Know thy recyclables (Part 3): Miscellaneous

Here it is, the final installment of my 3 part series on recyclables, focusing on those miscellaneous items that have a little more mystery around their recycling status.


Rubbish bins - Sue Kellerman Flickr
Photo: Sue Kellerman on Flickr.


Tetra Pak and cartons are a mix of paper, plastic and aluminium, making them ideal for liquids like milk and juice. Tetra Pak and cartons can be recycled by Mpact nationwide, either by dropping them off at Mpact collection bins or through the Mpact curbside collection schemes.

Note that Mpact is a paper recycler, but they will still take the cartons with their plastic lids, and will ensure the plastic components are recycled (into things like roof tiles, flooring and some types of outdoor furniture). I used to make the mistake of placing our cartons in with the other recyclables, but if you do this there is a risk it won’t get to the right destination, so rather always put them with the paper recyclables.

Remember to rinse the carton and pack it flat, with the lid on, to help with collection.




  • Rechargable


  • Disposable**

** Note: Disposable batteries contain a toxic chemical which can leach into the soil and groundwater. For this reason, they should not be thrown away with normal household waste, but put into the battery collection bins at Pick ‘n Pay stores.

Click here to find out the closest place to recycle your rechargable batteries.



Yes (okay – it’s not strictly recycling, but it also kinda is!)

  • Fruit and vegetables (except for the exclusions below)
  • Coffee grinds & tea leaves (without the bag)
  • Egg shells
  • Biodegradable food containers
  • Grass cuttings, leaves and other garden waste

Maybe – these will only work if you have a Bokashi bin, or similar, composting set-up:

  • Onion, garlic and citrus
  • Meat and bones
  • Dairy products
  • Cooked or preserved food – even if vegetables or fruit

Pet poop can be used in the garden, BUT you need to manage it with more caution. Here’s some advice if you want to take this route.

Find out an easy way to make compost here. (I’m really lazy and instead of a bin, we just dug a hole to bury our organic waste in. It did become compost, but only after a few years!)



The following materials CANNOT be recycled:

  • Cling wrap & bubble wrap
  • Plastic wrappers with a silvery side (e.g. chip packets, chocolate wrappers or biscuit packets)
  • Items made from mixed plastic (e.g. toothbrushes, pens and some toys)
  • Ceramics
  • Pyrex
  • Rubber
  • Vinyl


Once you are into your recycling routine, you might even want to consider limiting the amount of recyclable waste you have, by following the 5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle & Rot. After all, the recycling industry is an energy intensive one, and we should only be using it as a last resort.


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