12 household items you can recycle (but probably aren’t)

How do you know you’re doing it right? From bottle caps to aerosol cans, here’s a look at some of the things you may not think to recycle – but actually can.

1. Aerosol cans

Over half of Australians wrongly believe that aerosol cans are non-recyclable – for fear they will explode. Once they’re completely empty, they’re safe to recycle along with other metal packaging, because they’re made from fully recyclable steel and aluminium. Try to remove any plastic parts and place in bins without compressing. Full or partially full aerosol cans are treated as household hazardous waste, and can be disposed of if you contact your local council.

2. Plastic bags and wrappers

They don’t go in your regular wheelie recycling bins, so how do you save soft plastics from ending up in landfill? As it turns out, everything from bubble wrap and dry-cleaning bags, to chip packets, cling wrap and sandwich bags are recyclable. Check out REDcycle, a recycling program that saves soft plastics from landfill and turns them into a material that can be used to manufacture new goods.

3. Packing peanuts

Those polystyrene packing peanuts with which you protect your breakables are particularly problematic as they take up lots of space and fail to biodegrade. To find out where you can recycle them in your state, check here.

4. Wine corks

Australians are large consumers of wine – but less than 5 per cent of cork stoppers are recycled. Cork is natural and biodegradable and can be recycled to make a range of products such as coasters, cork boards, mats and flooring. There are a couple of cork recycling programs dotted around Australia. Alternatively, shred them up and toss them into your compost or use as garden mulch.

Australians throw out over 18 million cartridges a year, which amounts to over 5,000 tonnes of material in landfill. Save any cartridges used in printers, photocopiers and fax machines – at home and at work – and drop them at a collection point at one of the following stores.

6. Bathroom product bottles

A lot of people don’t have recycling bins in their bathrooms, which means toilet rolls, shampoo and body wash bottles end up in general waste. Once empty, take care to separate and sort properly.

7. Coffee pods

Those single-serve coffee pods are notoriously wasteful. On average, Australians use one a week each. Do your bit to help by gathering those used pods in a plastic bag and dropping them at your nearest Nespresso store.

8. Juice and milk cartons

Containers made of multiple materials bonded together – including long-life milk, soup and juice cartons – can be recycled. At the processing facility, they’re swirled in water, which helps to separate the cardboard from the plastic and aluminium.

9. Aluminium foil

Don’t be so quick to throw out those Easter egg wrappers, disposable pans or the lids of your yoghurt containers. Aluminium foil is good to toss into recycle, so long as it’s clean and scrunched or rolled into a ball.

When was the last time you cleaned out that storage area under your sink? We shudder to think how many cracked, expired, half-used beauty products we’d find under there. Enter TerraCycle, who’ve teamed up with L’Oreal Australia to set up the Beauty Products Recycling Program. Simply fill a box, go online and download a shipping label, that way you can print and post it for free to the local recycling depot. Check out other Terracycle programs, including the Oral Care Recycling Program, allowing you to recycle used toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and dental floss containers.

11. Bottle caps

There are two types of bottle caps – the steel ones on beer bottles and the plastic ones on milk bottles. As it turns out, both are recyclable. Unfortunately, they’re too small to be collected, so often end up in landfill. The best way to recycle them is to collect them in a can and squeeze the top closed.

12. Pizza boxes

People are in two minds about whether or not you can recycle pizza boxes. Yes, they’re made of cardboard, but the pepperoni particles and greasy cheese residue can spoil and create problems later down the track. Try to salvage the box if it’s only slightly greasy, or tear it apart and salvage the lid.

Do you recycle any of these items?

Written by Kathleen Lee-Joe. First appeared on Domain.com.au.