I am often asked, “Where can I recycle X?” or “What can I do with Y when I’m finished with it?” We all know you can put glass, aluminium, rigid plastics and paper products in curbside recycling bins. (You do know what can be recycled, don’t you? No more ‘wishcycling’!) You might be surprised to learn that there are some surprising things that can be recycled or reused elsewhere. Some services are provided free by government services and others for a fee.
I’ll go through some of the options I have discovered below but first a note. Look at recycling as your final option. Before sending something to be recycled, see if you can use it for another purpose first or look into giving it to someone else for reuse. Before taking things to charity stores, explore other options such as the direct approach of offering to friends, family and neighbours. Make sure things are clean and in working order for their best chance of reuse. Charity stores particularly do not have the resources to deal with soiled or broken items and they will end up in landfill.
If things are beyond reuse, then see what recycling options are available for the item. It is much better at this stage to recover the materials than to throw things into the rubbish bin. It is great to get in the habit of checking a resource like Recycling Near You or something like the Recyclopeadia that we have in the ACT when you need to dispose of something. You might be surprised what someone will collect to reuse or recycle.
Surprising Things That Can Be Recycled
I think most people know by now that most soft plastics (the scrunchable type) can be recycled through Red Cycle at all Woolworths and Coles stores.
Fabric Scraps & Linen
Upparel recycle all manner of fabric items including fabric offcuts and manchester.
Upparel also accept all kinds of clothing (including wetsuits) with the exception of underwear and wired bras. Items must be clean.
H&M Stores also have garment collection boxes in their stores.
Upparel will reuse or repair shoes if they can. If that isn’t possible, they will recover any of the components that they can.
Glasses (Spectacles) & Contact Lenses.
Mattresses & Ensemble Bases
Soft Landing will collect mattresses and ensemble bed bases, break them down into their components for recycling.
Ikea also pick up your old mattress for recycling when they deliver a new Ikea one.
CDs, DVDs & Records
In addition to books, Lifeline collects other items to sell at their book fairs in various locations. This includes CDs, DVDs, vinyl records. On their Canberra website (search for the Lifeline Bookfair closest to you) they also list “comics, magazines, … pamphlets, encyclopedias …, sheet music, maps and atlases, calendars and postcards, stamps and trading cards, … talking books, puzzles, board games and models, collectable card games, war gaming and miniatures, computer software and games for current and historic operating systems.” Phew, that is quite a list!
Officeworks also accept DVDs and CDs.
Lids & Bread Tags
Most lids and bread tags are too small for recycling because they fall through the machinery. Lids 4 Kids collect, sort and shred them so that the plastic can be manufactured into useful things. Check their website for a dropoff location.
Medicine Blister Packs
Lids4Kids Canberra recently started accepting medicine blister packs too. Check with your local coordinator if they will accept these too.
Most plant nurseries have an area to collect used plastic plant pots.
Fluorescent Tubes and Light Globes
Government Waste Management Centres often collect light bulbs and tubes.
Ikea also has collection points for these.
Batteries, including Car Batteries
Battery World Stores accept used batteries of any kinds, including car batteries.
Aldi and Ikea both have battery drop off boxes for AA, AAA, C, D and 9V rechargeable and non-rechargable batteries.
Officeworks also accept AA, AAA, C, D and 9V batteries plus laptop and mobile phone batteries.
Concrete & Bricks
Concrete recyclers crush products for reuse. You can take a trailer load directly to them. When we broke up a slab in our backyard, we hired a skip from a company that took the contents to be recycled.
Government Waste Management Centres often have collection points for cans of paint.
Chemicals and Household Cleaners
Government Waste Management Centres also accept hazardous materials such as household cleaners.
Teds Cameras have a recycling program for all analogue and digital cameras.
The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme ensures that old computers and televisions are collected by government waste management centres.
Some manufacturers, such as Apple, have their own recycling programs.
Old mobile phones are collected for Mobile Muster at various locations including Officeworks stores.
Officeworks also accept e-Waste including computers, monitors, keyboards, printers, mice, hard drives, cables and chargers, computer power supplies, printed circuit boards and motherboards.
Officeworks and many Australia Post outlets have ink and printer cartridge recycling bins.
Pens & Markers
And, finally, Officeworks also now accept used pens and markers at selected stores.
Ok, that’s my list. It isn’t comprehensive but I hope you found it useful when you ask yourself, “Where can I recycle this?” and that there is something there that you might previously have thrown in the bin.