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Posted on Oct 16, 2014 in Blog, Waste

? ? ? What do all these symbols mean??

petsymbolIt’s Sunday night and it’s time to put out your recycling bin, which could be green or blue depending on the area you live and which waste company collects your bins.  What goes where??  Since the privatisation of the waste industry, we can no longer just pick up our phones and call our county council.  It’s up to each private waste company who all have different requirements.

As a result, I think we are all baffled as to what we can put into our bins?  Where do the nappies go? The greasy pizza box? The food encrusted aluminium foil? All the bleedin plastic containers with different sympols…HDPE, LDPE, PET, PP?  How can we ensure we are doing the right thing?

Repak just released a survey that found that many of us are throwing the wrong material into the wrong bin…dirty nappies are going into the recycling bin along with plastic bags and food waste.  Most of us (98%) are recycling, but 7 out of 10 of us are using the wrong bin.

What’s the problem with putting food encrusted paper or dirty nappies into the recycling bin?

Doesn’t the stuff just get melted or treated with high temperature so that the food is burned off?zza-box

Some food remnants are ok for metal cans and bottles as they are treated at high temperatures when recycled.  With water bills on the horizon, don’t waste too much water rinsing out the bottles before taking them to the bottle bank.  However, with our current recycling regime, cans are put into the same bin as papers and if papers/cardboard become contaminated, they cannot be recycled.  To recycle paper, it goes into a water bath to break down the fibres.  Food and grease contaminates this process.

Don’t even try putting dirty nappies into the recycling bin…with their plastic components and other yucky stuff, they are not recyclable or compostable (unless otherwise advertised) and should go into the normal bin.

What about plastic? I’m confused by all the different symbols.

hdpe symbolI get confused by the different grades of plastic as well, but for the most part, you can put plastic bottles (PET, PETE or HDPE), detergent bottles and plastic film (Polypropylene/PP), and plastic film and food containers (LDPE) into the recycling bin.

I have done a quick survey of the larger waste companies throughout the country and while much of the information is consistent, there are slight variations as to which plastic they will take in the recycling bin.  I have links below to some of the waste companies around the country and you can see what they will take in their recycling bin.






Wexford, Waterford, Wicklow, Laois, Kilkenny, Carlow:


Lastly, here is a simple guide…


Material Where do I put it?
Nappies (which makes up 8% of the waste stream) black bin (normal bin)
Pizza boxes and dirty paper/cardboard (with food and grease) brown bin (with food and green waste)
Clean paper, newspaper and boxes Recycling bin
TetraPaks remove lids, but put them in recycling bin as well Recycling bin
Washed out food tins, drinking cans, aluminium trays, biscuit tins Recycling bin
All food Brown bin (organic waste)
Used Aluminium foil as it most likely has food attached, it cannot go into the recycling bin…put into black bin
Plastic bottles (milk, drinks and detergents/shampoos) remove lids, but put them in recycling bin as well Recycling bin
Plastic food containers and film Check with your local waste hauler and look at recycling symbols
Plastic bags Use to line rubbish bin or for other uses.  Can take to amenity centre.  Keep out of recycling bin
Glass bottles and jars No bin…take to bottle banks or recycling amenity centre. Glass contaminates dry recyclables.


Can I use my plastic bags for recycling or food waste?

No..when putting your recyclable material into the recycling bin, don’t put it into plastic bags…keep the material loose.  Plastic bags contaminate the recycling. Also, do not use plastic bags when putting food into the compost bin.  Use compostable bags such as GreenSax BioBag or the free-standing Obeo.

Clear as mud now?