You've probably made these recycling mistakes

Penny Burfitt
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
94% of Aussies are recycling wrong Photo: Getty Images

New research has shown that 94% of Australians still recycle wrong, and chances are you do too.

The study shows that most Australians still put one or more items in their recycling bin that don’t belong in there.

The common mistakes listed will have you kicking yourself, because lord knows we’ve all been guilty of some of these.

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According to the study, which was commissioned by Nestle and Planet Ark, 82% confuse this symbol:

The ‘chasing arrows’ recycling symbol Photo: Getty Images

With these symbols:

The Australasian Recycling Label Photo: Planet Ark

The Green image is a generic ‘chasing arrows’ mobius loop, the second is the Australasian Recycling Label. While the first image is associated with recycling, the ARL is a national guideline on what to do with each piece of the packaging. An item that simple sports the first image might just contain recyclable elements, and isn’t necessarily suitable for recycling.

Another common mistake you might not be aware of is that pizza scraps need to be removed before the box can be recycled.

If you didn’t know, you’re one of 58% of Aussies who are making this mistake.

Another 72% of us don’t flatten egg cartons before we bin them, and 36% of us are putting soft plastics in the wrong bins.

A dirty pizza box can’t be recycled photo: Getty Images

Deputy CEO of Planet Ark Rebecca Gilling says there are simple guidelines that well-intentioned households can follow to make sure that what’s in the yellow bin really is recyclable.

“Leave out soft plastics, recyclables in plastic bags, food, crockery and clothing,” the CEO recommends.

She also points to her company’s search tool Recycling Near You. The search bar directs you to local recycling information, as regulations can vary from council to council.

However, she says there are some items that are pretty well universally recyclable.

“Paper and cardboard, metal cans, glass jars and bottles, plastic containers and cartons are acceptable for a majority of the population,” she says.

Glass jars can almost always be recycled. photo: Getty Images

Of course the most important step toward sustainability is reducing the waste we produce in the first place.

“Australia needs to transition to a circular economy where we value waste reduction before recycling and encourage onshore manufacturers to use recycled materials,” she says.

“Everyone also has a responsibility to ‘buy it back’ which means buying products and packaging made with recycled content like paper products.”

Meanwhile, when we are recycling Ms Gilling says caution should be our number one priority: “If in doubt, leave it out!”

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