Australians are some of the best recyclers in the world – nearly 90 per cent of paper and cardboard used in the country is recycled, and regular government-led public awareness campaigns make that number climb higher every year. However, many people are still in the dark about when they can and cannot recycle paper. If you’re looking to live the greenest light possible, ensure you know what bin to aim for when disposing of a paper product. Read on to find out.

Food contamination

This is a big one, and a concern that comes up frequently. All recycled products have to be cleaned before they can be successfully recycled – either by you or the facility. That means no cheese-covered pizza boxes, no greasy chip packets and no sugary donut containers. This is because paper recycled by mixing it with water in a large churner, during which any contaminants will be freed from the paper and mixed into the resulting pulp as most facilities lack the ability to filter out oil. Even a piece of wax paper with a slight grease stain needs to go into the bin, as recycling facilities only mix clean paper with clean paper.

Plastic coating

A large number of paper products such as drink containers, disposable plates and certain paper bags are coated with a thin layer of plastic to add strength, waterproofing and rigidity. Much like food contaminated products, these units cannot be recycled with plain old printer paper or newsprint as the plastic will contaminate other products in exactly the same way. The goal of recycling is always clean paper in, clean paper out with absolutely minimum – preferably zero – contamination, which affects it saleability and reusability.

Other no-nos

There are a number of other surprising paper products that can’t be accepted by most facilities. Shredded paper is usually avoided as it creates sorting problems for the facility, but may be accepted if it’s bagged separately or you work with a specialist provider. Equally, even slightly used paper towel has to be discarded because of contaminants, even where it’s only been used to sweep up dust or crumbs. This said, your individual recycling facility’s rules may differ. Contact them to find out what their specific policies are.

If you’re looking for a waste management company with the experience and the technical ability to assist you, start a discussion with Toxfree today.

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