5 recycling programs you may not know about

We’ve rounded up five amazing programs around Australia that can help you help the planet with ease.

The recent plastic bag ban shone a light on the devastation plastics and waste are wreaking on the environment, but for many, it’s easy to feel helpless about making a dent on the problem short of taking on full-time environmental warrior-hood.  But the good news is, there’s plenty of simple things we can all do to make a difference, and scads of programs out there to help you help the planet in your day to day life. Here are five programs helping everyday Aussies to help the environment with minimal fuss.

For beauty lovers

Regardless of your style, be it beauty addict or basic wash and go, we all use personal care products of some description. And for the most part, that means packaging. So L'Oréal Australia®  teamed up with TerraCycle® to bring a second life to used beauty products - everything from skin care, hair care, to cosmetic packaging - with their Beauty Products Recycling Program.

Collect up your beauty product packaging, including jars and bottles (give them a wash to remove any leftover product then send in or drop off at your nearest public drop-off point which you can find here. Products are then cleaned and melted into hard plastic which can be remoulded to make new recycled products. Even better for the fundraisers out there - each unit of personal care and beauty product packaging that you send to TerraCycle (minimum 7kgs) can be redeemed for a payment of 2 cents to the non-profit organisation or school of your choice.

Check out Terracycle for more recycling initiatives, awareness and fundraising campaigns.

For coffee - and soda - on the go drinkers

We’ve all struggled with the decision to straw or not to straw (or been handed one without asking), and many of us forget to take our own cups for our takeaway java hit. Thanks to 7-Eleven and Simply Cups, you can now drop any takeaway cups and straws into your local 7-Eleven store and they’ll be recycled (and they can come from any outlet.) Since Simply Cups launched the program, 1.48 million cups have been collected and are being turned into car park bumpers, hospital trays and other products. 

You can also get your hands on Australia's first reusable coffee cup made out of recycled takeaway coffee cups, The rCUP, which retails at $15, is sold through 7-Eleven’s across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia. Made from six recycled takeaway coffee cups, the rCUP is 100% leak proof and fully insulated ensuring that hot drinks stay warm for longer. 

Other ways to save the environment one cup at a time? Bring your own! There are few cafes that’ll refuse to fill your mug if you bring it along (and even a slowly growing trend through cafes offering donated mugs to customers to take and return, or reuse at any café.)

For your next clear out and shop in one

Got a box of spare jars you don’t need, but hate to throw away? Decided you will never actually fit into those lovely dresses again, or perhaps had an amazing garden haul of snap peas that you couldn't possibly finish off yourself? Then you need to join your local Buy Nothing Group.

What is Buy Nothing? It's a growing social initiative in which people can donate both goods and services while also being able to take up those offers yourself if you are in need. It could even be an item you need to borrow for a day or two rather than shell out for something you’ll use once, the community often saves you from purchasing another item you’ll use once and leave around to gather dust. They’re a great place to pick up (or donate) an abundance of fruit or herbs, plant cuttings, tech goods, clothing, kitchen goodies, pet supplies, party supplies…the list is endless!


In a similar vein, Spare Harvest is a relatively new global start up with a similar aim, though focusing on food. With a searchable map to find likeminded locals, you can share recipes, offer excess produce from your garden, trade growing tips or even develop a community garden. They’re also seeking to reduce waste from common gardening goodies like pots and leftover soil improvers. 

For Nespresso users

A fan of the pod coffee but unhappy with contributing to the heavy waste they can produce? The great news is, you can take your used coffee capsules to the nearest Nespresso Boutique or participating collection points (there are 19,000 in Australia alone), set up a bulk recycling box to collect on behalf of your community or workplace or post them back via Australia Post.

From here, the pods are sent to a specialist recycling plant where the aluminium is separated from the residual coffee. The coffee is sent to an industrial composting facility to be transformed into compost, while the aluminium is recycled and sent back to the aluminium industry to produce new aluminium products.

For your general plastic waste

Donate your empty bread bags, biscuit packets, frozen food bags, rice and pasta bags, confectionary packets, plastic shopping bags and old reusable bags through selected Coles and Woolworths with REDcycle collection bins.

Your empty packaging will be recycled into useful new products such as sturdy outdoor furniture and signage. Replas uses the material as the resource to produce a huge range of recycled-plastic products, from fitness circuits to sturdy outdoor furniture, to bollards, signage and more.

REDcycle’s website has a handy list of what items they can and can’t accept for recycling. Think of it as one (or five) small steps for your household, and one big step for the planet.

Got a recycling program you’re keen to share?

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