How to recycle in the City of Sydney

How to recycle in the City of Sydney

City of Sydney

How to recycle in the City of Sydney

How to recycle in the City of Sydney

Acknowledgement of Country: This research was conducted on Gadigal Country. We pay our respects to the traditional custodians of this land, past, present and emerging. We recognise their deep connection to the land and their unique cultural heritage, which continues to enrich our shared community.

Recycling practices vary by council and location. Following our first interview, we asked Gemma Dawson, Waste Strategy Manager at the City of Sydney, about how to recycle in the City of Sydney .  

If you’re a City of Sydney resident, here are some recommended recycling guidelines to follow.

How to recycle and manage waste at home?

  1. Reduce and reuse. Be mindful of your purchasing decisions. Bring your own reusable shopping bags and containers. Decline unnecessary bags, straws and packaging.
  2. Compost your garden waste and food waste. Learn about at-home composting. If you don’t have space, compost at your local community garden, or connect with neighbours who compost on ShareWaste.

  3. Use the City’s collection and recycling services. Explore our website to learn about our services. Almost everything that ends up in the bin has a collection service.
  4. Prevent contamination in recycling bins. Learn about our recycling guidelines. For tricky items, you can ask our waste virtual assistant or expert

What happens if you put the wrong item in the recycle bins?

If there are only a few unacceptable items in the yellow bin, the facility has pickers to remove them. Some items might still make it through.

However, the truck driver might not take the whole bin if there's severe contamination. If it goes into the truck, the recyclables from many households could go to a landfill.

If hazardous items like batteries are put in the yellow bin, they can spark and cause fires in the trucks when they compact the waste. When this happens, the entire load of recycling is sent to landfill. It's important to minimise contamination. You can learn more about our recycling guidelines. For tricky items, you can ask our waste virtual assistant or expert.

How to recycle broken glass bottles and jars? 

Broken glass unfortunately cannot be placed in the yellow recycling bin. You can loosely wrap the broken pieces before disposing of them in your regular waste bin.

Also, only glass jars and packaging should be recycled through the council’s kerbside recycling service. Glassware that has been treated, such as drinking glasses, window glass or mirrors, are not recyclable. They have different melting points and will contaminate the recycling process. 

How to recycle containers and aerosol cans that are not emptied?

It's best to empty the contents as much as possible to avoid contamination. Rinsing containers is also recommended. If the contents of a container are mouldy and you can't empty it, you shouldn't put it in the recycling bin. The same goes for aerosol cans. If they are not emptied, they can pose a potential fire hazard. 

Can I recycle pizza boxes? 

You can recycle empty pizza boxes. A little oil is okay, but not leftover pizza or toppings. They will contaminate the recycling process. 

Are bioplastic and compostable plastic products recyclable?

All bioplastic and compostable plastic products should never go to the yellow recycling bin. 

They can be home composted. However, they are currently not accepted at commercial composting facilities in NSW and regulated by the NSW EPA. Some of these products may contain persistent chemicals such as per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) which do not break down during the composting process. For now, it's best to place them in the red lid bin.  

Be mindful that every product has a footprint, even if it can be composted. Choose reusable over single-use.

Where can I learn more about how to recycle?

Waste advice and technology change over time. The best tip is to always stay curious and ask questions. Most of the time, your local community will already have the answers you're looking for.

You can learn more about our recycling guidelines: 

To stay updated:

This is part 2 of the two-part interview with Gemma Dawson. For part 1, please head to: Waste And Recycling In The City of Sydney.

Learn more
City of Sydney Waste & Recycling Services   


This interview is part of ReCo Circular Sydney 2023 Series, supported by the City of Sydney Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship program. Explore more free content:

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Co-edited by Myra Mow and Danling Xiao.

Myra Mow is an environmental science graduate from the University of Queensland. She loves nature, growing up planting and harvesting fruit and vegetables. She’s passionate about waste reduction and recycling, with a special focus on organic waste management. Connect with Myra on Linkedin

Danling Xiao is the co-founder of ReCo Digital. Danling has an unwavering passion for creativity, spirituality and the pursuit of positive change in the world. Connect with Danling on Linkedin

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