Dispose of plastic

Last updated: 12 March 2021

Why recycle plastic?

Producing plastics from recycled materials saves approximately 88% of the energy required to make plastic from the raw materials of oil and gas. The energy saved by recycling one plastic drink bottle would power a computer for 25 minutes.

Recycle your household plastic to:

  • save energy
  • reduce landfill
  • reduce CO2 emissions
  • conserve raw materials.

Reduce your household plastic waste

Reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce the amount of plastic you need to recycle wherever possible:

  1. Minimise the amount of plastic food packaging you purchase.
  2. Always have a cloth bag with you. Goodbye plastic bags.
  3. Look for quality and products made from alternative, recyclable materials such as glass.

Plastic you can put in your kerbside recycling bin

Your kerbside recycling bin is primarily for hard plastics, including:

  • biscuit trays
  • bottles (e.g milk, soft drink) and their tops
  • cake trays (plastic)
  • cleaning product bottles
  • compact disc cases (no discs)
  • containers (e.g. ice cream and margarine)
  • deodorant sticks (roll-on)
  • detergent bottles
  • fruit and vegetable punnets
  • hard plastic packaging
  • medicine bottles
  • plant pots (small)
  • plastic toys (remove batteries first)
  • shampoo/conditioner bottles
  • soap pump bottles
  • take away food containers
  • vitamin bottles
  • yoghurt containers.

Don't forget to:

  • cut the rings from plastic bottle necks and six pack holders to reduce harm to animals
  • you can recycle soft plastics at many supermarkets
  • empty and lightly rinse items before recycling them.

Plastic you can't put in your kerbside recycling bin

  • cling wrap
  • disposable nappies
  • frozen food bags
  • garden hoses
  • plastic bags and sachets
  • plastic dinnerware (eg. disposable plates)
  • plastic straws
  • polystyrene and expanded polystyrene*
  • rope
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste tubes.

* This includes the spongy black foam trays often used for meat packaging, some takeaway containers and hot drink cups. Contact your local council to find out how to recycle polystyrene.

Please note: some councils that do accept plastic bags in their kerbside recycling. Find out about recycling near you.

What about soft plastics?

Soft plastics – the kind that can be scrunched into a ball – are among the biggest problems in the kerbside recycling system, as they get caught in the recycling machinery. The good news is these plastics can be recycled at many supermarkets through the REDcycle program. The plastic is made into furniture for schools and kindergartens among other things.

A good way to remember to recycle these plastics is to put them straight into your reusable shopping bag. Below is a list of some of the soft plastics that you can recycle. For a full list visit the REDcycle website.

  • biscuit packs (not trays)
  • bread, rice and pasta bags
  • bubble wrap
  • dry cleaning bags
  • frozen food bags
  • lolly packets
  • newspaper wrap
  • old green (and other re-usable) bags
  • plastic shopping bags.

Confused by the triangle symbol?

Don't be tricked! A triangle with a number (1 to 7) inside stamped on a plastic container or bottle is part of the Resin Identification Code.

This code identifies the type of resin the plastic product is made from, not whether it can be recycled. Hard plastics coded 1–7 can be recycled in the yellow lidded recycling bin except for polystyrene and plastic bags. People often confuse the 'resin identification code' for the general recycling symbol (mobius loop), which involves three chasing arrows.

Plastic ID codes 1 to 7

Plastic bags

Twenty million Australians still use over 3.9 billion plastic checkout bags a year. That's 10 million per day! Plastic bags are responsible for the deaths of many marine and terrestrial animals, and can take between 15 and 1,000 years to break down in the environment.

What happens to recycled plastic?

Recycled plastic items are initially sorted into different types of plastic.

The plastic is ground into chips or flakes and washed to remove labels or residue.

The plastic is then dried, melted and formed into pellets, which can be used to manufacture new products such as artificial fleece, carpeting, floor mats, tiles, furniture, motor oil, plant pots, garden furniture, detergent bottles and pipes.