While a lot of us revel in the excitement of giving and receiving presents and indulging in treats, there is a downside to the excess… lots and lots of extra waste! One result of the 150,000km of wrapping paper – and nearly a billion dollars’ worth of gifts that don’t get used – is a big surge in the amount of food, plastic, cardboard and other left-overs hitting Council bins.
We know it’s a busy time of year, and figuring out which item goes in which bin is not first on everyone’s mind. But it’s still important because if wrong things end up in recycling and FOGO bins, whole truckloads of recyclable materials will go to landfill.
Although they try hard, our waste contractors can’t remove all landfill rubbish that gets put in recycling and FOGO bins. When a load goes to landfill this is at the cost of future recycled packaging and valuable fertilizer that could be used for food and to grow more food! This also costs ratepayers more for us to pay for landfill than to recycle!
We want to help you do the right thing and make sure all that Christmas wrapping and goodies become next year’s recycled products and plant food. Here are our top CHristmas recycling tips!
FOGO (if cut up), Transfer Station, Mulch
Some of us can’t resist that pine smell in the age of fake plastic trees – just remember that most real Christmas trees are too big for your FOGO bin. Make sure you cut them down so you can close the lid – the trunk may be too big for your FOGO bin. If that’s the case, the Moonee Valley transfer station will be open. Maybe pick up a load of mulch while you’re there!
Unfortunately, tinsel is a nightmare for our recyclers because it wraps around their conveyor belts and other machinery and causes jams. Use your tinsel for as long as you can, and maybe consider a sustainable alternative because it has to go in your red lid landfill bin.
Landfill (unless it’s paper or cardboard)
Most decorations are plastic, and unfortunately they don’t usually have resin codes that tell us whether they’re recyclable or not. For this reason, it’s safest to put them in the red lid bin. If you’ve bought or made decorations that are made entirely of paper or cardboard, great! They can go in the yellow lid recycling bin.
Fairy lights can be recycled as e-waste but can’t go into your yellow lid recycling bin.
It really depends!
There are almost as many types of wrapping as there are presents, so which bin they go in depends on what it’s made of. The best way to avoid landfill is to re-use wrapping again and again.
- You can recycle cardboard and paper wrapping – just make sure to get as much sticky tape off them as possible (or wrap without tape).
- Foil and plastic wrapping paper aren’t recyclable so it’s the red lid bin for them.
- Cellophane is most often a soft plastic – you can’t put it in the yellow bin, but you can take it to a REDCycle bin at participating branches of Coles and Woolworths. We recommend storing up a shopping bag of soft plastic and dropping it at the super market when it’s full.
Green FOGO bin
We love a good feast at Christmas but we forget to eat or otherwise waste a surprising amount of food – 3.2 million tonnes of it per year. That’s one of the reasons Council introduced the green-lid FOGO bin – to make sure some of that waste food can be reprocessed into quality compost. Please remember to use it to dispose of your cooking scraps and other food waste over the holiday period.
You can also create your own compost system at home to feed your garden or your neighbour’s.
If you want to avoid creating unnecessary food waste in the first place, there are heaps of resources available online for lower-impact and low-waste cooking. Check out some great Christmas leftover recipes and, in particular, how to safely freeze leftover meat and use leftover bread. If all else fails and you can’t save your food, remember to put your leftovers in your Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) green lid bin!
Our A – Z Recycling Guide can also help you know which bin to use this festive season!