Where Does The Recycling Go?


It’s National Recycling Week (12-18 November) and what better way to celebrate than to thank the vast majority of Ballina Council residents who are great recyclers!

This year has seen some major changes to Australia’s recycling industry due to China placing much tighter restrictions on unsorted recycling or incorrect items being placed in recycling bins (which is called contamination).

So where does our recycling actually go? Ballina’s kerbside recycling continues to go to Lismore’s Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) where it’s bailed and sent to various local and international markets for recycling. The markets vary, but generally:

  • Glass is crushed into a sand-like product in Lismore to be used in local road base and pipe bedding projects
  • Paper and cardboard is sent offshore to China to be made into recycled products
  • Steel and Aluminium is generally sent offshore to China
  • Plastics are sorted; some head offshore to China while others are sent to a recycling facility in Narrabri.

Northern Rivers councils have been working collaboratively on a new recycling campaign to support residents with their efforts by simplifying messages and clarifying what can and can’t be recycled.

“One of the biggest contaminants in our recycling bins is items tied up in plastic bags,” said Ms Samala Heart, Ballina Shire Council’s Waste Education Officer.

“Standard, degradable and biodegradable bags must all go in the red-lidded landfill bin, with 100% compostable bags acceptable in the green-lidded organics bin. Please keep recyclable items loose in your yellow-lidded kerbside bin so they can be sorted successfully by the wonderful staff at Lismore’s MRF.”

Stay tuned for the region-wide Recycle Right campaign, officially launching on 3rd December. The campaign will be visible on television, social, web and print media and include home- use resources for residents.

For more information on what you can and cannot recycled visit ballina.nsw.gov.au (search recycling bin).


5 Responses

    • Anne

      I agree with Nadine. Crushable plastic can be collected in a plastic bag and placed in the recycling bin.

    • Richard

      Hi Nadine. Council just told me China isn’t taking our soft plastics anymore & it is up to us to drop them in the red-lidded big container inside Coles ? as they are not doing it anymore!

  1. Richard

    Sorry ladies, Ballina Coyncil aren’t doing soft plastics anymore. It is now up to everyone to take it into Coles. They soon also aren’t recycling anything smaller than a business card & no lids anymore as it jams up their machines. Seems we are going backwards…

  2. Scott

    I talked to Council about this as well. Its happening in Byron and Lismore too and comes into effect properly next month. This article is the heads up.

    All of the Coles and Woolies around Ballina have soft plastics recycling bins, so I guess its just doing what we’re already doing and take the soft plastics bag there instead. Most of it is from supermarkets anyway so they should take some responsibility. It would be great if the IGA supermarkets got on board with a similar initiative.


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