Recycling

Waste is part of everyday living — everyone produces some waste each day. Each piece of waste produced and disposed of to landfill means that valuable natural resources have been lost and landfill space reduced.

  • Reusing resources we already have means fewer raw materials need to be mined and harvested.
  • Manufacturing new products from recycled material uses less energy than the production of new material.
  • Recycling 1t of plastic saves enough energy to power 31 homes for a month and recycling creates 9.2 jobs for every 2.8 jobs in landfilling.
  • A 5% increase in the recycling rate could add $1B to Australia’s gross domestic product.
  • Recycling makes you happier.

It is important to reduce the amount of waste we generate and there are many things we can do to minimise the amount of waste we discard every day.

Taking steps not to produce or collect waste in the first place will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. For example, you can:

  • buy items with less packaging
  • take your own bags to the shops
  • buy in bulk when practical

Reusing waste for other purposes such as containers or boxes for storage, repairing items instead of purchasing new ones and giving items away is a good way to help the environment.

Organic waste can be composted. Composting is a form of recycling that turns organic matter into a rich fertiliser for gardens and plants. It is not harmful to the environment and has the added benefit of costing nothing.

If you’re planning an event, consider how you can make it waste-free. Some of the things you can do include:

  • providing reusable or 100% compostable crockery and cutlery
  • having a refillable cup system
  • prohibiting helium balloons
  • providing water refill stations
  • sort waste
  • plastic-free venue.

You can recycle via your kerbside collections and by dropping items off at transfer stations. Most transfer stations in our region accept these recyclable materials free of charge.

Items must be loose in the wheelie bin. Bagged and incorrect items create a contaminated load that increases disposal costs, can be a safety issue for our staff and may result in the whole load being sent to landfill. A single plastic bag can shut down an entire material recovery facility if it gets caught in its machinery and leaving lids on recyclable plastic bottles can cause the bottles to explode during baling.

You can’t recycle:

  • plastic bags and other soft plastics
  • food
  • medical waste
  • dirty paper and cardboard
  • light bulbs
  • ceramics, pottery, china, oven proof glass and crystal
  • garden waste
  • building/renovation waste
  • chemical containers
  • disposable nappies and other sanitary products.

Car and other batteries can also be recycled through Tablelands Batteries.

Steel and aluminium cans are extremely valuable resources, are 100% recyclable, and can be recycled over and over again. Your steel baked bean cans could be easily recycled into another baked bean can, a railway track or even a steel construction beam. Your old aluminium soft drink cans are easily and inexpensively recycled into new soft drink cans, window frames and bicycles. Recycling an aluminium can uses only 5% of the energy required to manufacture a new can from natural resources.

Check if your containers are eligible for Containers for Change refunds.

Recycling Process

Steel and aluminium cans have a similar recycling process. After sorting, compacting and baling, the bales are sent to recycling companies in South East Queensland, where they are cleaned to remove food scraps and labels. The clean metal is heated until it melts. The steel is then cast into sheets, and the aluminium into ingots. The sheets and ingots are then ready to be made into new products.

Recycling Steps

  1. Rinse and crush cans.
  2. Remove labels.
  3. Place in recycling bin (lids too).

If you have other forms of scrap metal, take them to the transfer station or metal recycler.

By recycling glass containers and bottles, we are reducing the need to mine natural resources such as sand, limestone and soda ash. Recycling glass also reduces the amount of waste going to landfill.

Not all glass is recyclable through our kerbside collection and transfer stations. We can only accept glass containers and bottles that have been used to package food and drink. They can be clear, green or brown in colour.

Recycled glass is used to make new glass containers and bottles. The glass is crushed into ‘cullet’. If the cullet contains any form of contamination such as metal, ceramic or stone, the new glass will have faults or weaknesses that may jeopardise the durability and safety of the new glass container.

Check if your containers are eligible for Containers for Change refunds.

Recycling Process

There are currently no viable options for us to transport glass south for recycling. We collect the glass, crush it and send it to landfill. We are working with other North Queensland councils to find a cost-effective solution to glass recycling in our region.

Recycling Steps

  1. Remove lids, corks, labels and straws and place them in the general waste bin
  2. Empty and rinse glass containers and bottles.

Light bulbs, mirrors, window glass, drinkware, pyrex/ovenproof, opaque glass, ceramics, pottery, china and crystal are NOT recyclable and must be placed in the general waste bin.

Steel and aluminium cans (including coffee cans, pet tins, food cans and aerosol cans) are extremely valuable resources, are 100% recyclable, and can be recycled over and over again. Your steel baked bean can could be easily recycled into another baked bean can, a railway track or even a steel construction beam. Your old aluminium soft drink cans are easily and inexpensively recycled into new soft drink cans, window frames and bicycles. Recycling an aluminium can uses only 5% of the energy required to manufacture a new can from natural resources.

Check if your containers are eligible for Containers for Change refunds.

Recycling Process

Steel and aluminium cans have a similar recycling process. After sorting, compacting and baling, the bales are sent to recycling companies in South East Queensland, where they are cleaned to remove food scraps and labels. The clean metal is heated until it melts. The steel is then cast into sheets, and the aluminium into ingots. The sheets and ingots are then ready to be made into new products.

Recycling Steps

  1. Rinse and crush cans.
  2. Remove labels.
  3. Place in recycling bin (lids too).

If you have other forms of scrap metal, take them to the transfer station or metal recycler.

Paper comes in many different forms including cardboard boxes, newspaper, office paper, envelopes, junk mail, books, magazines and cards. Not all paper and cardboard can be recycled  — hygiene paper, waxed/coated paper and cardboard, and paper and cardboard contaminated by food, oil or grease cannot be recycled.

Milk and juice cartons can be recycled. These cartons are made from paper known as liquid paperboard.

Paper used for recycling is made into new paper product such as newspapers, writing paper, cardboard boxes, packaging and even kitty litter. Recycled liquid paperboard is made into high-quality office paper. Each time paper is recycled, the paper fibres are weakened. As the fibres weaken, they are mixed with virgin fibres to ensure the new paper meets the relevant standards.

Recycling paper provides an opportunity for us all to reduce the number of trees cut down and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.

Recycling Process

Paper, cardboard and liquid paperboard are sorted and baled and these are transported to South East Queensland, where it is often exported.

The paper is sorted into different grades and mixed with water in a machine similar to a blender, to create a wet pulp. The pulp is then passed through a number of screens to remove contaminants such as staples, plastic and paper clips. It is then passed over a number of filters to drain the water from the pulp. When most of the water has been removed, the pulp is pressed and heated by dryers to remove the remaining water. The large sheets of paper are wound onto reels to be sold to reprocessors to make new products.

Recycling Rules

Only recycle clean paper and cardboard.

Ban on Single-use Plastics

Single-use plastics have been banned in Queensland since Wednesday 1 September 2021. The Great Plastic Rescue works with businesses, not-for-profit organisations, schools and other organisations to give clean, unused single-plastics a new life. Register your unused, clean single-use plastics  so that they can be reprocessed, recycled and remanufactured into valuable products with longer useful life spans.

Recycling Process

Plastics marked with a recycle symbols (no plastic bags) including milk and juice bottles, ice cream and margarine containers, detergent containers, sauce bottles, shampoo/conditioner containers, softdrink bottles and yoghurt containers are sorted and baled into their different codes. The bales are exported and large contaminants are removed before the plastic is shredded and washed to remove small contaminants. The plastic is then melted and made into small pellets that are used in the production of new plastic products.

Check if your containers are eligible for Containers for Change refunds.

Recycling Steps

  1. Remove lids and place in general waste bin.
  2. Rinse.
  3. Squash/crush before placing in recycling bin if you need the space.

Steel is stockpiled at the Atherton Transfer Station and then processed via Sims Metal. This is a Far North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils contract with Sims Metal and North Queensland councils. Sims Metal bales the steel and transports it to their plant in Brisbane where is it is sold to domestic and international steel mills. These mills melt the steel and repurpose it into a range of new products, from microwaves to semitrailers.