National Recycling Week 2018: Simplifying recycling once and for all


November 8, 2018


Australia has a problem. A recycling problem.

Every day around Australia as much as 20% of the commingled recycling we diligently sort each week ends up in landfill. Put simply, too much contamination means recycling facilities can’t sort the treasure from the trash.

Australians have been enthusiastic recyclers for over 30 years. But it seems that we’re confused about what belongs in the recycling and it’s easy to see why. What’s accepted in your recycling bin depends on who empties it, and the Material Recovery Facility (or MRF) the recycling ends up at for processing. To add to the confusion, changes in packaging, manufacturing, and consumer behaviour have resulted in more complex waste streams today – many of which require different technology for processing. Whether or not we could recycle coffee cups simply wasn’t an issue 10 years ago.

China’s National Sword policy which limits the import of recycling into China, particularly lower quality recyclables with previously accepted levels of contamination, has brought this issue to a head. We must now accept responsibility for the quality of our recyclables – and the cost for sorting them.

Cleanaway, one of Australia’s largest waste management companies, doesn’t think it should be that hard. To coincide with National Recycling Week (12-16 November), they are launching ‘Simply5 It’. A campaign that identifies the five simple categories of items which belong in the recycling bin – no matter where you are. By promoting a simple and consistent approach to recycling Cleanaway aims to improve the quality of recyclable materials in our bins, thus maximising the amount of material that is recovered for reuse.

It’s time to Simply5 it. The following five items belong in your kerbside recycling bin:

1. Paper/cardboard

2. Rigid plastic

3. Glass bottles and jars

4. Steel

5. Aluminium

To ensure they can be processed and recovered – it’s important that these items are clean, dry and unbagged.

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director, Vik Bansal said, “Recycling paper, cardboard, plastic containers, glass and steel/aluminium cans will never go out of style even with changes in markets and processing technologies and that is why it’s important to get the basics right when recycling these five materials.”

“A successful recycling market relies on being able the sell recyclable materials as a commodity, to offset the cost of collection and processing. Being able to return these recyclable materials back into the value stream also reduces our reliance on new materials to fuel manufacturing” Vik explained.

Contamination, like food, plastic bags and textiles, not only destroys the value of quality recyclables but can also damage machinery and increase the cost of processing. China’s decision to close its doors on contaminated recycling means tonnes of lower quality recyclables have no market for resale.

National Recycling Week is a great opportunity to get the recycling message out to businesses, communities and industry. Clear and simple recycling information, that people can remember when waste disposal decisions are made, is where we can make the biggest impact on positive recycling behaviour.

The takeaway message? Keep it simple. Recyclables that are all clean of food and dry of liquids are the best items to put in your recycling bin. If in doubt, throw it out in general waste. Don’t risk ruining quality recycling with contamination like textiles, food and plastic bags.

Recycling shouldn’t be complicated, especially when you ‘Simply5 it’.

Digital assets for use:

Lead film – What’s in your bin: 

Schools animation – Simply5 It: 

Should you require any further assets or images, or for interview requests – please contact Melissa McColl, details below.

Media contact:

Melissa McColl, Communications and Engagement Manager, 0466 323 844

About Cleanaway

Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd is Australia’s leading waste management company, operating a national network of unique collection, processing, treatment and landfill assets from over 260 locations across Australia. Our philosophy is that all waste is a resource and we aim to incorporate recover, recycling and reuse throughout our operations and those of our clients. Our mission is to make a sustainable future possible for all our stakeholders.

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