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When you pop an empty shampoo bottle into your yellow-lidded bin or an egg carton into your blue-lidded bin, do you ever wonder where it ends up?
The Northern Beaches has a four bin collection system to encourage waste separation at the source, giving us the best chance to recycle and reuse valuable resources you may consider household waste.
Here’s where your recycling goes and what happens to it:
The contents of your yellow-lidded recycling bin are sent to IQRenew, an Australian Material Recycling Facility (MRF) on the Central Coast for sorting.
Several methods are used to separate plastic, aluminium/steel and glass containers.
Glass: bottles and jars are sent to various processors and manufacturers in Australia to be recycled. Large pieces are used in new bottles and jars and smaller pieces are crushed to make glass sand used in road base, pool filters and drainage materials.
Metal: electromagnets separate out steel cans and a magnetic field separates the aluminium cans. The steel and aluminium are then taken to metal recyclers to be melted and made into new items, normally drinking and food packaging cans.
Plastic: infrared sensors and air jets help sort the different plastic types. About sixty percent of plastic in our yellow bin is ‘type 2 plastic HDPE’ and is currently sold to a Melbourne based company which turns it into plastic film used to cover vineyards and orchards. The rest goes into the manufacture of various products including wheelie bins, furniture, carpet and water bottles.
You can see the recovery process and some of the exciting developments of new products happening at IQ Renew, like the Virtual Quarry and Cat-HTR/Licella technology on their website.
Ninety five percent of the yellow bin contents are used to make new products. The other five percent is “contamination”, meaning it has been wrongly placed in the yellow bin and can’t be separated in this process so ends up in landfill making the process less efficient and more expensive. It’s important to recycle right!
The contents of your blue-lidded paper recycling bin are transported to Visy, another Australian company, for sorting and sending to paper mills to produce packaging, cardboard boxes and other paper products such as recycled paper towels and toilet paper. Our paper and cardboard recycling is highly valued as the content is generally clean and free of contaminants like glass, liquids and plastic particles. This makes excellent raw material for paper mills.
Australian Native Landscapes at Kimbriki Resource Recovery Centre turn residential and commercial customer’s vegetation and wood waste into a variety of high quality woodchip, mulch and soil improvers after it has been shredded and composted for six months.
In the last 12 months, over 59,000 tonnes of vegetation have been returned to the earth by being processed into high grade compost and soil conditioners. That’s all from our community’s green vegetation bins and our residents dropping their vegetation off at Kimbriki.
By having a separate green vegetation bin, we’re able to ensure your garden waste is used again as landscaping, agricultural and garden supplies in a variety of ways from household gardens to large commercial landscape installations and farmers throughout NSW.
To give your container recyclables the best chance of being turned into something new, make sure you rinse them clean before popping them in the correct bin. Check out our Bin Guide to see what can go in your bins.
Our A to Z Guide can help if you’ve got an item that can be recycled but not in your kerbside recycling bins.
Although these are all handy tips, don’t forget that it’s always best to reduce and reuse where you can. Before you purchase any plastic item, think about if you really need it and whether there’s a sustainable alternative you can use instead.
And buying products made from recycled material is the way to shop and feel good about making less of an impact on the environment.