Here We Go Again: Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Recycling

Recycling may have its issues, but it’s still an important ‘R’ in the #ReduceReuseRecycleRefuse life goals mantra.

So this National Recycling Week (established by Planet Ark in 1996) may we remind you of the importance of recycling, if avoidance isn’t possible or practical. In order to live more sustainably on this planet, we all need to look at waste with a different mindset – so we’ve compiled a list with a few fun facts about recycling you might not have otherwise considered!

If the people of Kamikatsu, Japan can sort their waste into 45 different categories of recyclables, surely we all can step up our recycling efforts!

Are you recycling your soft plastics? 

While we’ve made strides in the past decade towards a life free from plastic, Australians still consume an estimated 10 million plastic bags a day – yikes! If you’re not recycling your soft plastics already, now’s a great time to start. All that flexible plastic (anything that can be scrunched into a ball) can be diverted from landfill to be recycled. And it’s as easy as getting another bin at home to place your scrunchable plastic (or just stuffing a bag) and then bringing it to a REDcycle drop-off point when you nip down to your local supermarket.⁠ Neat!

We get it… bread is life.

But those pesky, plastic tags are quite the opposite. Started in South Africa in 2006, Bread Tags for Wheelchairs is a volunteer-driven initiative that collects bread tags for recycling companies so they can raise funds to buy wheelchairs for those in need. Its Australian arm recently teamed up with South Australian recycling partner Transmutation to transform the plastic tags into bowls and serving boards, with the colourful, retro-inspired bowls containing over 1800 bread tags each! Find your local bread tag collection point at – support a great charity, keep plastic out of landfill, and contribute to these cool homewares!


Recycling extends so much further than your kerbside bin. 

There’s a huge variety of recycling, repair and reuse services available across the country. Most are free, or low cost, and cover waste items that aren’t suitable for kerbside recycling like electronic and textile waste! Programs like TerraCycle, whose mission is #RecycleEverything, process waste from a variety of waste streams. The company works with companies in a huge variety of programs to take hard-to-recycle materials and turn them into new products, raising over $44 million for charities in the process. There are also textile recycling hubs in most cities for old clothes, and pet shelters often take bedding.

Don’t despair coffee lovers!

While reusables should always be top priority, we’ve got to respect the wishes of our local cafes when it comes to keeping our communities safe in these COVID times. Other times, we get it, you’re in a rush and you just forget your cup. Did you know, in some Australian states, you can actually recycle your coffee cup! Check out your local council website for advice and pro tip: go without a lid to forgo the extra plastic. 

top photo ANNA SHVETS