Recycling plastics in Yarra

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Not all plastics are created equal. It can get confusing knowing which plastics can be recycled in Australia and go in your yellow-lid recycling bin.

When a plastic item has a code or recycling symbol, it doesn’t always mean that it can be recycled. These numbers and symbols are identification codes which tell us the type of plastic it’s made from.

Even then, not all plastics with the same number can be recycled. For example, plastic bottles with the number 1 can be recycled. Meanwhile plastic containers also labelled 1 can’t be recycled.

Each type of plastic needs to be processed differently, melts at a different temperature and have a specific end market impacting what they can become.

These are the types of plastic that can go in your yellow lid recycling bin here in Yarra.

Plastic type  What are they made of?  What can they become?
Plastic code 1 bottles (such as single-use water or soft drink bottles). Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) New bottles.
Plastic code 2 bottles (such as detergent bottles). High density polyethylene (HDPE) New detergent bottles.
Plastic code 2 bottles (such as milk and juice bottles). High density polyethylene (HDPE) Plastic bollards, pallets, fence or barrier railing and decking boards. 
Plastic code 5 containers (such as ice-cream, butter and yoghurt containers). Polypropylene (PP) New food grade containers and casing around electric cabling.

Our recycling industry is constantly evolving, and manufacturers are working hard to make their packaging recyclable.

Processors are also constantly working to find new and innovative ways to recycle more things in Australia. We also recommend looking for recyclable alternatives when you shop.

By focusing on plastics and other materials that can be recycled in Australia, we can grow our local industry, create jobs and ensure we can recycle here in the future.

Until then, these plastics belong in your dark green or red-lid rubbish bin.

Plastic type What are they made of? Why can't we recycle them?
Plastic code 1 containers (such as food containers, jars, cooking oils and berry punnets). Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) These items cannot currently be sorted by hand and there is no local market for them to be recycled into something new.
Plastic code 2 containers (such as medicine containers and grocery bags).  High density polyethylene (HDPE) These items cannot currently be sorted by hand and there is no local market for them to be recycled into something new.
Plastics labelled 3 (such as biscuit trays and takeaway containers). Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) There are no local markets for plastics 3 in Australia.
Plastics labelled 4 (also known as soft plastics such as bubble wrap, bread bags and cling wrap). Low density polyethylene (LDPE) Soft plastics cannot be placed in household recycling as they are difficult to sort and can break machinery.
Plastics labelled 4 (such as plastic bags). Low density polyethylene (LDPE) In line with industry standards, no Councils in Victoria accept recyclables in plastic bags. Any items in bags that are placed in the recycling bin are sent straight to landfill. Sorting through items in bags is too dangerous for the staff at the processor.
Plastics labelled 6 (such as take-out containers, disposable plates and cutlery).  Polystyrene (PS) These are low quality and do not create quality second-hand plastic for re-use.
Plastics labelled 7. Polycarbonate (PC) and other plastics. There are no local markets for plastics 7 in Australia.

Finally, all plastic lids should also go in your rubbish bin. We won't be able to recycle lids until the manufacturers use the same plastic for the lid that they use for the container.

For more information on recycling do’s and don’ts visit our A to Z recycling guide.


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