plastic recyclingAccording to Clean Up Australia?s 2014 Rubbish Report [http://www.cleanup.org.au/au/RubbishReport2/rubbish-report2010.html], plastic represents 30% of all rubbish collected. Even if your business is transitioning to eco-friendly practices, it can be hard to avoid plastic altogether.

Here are three steps for plastic recycling in your workplace, when waste reduction is no longer an option:

1. Identify your plastic

Look for a Plastics Identification Code, usually a number inside an arrowed triangle. Plastics labelled 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 cover most types of plastics in a modern workplace – drink bottles, milk bottles, hand-wash bottles, bread bags, garbage bags, takeaway food containers, and lunch boxes and these may be included in most business recycling bins.

Items such as shopping bags, styrofoam cups, and cling wrap usually can?t be recycled, although some recycling programs now include these types of plastics. If in doubt, check with your waste management company or local council in your area.

2. Clean before you throw

Always empty, rinse or wipe down your plastics before disposal. Remove any leftover food scraps and perishables, so they don?t turn rancid in the recycling bin. Wipe away as much moisture as you can, though a small amount of residue is usually acceptable. It?s advisable to recycle bottle caps separately, as they?re typically made with metal or a different type of plastic, which cannot be recycled together with the bottle.

Contamination of recyclables raises costs for collectors and recyclers, and thus the cost to businesses and the community. Some contaminants are so hazardous to process that they can send an entire batch into landfill. Hence disposable nappies, plastic sanitary products, and medical waste containers must never be thrown in the recycle bin.

3. Dispose thoughtfully

Depending on where you are, different rules apply for how to sort recyclable materials for waste collection, even if they get sorted again at a waste processing centre. Some municipalities prefer plastics to be separated from paper and cardboard recycling, while other cities allow both paper and plastics to be grouped with aluminium cans and glass.

Check with your council or waste consultancy contractor for the rules that apply to your area.