Which plastics can go in your recycling bin?

The information provided by councils, on the recycling bin or on their websites, about which plastics are acceptable for recycling is frustratingly imprecise and inconsistent. 

All kerbside recycling schemes in Tasmania exclude non-packaging or durable plastic and all plastic packaging that is not a container (e.g. plastic bags, plastic films and food wrappers) as well as some containers. However, this information is not clearly communicated to the public. 

No council defines clearly enough what they mean by a container. All councils say that plastic bottles (milk, juice, cordial and mineral water) are recyclable, if clean and with the top removed. Hobart and some other municipalities say that plastic ice-cream, margarine, yogurt and shampoo containers are recyclable, but many do not. 

But no council makes it clear whether plastic punnets, take-away containers, biscuit trays are recyclable – just to name a few very common examples. One council told me they are but does not advertise this on the bin or on their website. If in doubt, don’t contaminate the recycling bin.

We are told to remove plastic lids, but most councils do not tell us whether they can be put in the recycling bin. Lids are not separately marked with the recycling number so, even if they are made from the same plastic as the container, they cannot be recycled. Even if recyclers can determine the plastic type, we are told their sorting machines cannot deal with small objects of any kind. 

The TCT has started a campaign to ask all councils to provide rate payers with accurate and consistent information about which plastics should be put into the recycling bin. We pay for this service so we have the right to ask for the service to be improved.

The photo on the left shows plastics accepted by Hobart City Council, and on the right, plastics which are not accepted. Photos by Heather Cassidy.

Peter McGlone has collected various types of plastic and has been contacting the Sorell, Clarence and Hobart City Councils to get more detailed information on exactly what is accepted in our recycling bins. 

The boards photographed, above, represent Hobart City CouncilWe’ve been told over the phone that the circular Subway lid and takeaway drink container above it can be recycled, but the council does not publicly state this on its website.