Recycling in Cumberland

Your recycling questions:

I get a lot of mixed messages about recycling and what goes in the yellow bin. Is it true it has to be free of any food products before going in the yellow bin? I have to wash the yoghurt container before throwing it away? If so why? It's an added step that discourage recycling. - Chen

  • It is preferred to have your recycling clean in order to avoid contamination. We need to scrape all the food/contents from the container so that the food/drinks do not contaminate other recyclables such as paper and cardboard. Also, the recycling bin will stink or attract unnecessary visitors.
  • We do not need to wash it, just emptying the content and giving a quick rinse would do.
  • Hard plastic bottles and containers coded 1-7 can be recycled in the yellow lidded recycling bin.
  • Place your recycling loosely in the yellow lid bin – NOT in plastic bags. Use a container or box to store your recyclables before putting them into your bin.

Should I be recycling jars and bottles with their lids on? - Sheona

  • If it is plastic lid in the plastic bottle, just leave the lid in the bottle and put it in the recycling bin.
  • The bottle and lid both are recyclable.


In South Australia your pizza box goes into the green bin, and here in NSW I put it in the yellow bin, but I'm not sure it should go there if it has melted cheese on it. - Marina

  • Pizza boxes can be recycled in yellow lid bins, even if they have little oil or grease stains. Just make sure that the box is empty.
  • While a little bit of melted cheese is fine, old crusts or leftover slices should go in the red lid bin.

How do we recycle aluminium foil? My mom mentioned it needs to be scrunched up into a golf ball and put in the yellow bin, but I'm not too sure. I use quite a bit to pack school lunches, so any information would be helpful? - Shirin

  • Aluminium foil is made from the same material as soda cans (aluminium) and is 100% recyclable. Recycling it saves 95% of the energy required to produce aluminium from raw materials. It is also the most valuable material to recycle.
  • Scrunch up your aluminium foil into the size of a small fist, then place it in the recycling bin.
  • Alternatively, you can put smaller pieces of foil into an aluminium can before placing it in the recycling bin.
  • Place your foil trays and pie plates into the recycling bin loose. Just make sure they are empty and relatively clean first.

Can you recycle Tetra-pak (long life milk containers)? - Lilian

  • Long-life liquid cartons also known as Tetra Paks cannot be recycled in our recycling facility. So, unfortunately, it must be disposed in the garbage.

  • Long-life cartons are made from a combination of cardboard with thin layers of plastic and aluminium stuck together to make a waterproof seal known as poly-al.

  • The combination of these materials prevent leakage, protect the contents, and remove the need for refrigerated transport which is a great advantage, but this combination of materials also makes it harder to recycle than ‘pure’ single material items.

  • The quality of the separated materials also tends to be lower than in pure materials (e.g. cartons produce short paper fibres not long fibres which limits how the fibres can be re-used).

I’ve always been stuck on this one! Am I able to recycle plastic bags and the plastic protectors which is used to store the fruit and veggies?? I recycle the cardboard boxes its stored in, but always confused at the outer plastic wrapping. can you please clear this for me? - Ross

What is a red recycle bin and what items can be recycled? For example, I have large dry, pet food bags and am aware these bags can be recycled in a red bin. I would like to learn more about red recycle. - Alison

  • Soft Plastics such as plastic shopping bags and food packaging cannot be accepted in Council’s kerbside recycling bins, as this material gets caught in the machinery and prevents the recycling plant from running efficiently.
  • However, you can easily recycle your soft plastics by taking them to the REDcycle drop off locations in your local supermarkets. Look for the plastic bag recycling collection bin at the front of the store.
  • Many other types of soft plastics such as pasta and rice bags, lolly and biscuit packets, fresh fruit and veggie bags, frozen food bags, magazine and newspaper wrapping, and clean plastic wrap/film can now be recycled through REDCycle program.
  • The collected soft plastics are recycled range of recycled-plastic products, from fitness circuits to sturdy outdoor furniture, bollards, signage and more.


Some say that polystyrene (e.g. packaging around new TV) cannot be recycled, some say it can't. If it can't, why does it have a recycling logo stamped into it? - Max

Polystyrene cannot be placed in council's yellow bin.  Where can we recycle polystyrene considering that this product takes too long to decompose and is really harmful to the environment and wildlife & sea creatures? - Siew

  • The answer is ‘NO’, Styrofoam or polystyrene foam is not able to go into your curb side recycling bin.
  • Styrofoam items can include take away coffee cups, take away food containers, meat trays and packaging on some home appliance items.
  • Unfortunately, due to its tendency to burst into a shower of tiny plastic pieces of evil, it is not suitable to be processed through recycling machines.
  • Putting Styrofoam into the recycling bin will contaminate the whole recycling bin, so it is important that all Styrofoam is placed into the general waste (landfill) bin.
  • Styrofoam takes more than 500 years to break down, so it is important that we do our best to reduce or refuse Styrofoam products to help prevent further pollution to our environment.
  • If want to responsibly dispose of your polystyrene, you can take it to community Recycling Centre in Liverpool.


What percent of the objects sent to be recycled are actually recycled? - Athar

  • We have about a 13% contamination rate across the LGA from our recycling bins.
  • So we recycle about 87% of everything we collect from yellow bins.

How can we recycle old or damaged small appliances like a sandwich press or a vacuum cleaner? - Shirley

  • Council offers free Mobile Community Recycling Service for residents to safely get rid of e-waste such as old tv, computer, mobile phone and other small electronic appliances.
  • Residents can book the collection by visiting
  • Along with e- waste, Cumberland residents can also dispose of their hazardous waste such as batteries, paints, gas bottles etc through this service.

How do we dispose of hazardous materials?

Never dispose of hazard materials in your bins. Batteries and flammable materials are the leading cause of fires in trucks and at waste facilities. Dangerous items in bins can spark a fire putting the driver and community at risk.

Please DO NOT place any of the following items into any bin as they can cause a fire, putting the driver and community at risk:

  • Car and household batteries
  • Paints or chemicals
  • Gas bottles
  • Motor and cooking oils
  • Fuel cans
  • Hot ashes or coals
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Aerosol cans

Council offers a Mobile Community Recycling Service for residents to safely get rid of hazardous items.

Residents can also drop off household batteries and mobile phones at any of our small problem waste drop off stations.

What are the impacts of Recycling and resource recovery on the economy of Australia?- Batool

  • The impacts of recycling and resource recovery are far reaching!
  • Not only does it contribute to jobs, it is great for our environment as it diverts waste to landfill and helps to use our resources sustainably.

What's better than emphasising on people about backyard gardening which reduces most of our kitchen waste into composting and benefit us all? - Rishmita

  • Backyard gardening is a great way to exercise, improve mental health and of course reduce kitchen waste through composting. Why not give composting a try?
  • Council offers a $50 rebate for residents who purchase a compost bin.

When recycling, the item is remoulded and sent out into stores to be bought and used and to repeat the whole system. It's like a cycle. However, I was wondering why we keep giving the recyclables, back into the industry. The grim truth is that the more that's put out, the less chance there is that it will go into recycling. People will litter more if the recyclables are available to them. My question is: Why we are not just waiting until all of the recyclables can amount to 1 large project? This could enable society to comprehend that when they recycle, instead of the items going to landfill, they can amount to something better than the latter. In summary, I'm asking why not display the good that recycling can do, to advertise it and spread the notion through the public. - Ahmed

  • Have you heard about the circular economy? It’s a movement where all resources are kept in a ‘closed loop’ so that all the materials are reused again and again
  • It’s a concept that Council is working towards. Have you seen our park bench made from recycled plastic

Doesn't all recycling end up in landfills one way or another because after recycling gets recycled once, it's the last time its going to be used since the recycling can't just go in and out right?- Zafira

  • Recycled materials can be used again and again, in a whole range of ways.
  • We need our community to keep recycling so that we divert waste from landfill and help to use our resources sustainably.

I have read that black plastic boxes cannot recycled. Is that true? If so, what are we doing to reduce such landfill?- Sivaram

  • It’s not that black plastic boxes can’t be recycled, it’s just that it’s very hard and expensive to recycle.

  • The black colour can’t be detected by some recycling machines making it harder to sort.

  • Also, black plastic is only economically feasible to be turned into other black plastic products, such as coffee cup lids, take away containers or heavy duty DVD cases.

  • You can help by choosing to use less of this product wherever possible.