Frequently Asked Questions

Q. I live in an apartment or unit and I share my recycling bin. How do my neighbours and I get it right?

If you notice people putting the wrong things in the recycling or rubbish bins, ask your building manager or owner to install signage to help you and your neighbours get it right on bin night.

If you don’t have access to recycling in your unit or apartment, start by talking to your building manager or body corporate. Encourage your neighbours to ask too and show that a service is in demand in your block or building.  Also ask your local council if there are services available.

Q. Why do items need to go into the recycling bin loose? Why can't I use a plastic bag?

The machines that sort your recycling can't do this effectively if your items are in a plastic bag. There are also workers involved in the recycling process and if bags are filled with things other than your recycling, like food scraps, dirty items like nappies or dangerous items like toxic chemicals and syringes, it could put the worker at risk of danger or disease.

Q. I want to recycle more but there’s not enough room in my recycling bin. What can I do?

If your recycling bin is too small, contact your local council. Depending on your circumstances (including current bin size and number of members in your household) many councils have options for providing you with a larger bin or an additional bin. Try flattening plastic containers and collapse your cardboard boxes to make more space in your bin.

Q. My rubbish bin is too small for all my waste. What can I do?

Your rubbish bin may be too small because you might be putting items in your rubbish bin that can actually be recycled. Check the What can I recycle page to make sure you are not throwing items away that can be recycled. If you can’t reduce the amount of rubbish by recycling more of it, try contacting your council. Depending on your circumstances (including current bin size and number of members in your household) some councils have options for the size of your rubbish bin.

Q. Do I need to wash or rinse containers before I put them in the recycling bin?

No, you just need to empty any remaining scraps or leftover content. Where necessary, just give items a good scrape clean. There's no need to waste water washing your recycling and if you are worried about smelly items, why not use your left over washing-up water to give them a quick rinse.

Q. Do I leave the lids on or off my recycling?

There is no simple answer to this question. What you do with the lid depends on what equipment and processes are used by the material recovery facility (MRF) that sorts your recycling. To find out what to do with lids in your area, contact your local council.

Q. Some plastic containers have the recycling triangle with a number on it and some don't. Can I recycle plastic items that don't have the triangle and number?

The triangle with a number from 1 to 7 is a plastic identification code notifying manufacturers what type of plastic the item is made from - it is not related to whether or not you can put it in your kerbside recycling bin.To find out if your plastic container or packaging is recyclable check What can I recycle. If your item is on the list then it can be recycled even if it doesn’t have a recycling symbol or a number on it. Some items like plastic bags may also have a triangle and a number, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they can go in your kerbside bin. If the item is not in the What can I recycle list you should contact your council. 

Q. Can I put items in my recycling bin that aren't packaging but are made from recyclable material like metal, glass and plastic?

Generally speaking kerbside recycling is designed for packaging items (containers, cans, bottles and jars) and for cardboard, paper and cartons (see What can I recycle for more details). Beyond this, what can and can’t be recycled depends on the individual material recovery facility (MRF) that sorts your council’s recycling. There are a number of MRFs operating across Victoria with different sorting capabilities. If you are unsure it’s best to check with your council for the most up to date information.

Q. Why can I only recycle glass bottles and jars?

Other types of glass such as windows and drinking glasses are not compatible with the kerbside recycling system. They are made from different types of glass to bottles and jars. Glass is recycled by melting it down, and generally these types of non packaging glass are heat resistant and are harder to melt down. Some drinking glasses also contain crystal which is hard to melt down.

Q. Some of the packaging I want to recycle seems to be made from a mix of materials, for example long life milk and juice containers. Can I recycle these types of items?

Yes, it is possible to recycle some containers made from a mix of material types. Check the Recycling list page and if you can't find an example of the container you're after check with your council.

Q. Do I have to remove the plastic windows from envelopes?

No, you can recycle paper envelopes without removing the window.

Q. How can I be sure that what I put in the recycling bin actually gets recycled?

There is a large industry involved in managing your recycling. You can find out more about the recycling process and the end products that are produced here.

Contact your council to find out if they are running any educational tours to a recycling facility where you can see the process in action!

Q. What products do my recyclables get made into?

There are a range of products made from your recycling including:

  • Paper - telephone directories, kitty litter, plaster board, egg cartons and cardboard boxes.
  • Magazines - paperboard and newspapers.
  • Plastics - wheelie bins, clothing, pallets, carpet fibre, signage, sleeping bag and jacket lining, outdoor furniture like seats, bollards and play equipment, frisbees, plastic bottles and buckets.
  • Glass - new glass bottles, fibreglass and road base.
  • Aluminium - bike and car parts, appliances, new cans, door and window frames.
  • Steel - steel cans
Q. Can plastic bags and other soft/flexible plastics like cling wrap or pasta packets go into my recycling bin?

For the vast majority of Victorian householders the answer to this question is 'No', plastic bags and other flexible plastics cannot go into your recycling bin. However, one council, the City of Moreland, is currently accepting flexible plastic packaging in their recycling bins. To confirm what type of plastics go into your recycling bin check 'What can I recycle' or contact your local council.

There are some community projects that provide disposal outlets to enable people to recycle their plastic bags. Check out the great work being done by the Red Group with Australian schools.

What a council accepts in the kerbside recycling bin depends on which material recovery facility (MRF) processes their recycling. There are a number of different MRFs servicing Victorian councils which may have different sorting processes and requirements. Check with your council to see if they accept different items. Get it Right on Bin Night is only promoting items that are consistently collected across Victoria.

State Government Of Victoria