If you, too, are wondering how to make sure you leave a smaller carbon footprint, then perhaps it’s time to up your recycling efforts.
You might already be recycling most of your garbage, separating out paper, plastic, and organic material. However, you might be surprised about exactly how much of your household waste can actually be sent in to be recycled. If you want to develop a more comprehensive waste management system, let’s look at six categories of recyclables and what household items they include.
Millions of tons of aluminium and other household metal items are discarded each year. Did you know that recycling tin cans saves over 7 percent of the energy required to make them? Tin cans are actually completely recyclable, and aluminium in particular can be recycled almost endlessly. In fact, the energy equivalent of recycling a single aluminium tin is three hours of running your TV! You can recycle all the drink cans, food tins, and aluminium foil containers and wrapping. Make sure that you rinse out the cans and wipe food off the foil before sending them for recycling.
Recycling just one ton of paper-based waste saves 2.5 barrels of oil and 13 trees. Recyclable items in the house include those magazines (and yes, glossy paper can be recycled nowadays!), newspapers, phone books, junk mail and paperboard. You can also recycle corrugated cardboard and even those milk and juice cartons. You should rinse out the cartons and make sure there is no food stuck on any of the boxes.
Glass recycling is on the rise in Australia, so follow suit with your own household. Unlike other items on this list, some types of glass cannot be recycled, or it is simply not economical to do so. You can recycle clear, brown or amber, and green glass. Brown glass can only be used to make other brown bottles as the brown cannot be removed. Green glass is much the same. Glass that you should not be putting in the recycling bin includes crystal, light bulbs, ceramics, Pyrex, mixed-coloured glass, mirror glass, and anything with metal or plastic caps or lids, or anything with food or other materials on or in it.
Plastic is the second most commonly recycled material in Australia. You can recycle plastic bottles and containers provided they are clean. You must be absolutely sure not to put anything into the bin that isn’t empty and clean. You must also avoid putting plastic grocery bags in with these plastics. You can reuse plastic grocery bags instead, or check with your local council about collection. Some supermarkets will take these off your hands and have them recycled too.
If you are used to tossing your batteries out with the general waste, it is time to stop. You can actually have them recycled instead. Speak to your waste management company or local council about where to send your car batteries, disposable batteries, and rechargeable batteries.
Often known as e waste, electronic items that you wish to get rid of can be recycled too. Almost every part of a computer can be recycled or repurposed. Television sets and other consumer electronics like phones are also recyclable. What you should not mix in with this waste are large appliances, alarms and detectors, thermometers, medical equipment, and anything that contains liquid. Speak to your local council about how you can responsibly get rid of these.
Other items you can recycle include light bulbs, which contain chemicals that can be extremely harmful if not disposed of properly. If you get into the habit of recycling all these items, you will have a near zero-waste household!