Guide to DIY Waste Separation Projects

A Simple Guide to Sorting Your Rubbish

Do you feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out what goes in each bin?

Properly separating household waste can be confusing, but it’s one of the easiest ways to reduce environmental impact.

In this guide, Pro Rubbish Removal walks through the key steps for sorting your rubbish and recycling more effectively.

With a little practice, you’ll be a waste separation pro in no time.

Why Bother Separating Waste?

Waste separation helps our rubbish get recycled or disposed of properly. Here are some of the main benefits:

  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions from waste to landfill
  • Saves energy and raw materials by enabling recycling
  • Prevents recycling contamination which leads to waste
  • Reduces litter from improperly disposed waste
  • Supports the circular economy by keeping materials and resources in use

Many local councils in Australia now require households to separate rubbish into at least two or three bins. This strategy has significantly increased recycling rates and recycling facilities across the country.

Getting Started with Waste Separation

Follow these steps when setting up a waste separation system in your home:

  1. Obtain the right bins – Most councils provide a general waste bin plus recycling and garden organics bins. You may need to request extra bins like glass or paper recycling.
  2. Place bins in accessible locations – Position bins in easy to reach spots like your kitchen, laundry, bathroom and garage.
  3. Label your bins clearly – Use colour coding, text or images to mark what goes in each container.
  4. Learn your local rules – Check your council’s website to understand separation requirements in your area.
  5. Share guidelines with housemates – Make sure everyone knows how to use your waste system correctly.

The three main waste streams are general rubbish, recyclables, and organics. Let’s look at what goes in each bin.

General Waste Bin

Your general rubbish bin is for materials that cannot be recycled. Here are common items that go into the general waste:

  • Plastic bags, meat tray, cling wrap, and soft plastics
  • Disposable coffee cups and lids
  • Polystyrene and foam packaging
  • Broken ceramics, mirrors, and glassware
  • Used tissues, paper towels and napkins
  • Disposable razors and toothbrushes
  • Nappies and sanitary products
  • Pet waste and kitty litter
  • Vacuum cleaner dust and bags

Always check your local guidelines as accepted general waste can vary between councils. Avoid putting any hazardous liquids, chemicals or e-waste in your general bin.

Recycling Bin

The recycling bin is for household items that can be reprocessed and turned into new recycled materials. Here are common recyclables for your yellow-lidded bin:

  • Milk and juice cartons
  • Glass bottles and jars
  • Aluminium cans and tins
  • Plastic containers and bottles with codes 1-7
  • Paper and cardboard like newspaper and egg cartons
  • Magazines, junk mail, and office paper waste

Some key tips for recycling properly:

  • Rinse containers to remove residue
  • Remove lids and flatten plastic bottles
  • Separate paper and containers into different crates
  • No plastic bags or wrapped recyclables
  • No food scraps or liquids

Organics Bin

The organics bin is for compostable food scraps and green waste. Here are common organic materials to separate:

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Meat and seafood bones and scraps
  • Eggshells
  • Tea bags and coffee grounds
  • Bread, pasta, rice and cereal
  • Flowers and houseplants
  • Garden clippings and leaves
  • Shredded paper

Keep plastic bags, twist ties, and rubber bands out of your organics bin to avoid contamination of the environment. Some councils allow certified compostable bags.

Other Waste Streams

In addition to your three main bins, your household may also have separation systems for:

  • Paper and cardboard – Some councils provide crates for paper recycling.
  • Glass – Bottles and jars may go in separate glass bins.
  • Clothing and textiles – Donate wearable items and recycle fabric scraps.
  • Batteries and globes – Many retailers accept these for recycling.
  • E-waste – Drop off broken electronics and appliances for recovery.

Check with your local waste department to find out where you can recycle items like batteries, printer cartridges and mobile phones in your area.

Common Recycling Mistakes to Avoid

With more complex recycling systems, it’s easy to make mistakes. Here are some common recycling errors to watch out for:

  • Bagging recyclables – no plastic bags in the yellow bin
  • Forgetting to rinse containers
  • Putting non-recyclables like bubble wrap in the recycling
  • Throwing the wrong items in the organics like plastic-coated paper
  • Overfilling bins so the lids can’t close

When in doubt about an item, look up whether it’s recyclable through your council website or recycling app. Or you can put it in the general waste if it’s not hazardous.

Tips for Easy Waste Separation

With some simple habits, you can get waste separation down to a science. Here are handy tips for a smooth system:

  • Have a small bin in your kitchen for immediate sorting while cooking and cleaning.
  • Place bins together in a waste station for easy sorting.
  • Line bins with compostable bags to keep them clean.
  • Freeze food scraps if you generate a lot of organic waste.
  • Crush and flatten items to fit more in your recycling bin.
  • Rinse recyclables promptly to avoid sticky residue.
  • Put reminders like magnets on your bins about what goes where.

Involving kids can also make separating waste a habit for the whole family. Turn it into a game by having competitions on who can find the most recyclables.

Over to You.

With more awareness of what can and can’t be recycled, separating your household waste doesn’t need to be intimidating. Follow these handy tips and you’ll be a waste warrior in no time.

Do you have your own tricks for easy rubbish and recycling at home? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main bins I need for separating waste?

Most households require three main bins – general waste, recycling and garden organics. Some local councils also provide bins just for paper and cardboard or glass.

Can I put all paper and cardboard in my recycling bin?

In most areas, all clean paper and cardboard can go into your recycling bin, even if they have staples. However, some types may need special disposal like greasy pizza boxes.

How do I get rid of food scraps without an organics bin?

If you don’t have access to an organics collection, you can compost food waste yourself or double bag scraps before putting them in your general rubbish bin.

Is it worth washing recyclables before binning them?

Yes, give bottles, containers, and cans a quick rinse to remove food residue. This helps ensure the items can be properly recycled at the material recovery facility.


At the end of the day, effective waste separation comes down to each of us making a commitment to recycling properly.

With small daily actions like rinsing out that polyethylene yogurt container or checking if that plastic meat tray can join other recyclables in the yellow bin, we can all contribute.

Your diligence in the waste disposal and recycling process makes an enormous collective impact.

When we actively minimise waste to landfill by recovering recyclable materials wherever possible, we take vital steps towards preserving our planet for generations to come.

Our future depends on it.