Changes to recycling to roll out across Northern Rivers this week

Published on 03 December 2018

People demonstrating correct recycling practices

Byron Shire Council is one of seven Northern Rivers councils launching a new regional campaign called ‘Recycle Right’ this week (from 3 Dec), which will see some significant changes to recycling practises for everyone in the Shire. 

One of the biggest changes, is that soft plastics can no longer be accepted for recycling in Council’s yellow bins.   This includes all plastic bags, even if they have a recycling symbol, are degradable or compostable, as well as other soft plastics including cling wrap, chip packets and bread bags.

“The reasons for this are that there are limited markets for soft plastics at the moment, they also come loose in our collection trucks and get caught in other recycling streams which causes contamination,” Council’s Resource & Recovery Education Officer Lucy Wilson said.

“We understand that this will be disappointing news for many people in our community who work hard to recycle as much as possible.

“While soft plastics need to stay out of Council’s yellow recycling bins, the good news is that you can continue to collect and recycle your soft plastics through supermarket soft plastic recycling programs such as Redcycle. Collection bins which are located at participating Coles and Woolworths stores in Byron Bay, Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores,” Ms Wilson said.

“Byron Shire Council, along with four other Councils from the Northern Rivers send recycling collected in the yellow bins to the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre where it is sorted, bailed and sold to local and international recycling markets.

“We’d like the community to understand that the recycling industry is currently facing some challenges as result of China’s National Sword Policy, which has placed much tighter restrictions on the levels of contamination they will accept in our recycling streams.”

“Unfortunately these changes are entirely out of Council’s control and we are working hard to find new markets and recycle as much as we can, as we always have.     

“In order to ensure the contents in our yellow bins continues to be recycled, we are asking that people keep it simple and clean. It’s really important our recyclables are clean so we can send them off for remanufacturing in Australia and overseas.

It’s much better to have a clean and simple recycling stream that will be recycled, rather than sending it to landfill because it’s too contaminated.

“Another change is that people can no longer recycle takeaway coffee cups or meat and biscuit trays.”

“The linings in takeaway coffee cups make them difficult to recycle and they are often dirty and will contaminate the rest of the recycling load.

“Meat trays are made from more than one type of plastic and we can’t recycle mixed plastics at this time.

We are hopeful that these challenges will create support for new industry, technology and innovation within Australia, along with better recycling practices,” she said.

The campaign is asking people to follow the six Recycle Right messages below for using your yellow lid recycling bin:

  1. Keep it simple: Only recycle paper and cardboard, steel and aluminium cans, glass bottles and jars, plastic bottles and containers and Resource Recovery Collection Satchels.
  2. Keep out soft plastics: This includes all plastic bags, even if they have a recycling symbol, are degradable or compostable, and other soft plastics including cling wrap chip packets and bread bags.
  3. Keep out small items – any items smaller than a credit card. All lids now need to be removed from bottles and those smaller than a credit card put in your landfill bin.
  4. Keep it Safe: keep out strapping, hose, netting, wires, building materials and other hazardous materials.
  5. Keep it Clean: rinse or wipe any excess food and drink from all bottles, containers and tins before placing them in your recycling bin. Keep out food scraps, nappies and soiled paper
  6. Keep it Loose: put each item into your yellow recycling bin separately, don’t bag, box or contain your recyclable items. 

The Recycle Right campaign, developed by the Council and NSW Government funded regional waste group North East Waste, is designed to clear up any confusion and lead to better recycling practices.

“It’s up to all of us to think about our own waste generation, responsible disposal, purchasing products that have recycled content and are recyclable and of course, waste avoidance.

Recycling fridge magnets, A-Z recycling guides and campaign posters will be available to collect from Council’s Mullumbimby Office, the Resource Recovery Centre in Myocum and local libraries,” Ms Wilson said.

Council will distribute a shire-wide mail out with Recycle Right information in early 2019 and more information is available on Council’s website

For more information contact Lucy Wilson on (02) 6626 7077.