Keep your recycling loose

Last updated: 22 May 2023
Graphic of a person throwing their recycling into the bin loose from a plastic tub.

Small acts are all it takes to make a big impact

Just by putting your recycling in the bin loose and not in bags, you’ll be making it easier for your council to collect and process recycling. This means:

  • more items can be made into new things (like roads, footpaths, glass jars, planter boxes and park benches)
  • valuable resources don't end up wasted in landfill
  • environmental impacts from using new or raw materials are reduced
  • you contribute to Victoria’s circular economy..

Why it matters

Currently, 16% of Victorians put their recycling in plastic bags, making it a major contaminant in household recycling bins (Sustainability Victoria, Recycling Victoria Campaign Baseline Research, July 2021).

Contamination occurs when items that can’t be recycled are placed in the recycling bin. These non-recyclable items can prevent recycling from being processed and turned into new things. Contamination can even lead to an entire load of recycling being sent to landfill.

Recycling in plastic bags cannot be sorted at Material Recovery Facilities because:

  • plastic bags can damage equipment by getting caught in the machines
  • it presents a health and safety risk to staff who sort recycling as the contents of the bag are not visible and may include sharp objects.

Transforming your recycling

Recycling technology has come a long way in the last few years. By recycling correctly, your recyclables can be transformed into everyday products or used in major Victorian infrastructure projects like:

Tips and tricks

Collect your recycling in a basket, plastic tub or cardboard box

Once full, empty the contents into your household recycling bin so that all items go in separately.

Reduce bin smells

Rinsing and scraping food or liquid from containers can prevent smells and keep your recycling bin clean. Then you won’t need to use a bag to contain your recycling.

Check with your council to find out what can go into your recycling bin

Waste and recycling services can change and differ between councils, so it is important to know what your council can accept. Find out by checking your council's waste and recycling advice.

Some items can be recycled, just not in your bins

Many items can still be recycled even if they don’t belong in your recycling bin. For example, batteries can be recycled by taking them to a drop-off point.

Highly toxic items, such as chemicals, should never be put in your rubbish bins or poured down the drain. Find out how to dispose of toxic household items.

Find out where you can take or send items that can’t go in your recycling or rubbish bin by visiting the Recycling Near You tool or Recycle Mate.

Find small acts that work for you

Get ready for new recycling services, find out how to reduce waste and check that you're sorting recycling and waste correctly by undertaking a few small acts.