Recycling Facts Australia ♻️: We all know (or at least the vast majority of us do) that recycling is a good thing for the environment Recycling has certainly got some bad press in recent years.

Newspaper and TV coverage has highlighted the instances of recycling collections being brought to landfill – and China turning back recycling exports.

At Waster, we highlight the latest trends in the recycling industry and the latest smart waste technology. The good news is that as people become more focused on recycling facts. The number of companies focusing on innovative recycling technology is helping us overcome recycling issues.

Many people do not know, however, that recycling can also save a business money, so it also makes economic sense.

The early 2020s saw lots have changed for the worse following Covid and the various restrictions. Masks and plastic rubbish has increased hugely, and unfortunately but inevitably, very large amounts have ended up in our waterways. Yet another impact of the Government decisions over the last 12 months.

>Download Now: Free PDF Business Owners Guide To Commingled Recycling Bin Services

But just how important is it? How much of an impact can recycling make? Well, the latest Australian recycling facts and statistics really puts things into perspective. So we created an infographic to show you, paper recycling facts, plastic recycling fact. Here are the recycling facts Australia needs to know! 

recycling facts australia


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Recycling Facts Australia Needs To Know! Infographic Transcription

Mr Waster loves facts and he loves recycling – so of course, he would like a list of interesting facts about recycling. Everyone knows that recycling is very important to reduce landfill and waste impacting on the natural environment. Here we’ve compiled some recycling facts Australia needs to know about!

Of course, make sure you come back to our website on a regular basis to check the latest information on all things related to recycling!


Why Recycle?

Reduce Pollution

Collecting, refining and processing raw materials contribute to air and water pollution. Recycling minimises these processes, reducing pollution.

Lower Energy Usage

Recycling reduces the amount of energy expenditure that is required for the extraction, refinement, transportation and processing of raw materials into products.

Reduce Landfill

Waste that would normally be sent to the tip is reused, resulting in less space required for landfill and less need for more waste disposal facilities.

Protect Animals And Their Habitats

Recycling reduces the number of raw materials being extracted from the environment. The extraction of these resources often results in the destruction of natural habitats. Recycling also reduces the amount of waste that leaks into our waterways.

Recycling Saves Lots Of Money And Also Natural Resources – Helping The Environment!

By recycling your household waste you will help save our precious natural resources. Each year kerbside recycling can help save:

11,000 Mega-litres of water
That’s more than enough to fill more than 4,500 Olympic sized swimming pools!

386,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases
That’s the same as taking more than 64,000 cars off the road for a whole year!


Paper Recycling Facts

With the shift towards digital media and paperless offices, it may surprise you to find out that paper is still one of the world’s most commonly used consumer items.


When it comes to paper and cardboard recycling rates, Australia is one of the world leaders at 87%.


However, Australian’s still consume around 230kg per person per year in un-recycled paper.

Recycling just one tonne of paper saves:

13 Trees
2.5 Barrels of oil
4,100kWh of electricity
4m3 of landfill
31,780 litres of water


Plastic Recycling Facts

Plastic is one of the most widely used materials across a multitude of industries. However, its production takes a heavy toll on our environment.


More than 90% of plastics produced are created from virgin fossil feedstocks.


Recycled plastic uses around 88% of the energy required to make new plastics.

Producing new plastic requires oil and coal, and is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions which play a big part in climate change. 8 million tonnes of plastics find their way into our waterways.

An estimated 1 million sea creatures are killed by marine waste every year. Recycling 1 plastic bottle saves enough energy to power a computer for 25 minutes.


What to Recycle (recycling facts Australia)

The following items can generally be recycled in your home recycle bin, but check your local council website. For business recycling bins, it’s best to get in touch with a waste management company to discuss your needs.


Recycling Metal

  • Aerosol cans (including deodorant)
  • Aluminium foil baking trays
  • Baby formula tins
  • Cooking oil tins
  • Food and drink cans
  • Pet food cans


For Recycling Plastic

  • Cake and biscuit trays
  • Cleaning product bottles
  • Deodorant (roll-on)
  • Drink bottles (juice, milk)
  • Punnets (berry)
  • Shampoo, conditioner and soap bottles (including pumps)
  • Sports drink bottles (reusable)
  • Take away food containers
  • Yoghurt containers


Recycling Paper and Cardboard

  • Butcher / Deli paper
  • Cartons (milk, juice, etc.)
  • Cereal boxes
  • Envelopes
  • Long-life cartons
  • Junk mail, newspapers and magazines
  • Paper plates
  • Phone books
  • Pizza boxes
  • Toilet rolls
  • Wrapping paper
  • Washing powder boxes


Recycling Glass

  • Bottles
  • Jars


What not to Recycle

The following items should never be disposed of in your home recycle bin:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic wrap
  • Shredded paper (this can go in your garden organics bin)
  • Clothes
  • Toys
  • Nappies
  • White goods
  • Heat-resistant glass, such as Pyrex
  • Crystal
  • Organic waste (this can go in your garden organics bin or compost)
  • Pens
  • Furniture
  • Car parts
  • Sharps (needles and/or syringes)
  • Foam rubber

Australian Recycling Facts Infographic provided by Waster, Australian Waste Management Services.

Australian Forest Products Association website
Ozscience article on paper consumption in Australia
Details about the Ocean Conference – Factsheet from 2017
Ellen MacArthur Foundation pdf document on the new plastic economy.


Recycling services that can help your business!

Waster is an Australian waste and recycling business for small and medium businesses that put a real focus on educating and providing info on how you can cut your waste management costs and help the environment at the same time.

For example, we have partnered with TerraCycle to offer recycling boxes for many items such as rubber gloves and coffee pods. Also, check out our blog on resources for students (waste and recycling).

Waster is different from other waste collection companies, as we make as much money on recycling as general waste.

This is because we do not operate a landfill and hence do not financially benefit from not recycling!

We provide all waste and recycling services from bin collection, grease trap services and sanitary bins on flexible 30-day agreements.

recycling facts australia


You can easily recycle paper and cardboard, glass bottles, plastic bottles, bottles and jars etc with commingled recycling bins. Plastic bags can be recycled on a small level by utilising the RedCycle service in participating supermarkets. Redcycle makes items such as furniture from recycled plastic.


Important Note: As of 9 November 2022, REDcycle is on a temporary pause. 


Bonus Recycling facts pertaining to the USA!

Waster wants to share some recycling facts not just in Australia, but in the USA, too, because we also have some readers hailing from there.

We took these recycling facts and statistics from the US website You can browse loads of varying lists there (if you so like!). So, we quote below:

“In the U.S. alone, over 20 billion diapers are thrown out a year, accounting for over 3.5 million tons of waste.

“Only about 5% of all plastics in the U.S. are actually recycled.

“It takes 70% less energy to recycle paper than to make it from raw material.

“In the late 1800s, peddlers acted as early recyclers. They would carry sacks of reusable items in their wagons to sell to general stores.

“A plastic bag from the grocery store takes between 500 years and 1,000 years to degrade. (See Redcycle for a great solution to this).

“There are about 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of our oceans.”


To add…

“Over 1 million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution.

“In the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” located in the Pacific Ocean, for every 2.2 pounds of plankton, there is 13.2 pounds of garbage, including cigarette buts, cans, plastic bags, bottles, Styrofoam, toothbrush, balloons, and more.

“Every year, over 50 million tons of e-waste (electronic waste, such as computers and cell phone) is created. This is akin to filling a line of garbage trucks halfway across the Earth.”

“Laid end to end, all the aluminium cans recycled worldwide in 2010 would circle the Earth 169 times.

“After getting liposuction, a New Zealand skipper recycled his fat into biofuel to power his eco-boat.

“In the Pacific Ocean, there is a “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” which is about the size of Texas. The garbage extends 20 feet (6 meters) down into the water and contains over 3.5 million tons of garbage. It is estimated to double in size in the next 5 years.”

Recycling facts USA

Mr Waster is intrigued by the Great Pacific Garbage patch and will expand on it in future blogs.


Recycling facts Australia: Can you make money?

Now, can we consider making money from recycling a fact in Australia (or even worldwide)?

We receive many phone calls from people seeking free cardboard collection. But currently, that is only available in very few circumstances.

According to a really interesting article at, there can be surprising value in recycled products that you may not expect. For example, you can sell old (used) wine corks on eBay!

making money by recycling

The article explains: “the list of things you can recycle for money is quite long. Everything from paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and even wood in some cases can be recycled.

For things like paper, the going rate, at this time, is around $45 per ton. So…recycling papers aren’t going to make you rich anytime soon. Most folks that recycle paper are doing it to help the environment, not earn anything from it. Depending on where you live, other common items like plastic bottles, aluminium cans, and glass bottles can be recycled at specialty recycling centres around town.”



The most likely way for a person to make money is by recycling bottles and cans – due to the combination of value, weight and competition in the market. This website says that in San Francisco recyclers are able to earn $30-$50 per day if they collected full time.” Not much money for very dirty and tiring work – i.e. going around trash cans and picking out the recycling.

At the end of the day, even if you do not make much money, a better way to think of it is how much a business can save, as disposing of in general waste is almost always more expensive.

See our blog on small business waste management and contract terms.


Learning Australia’s National Waste Recycling Policy

Discussing recycling facts in Australia, we should also take note of its National Waste Recycling Policy. This policy presents solid key points or objectives that the nation should achieve on (or even before) 2030. It includes the following key points:

  • A target to reduce the total waste generated by every Australian by 10 per cent by 2030,
  • Divert 80 per cent of waste from landfill by 2030
  • Phasing out unnecessary plastic,
  • Reducing the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 50%,
  • New packaging targets will be introduced “including 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025 and that all packaging will have 30 per cent average recycled content by 2025″, and
  • Mandate the use of 30 per cent recycled material in the goods that governments and businesses buy.


Waster initial view on the waste recycling plan

As we have stated in numerous blogs, joined-up national waste reduction and waste recycling plan are vital.

Government regulation is unfortunately required as the issue is much bigger than waste management. In other words, it includes our policies on infrastructure projects, whether we continue to import nearly all our consumer products or support a native manufacturing base, etc.

When we see the push back on such a simple change as plastic bags in supermarkets – the ability to push through a ban on single-use plastics has to be questioned – because it will really impact our current use once – throwaway culture.

We, of course, need more detail on what the policy will really mean.  In other words, will it be as per the blogs below? Here are some ideas:





We have to be fair and welcome the draft policy and look forward to seeing the detail. See our recent blog on nappy recycling, where we argue for Government support in this area.


The state of Australian recycling now

It is all over the news; almost everyone in the whole world is suffering its disastrous effects, may it be health or economic.

The global pandemic, called COVID-19, really made an impact – a negative one, might I add – that all will remember in their lifetimes. One thing I can’t help but wonder is what will happen to the state of Australian recycling in the future. Can the country’s recycling industry adapt to the changes that transpired?


What happens to the state of the Australian economy and recycling now?

Everybody is now adjusting to the new norm as a result of the lockdown, which affected all Australians, as well as the whole world, in general. As expected, adjusting to this so-called “new norm” will prove to be difficult for organisations, as they are hit hard with the effects of this global pandemic. But, even with the restrictions imposed on us, there is still a silver lining we could look at. So, all is not lost. See a blog on waste disposal near me here.

In recent news, a “new era for the economy” was born, thanks to the COVID-19. The manufacturing industry – in particular – is in less shambles than we initially expected it to be. Obviously, the lockdown now prevents us from buying and importing all sorts of in-demand products.

This really showed our excessive dependence on China’s products. But, this pushed the Australian manufacturing industry to focus more on developing our own market and lessen the over-reliance on China. According to the ABC news article, our manufacturing sector has fallen to an all-time low in 2020, compared to the 1960s wherein Australia reached nearly 30 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This COVID-19 global pandemic, according to the report, should be looked at as an opportunity to “kick-start” Australia’s manufacturing sector. And, rightfully so, actions have already been done.

Another ABC news article reported that due to the Coronavirus limiting transaction between countries, it riled up Australia’s medical mask factory. From 2 million masks a year, it will sky-rocket into a potential 50 million this year. Hopefully, more Australian companies and organisations will contribute their fair share to bolster Australia’s economic sovereignty.

Things have certainly changed when the pandemic occurred. The same can be said in regards to what we know as recycling facts in Australia.


What about the waste recycling industry?

All of this is much-appreciated good news. But, what about the state of Australian waste recycling? Obviously enough, the waste management and recycling sector also suffered greatly from the Coronavirus.

We could see changes in collection schedules should the Coronavirus hit the waste industry hard. After all, many risks arise when garbage collectors continue to do their services even with the lockdown in place.

First of all, they could unknowingly contract the virus and risk infecting others, as a result. Additionally, with the lockdown implemented, this will make moving from place to place difficult.


Example 1

South Australians, in particular, could see their kerbside collection reduced – or even suspended – if the COVID-19 pesters the waste and recycling industry, according to a report.

Furthermore, East Waste, a South Australian waste management company, says that it will consider reducing their services if their drivers continue to fall ill to the Coronavirus or self-quarantine, all to reduce the risks involved. They would consider reducing general waste collection to just once every fortnight, while their recycling and green waste collection will stop altogether.

However, as stated by the general manager Rob Gregory, the state of this South Australian company’s waste and recycling collection will remain unchanged, for now. These are only contingency plans they will implement if needed; this would only happen in the worst-case scenario.


Another example

In related news, Goulburn currently faced a problem when Endeavour Industries, a Goulburn recycler, indefinitely suspended its contract with the council to ensure its workers their safety from the COVID-19 virus.

“As the community is aware, Endeavour Industries employ staff that are more vulnerable than most and the risk factor to them is far greater than other employees in the workforce,” as stated by a council spokesman.

Additionally, this is to also protect its employed people with disabilities. The contract, which dated back to 2018, was supposed to be valid for 5 years. As a result, the Goulburn Mulwaree Council turned to a Hume operator for its waste recycling services. The contract with them will last for 3 months. Kerbside recycling will still continue and recyclable waste will still be accepted at the council’s waste management centre.

Steps have been already done by the Canberra Regional Organisation of Council, which Goulburn Mulwaree is a part of, to implement a scheme that waste management facilities should follow. This includes changes in schedules like:

  • moving Tarago Waste Management Centre’s schedule to 8 am-11 am on Thursdays and Saturdays,
  • changing the schedule of  the Marulan Waste Management Centre to 12:30 pm-4 pm on Thursday and Saturdays,
  • Goulburn Waste Management Centre opening to the public on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 am-2 pm.


Recycling facts Australia: impact of China

You may have read in our recent blogs how the changes in legislation by the Chinese Government are having real impacts on waste management practices in Australia.

We want to look at the topic in a bit more detail. This issue is going to have a very large impact on Australian waste and recycling services, covering both residential and commercial collections.

The adjustments required by the industry will happen over time, and it will require a lot of thought by Government, local councils, Australia’s waste management operators, and discussion with China.


Why is China putting in place controls and what is its impact in Australia?

The basic reason is that years of this practice has led to pollution of the Chinese environment. Additionally, the market for low-quality – i.e., contaminated recyclable commodities – has fallen.

The impact on Australia’s waste management operators will be huge. In many instances, council recycling bins (and commercial bins if low-quality recycling) will be almost worthless. Therefore, contractors could face huge losses.

In many instances, low-quality recycling such as a dark plastic wrap, contaminated commingled (such as council collections) will have no real off-taker.

This will lead to renegotiation of the council and municipal contracts, potential cost increases or even contractors walking away from multi-year collection agreements.


What would happen if we recycled more?

With these problems stated, the government has been in and out of the planning room, drawing up ways to mitigate the recycling crisis at hand. The most famous solution probably has to be the 2025 National Packaging Target. Basically, the aim of this is to find more sustainable ways for packaging management in Australia. The targets include the following:

  • make packaging 100 per cent recyclable and compostable;
  • turn plastic packaging at least 70 per cent recyclable or compostable;
  • include 50 per cent of average recycled products in packaging; and
  • remove single-use plastics altogether

This can prove difficult to achieve. But, let us say that we exert a bit (but still felt) of effort in recycling and waste management here in Australia; there can still be loads of benefits we can enjoy if we increase our recycling efforts, along with proper waste management. For context, we can look at the USA and some metrics provided by USA Today:

“If everyone in America recycled just one plastic bottle, those materials could make more than 54 million T-shirts or about 6.5 million fleece jackets, according to Repreve data.

“If everyone recycled one aluminium can, 295 million new aluminium cans could be made, according to Aluminum Association data. Also, everyone recycling just one can reduce greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 6,750 passenger cars off the road and save energy equivalent to 80 thousand barrels of oil. Keep America Beautiful used the EPA WARM model to calculate energy estimates.

“If everyone recycled one plastic bag, those materials could be reused in making 28,906 park benches or, according to Tex data,144,530 16-foot composite deck boards. Right now, plastic bags must be taken to a drop-off location for recycling and shouldn’t be mixed in with other recyclables.”



Australia and many developed nations have availed of the Chinese willingness to accept recyclable commodities and basically waste. This time may be over.

A re-appraisal of waste and recycling in Australia will inevitably need to take place – and the sooner, the better.


Additional statements

We have covered in previous blogs how the problem facing Australian waste management and recycling is bigger than just one that requires small fixes.

The problem is primarily due to the low level of manufacturing in Australia. As Australia imports the vast majority of products from offshore – it is clear that the manufacturing of those products also happens offshore.

Recycling plan Australia planning to fail

The issue for Australia is that we need a recycling plan that will make it financially viable to recycle in Australia – and that will require off-takers of the recycled product in this country.

No matter what the waste and recycling industry says. they can not create a large scale industrial base and manufacturing industry in this country.

To solve our recycling crisis, we have two options – either really reduce the amount of waste we produce or find a viable recycling solution.


Final thoughts on recycling facts Australia

What amazes me sometimes is the fact that we throw away valuable materials like plastic, cardboard and metal. These items cause incredible damage to the environment such as sea life.

The economic value of a tonne of recycled material is manifold – as it reduced the need for new materials, tree cutting, reduces air pollution and removes many million tonnes of waste from landfill. Many materials can be used to fuel power stations also if they can not be directly recycled. Alternative fuels of this type are used on a large scale in Sweden and save enough energy for the national grid that new oil imports are reduced.

The average person can make many small changes when armed with recycling facts Australian knowledge. These changes can make a huge difference to our environment. On this same topic of recycling facts Australia, see our blog on waste reduction.

We definitely have other concerns we should talk about when it comes to recycling. But, Waster is certainly hopeful that everything will get better in the future – even with everything that transpired this 2020.

For more innovation, see our blog on how landfills can produce electricity.

Additionally, if you liked this on recycling facts Australia, we published another infographic here on office recycling bins.


commingled recycling cta