Inner West Council provides a 240 litre yellow lid fortnightly kerbside collection service for recyclable waste. 

Be the good sort

Two guys in front of the garbage truck with Be the good sort banner

While most people do the right thing in terms of disposing items correctly into the red bin and sorting recycling, there is always room for improvement. The range of items accepted in each bin can lead to confusion. Contamination is an ongoing problem for kerbside recycling which we why we are asking residents to ‘Be the good sort’ and get these common recycling mistakes right.

1. Single use coffee cups – go into your red bin

The ever-increasing caffeine habit may be doing more harm than we think. Every year 1 billion single use coffee cups end up in landfill sites across Australia and in NSW 300 million have the same fate, causing significant environmental impact (NSW EPA). Many people have the common misconception that since they are made out of paper they can be recycled. All disposable coffee cups should be placed in your red lid bin.

Standard single use coffee cups contain a plastic liner, meaning they cannot be recycled using the standard paper recycling process. Even 'compostable' cups are rarely recycled since Australia's present composting facilities are unable to efficiently process them. As a result, single use coffee cups place a significant strain on our waste management systems and the environment, increasing landfill waste and wasteful and hazardous transportation emissions.

Try switching your single use cup for a reusable one or get your coffee fix by participating in the Responsible Cafés program available at cafes throughout the Inner West. Responsible Cafés offer a discount on coffee when you bring your own reusable cup. Want to know which cafe in your area offers a discount? Check this map and find out

If you can’t avoid single use cups, please remember to put them in your red lid garbage bin.

2. Unbagged recyclables – go into your yellow bin

There is a common misconception that plastic bags are recyclable in your household recycling bin. This leads to people collecting recyclables in bags and placing them in their yellow lid recycling bin. Recyclable items in plastic bags will not get recycled if placed your household recycling bin.

Please place recyclable items into the recycle bin loosely, so they can be sorted and recycled easily at the material recovery facility (MRF). Bagged recycling cannot be separated at the MRF as there isn’t enough time for staff to open, inspect, and empty the bags. Recycling staff stand on either side of a conveyor belt while recycling flies through. These staff handpick contaminants out (items that don’t belong in your yellow recycling bin) including bagged recycling. The recyclables do not get recycled and are placed into the waste stream in order to protect staff from inherent risks and injury.

Our last audit showed that Inner West Council residents recycled 8,892 tonnes of materials in 2019/20. Approximately 231 tonnes of this was bagged recycling, which sadly went to landfill.

Plastic bags are the largest contaminant in recycling bins across most councils. Please do your bit and place recyclables loosely in the bin for maximum recovery.

What goes in my recycling bins? 

  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Empty aerosol cans
  • Steel and aluminium cans
  • Aluminium foil (clean and scrunched up into a small ball)
  • Plastic bottles (lids on)
  • Plastic containers, including empty plastic takeaway containers (no food scraps)
  • Biscuit trays, plastic fruit and vegetable containers
  • Newspaper, cardboard and paper (clean)
  • Pizza boxes (clean - a little grease is OK, food is not)
  • Non-foil lined cartons (Usually found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket)

Unsure if an item is recyclable? Find an answer in our A-Z guide or send your question to

What does not go in my recycling bins?

  • Plastic bags and other soft (scrunchy) plastics
  • Polystyrene foam
  • Foil-lined cartons (Usually brick shaped and can contain long-life milk)
  • Dirty or soiled cardboard and paper
  • CDs, DVDs and VCR tapes
  • Flower pots, including plastic ones
  • Photographs
  • Clothing and textiles
  • Composite packaging, mixed materials e.g. Pringles containers, coffee bags
  • Ceramics, porcelain and broken glass
  • E-waste e.g. mobile phones, electronics, computer parts
  • Hard plastics, e.g. plastic toys, kitchen storage containers

If any of the above items are placed in your recycling bin your bin might be rejected.


Unbag recyclables

Always put your items loose in the bin. Never put plastic bags, even biodegradable ones, in your yellow or blue bin as they jam the machinery used to sort through the recycling materials.

Lids that are made of the same material as the container can be left on. If a lid needs to be removed it must measure at least 5cm across or it won't make it through the recycling system.

If the lid is a different material e.g., glass jar with plastic lid, metal lid with glass bottles, the lid must be removed, otherwise it contaminates the clean material stream when sorted and separated. These lids can be placed in like material containers sealed and then placed in recycling, e.g. as metal beer bottle tops inside a metal tin.

Types of plastic (ignore the numbers)

The triangles can be confusing as they do not necessarily mean the product is recyclable. The number in the triangle identifies the type of plastic an item is made from, not whether it is recyclable. Therefore, we do not identify numbers that can be recycled.

Due to the confusion, Planet Ark has developed the Australasian Recycling Label, to help people understand if an item can be recycled. You might have started to see this kind of label on different products.

Cleaning containers

No need to scrub clean, just remove food scraps.

Need an additional recycling bin?

You may apply for an additional recycling bin at no extra cost to maximise your recycling efforts. 

Apply for an additional recycling bin

Order bin signs or stickers

To help our residents recycle and dispose of waste correctly, we offer educational material, such as bin bay signs, bin stickers, or property number bin stickers.

Order bin signs or stickers

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Page last updated: 19 Oct 2023