Council launches campaign to Recycle Right

Which plastic containers can I recycle?

Should I be taking lids off bottles before putting them into the recycling bin?

Do I need to rinse out dirty bottles, jars and containers before I place them in the recycling bin?

These are the sorts of questions commonly asked when residents are confronted with choosing what belongs in their recycling or waste bins.

To help residents navigate the “dos and don’ts” when it comes to their recycling bin, Council has launched a new Recycle Right campaign to help “keep it simple”.

The campaign aims to simplify messaging, highlight recent changes and reinforce the need to “recycle right” to reduce non-recyclable contamination.

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said that disposing of waste correctly was paramount to ensuring recycled materials were accepted in the marketplace and did not end up in landfill.

“For many years China has been the largest importer of the world’s recycling, largely due to fairly relaxed rules about accepting incorrect items being mixed with recycled goods,” Cr Manning said.

“However, the Chinese National Sword Policy has tightened those rules significantly, creating additional challenges for the Australian recycling industry.

“It means that if we want to avoid landfill here in the Cairns region and see more of our waste materials recycled, we need to ensure there is lower contamination, which is where residents can play a vital role.”

The aim of the Recycle Right Campaign is to simplify the process for residents by focusing on six key messages:

  • Keep it simple – only recycle hard plastic bottles, steel and aluminium cans, glass bottles and jars and paper & cardboard
  • Keep out soft plastics – no plastic bags or wrapping
  • Keep out small items – nothing smaller than a credit card
  • Keep it safe – Nothing that can harm our workers or damage our machines
  • Keep it clean – Rinse or wipe out containers, no food scraps
  • Keep it loose – Don’t bag or box recyclables

As part of the new campaign, Council has produced six, 30-second videos, which will air on local television from today (14 September) until January next year.

“Each of the videos features a new Council staff member who will reinforce each message, with a specific action,” Cr Manning explained.

Cr Manning said it was time to end so called “wish-cycling” – throwing anything and everything that “could possibly, maybe, or sort of” be recycled into the recycling bin in the hope that it will be recycled.

“Once complete, our new $15 million Materials Recovery Facility will be able to divert up to 85 per cent of items from landfill, but we need residents to also do their bit,” Cr Manning said.

“When we get large amounts of non-recyclable contamination, like soft plastic bags, food scraps and garden waste in kerbside recycling bins, it undermines our city’s recycling effort,” Cr Manning said.

“It’s also important that we continue to keep our recycling workers safe, making sure that nothing dangerous is placed in recycling bins, like gas bottles, electrical cables, oil, paint and car batteries.

“Last year, about 10 per cent of material that ended up in the recycling bins was contamination, while more than 20 per cent of items, or around 9500 tonnes, that ended up in the waste bin was actually recyclable.

“The recycling industry is constantly changing and what we can put into our recycling bins changes accordingly.

“This can make things confusing, however it’s up to each of us to educate ourselves about better recycling practices.

“Our long-term goal will be a larger reduction in material sent to landfill, securing markets for our recyclable materials while moving towards a circular economy.”

/Public Release. View in full here.