Don't Bag It!

Every day, workers sort through tonnes of recycling by hand. When you bag your recycling we can't sort it and it ends up at the tip. Please place recyclables loosely into the recycling bin - don't bag it!

Why are plastic bags so bad for my recycling bin?

Even if your plastic bag has a recycling symbol on it, you still cannot place it in your yellow lid bin!

WHY?? Because we cannot sort it!

Every day, over 150 tonnes of recycling is emptied from yellow lid bins across the Central Coast and delivered to the Materials Recovery Facilty (or MRF) in Somersby for sorting. Machinery at the MRF can sort most of the recycling, using magnets to separate steel, rotating disc screens to remove paper and even lasers that help with the plastic bottles (its really cool and if you want to see it in action watch our video here: Recycling on the Central Coast). But the wrong rubbish, the contamination - nappies, plastic bags, used syringes and smelly shoes - have to be removed by hand by people called 'Sorters'.


When the wrong rubbish is thrown in your recycling bin, it ends up in our sorters hands! #inourhands #dontbagit

Any rubbish (including recycling) that enters the MRF in a plastic bag is sent to landfill. Workers are sorting through tonnes of material an hour and don't have time to open bags to find out what’s inside. Your plastic bags could be filled with recyclable material like plastic bottles or aluminium cans. Or they could be full of contaminants like food scraps and dirty nappies.For safety reasons, staff at the recycling centre will not open plastic bags, no matter what the contents are. Anything placed in a plastic bag will end up in landfill. To avoid this, don't use plastic bags in your recycling bin - simply put your recyclable items into the bin loosely.

Another issue with plastic bags is that they interfere with the automatic sorting machines at the MRF.
Conveyor belts feed the recycling into rotating drums, onto spinning disc screens and past magnets to separate the plastic, glass, paper, aluminium and steel cans. Plastic bags cannot be sorted from other materials by existing machinery. Instead, they get caught in the conveyor belts and jam disc screens and can bring the entire sorting station to a halt. The bags then need to be found and removed by hand - a time consuming and often dangerous process that reduces the overall efficiency of the recycling station or MRF.

What can you do to help? 

When you're next putting out your recycling, remember the problems that plastic bags can create and make sure you keep them out of the recycling system. Put your recycling in the yellow lid bin loosely! 

If you would like a sticker for your recycling bin to help get this message across to all those who use your yellow lid bin, send us an email and we can post one out!  



Only put recyclables in your yellow lid bin!

The following items are all good to go in the yellow lid recycle bin: 

Paper and cardboard

  • cardboard packaging
  • cereal boxes
  • egg cartons
  • fresh milk and juice cartons
  • greeting cards
  • junk mail
  • laundry powder boxes
  • office and computer paper
  • paper plate
  • paper/cardboard cups
  • pizza boxes
  • phone books
  • wrapping paper (not foil or plastic)
  • magazines

Rigid plastic bottles and containers

  • biscuit trays
  • body wash bottles
  • detergent bottles
  • cleaning spray bottles
  • cream containers
  • drink bottles
  • ice cream tubs
  • laundry liquid bottles
  • lids (preferred separated from bottle, container or jar)
  • margarine and butter tubs
  • moisturiser tubes
  • sauce bottles
  • shampoo and conditioner bottles
  • strawberry and tomato punnets
  • sunscreen tubes
  • take-away food containers
  • yoghurt tubs

Metal cans, aerosol cans and foil trays

  • air freshener spray cans
  • aeroguard cans
  • baby formula tins
  • bottle tops (preferred separated from bottle)
  • bug bomb spray cans
  • coffee tins
  • cooking oil spray cans
  • deodorant spray cans
  • drink cans
  • fly spray cans
  • foil pie trays
  • foil BBQ trays (disposable food cans)
  • food cans
  • insect spray cans
  • hair spray cans
  • milo tins
  • lids (preferred separated from bottle or jar)
  • olive oil cans
  • pet food cans

Green, brown and clear glass bottles and jars

  • beer bottles
  • jam jars
  • juice bottles
  • medicine jars
  • pickle jars
  • sauce bottles
  • sauce jars
  • spread jars
  • wine bottles

Leave the rubbish out! 

Items not accepted in the yellow lid recycling bin include:

  • disposable nappies
  • plastic bags and wrappers
  • clothing, linen and shoes
  • shredded paper
  • long life cartons 
  • Polystyrene and Styrofoam
  • general waste including food waste
  • garden waste
  • scrap metal
  • ceramics, light globes and Pyrex
  • electrical appliances
  • hazardous wastes, paints and oils
  • medical waste or syringes
  • gas cylinders and fire hydrants
  • toys

If you put the wrong items into your recycling bin, it may not be collected.

Can I take my plastic bags somewhere to be recycled?

Plastic bags can be recycled, just not in your home recycling bin. Instead, you can drop them off at specially-marked recycling bins at the front of most supermarkets. Click here for more information on where you can take plastic bags and other soft plastics to be recycled.

Can I help reduce the number of plastic bags going in the red lid general waste bin?

There are easy ways to limit how many plastic bags end up in landfill through the red lid general waste bin. The most obvious is to reuse. Plastic shopping bags have many uses, in particular, they are often the perfect size for a bin liner. This practice not only helps the environment, it also saves you money, as you don't have to buy seperate bin liners.

Another way is to buy reusable shopping bags. These are available in most Supermarkets and Department Stores and are a great environmentally sustainable practice.