Have you ever gone to throw something away and been stopped short by the number of wheelie bins? How do you know which material goes where and why do we have to separate everything?
You’re not the only one wondering. Many Aussies don’t know the proper waste management protocol and just toss rubbish in the closest bin without a second thought. Unfortunately, this makes things difficult for waste processors and can damage the environment.
To choose the right bin, it helps to know the different types of wheelie bins and what each is used for. You may see anywhere from two to five bins depending on where you’re at. Don’t get overwhelmed! There’s an easy way to tell them apart.
The different types of bins are differentiated by colors. Some bins will have a colored lid and others will be a solid color all over. Either way, the color denotes how the bins are used and what can go into each.
General Waste Bin
The general waste bin is signified by the color red. Most general waste bins will have a red lid or the bin itself will be a solid red. In general, all non-recyclable materials belong in this bin. This might include:
- Plastic bags
- Food packaging
- Broken glass or ceramics
- Contaminated paper products
- Product packaging
General waste bins are collected weekly. The contents are transported to a sorting facility, then ultimately end up in a landfill. This can lead to harmful gasses being released into the air and chemicals being released into the soil as the waste breaks down. Try to minimse the amount you put in general waste as much as you can.
Mixed Recyclable Bin
If you are trying to reduce your general waste, you may be using more recyclables. Those go in the mixed recycling bin, signified by the color yellow. Recycling can be a bit more complicated than general waste but don’t worry! It’s easy to catch on.
Mixed recycling is for all recyclable materials except paper or soft plastic. However, if specific bins for those materials are unavailable, they can be included in the yellow bin. Items includes:
- Aluminum cans
- Milk or juice cartons
- Clean glass
- Hard plastics
Mixed recycling content is collected fortnightly. Contents are sorted into the various categories at a sorting facility. If a material can be reused, it is. Those that can’t be reused are stored.
Paper Recycling Bin (blue)
In some areas, you may also see a blue recycling bin. This is specifically for paper recycling. Since making paper and cardboard materials means cutting down trees, recycling them after use is pretty important.
When paper is recycled properly, it can be reused to create other types of paper products like egg cartons or notebooks. This reduces the number of trees that need to be cut down.
Paper products that can go in the blue bin include:
- Clean office paper
- Clean cardboard products
- Newspapers or magazines without plastic wrap
- Clean paper based cartons
The paper in blue bins is collected fortnightly. Contents are sorted into various materials, broken down, and reused.
Soft Plastic Recycling Bin (white)
Another specific recycling bin you may see is the soft plastic recycling bin. These are white or have a white lid. Soft plastics don’t mix well with other recyclable materials. They can make it more difficult to sort and can prevent recyclables from being reused efficiently.
Soft plastics are exactly what they sound like – plastic that is soft. This includes:
- Bread bags without the ties
- Cling wrap
- Plastic bags
- Bubble wrap
- Pasta and rice bags
- Frozen food bags
These aren’t as common but some offices or businesses will offer them. If a designated bin is not available, your soft plastics can go into the mixed recycling bin.
Organic Waste Bin
The final bin you’re likely to see is the organic or garden waste bin. This is green or will have a green top. Organic waste needs to be separated due to the lack of oxygen available to it in landfills.
Landfills are so crowded with other trash that organic materials aren’t able to get the oxygen they need to properly break down. Instead, they decompose anaerobically and generate methane, one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.
Separating this waste into its own bin helps make sure that it can be disposed of properly, with plenty of oxygen. Organic waste includes things like:
- Apple cores or banana peels
- Plate scrapings or leftovers
- Coffee grounds
- Garden prunings
These materials can be composted and turned into valuable resources like fertilizer. The green bins are collected fortnightly. You may need to specifically request an organic waste bin from your local council.
It may seem a bit overwhelming, but with a little practice it’s easy to get the hang of each different waste bin and what they’re used for. No matter how many bins you have, keep them clean and fresh with regular cleanings from Wheelie Clean Bins. Schedule your first cleaning today.