Queenslanders have been contaminating their recycling bins with tissues, light bulbs, ceramics, styrofoam, polystyrene and nappies.
Ipswich Council has committed to educating its residents on what they can and cannot put in their yellow-topped bins, after backflipping on its announcement that all recycling would be dumped in landfill.
Skyrocketing contamination rates and China’s tightened waste import regulations were to blame for Ipswich’s struggles, Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said, forcing recycling costs up by about $2 million a year.
But what items are Queenslanders contaminating their recycling with? It depends on the council, but there are universal no-nos.
The New Daily reviewed the recycling rules for Ipswich, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Townsville councils.
None of those councils would recycle tissues or paper towels, light bulbs, ceramics, styrofoam, polystyrene and nappies.
And while glass bottles were recyclable, drinking glasses, mirrors and window glass should not be tossed in a yellow-topped bin.
Plastic bags and other soft wrappers – like lolly wrappers, glad wrap or bubble wrap – batteries and other e-waste, food and garden waste should also be kept out of the recycling bin.
To recycle shopping bags, drop them in the specially-marked bins at your local supermarket – along with other soft (scrunchable) plastic, such as bread bags and food wrappers.
Most councils also reject chemicals, clothes or textiles, and medical waste including syringes and needles.
Ipswich had been dealing with “unacceptably high” contamination rates, Mr Antoniolli said last week.
“About half of everything collected from yellow lid bins is not able to be recycled,” he said in a statement.
“For recycling to continue, that simply means we need to reduce by half the amount of pizza boxes, plastic bags, disposable nappies, grass clippings and garden waste, broken plates, coat hangers, light bulbs, dirty tissues and serviettes, and foam packaging.”
The council also lists carbon paper, gummed labels, cigarette packs, paper cups and plates, and windowed envelopes as other non-recyclables.
Brisbane City Council has banned padded envelopes, photographs, thermal fax paper, wax-coated paper and cardboard, baking paper, toothpaste tubes, straws, toys and toothbrushes. It also lists gas bottles, wire, scrap iron or tin as non-recyclable.
Sunshine Coast Council won’t recycle building waste, scrap metal, tyres and wood.
Coffee pods, toys, cutlery, tiles, bricks, stones and soil were listed as non-recyclable by Gold Coast Council.
Toowoomba added brooms, mops, foil gift wrapping or ribbon, plastic furniture, hose or pipe, and building material like concrete, bricks and timber to its list of items that should not be placed in the recycling.
CDs, DVDs and VCR tapes, and waxed cardboard, are not accepted as recycling by Townsville Council.
Mr Antoniolli announced Ipswich would end its recycling program on Wednesday, before confirming on Friday the council would hire a “short-term recycling contractor” as it sought a long-term solution.
As part of the long-term solution to the problem, Ipswich has now also committed to an education campaign to help residents know what they can and cannot put in the yellow-top bin.
After previously slamming Ipswich’s decision to stop its recycling program, Queensland Environment Minister Leanne Enoch said she was pleased it had changed its mind.
“Residents need to feel confident in the recycling system so that they can continue to keep up their recycling efforts,” Ms Enoch said in a statement on Friday.
Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander on Saturday blamed the state Labor government.
“Will the Palaszczuk government just come out and admit that the waste tax is a tax grab on all Queenslanders?” Mr Mander said.
Local and state governments are dealing with the recycling crisis nationwide.