Wash Containers Before Recycling 💧🍾: If you’ve dedicated yourself to recycling, I truly applaud your efforts and hope you continue what you do. But are you doing it right? One question they always ask us here is how clean must the containers be before wheeling them out of the house and putting them on the kerbside for collection and recycling. Honestly, I find this tricky enough but nonetheless will still discuss with you.


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A Bit About Waster

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Is Rinsing Bottles Before Recycling Really Necessary?

You might have heard from your local council, or read in some websites that washing your containers before recycling is the way to go. You don’t need to rinse it with a bar of soap and sponge; washing it with water will suffice. All of this is good and all, but what if I told you doing this is more costly than beneficial? Let me discuss further.

First of all, if you even read the news on the internet or any other type of platform, you should know that you do not necessarily need to rinse your bottles squeaky-clean before recycling like of some of you might do. Furthermore, it just has to be dry and empty. It’s a different ball game if your bottles for recycling are chock-full of residue still inside. You would not want to send your soft drink bottle for recycling full (or half-full, it does not matter, you should still empty it) of fizzling Coke, right?

Another problem we encounter is the ongoing confusion of Australians in recycling. A study even revealed that 94 per cent of Australians mess up their recycling. The article stated:


  • 36% incorrectly putting plastic bags and soft plastics in their household recycling bin.
  • 58% failing to remove leftover food from pizza boxes before recycling.
  • 73% not flattening egg cartons before putting them in their recycling bin.
  • 82% incorrectly assuming the Mobius loop, or chasing arrows logo on plastic packaging means it is recyclable.


Waste Of Energy And Resources

Aside from it being noncompulsory, washing your containers before recycling also wastes a lot of energy and resources, depending on the number of bottles you wish to recycle. By rinsing your bottles before the collection and recycling process, you waste a huge amount of water – and time.


What Needs To Be Done?

For starters, just make sure you empty your bottles; no need to wash them before recycling. One thing you could also do is absorb everything about recycling. Know what to recycle and not to recycle. One thing is for sure, having correct and clear information is very much important. An example is stated via The Conversation, which said:


One example is plastic shopping bags, which many supermarkets urge their customers to recycle by placing them in dedicated bins on the shop premises. But this might prompt shoppers to think that plastic bags can be recycled in their kerbside collection too, which is typically not the case. And, as we saw above, relatively few householders check their local council’s website for the right information.


No Need To Wash Your Containers Before Recycling, But You Can Do This

In order to reduce waste and the use of natural resources, we must make sure to properly segregate recyclable items. Choose the correct bin to put your recyclable items in. In this case, many types of bottles go into the yellow bin. Items going into the yellow bin include:


  • Aluminium cans and lids
  • Steel cans and lids
  • Aerosol cans – see our blog on spray paint recycling
  • Glass bottles and jars – separate the metal lids
  • Plastic bottles
  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Egg cartons
  • Envelopes
  • Newspaper and magazines – read our blog and see if you can recycle magazines with staples


In saying this, here are things you should not put in the yellow bin:


  • Plastic bags
  • Soft Plastics
  • Polystyrene
  • Light globes, mirrors and window glass
  • Nappies
  • Tissues
  • Mixed materials


It’s All About Balance, After All


reusable water bottle


Washing containers before recycling might be a good idea for you, but for some, it is not. This is also the same with the debate whether it is much better to use reusable or disposable cups or bottles. This article I read might prove us wrong in thinking that reusable bottles are a better option than disposable ones. They cited an excerpt from an interesting book named “Green Washing: Why We Can’t Buy Our Way to a Green Planet” by author  Kendra Pierre-Louis which specifically states that:


“Despite the fact that Sigg boasts of the recyclability of their aluminum water bottles – and to be clear, aluminum is completely recyclable – their bottles are made from 100 percent virgin aluminum. Consequently, each 150 gram, 1 liter Sigg bottle releases roughly .77 pounds of carbon before it’s even left the aluminum smelter.

“In fact, a 1999 MIT study showed that producing one ton of virgin aluminum generates approximately 10 times more carbon dioxide than the production of a ton of steel. Recycled aluminum by contrast would only utilize 5 percent of the energy that virgin aluminum does.”


What it means is that in creating reusable bottles, many virgin materials are consumed.

It is important to note that it should really be all about balance. Maybe using recycled aluminium might prove to be better than using virgin ones. Additionally, we also have to factor in the carbon emissions that are offset when producing these reusable water bottles.


Wash Containers Before Recycling: Conclusion

The main point here is you do not need to wash your containers before sending it to recyclers for recycling. This practice wastes the already depleting reusable energy and resources that we have today. All we need to be is more environmentally aware, and that will push the Earth and us into a much better situation.


Waster: Things You Need To Know

If you’re looking for recycling bins, check our waste recycling shop and find the best deals in terms of pricing and services.

Also, please call 1300 WASTER (1300 927 837), or email us at [email protected] if you have any further questions.


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