How recycling works

Your recycling helps to turn used products into new items without needing to use up new materials.

But it takes a coordinated effort between local councils, recycling and processing facilities, waste management groups as well as the companies that turn raw recycled materials into new products.

Being careful to recycle every item correctly ensures the recycling process is as efficient as possible. It’s good for the environment and for the sustainability of the Victorian community.

What happens to your recycling?

Materials recovery facilities

Once the recycling truck is full, it is taken to a sorting facility called an MRF – or Materials Recovery Facility. Here your recycling is sorted into different recycling categories. 

High-tech sorting machines

All of the recyclables are loaded onto a conveyor belt, where they begin their long journey through the MRF. The MRF operates using a combination of high-tech sorting machines. The machines cannot sort incorrect items such as bags of rubbish, bagged recyclables and food scraps. These need to be sorted by hand, which is difficult and time consuming. If you put your recycling in plastic bags, it will end up in landfill because it can't be easily sorted and recycled.

Recycling processing facilities

Different machines sort different types of recycling, such as paper, cardboard, steel, aluminium, plastic and glass. The sorted materials are transported to different processing facilities so new products can be made from the recycled materials.

  • Paper and cardboard are pulped and used to make many different products, such as newspapers and sturdy cardboard boxes.
  • Steel and aluminium are melted down and turned into new products like soft drink cans and other containers.
  • Plastics are shredded and turned into a range of items, including polar fleeces and wheelie bins.
  • Glass is melted down and made into glass bottles, and some of it even gets used for making road surfaces.

Recycle right

Recycling the right items in the correct way will ensure that the process is as efficient as possible.

Check out our top five recycling tips to make sure you're doing everything you can to reduce landfill, conserve energy and resources, and minimise greenhouse gases.

Logo for Planet Ark and Recycling Near You

Recycling Near You

Planet Ark's Recycling Near You site offers information about the recycling and waste services offered by your council as well as local drop-off options for items including computers, batteries, printer cartridges and mobile phones.

Visit the Recycling near you website

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RED Group has teamed up with Coles, Woolworths and some of Australia's most-loved brands to to run the REDcycle Program, making it easy for you to keep your plastic bags and soft plastic packaging out of landfill.

Read more

Panorama of Yarra Glen amongst green fields of the Yarra Valley

Council waste and recycling

Household paint, batteries and fluorescent lights can be dropped off for free. Check with your local council for details.

Find your council