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Resolving to recycle more in 2022

waste

By Jonathon Howard

I try my best to recycle but it can be confusing.

It’s the mixed materials I have difficulty with. Take a packet of Tim Tams… the plastic tray is hard plastic, so it goes in the domestic recycle bin. By contrast, the wrapper is soft plastic so should be put in the plastic recycling at the supermarket. Right?

Pizza boxes can be recycled because they are made of cardboard. But if they are soiled with food or grease, then they should be composted rather than recycled so as not to contaminate my other recycling. Right?

The guides about recycling from our local Councils don’t prevent my confusion because they list pure items such as: paper, cans, and glass.  This is easy to follow.

The problem is much of our family’s ‘everyday’ food and drink is mixed media. For example, milk cartons and tetra paks are a combination of cardboard with thin layers of plastic and aluminium stuck together to make a waterproof seal. Where do they go?

Up to now, I have restricted myself to simple ‘rules of thumb’. Like: “reduce, re-use, and recycle”. However, if I am having a Netflix night with the kids involving pizzas for dinner and Tim Tams for dessert- I remain lost on where to dispose of the waste.

My New Year’s resolution is to stop this confusion. So I have downloaded the new “Recycle Mate” app from the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR). It’s a free app that can be downloaded from https://recyclemate.com.au/

The app can identify thousands of products and tell consumers which bin to put it in or where the product can be recycled, no matter where they live in Australia.

Users can also photograph the item. The app uses cutting edge photo recognition to identify the product and provide advice. Alternately, they can do a word search from an extensive item catalogue to find out where to recycle or dispose of that item.

Moreover, the app uses artificial intelligence. Meaning the more people that use the app, the more products it will come to recognise.

I am convinced mobile phone apps like ‘Recycle mate’ combined with supporting education programs like Albury’s halve waste initiative will remove the confusion I have suffered.

Indeed, I think ‘removing my recycling confusion’ is probably the best New Year’s resolution I have ever made, primarily because I am sure it is one that I won’t break for quite a while.

Resolve recycling confusion, photo by Kirsten Coates