New #RecycleRight campaign launched region wide

Tuesday, 04 December 2018

A new regional #RecycleRight campaign was launched in early December by North East Waste and its Northern Rivers member councils.

In the wake of China’s National Sword Policy, which came into force in January this year, the #RecycleRight campaign aims to simplify recycling messages, highlight recent changes and support the Australian Government’s call for movement towards a circular economy.

China’s National Sword Policy

For a long time, China was the largest importer of the world’s recycling, accepting over 30 million tonnes every year and ultimately having the capability to drive recycling prices and practices worldwide.

Until recently, China accepted recyclables with a relaxed contamination level of around 5% (contamination being incorrect items mixed in with the material to be recycled). This meant China accepted a large proportion of the world’s waste, which was then their problem to deal with.

The National Sword Policy now enforces a strict contamination limit of 0.5%, which sent the global recycling industry into shock as much of the world’s recycling no longer met this new export standard.

“It’s important to remember our recycling is a product that forms part of a continuous cycle,” North East Waste Coordinator Jeanie McKillop said.

“Unlike landfill, a closed system where items are buried in the ground and lost forever, recycling keeps coming around.

“Where our recycling goes is dependent on market needs – the existence and profitability of companies who use recycled content to manufacture new items. The recycling industry is ever-changing and therefore what we can put into our yellow recycling bins changes accordingly.

“This can make things confusing, however it’s up to each of us to refine our recycling practices even further and ensure it stays in the system,” she said.

Recycle Right to keep it coming ‘round!

Residents are asked to follow these six key #RecycleRight routines for kerbside yellow recycling bins:

#1: Keep it Simple
Only recycle household items made of plastic, glass, steel, aluminium, paper and cardboard.

Tip: To know what goes where get a magnet for your fridge! Pick one up free at your local Council office or library.

#2: Keep out Soft Plastics
We need to keep out all soft plastics including plastic bags, soft plastic packaging, cling wrap, pasta packets, bread bags, biscuit trays etc. We can no longer accept bags of soft plastics or soft plastics of any kind in the recycling bin.

Tip: Take your soft plastics to major supermarket ‘Redcycle’ collection points – this way you can still avoid placing them in the red landfill bin. Even better, avoid plastic altogether by using your own reusable bottles, containers and bags.

#3: Keep out Small Items
Do not place anything smaller than a credit card into your recycling bin including bottle lids, bread tags and straws. We can no longer accept these, even if collected together in an old milk bottle. If it’s smaller than a credit card, keep it out.

Tip: Put small pieces of paper or cardboard in your green organics bin, and other small items in your red landfill bin. Larger lids such as the lids off yoghurt tubs can go in your recycling bin on or off the container.

#4: Keep it Safe
Keep it safe for our MRF workers and our machines. Keep out anything hazardous that can harm our workers or anything that can stop or damage the machines, particularly things that can get wrapped around the machinery such as strapping, cords, clothing, hose, netting, wire, building materials, chemicals and other hazardous materials.

Tip: We accept small problem waste through our Resource Recovery Collection Satchels including household batteries, corks, CDs and DVDs, electrical cords, mobile phones, prescription glasses, printer cartridges, smoke detectors, x-rays and small e-waste such as calculators and handheld games. Resource Recovery Collection Satchels are free to pick up at your local Council office or library. You can also drop-off household problem waste such as car batteries, fire extinguishers, gas bottles, oil, paint and large e-waste such as computers, laptops and TVs free of charge at the Lismore Recycling & Recovery Centre. There is a 20kg/20-litre limit after which fees apply.

#5: Keep it Clean
Keep it clean by rinsing or wiping out your containers of any food or drink. You can also keep it clean by keeping out items that will contaminate your recycling bin. This means NO food scraps, NO nappies, NO dirty paper or cardboard, NO meat or biscuit trays, NO coffee cups or lids, NO clothing or fabric, NO soft plastics and NO polystyrene.

Tip: To know what goes where get a magnet for your fridge! Pick one up free at your local Council office or library.

#6: Keep it Loose
Don’t bag or box your recyclables – just place them loose into your recycling bin. Things move quickly along the conveyor belts at the Materials Recovery Facility and there is no time for staff to sort out bags or boxes.

Tip: Clean recycling means you don't need to line your kitchen recycling bin and can just put them in loose!

Circular Economy

In addition to refining our recycling practices, as a community we need to provide greater support towards buying items manufactured from recycled materials and choosing to purchase items with either no packaging or packaging that can be recycled. This is where the term ‘circular economy’ comes into play.

Rather than making an item, using it and disposing of it in landfill, a circular economy keeps items in continuous use by supporting long-lasting designs, maintenance and repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling and up-cycling.

So what does this mean for us as a community?

There are some positives coming from these changes to our recycling industry that benefit our local industry and environment.

On the up side, the National Sword Policy is a catalyst for change, forcing us to recycle better, develop new technologies to better sort our recycling and develop new industry within Australia that supports the processing and manufacture of goods using recycled content.

Our long-term goal is a larger reduction in material sent to landfill, less mining of primary resources and ultimately less environmental pollution.

To find out more about the #RecycleRight campaign visit

Image: House With No Steps employee and Materials Recovery Facility worker Michael McKee is one of the stars of the new #RecycleRight campaign.

News Updates