Seven Secrets of Successful Recyclers

Download the plastic bags poster © Planet Ark

Download the plastic bags poster

Don't Bag It

More than three quarters of Australians (77%) never put their recyclables in the bin in a plastic bag but 23% do so, either sometimes or all the time. This information, released in Planet Ark's Seven Secrets of Successful Recyclers report also shows that half of the people who always put their recycling in a plastic bag wrongly believe it will be recycled.

People living in units or townhouses who share a bin with their neighbours are more than twice as likely to put their recycling in plastic bags (37%) than people living in detached houses who have their own bin (16%).

As a general rule, people who share bins with their neighbours are more likely to have to travel further to get to the bin than residents of detached homes. This means that residents are more likely to have to put their recycling in a bag simply to transport it to the recycling bin. There is also a disincentive to using a permanent and reusable bin for recycling as it means the resident can only empty it in their building's recycling bins if they are returning directly to their unit.

 In order for recyclables to be sorted they must be loose. The first stage of sorting involved staff picking contaminates off a conveyer belt by hand. Items in a plastic bag are removed and sent to landfill as the staff do not have the time to open and sort bags and opening them presents health and safety issues. Any bags that do get through can get caught in the machinery, slowing down the recycling process and causing damage. Plastic bags are a time-consuming and costly problem for recyclers.

Tell Your Neighbours (Politely) ‘Don't Bag it'

Do you get annoyed finding recyclables in plastic bags when you go to the bin? We've developed a simple, positive and friendly message that you can share with your neighbours (or friends and family) to let them know that recycling in plastic goes to landfill.  Just print off the poster and stick it to the bin or send it as an e-mail.  Easy!

Get in on the secret

  • Use a reusable box or bin to take recyclables to the recycling bin.
  • Alternatively, use a reusable and foldable bag to take the recycling to the bin, then pop it in your handbag or backpack if you are not returning to your unit.
  • If you need to use a plastic bag, empty the recyclables into the bin, then take the bag to your nearest supermarket for recycling, or if this is not convenient, throw it in the garbage bin. Recycling needs to be loose!
  • If you share a recycling bin with your neighbours and notice there are plastic bags in the bin, print off a copy the Don't Bag It poster and stick it on the bins. They may not know that recycling in plastic bags gets sent to landfill



See Secret #2: Do It In The Bathroom

See Secret #4: Do It In Public


  • Seven Secrets of Successful Recyclers Report ( 4.47MB pdf file)
    This report for National Recycling Week 2014 lifts the lid on what makes a successful recycler, with each section focusing on actions that someone can take to be more successful.

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