• Waste 101: What to Recycle, Compost, DIY, and Dispose

    August 7, 2017 • GUIDES, LIFE

    Waste 101: What to Recycle, Compost, DIY, and Dispose


    We’ve compiled Waste 101 – our guide on how to reuse, recycle, compost, donate, DIY and dispose of your waste items in Australia.

    Minimising and taking charge of your waste is vital to helping the planet, so, let’s get started!



    Basic rule-of-thumb is, if it’s working and safe, keep using it.

    This means reusing your old phone-model instead of trading it in for a few one every few months.

    It means using blank sides of used paper instead of recycling them right away.

    It means ignoring the latest fashion trends and sticking to your wardrobe threads.

    If you’re able to use something right to the end of its natural life, then the environment will thank you.

    You may ask: why would I reuse something if I am disposing of it thoughtfully anyway (e.g. donating or recycling)?

    Although these disposal methods are important, buying new products more than needed leads to environmental harm.

    For instance, you may donate clothes to charity, but buying new clothes means large amounts of labour, water, resources, and packaging involved in its production. Keeping your used threads, and re-wearing or altering them for a new look, means your not contributing to this waste cycle.

    Not buying new things also makes you cherish the items you have, so you’re more likely to care for them longer.


    Reusing also means repairing items to increase their life (and maybe improve them in the process)!

    This could mean darning a sock to fix a hole, getting a phone screen repaired, or gluing back together a plate.

    If you can’t repair something yourself, sourcing professionals or learning a new skill to repair in the future is a good alternative.

    If repair professionals are out of your budget, you can visit a Repair Café and get your item fixed for free! Bring your item and the Café will bring the tools, materials and specialists you need, who will help you fix your item. And who knows, you may find a knack for your newly-found DIY skills.

    Visit your nearest Repair Café by visiting repaircafe.org


    Reusing can also mean re-purposing.


    For instance, if you have old plastic food containers you no longer feel comfortable holding your food, you can drill a few holes in the bottom and make your own pots and planters! You can paint on your old non-stick pan and make some quirky wall art. The possibilities are infinite.

    A quick Google can reveal a plethora of ideas on how to re-purpose your items that would otherwise go into landfill. And it will mean less money spent on new items too. Good for the planet and your back pocket.



    Recycling, if done right, can make a huge, positive impact on the environment.

    Waste and recycling guidelines differ between states in Australia. Check with your city council if you’re not sure of how to dispose of something.

    Below you’ll find links to your city council on their waste and recycling rules:


    Overall, you can recycle the following things in your wheelie recycling bin:

    • Paper
    • Cardboard (un-waxed)
    • Firm plastic containers (shampoo containers etc)
    • Metal (aluminium and steel) – cans, tin foil
    • Aerosol cans – must be empty
    • Glass – only glass containers used for packaging (no drinking glasses, ceramics, light bulbs etc)
    • You must remove all lids from their containers before recycling.


    The following things CANNOT be put in your wheelie recycling bin:

    • Cellophane
    • Ceramics
    • Clothes
    • Drinking glasses
    • Food waste
    • Garden waste
    • Heat-proof dishes
    • Nappies
    • Needles and syringes
    • Padded envelopes that contain plastic
    • Photographs
    • Plastic bags
    • Polystyrene foam
    • Soft plastics, such as food wrappers and plastic wrap
    • Tissues and toilet paper
    • Wax-coated paper


    But just because you can’t recycle these items in the regular wheelie bin, doesn’t mean they have to go to landfill!

    To recycle soft plastics and plastic bags, visit Redcycle (www.redcycle.net.au) to see their collection sites (usually at supermarkets) – they recycle soft plastic and turn them into useful items, like outdoor furniture.

    Old clothes that can’t be worn or revamped can be donated – more information on donation is below.

    Most food waste can be composted, and garden waste can either be composted or put into your green-waste bin. More information on composting is below too.

    We also offer TerraCycle Zero Waste Boxes! Aimed at recycling the “unrecyclable”, simply buy a box meant for a specific item (like binders or coffee capsules), and once it’s filled you can send it back to TerraCycle for recycling (the postage is included in the purchase price).

    For e-waste recycling, The Australian Government has a National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme. There are more than 1,800 collection points for the public to drop of their old TVs and computers, which recycles and reuses valuable resources. For more information, click here.

    Your local resource recovery centre may be able to recycle items that cannot go in the normal wheelie recycling bin, such as clean polystyrene and e-waste. Check your council website to see what they can take.

    Biome can also recycle items for you! Bring your bag of cork stoppers, old mobile phones or small, home-printer cartridges and give it to one of our team members in any of our stores. To read more about this initiative, click here.



    Beginners Guide to Composting

    Food waste makes up a large portion of our landfill; this is easily solved by returning it back to the Earth naturally, a.k.a composting!


    Overall, this is what you can compost:

    • Fruits and vegetables
    • Cotton and wool fabric (no synthetic fibres)
    • Yard trimmings
    • Eggs and nut shells
    • Foliage (leaves, flowers, plants)
    • Paper and cardboard (preferably shredded for easy decomposition)
    • Wood chips
    • Coffee grounds and tea bags
    • Hair and fur
    • 100% cotton balls or wipes (find ours here)
    • Used facial tissues
    • Natural ear swabs (find ours here)
    • 100% cotton tampons (even used!)


    These are just general rules. If you want to know if a particular item can be composted, research online or contact the manufacturer.


    You CANNOT compost the following:

    • Carnivore manure (including from cats and dogs) – but you can compost it in a specialised EnsoPet bokashi compost kit! Buy it here and read our article about it here.
    • Diseased or insect-filled plants
    • Glazed or coloured magazines
    • Dairy products and eggs
    • Meat products
    • Plant matter treated with chemical pesticides
    • Black walnut tree leaves and twigs


    To compost egg shells, meat and other dairy products, it is advised you use a special Bokashi composting bin to make sure they break down properly. The Bokashi bins Biome offers allow you to compost everything at once, in the comfort of your kitchen!

    Read up on our Bokashi bins here.

    We also have the Oggi Stainless Steel Bin! Perfect for inside the kitchen, it has a charcoal odour filter, so no smells and no attraction of pests. This makes it perfect for hot Australian summers. This bin isn’t suitable for meat products, however.

    If you currently don’t have any composting facilities, click here for our composting products and solutions.

    You can also access our Beginner’s Guide to Composting here.

    If you’re unable to compost yourself, your city council will have information on community gardens, which may compost for you!



    If you have an item that you no longer want, but someone else might, donating or selling may be the way to go.

    There are many ways to donate and sell nowadays. Many community Facebook groups, online forums and websites exist for selling, buying and swapping second-hand items. Garage or car-boots sales are also good alternatives if you prefer to sell yourself.

    If you have used textbooks from university courses, there are second-hand textbook stores on campus that will let you sell your books back.


    Donation opportunities are also easy to access; it just depends what you’d like to donate, what people can take as donations, and the groups that are in your local area.

    Before taking items for donation, contact the group or venue to check they can accept the items. Certain venues may have conditions on what the can and cannot accept.

    Here are a few suggestions for places to donate to:

    Local op-shops (such as Lifeline and Endeavour stores) – will usually take clothing, jewellery, knick-knacks, and sometimes even furniture.

    Clothing donation bins – simply put your old clothes into the bin and, ta-da, you’ve donated! Check what bins are in your area online.

    Community bookstores, libraries and schools – these are possible places to donate books, magazines and stationary, depending if they’re able to accept item donations.

    Old glasses – You can drop off your old glasses and help someone see! An initiative run by Lions International, see the site for details.


    These is no limit to how many places you can donate items to. Different states and areas have different charities, organisations and drives aimed at collecting second-hand items and putting them to good use; have a good Google or contact your local council to see what options you have.



    Luscious DIY Body Butter Whip

    Similar to re-purposing, this solution basically entails making things yourself when you have the skills, resources, and interest to do so.

    For instance, if you need a new beanie and have found some wool, you may decide to knit it yourself. This means you have new skills for the future and an excuse to get your craft on.

    DIY also means you can make your own beauty and personal care products: from Natural Shampoo Paste, to Natural Toxin-Free Deodorant, to Tinted Lip Balm.

    Making your own products not only means you know what goes in it, but it can be a fun and therapeutic practice.

    If you’re interested in making your own beauty and cleaning products, our visit our Naked Beauty Bar online or in our four Brisbane stores, where you can pick up raw, natural ingredients (like activated charcoal, clays, petals, oils and more) in reusable glass jars.  Our Balmoral store also offers these ingredients in bulk, so you can buy however much you need. For all our Naked Beauty recipes, click here.



    If, however, you’ve tried every avenue above and your waste item just doesn’t fit with any of them, you may need to send it to landfill (noooo!).

    However, some items that don’t fit into any of the above waste methods can’t go in the landfill either, due to health and safety concerns (for us AND the environment).

    For instance, unfinished medications packs are hazardous when they degrade landfill. Many chemists urge customers to return all unfinished medication back to the pharmacy, as they can dispose of them safely.

    Hazardous waste, such as asbestos or lithium-ion batteries, may also be banned from general landfill. Contact your city council on their rules for disposing these kinds of items.


    In general, if you’re about to bin an item, think if there are any other ways it can be rescued from landfill, and if not, if there are better ways of disposing it without affecting the environment.

    This does take some effort, but also means you’re being a proactive, conscious consumer.


    And if you ever do need to send an item to landfill, or it’s an item that contributes to the waste-cycle through pollution and resources, then it’s an item you don’t need to have in your life, ever again.

    At Biome, we believe in buying products that not only come from an ethical and sustainable source, but fill a need that an unsustainable product normally would, for longer than it would.

    Head to our blog post War on Waste ABC: Your Game Plan to Reduce Waste to see easy steps to cutting down on your waste, and easy swaps for disposable or plastic items.


    Good luck with your low-waste journey! You got this.


    Related Articles:

    Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle and Recycle with Kids

    10 Plastic Free Ides You’ve Never Thought Of

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