SUSTAINABILITY educator Jo Taranto is on a mission to throw away the Aussie practice of being rubbish at recycling.
Australians are overconfident about their recycling skills, with 74 per cent believing they are good at it. Only 25 per cent actually are.
"Getting our recycling right is really critical because when we do it wrong, we create literally a truckload of issues," Ms Taranto said.
"It's not good enough to assume that they'll sort it out at the other end because that's where Australia is getting into trouble.
"We have to be our own little micro sorters at home before it gets there."
The Environmental Protection Authority is funding Ms Taranto's Recycling Right: Good for the Hood program, headed to Narrabri, Glen Innes and Armidale, to address issues in the waste industry. The Glen Innes and Armidale free workshops will be held this Friday, June 17 at 9.30am and 2pm respectively. They can be booked booked through Humantix.
Contamination of recyclables is occurring when waste is processed on a production line at Material Recovery Facilities.
"The facilities that I've visited, about 10 per cent of what's going in that yellow bin and getting taken to the facility is going to end up back in landfill," she said.
"It's either inappropriate, or it's contaminated to a point that they can't process it."
Items that can go in the yellow bin include hard plastic containers, glass bottles and jars, steel cans, aluminium cans, paper, cardboard.
But Ms Taranto came up with one rule for those moments of uncertainty when recycling: "If in doubt, leave it out."
Items need to be loose, empty and rinsed clean and as whole as possible. Not full, filthy, or bagged in plastic, and items need to be safe. No batteries or anything with a charge, or that could hurt someone.
To test an item, give it a scrunch. If it bounces back, it can go in the yellow bin. If it goes into a ball like a plastic bag, it's not appropriate.
Residents will never know for sure whether their rice cracker package was ever recycled, but it's still important to do the right thing.
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