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Waste and recycling on the Gold Coast

Information about waste and recycling services on the Gold Coast is available in one central location.

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Recycling plastic

Did you know?

  • Plastics are all man-made materials that are derived from fossil fuels such as crude oil.
  • Your household wheelie bin is made from recycled milk bottles: it takes the recycled plastic of 250 milk bottles to make one 240 litre wheelie bin.
  • Currently, 3.6 per cent of Gold Coast household waste placed in the general waste bin is comprised of recyclable plastics. If these were recycled, the environmental saving would be equivalent to the yearly electricity requirements of 968 households, and save over 8300 m3 of landfill space.

What do the plastic identification codes mean?

The numbered symbol stamped on plastic products is not a sign of a recyclable plastic - rather it is the plastic identification code used to identify the type of plastic resin used to make the product.

The table below gives examples of what the codes mean.

Symbol number Type of plastic Typical recyclable products Recycled into
1 Polyethylene terephthalate Carbonated soft drink bottles, water
bottles, cordial bottles, fruit punnets
Drink bottles, thin film plastic
packaging, clothing, carpet fibres
2 High density polyethylene Milk bottles, juice bottles,
detergent bottles, buckets
Wheelie bins, detergent bottles,
pipes, compost bins, garden edging
3 Polyvinyl chloride Cordial bottles, juice bottles Detergent bottles, pipe and
hose fittings, shoes
4 Low density polyethylene Plastic container lids, ice-cream
containers
Compost bins, building materials
5 Polypropylene Ice-cream containers, take-away food
containers, reusable food containers
Compost bins, buckets and
containers, building materials
6 Polystyrene Yoghurt containers CD cases, clothes pegs, coat hangers,
office equipment, printer cartridges

How is plastic made?

  • Manufactured plastics are made from a wide range of petrochemicals including crude oil, coal and natural gas. These materials are heated and chemically processed to form plastics.
  • The most common type of plastics are thermoplastics, which can be recycled. They can be melted down and reformed into new plastic products.
  • Thermoset plastics are typically hard and durable and cannot be remelted back to their original form or reformed into new plastic products.

What plastic products can be recycled in your household recycling bin?

  • All plastic bottles and containers that are labelled with number 1-5 (typically found on the bottom of the container) are recyclable and can be placed in yellow top bins.
  • Only plastic yogurt and dairy containers which are labelled number 6 (typically found on the bottom of the container) are also recyclable.
  • Make sure all plastic containers are cleaned of food and other residue before placing them loosely in your household recycling bin.

What plastic products cannot be recycled in your household recycling bin?

  • plastic bags
  • thin film plastic (e.g. biscuit trays, chip packets)
  • styrofoam containers and packaging
  • plastic with no plastic identification code
  • hose/pipe or plastic furniture.

How is plastic recycled?

  • From the recycling bin, the plastic containers are taken to the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Carrara to be separated from other recyclables.
  • Plastics are separated in the MRF on special “bounce belts” that separate them from paper, cardboard and other materials.
  • From the MRF, the recyclables are squashed into large bales and transported to the MRF at Gibson Island in Brisbane to be separated into different types of plastic. They are then baled and transported to processing plants to be ground and melted down and remade into new plastic products.

What are the benefits of recycling plastics?

  • Manufacturing plastics from recycled materials only uses 30 per cent of the energy required to make the plastic from fossil fuels.
  • Oil, coal and natural gas used to make plastic are finite fossil fuels that are used in a variety of industries. Once we have used them all up, there is no more, so recycling plastic means that we can make the most out of these resources.
  • It takes a lot less energy to make a plastic bottle than a glass one and because plastic is a very lightweight material, it takes a lot less energy to transport it.
  • The energy saved from recycling one plastic drink bottle could power a computer for 25 minutes.
  • Twenty-five two-litre plastic bottles can be recycled into one adult fleece jacket.

Close the loop and buy recycled

Recycling our plastic wastes into new products is only successful if there is a market for the recycled product. To become a true recycler, make sure you buy products made from recycled plastic.

For more information, please call us on 07 5667 5976.

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