Skip to main content
What DEFINITELY goes in your Council recycling bin?

What DEFINITELY goes in your Council recycling bin?

Each Australian city council has a similar, but slightly different list of what can and cannot be placed in your council recycling bin

The reason for this is because city councils don't actually recycle anything. They send your recyclables to a specialist recycling company. Each recyclable item is treated differently, for example, paper is recycled differently to glass.  In line with this, each different specialist companies has different recycling equipment and technology. 

You can check what goes in your council recycling bin on this website by item or by looking up the links to your council. 

Generic list of recyclables

Here is a generic list we found on Think Recycle (City of Greater Geelong)


  •  Bottles
  • Cosmetic Jars
  • Jars
  • Medicine Bottles
  • Vitamin Bottles


  • Aerosol Cans / Hairspray / Insect Spray 
  • Aluminium Cans
  • Aluminium Trays / Foil 
  • Bottle Tops 
  • Deodorant Cans
  • Food Cans / Pet Food Cans 
  • Jar Lids 
  • Empty Paint Tin 
  • Empty Paint Spray Cans 
  • Steel Cans

Mixed Materials

  • Foil Lined / Juice Container 
  • Long-Life Container 
  • Stock Container

Plastic - Rigid Only

  • Berry / Fruit Punnet
  • Biscuit Tray
  • Bottle Top
  • Cake Tray
  • Cooking Oil Container
  • Detergent Bottle
  • Deodorant Roll-On
  • Food Tray (not polystyrene)
  • Hair Product Container 
  • Ice Cream Container
  • Laundry Detergent Bottle
  • Lunch Box
  • Margarine Container
  • Meat Tray (not polystyrene)
  • Milk Container
  • Reusable Container
  • Rigid Container
  • Shampoo / Conditioner Bottle
  • Takeaway Container
  • Vegetable Punnet plastic
  • Empty Vitamin / Medicine Bottle
  • Water / Drink Bottle
  • Yoghurt Container

Paper / Cardboard

  •  Advertising Material
  • Book
  • Box
  • Cardboard
  • Cereal Box
  • Deli / Butchers Paper
  • Egg Carton
  • Envelopes - All types including plastic windows
  • Gift Wrapping Paper
  • Greeting Cards
  • Juice Carton
  • Laundry Powder Box
  • Magazine
  • Milk Carton
  • Napkin / Serviette
  • Newspaper
  • Office Paper
  • Paper Bag
  • Paper Plate
  • Phone Book
  • Paper Towel Roll
  • Pizza Box clean
  • Tissue Box
  • Toilet Paper Roll

What is recycling contamination?

Recycling contamination occurs if you place items in your council recycling bin that can not be recycled. While items may be able to be recycled, if they are not accepted by the council for recycling, they are considered to be contaminants.

Contamination may include broken glass, crockery, the wrong plastics and dirty nappies. These materials can create health risks for those manually sorting the rubbish and can also lead to damage of the recycling machinery.

Soft plastics

Soft plastics, including plastic bags, are generally considered non-recyclable. This is mainly because they can get caught in the recycling machinery. All soft plastics can however be taken to your local Coles or Woolworths for recycling by REDcycle. 

Recycle direct or through your own shopping choices

There are also hundreds of ways you can recycle direct, without going through the council recycle system. There are many many ways you can use your wallet or merchant choices to recycle almost anything. 

  • Go to an accredited Sustainable Salon for your hair and beauty. All waste, including hair, from Sustainable Salons members, is collected and recycled. They have many many projects, including their latest, which involves turning shampoo bottles into glasses frames
  • Items like shoes, bras, glasses frames, bread tags can all be recycled. Just go to our recycle page, put in your location, choose your material and look up!
  • Most electronics items can be recycled at the merchant at point of re-purchase.
  • Most states have appliance recycle schemes and most merchants are required to take away your old appliance when you buy new. 

Image: Unsplash | Victoria Wendish

Something incorrect here? Suggest an update below: