Check what goes into your bins on your council website

Last updated: 1 March 2023
Illustration of a hand holding a smartphone with a council web page showing.

Small acts are all it takes to make a big impact

By checking your council website and making sure you put the right thing in the right bin you’ll be helping the recycling process and creating Victoria’s circular economy. This means that:

  • more valuable resources can be recovered and turned into new things like park benches, composts, glass jars and egg cartons
  • less ends up in landfill
  • environmental impacts of using new or raw materials are reduced.

It’s a small act with a big impact on Victoria’s sustainable future.

Why it matters

Services are changing

Victoria’s recycling systems are changing for the better with the transition to a new household waste and recycling system that will be consistent across the state. This means the bins you have at home, what goes into them and the drop-off recycling services available in your local area could be changing soon. Some councils have already introduced separate services for food and garden organics or glass. Others have planned them.

Services can differ

Until the transition to the new statewide system is complete, recycling services can differ from council to council. This includes which waste and recycling services are available to you and what you should put into each bin. These services are designed to maximise the recovery of resources and reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill.

Things can change

Packaging materials as well as recycling capacity and capability can change over time. Some things that were once destined for landfill are now recyclable and sometimes what we guess is recyclable by the way it looks cannot be recycled.

Sorting correctly helps the process

The contents of each of your bins get collected separately and go to a different place for sorting and processing. Depending on which services are available in your local area:

  • Recycling will go to a Materials Recovery Facility for separation and sorting into different material types like plastic, cardboard and metal which will be processed so they can be used to make new packaging.
  • Food and garden organics will go to an organics processing centre where it will be processed into compost and soil enhancers which can then be used to grow new food.
  • Glass will go to a glass recycling facility where it will be cleaned, sorted by colour and prepared for processing so it can be used to make new things like glass bottles and even roads.
  • General rubbish will be sent to landfill.

Making sure you put the right thing in the right bin means we can recover more valuable materials to turn them into new things. Some things that can’t be recycled, go into landfill so they don’t contaminate recycling.

Contaminants are items placed in the wrong bin. Contamination can damage sorting and processing equipment and risk worker safety. In some cases, recyclable or compostable materials end up going to landfill if there are too many contaminants in the load. In fact, 76,000 tonnes of contaminated recycling was sent to landfill in 2019-2020 (VLGAS 2021).

Checking with your council to find out what can and can’t go into your bins and following these instructions means you minimise contamination.

Tips and tricks

Find your council information

Don’t know which council manages your area or what goes in your recycling bins? Regularly check your council’s waste and recycling advice so you know what goes where.

Bookmark the page

Many council websites are mobile-friendly and some have an A to Z Guide to waste and recycling that tells you which bin to use for a whole range of items. Make it easy to find the correct, up to date information by bookmarking the page so it’s handy when you need it.

Items to keep out of your recycling

While different councils may accept different items in their recycling, there are some materials that should never be placed in your recycling bin no matter where you live in Victoria.

As a guide, the main things to keep out of your recycling bins are:

Soft plastics

Check if your plastic is soft by doing the scrunch test – if you can scrunch it up into a ball with your hand, keep it out of recycling.

Clothing, shoes and other textiles

These items can clog and damage machines at the material recovery facility. There are many alternative disposal options, including donating, selling or swapping.


Polystyrene packaging and boxes cannot be recycled in household services because they break into small pieces and clog the machines. Check with your council for any local collection or drop-off services.

Food scraps

If you have a separate Food and Garden Organics bin, add your scraps to that or give home composting a try.

E-waste (electronic waste)

Any item with a cord, plug or battery is e-waste, which cannot go in any household bin and should be dropped off at a specialised e-waste collection point. Check with your council to find one near you.

Household chemicals

Household chemicals cannot be placed in any household bin as they could explode, leak or release toxic fumes. Household chemicals include chemical cleaners, detergent, bleach, fertiliser, car wax, and nail polish and removers. Check with your council for local collection or drop-off services. You can also drop off your unused household chemicals at a Sustainability Victoria Detox Your Home event.

Find a small act that works for you

There are many other easy ways to reduce waste and recycle more. Find a small act that works for you and be part of Victoria’s sustainable future.