Some take aways for your takeaway meal packaging

Here’s what to do after you’ve enjoyed your takeaway meal

Communities - Learning

July 2, 2024


Ordering takeaway food or meal deliveries comes with recycling challenges for many of us.

Cleanaway’s 2024 Recycling Behaviours Report revealed that many of us don’t know which bin to use for takeaway food packaging products.

Here’s what to do with common items once you’ve enjoyed your meal or drink.

Plastic containers

Our report found a quarter (27 per cent) of Australians are putting the clear plastic takeaway containers, which often contain meals such as noodles or curries, in the general waste bin, when they are in fact recyclable.

Even if these containers are split or cracked, they can still be placed in the recycling bin, as long as they are free from food.

By recycling these materials, we can play our role in closing the loop on the lifecycle of packaging materials and reduce our reliance on virgin plastics, or products that use greater environmental resources.

If the container differs from clear plastic takeaway packaging check with your local council to determine if that material is accepted in kerbside recycling.

Paper drink cup

Beverages that come in paper drink cups, such as soft drinks from fast food restaurants, are a challenge for more than half of us. It turns out 58 per cent incorrectly place these in the recycling bin, instead of general waste while just under a third of people know which bin is correct to use.

Coffee cups are another item that leaves us wondering.

Nearly half of Australians surveyed as part of our Recycling Behaviours Report are still placing takeaway coffee cups into the recycling bin. Similar to paper takeaway drink cups, coffee cups cannot be placed in the kerbside recycling bin, as the plastic lining in them means they can’t be recycled. We encourage people to bring a reusable coffee cup where possible instead of using disposable cups at all!

How clean does it need to be?

Do I rinse it? Do I need to wash it? Can I recycle it as-is?

We recommend rinsing containers to remove as much food as possible and have it reasonably dry before placing them in the bin with other recyclables.

Residual food waste, especially grease, can cause a material to become unrecyclable and lead to contamination so the simple step of a quick rinse is important. Food waste goes into the food organics bin if you have one in your area, otherwise you could start your own home compost.

By educating ourselves on how to recycle items that transport our takeaway, we can minimise our environmental impact and work towards a more sustainable future.

Visit Cleanaway’s Greenius Learning Portal to learn more on what can and can’t be put in your kerbside bins.

Cleanaway’s Recycling Behaviours Report
For the fourth year running, Cleanaway and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) have conducted research into Australians’ recycling behaviours. These valuable insights on everyday recycling challenges help shape Cleanaway’s priorities when empowering Australians in their recycling decisions.

Since 2017, the CEFC has been working with Cleanaway to support waste education efforts, such as the Recycling Behaviours Report. Through this investment, Cleanaway and the CEFC aim to reduce waste going to landfill and create a sustainable future for Australians.