Waste and recycling FAQ's

Why recycle?

There are many benefits to recycling—at home, in the community and at work. How we handle waste is serious business and it’s everyone’s responsibility. The Government’s goal is to send no waste to landfill that can be recovered. The best way to achieve this is for everyone to create less waste and recycle as much as we can.

There are many benefits of choosing to recycle, including those listed below.

  • Sending our waste to landfill is a waste of resources and can create problems. For example, organic waste sent to landfill produces methane—a potent greenhouse gas.
  • Making new products and packaging from recycled materials uses fewer natural resources. It also encourages innovation and creates new jobs in the recycling industry.
  • Reducing the amount of waste generated saves the ACT money in collecting, transporting and sorting. As a community we can better use this money for other services.
  • Less waste means reduced need to extract, refine and process raw materials, which in turn reduces water and air pollution and protect natural habitats.

What can I recycle?

We need your help to achieve high recycling rates, so it’s important to know what you can and can’t place in your yellow-lidded recycling bin.
For information on this, visit the A-Z waste and recycling guide.

Not recycling properly contaminates the recycling stream, which causes problems for our recycling processing operations. It also reduces efficiency and results in more waste ending up in our landfill. So take time to learn what not to put in your recycling bin. A good example of what not to do is placing plastic bags full of recyclables in your recycling bin, as these cannot be sorted by our recycling facility and so end up in landfill.

Will I get a third bin for green waste?

The ACT Government will begin a green bin pilot program in 2017 with the intent of introducing green bins across the ACT soon after the pilot. Weston Creek and Kambah will be the first suburbs to participate in the pilot program. This important new service will divert more green waste from landfill. For more information or to register for the pilot: Transport Canberra and City Services.

How much do we recycle in the ACT?

In 2013–14, each person living in the ACT generated around 177 kilograms of domestic general waste (kerbside) and around 92 kilograms of recycling (kerbside). This is among the highest rates per person of any state or territory in Australia. Of all waste generated in the ACT in 2014-15, an estimated 70.3% (by weight) was recovered.

Where does my recycling go?

The contents collected from your bin are sent to the Hume (Mugga Lane) Materials Recovery Facility. Here is how the facility works:

  • Recyclables are loaded onto a conveyor belt
  • Staff remove items of contamination (for example, large items such as garden hoses which can damage machinery)
  • Recycling passes through a series of machines and picking lines and is sorted into material types. Once sorted and bailed, recyclable materials are sent for reprocessing, either interstate or overseas (depending primarily on market demand):
  • plastics are often sent overseas
  • glass is sent to Sydney, mostly recycled into new glass bottles
  • paper and cardboard are mostly recycled within Australia.

Why not take a virtual tour of the ACT’s recycling facility?

Where can I take my waste?

Some items should not be put in your recycling bins, including bulky waste items, electronic waste (e-waste), hazardous waste, garden organics, car batteries and other items.

For detailed information on where to take these items visit the Transport Canberra and City Services website.

How can my business, school or event improve waste management?

The ACT Government has programs available for businesses, schools and events to improve waste management:

These programs offer an abundance of free information, tools, resources, education and support. In many cases they will help you save money and help the environment by reducing waste and increasing your recycling rates. For more information: Actsmart website

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