Why do we separate our recycling products?
Paper and cardboard into one bin, glass in another, plastic into a third.
I noticed an advertisement in a magazine yesterday for a set of kitchen bins designed just for this purpose. They look to be quite large and I don't know anyone that has enough room in their kitchen for a set like this.

My point is, when it comes to rubbish collection day, all recyclables go into the one big wheelie bin anyway. From thereit gets tipped into the massive truck that's doing the collecting.  At the collection centres all this is tipped into huge bins which feed onto conveyor belts. People standing either side of these belts pluck out glass or plastic and toss it into bins beside or behind them, the paper is left to go to the end of the line and tip off into its own bin.

If someone, somewhere, does the wrong thing and puts food scraps, disposable nappies or garden rubbish into their recycling, the entire truckload is deemed contaminated and goes straight to landfill.

So why are we being encouraged to separate our papers from our glass, from our plastic?
I don't separate these things, I just toss the lot into my big recycling wheelie bin.


  1. There are even more automated systems than you describe, done by suction, blowing air and magnets. In England we had to sort bottles into brown, green or clear before putting them into the appropriate bins. Japan is a nightmare. You have sort into types of paper, types of plastic, types of glass.

  2. Parts of California are the same as Japan, particularly in the Bay Area. I think it is good but it is certainly a hassle. And then, sometimes I feel like what's the difference with all the private jets, etc. wreaking pollution everywhere. It makes our trash look miniscule. But the bottom line is, I think it helps to raise the consciousness of people who ordinarily wouldn't think about it.

  3. What we need to do is find a way to create less garbage....we cut our garbage drastically when we stopped using bottled water. We get newspapers and flyers on line. Pop isn't good for us so we gave that up and further reduced our garbage. There is still waaaaay to much of it though. Any suggestions on how to create less garbage?

  4. Andrew; that all sounds very complicated, but if people are sorting at home, then does it all go into the same one big truck each collection day like it does here? Because that's my whole point. Why separate at home when the recycling plant does it?

    Linda; I often think what difference does it make? So many of us doing the right thing, only to have it spoiled by the few who contaminate their recycling bins with oil soaked paper or disposable nappies. (diapers)

    mybabyjohn; I use bottled water because Adelaide's tap water makes me ill, but I have only a couple of plastic bottles which I refill over and over from a 10 litre cask of water. Then the cask carton goes into the recycling bin as des the foil insert. I also try to buy things with minimal or no packaging. My bins are NEVER filled each week, I could easily put them out once a month instead.

  5. My council down here in Melbourne has two bins one with a red lid for land fill and the other a recycling bin with a yellow lid you throw papers, tin cans, plastic, glass it gets collected sent to a recycling centre to be sorted the same way Andrew describes :-).

  6. Same as Windsmoke does it. All things that can be recycled go into their own bin, rubbish into another smaller bin, and green waste is the other we have (weeds and garden clippings only). Does it really all go in the same bin, including your landfill rubbish?

  7. Windsmoke; same here except we have three bins, one for landfill, one for garden rubbish, one for recycling.

    Being Me; I wasn't clear. We are encouraged to separate our recycling items into paper, glass, plastic in our kitchens, as proposed by magazine advertisements for these separate bins. Most of us don't do this and I don't see why we should. Because those separated bins would all be emptied into the big recycling wheelie bin, so get mixed up again. We have a three wheelie bin system here. Small with a red lid for landfill which is collected every week, large with a yellow lid for recycling which is collected every fortnight, another large with a green lid for garden refuse, trimmimgs grass from lawn mowings etc, which is collected every other fortnight.

  8. I had no idea they dump everything into one. That must be true in the states, too. I try so hard to consume natural and bulk and buy the least amount of glass and plastic. It's discouraging when I hear things like this. Thanks for the heads up on this.

  9. when people recycle plastic bottles they are not turned into other bottles, what they are turned into is unknown to me. but recycling and reusing is vary good

  10. Manzanita; At least they sort stuff at the recycling centre, but it's discouraging to sort it at home , then it all goes into one bin, then all into one truck, also to find out people still contaminate their recycling bins with non-recyclables.

    Towley; welcome to drifting. here in Australia, plastic bottles are turned into things like seating for school yards and those tree guards that are put around the base of trees for easier watering, etc


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