Where your recycling goes

Where does my recycling go?

After your bins have been emptied, the contents are taken to one of the Visy Material Recovery Facilities where they are sorted into the various recycling streams.  Visy either processes the recyclables in their own processing plants in Sydney or on-sells the materials to international commodity markets.

What is the China National Sword Policy and what has it do to with my recycling?

Recently, media reports have circulated around what is known as the China National Sword Policy. The policy tightens China’s acceptance on recyclable imports from overseas markets, including Australia. 

China did not put a ban on recyclables; instead, China now requires a cleaner and more processed version of these materials. This has no impact on Inner West kerbside recycling collection and processing, we continue to recycle.

In the meantime Councils across the state are working with industry, state and federal government to develop stronger markets for recycling.

New markets require cleaner, less contaminated material so it is important that the community continues to recycle and reduce contamination in order to provide the best recycling products and solutions.

Follow Council’s list of what goes into my recycling bin and you are doing your part for ‘clean’ recycling.

How does the recycling process work?

Inner West Council’s recycling contractor Visy has paper / cardboard and plastic bottle processing plants in Sydney where recyclables are made back into new packaging and drink bottles. All other materials are processed and sold to the commodity markets.

The Infographic below shows the recycling processes

Diagram of the recycling process

Visy is a recognised leader in the recycling of cardboard, paper, plastic, glass, steel and aluminium in Australia, recovering more than 1.8 million tonnes of paper and cardboard, 193,000 tonnes of glass, 91,000 tonnes of plastics and 38,000 tonnes of metals (including aluminium and steel cans) in 2016/2017. For more than a decade, Visy has been teaching the community about why we should all be recycling and how best to go about it. If you would like to learn more about turning recyclables into reusable material, visit: https://www.visy.com.au/recycling/education/ 

Paper / cardboard - once sorted from other recyclables the paper is compacted and squashed into bales and taken to the Visy paper processing plant where the bales are placed into large mixing pots and stirred in water to produce pulp. The pulp is cleaned and pressed through large rollers to dry, turning it into large paper sheets for paper and packaging.

Plastics #1 (PET) and #2 (HDPE) are manufactured back into plastic bottles at Visy’s processing plant in Sydney.

Plastics #3 to #7 often sent overseas for manufacturing into recycled products.

Aluminium cans are separated using an ‘eddy current' separation unit, which creates a fluctuating magnetic field to induce a magnetic effect in the cans. The cans are then baled and transported to processing plants where they are heated to 700 ° Celsius and made into new cans, saucepans and foil.

Steel cans - A large rolling magnet separates steel cans from the other recyclables. A compacter compresses the steel into large bricks which are sent to companies who shred the steel and melt it to form into new steel products, such as new steel cans, cars, train tracks and planes.

Glass jars are sorted by gravity. Visy sends glass to Recovery Services/OI Penrith who reprocess the glass to be made into new glass products and broken glass for crushing into a sand replacement product for civil works.

Don't place plastic bags in your recycling bin, Visy can't recycle them and they can cause problems in the recycling process. The bags are removed from the recycling stream then sent to landfill. Bags with something inside are removed by hand. The staff can't open the bags to see what is inside - they don't have time and the bags might contain dirty or hazardous items. Empty plastic bags are removed from the recycling stream by mechanical processes; however they can get caught in machinery. Always place recyclables loose in the yellow bin. 

For questions about what can be recycled send us an email to rethink.waste@innerwest.nsw.gov.au . 

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Page last updated: 27 Mar 2019