can’t just take the lid off and pop both elements into the recycle bin? The matching plastic lid has to go inside the bottle??? If the lid doesn’t match then don’t put it in?? Lol – literally the bane of my recycling existence!!
I also know that the company 7 Eleven are participating in a coffee cup recycling program with another company called Simply Cups. Selected shops are taking those kind of cups and lids and sending the to a company over east. See here
Hi Suzanne! Clarification about lids: no, they can’t go in on their own as they are too small and actually jam up the machines. As a rule if something is smaller than the palm of your hand, it is too small for the machinery. As for putting them inside the bottle, this only works if you know what plastic type the lid is and the bottle, and they are the same. Unless they are stamped with a plastic type it is pretty hard to do by sight! (I can’t do it, but I met a guy who works in plastics recycling who could!)
The Simply Cups recycling is a bit of an interesting one. I looked it up a while ago and had a chat with the owner of the recycling company who receive the cups. 7 Eleven send the cups to a company called NewTech Poly who recycle agricultural plastic (soft plastic) and found that they can add up to 10% contamination, which is materials such as coffee cups and cigarette butts. The recycled plastic becomes benches, bollards etc. So whilst they are able to process the cups, it isn’t really viable for every single coffee cup used in Australia today. Better than nothing but hard to scale up – there are only so many garden benches we need!
Thanks for the clarification re the lids! Much appreciated.
Re the coffee cups – most of us at work have converted to keep cups and drastically reduced how many single use we were using – but there still are a few. I feel it’s better to take them to 7/11 than to put them in land fill. Hopefully we’ll reduce to having no single use within the next 3 – 6 months. It’s a good feeling to watch how drastically things have changed at work!
That’s so great about the KeepCups, Suzanne! From what I’ve been told by the SimplyCups recycling programme at 7-11, the cups are meant to be their brand only – but I assume they don’t check because they are all collected in a big stacking tube thing. Hmm, I think this could be a loophole more people could use ;)
With regards to the question of plastic bottle lids on or off?, it’s lids off because even lids that are loosely screwed on on pushed on can become projectiles in the MRF plant when the plastics are compressed during compacting and baling.
And on the diabolical question of lid types, majority are #2 HDPE, but some can also be #4 LDPE or even #5 PP (polypropylene), even when the plastic bottle itself is made of say, #2 HDPE (eg plastic milk bottles). The variation in plastic classification type for material of construction of the lids (often unstated on the lid, or so minuscule as to be unrecognisable/unreadable), is so large that it would take a seriously expert plastic industry insider to decipher as definitively being of type xyz.
So, true, lids off, too small for MRF therefore banned in yellow-top recycling bins, and can be diverted from landfill to collection points for eventual processing into 3D-printer filament spools for prosthetic limbs etc. eg via Greenbatch Foundation, Lids for Kids etc.
Just to add another one, Balcatta Recycle Centre 238 Balcatta Rd will also take glass for recycling back to glass by sending it to Adelaide. And both Balcatta and Tamala Park will take expanded polystyrene for squashing and then sending to CLAW. As does Rockingham Landfill and Tip Shop.
Hi Peg, I did not know that about Balcatta Recycle Centre! Thanks for the tip.
I have just established a Terracycle drop off point at my son’s primary school. In one term we have filled a wheelie bin each of beauty and dental packaging and hopefully educated a lot of families on how to recycle those ‘hard to recycle’ products and how to keep them out of landfill.
That’s so great Rachel, go you! I’m impressed (but maybe a tiny bit horrified also!) that you managed to feel a wheelie bin! Of course, much, much better to recycle than landfill. Next step, reduce! ;) I think more and more companies are starting to come on board with this, so my hope it is only going to get easier for people :)
I don’t have a car and so though this is very helpful, my problem is not so much finding out where to recycle, but getting there with what I want to recycle. Same goes with bulk buying. If it is a bit of a trek I can’t do it often nor can I carry much.
Not having a car definitely adds another layer of complexity, Bronwen! I’m hopeful that recycling will become more accessible as awareness grows, and bulk stores too :)
Hey if you can’t drive I know UPPAREL at least will allow you to post for just $25 any fabrics/textiles to repurpose etc! And you get that back as a credit to spend on products which i think is a GREAT incentive idea! Only issue is they only have a couple of products they repurpose to get, and no other ‘partner products’ avail/linked to spend credit on yet… should network with a bunch of others repurposing/selling Sustainable goods.. but really love watching all these companies and how they are growing and always changing tho!
Thanks for explaining this difficult task. I am going to print this out as a reminder.
Office Works take old printer cartridges.
I am interested in your thoughts regards paper towels.The alternative uses resources water, detergent or disinfectant and the paper towels are convenient and possibly a cleaner alternative. I try and use the recycled paper towels.
Hi Joy, ah thanks for the tip about OfficeWorks. I think the Post Office might, also? I will have to check.
I haven’t used paper towel in years, so I honestly can’t think what you might use it for (and therefore can’t suggest alternatives). It is possible to buy “unpaper towel” which is a reusable cloth version, otherwise I know Who Gives a Crap have recycled kitchen roll that comes wrapped in paper so no plastic.
If you let me know what you use it for I can try to think of suggestions!
Thanks Lindsay. This is brilliant and much needed. I love seeing people coming to our drop off point at Perth City Farm. And each day I’m sorry to see that even with best intent some bins are receiving the wrong materials…. mostly in the co-mingled. Your piece is a great help. Rod. Farm Manager, Perth City Farm.
My pleasure Rod. I actually have a few things to drop off at your lovely facility… next week I will make it over there!
Landfill may become a thing of the past when the Waste to Energy incinerator plant is finished. Some councils have already signed up, rejecting the 3 bin recycling option. I will continue to upcycle and recycle as much as I can. Thanks so much for all your tips and ideas. I am from the older generation, and remember when plastic was not used, so some ideas are not new, just reinvented. Keep up the good work.
Thanks Lynn. The challenge with incineration will be not burning good stuff to try to “feed the monster”. For example, the City of Kwinana decided not to go down the three bin system with one for food waste and garden organics (FOGO) which would have been composted because they signed a contract with the incinerator company provide a minumum amount of waste. They have to burn their organics or they won’t meet their commitment and will face fines. This kind of thing is such an unnecessary waste :(
There are also things for you here.
The Fremantle recycling yard for City of Freo and Town of East Freo residents (and new shop) is awesome! You can even pick up free pavers and trailer loads of mulch when you drop off your stuff https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/residents/waste-recycling/recycling-centre-and-stations
You say “(Aerosols can be taken to one of the 13 Household Hazardous Waste facilities throughout WA for recycling.)” but where ♀️
Sharon, Balcatta has a ‘hazardous’ section where you can drop aerosols
Is there anywhere that we can recycle ring binders and plastic office trays that are no longer in use?
Plastic office trays … possibly Claw Environmental in Welshpool. They allow public drop-off 7am – 3pm M-F. Look for the triangle symbol with number in it on the product. If number is 5 or PP (polypropylene) they will take it. Claw’s website has definitive guide regarding what they take, under links & resources, titled PIC guide.
Ring binders / Lever Arch – TerraCycle Ring binder box $229. They dismantle & recycle individual parts. Only an option for large supportive businesses? No plastic sleeves or dividers though … just the binder.
Can you you put shop dockets and small pieces of paper in the yellow lidded recycling bin or is there a minimum size of paper acceptable?
Thanks for the great info I have been trying to find a place that will take UHT (silver lined long life milk containers) are you aware of any places in Perth. Thanks.
I asked cleanaway in WA and they said there’s nowhere in Australia that recycles those so I stopped buying them
Thanks for that. Do you know if there is any glass collection center South of Perth? Mindarie is quiet far from us
I was collecting plastic bottle lids for making artificial hands but they don’t need anymore and I have 3 bags of lids. Where can I deposit them?
Greenbatch in Mt Claremont – their website lists drop off locations around Perth, or Precious Plastics Perth on fb.
A few primary schools get the kids to bring plastic milk bottle lids for collecting. My Grandaughters school has a competition for the class who collects the most when weighed.
You could ring a few schools in your area and ask.
Hi! Our office in Subiaco is throwing out good condition arch lever files. Is there anywhere we can dispose them properly or anyone that takes them to reuse?
Hi Fahmi! You could put on your local Buy Nothing group (via Facebook); also Remida in West Perth will often take these. Alternatively you could list on Gumtree for free. Lots of people are working from home right now and might appreciate them!
Should you want to recycle food tins/can There is a place called West Coast Metals Recycling in Malaga that will accept.
Hi! Our office in West Perth is throwing out good condition arch lever files. Is there anywhere we can dispose them properly or anyone that takes them to reuse?
Hi Asha! I would recommend Remida (also in West Perth) :)
Please include scrap metal Brisbane in your list. We offer a good price and we assure you we are legit. We offer scrap metal pick-up.
Hi Abigail, this is a Perth list (which I state in the title) so that’s not much use to us over here, but thanks for your suggestion.
Hi , is there anywhere that recycles the handles from dish brushes, dustpan brooms, window track brushes. There are also heaps of kitchen utensils made with the soft grip hard plastics. Thanks.
Hi Lindsay, I absolutely love everything you’ve written! So inspiring!
I’d love to know where I can recycle plastic no 5? Thank you!
Replying to my own post!
Have discovered that Claw Environmental in Welshpool will take plastic no.5. But still looking for where to recycle no. 4. Anyone?
Thanks for the info about bed linen,towels etc.
But where can I take no longer wearable men’s cotton shirts, cotton T-shirts,boxer underpants, ladies knickers, socks, microfibre dish-cloths, jeans…..?
What about shoes? Vinnies and Sammie’s don’t really want them, do they?
I’m very serious about having next to no landfill leaving our house.
I have numerous CD and DVD cases that I don’t need. Is there somewhere they can be recycled?
Hello there. Can you please let me know where I can return plastic crates to? The milk crates Cheers Debbie
Hi, would also like to know where to recycle CD covers please, preferable south of Perth city :)