Recycling contamination is down by 59 per cent

Lisa Renfrey

Proper recycling is on the up across the Coast, with Cleanaway reporting recycling contamination is down by 59 per cent.

The company, which works with Central Coast Council on waste removal, has been monitoring waste being put into recycling bins and informing residents when inappropriate items are found with a new tagging initiative designed to help lift the region’s recycling game.

Sustainability Manager NSW for Cleanaway, Rebecca Evered, said the company’s Resource Recovery Officers had been conducting inspections in various suburbs, working in concert with truck drivers to flag households whose recycling needed work.

“They have been working day to day with drivers who have been alerting them to possible bin contamination,” Evered said.

“Inspectors will leave tags on bins to let people know if they have been putting the wrong thing in their recycling bins.

“Things like plastic bags, general garbage and textiles are the biggest problems.

“A follow-up inspection will earn another tag, letting householders know they have got it right,” Evered said.

Supported by an ongoing advertising campaign in Central Coast Newspapers, this has made a big difference to the amount of rubbish going to landfill.

With the results recently made public, eco-conscious Northerners are celebrating the region’s improved recycling outcomes.

One such local is Lisa Renfrey, who’s passion for recycling has helped dozens of others consider their impact on the environment.

Growing up in the UK, Renfrey said her parents made a conscious effort to make her aware of her ecological footprint, but it wasn’t until she had a family of her own that she realised how much waste the average household generates.

“When I had my firstborn, I remember thinking about all the nappies we were going through and one day I did some research and learned that nappies take 500 years to biodegrade.

“I was shocked, but it got me thinking about things I could change,” Renfrey said.

That change started with a switch to cloth nappies and wipes, and now seven years on, the whole Renfrey clan is still doing their part to live by the mantra of ‘reduce reuse recycle’.

“As a family we do our best to live eco-consciously.

“We don’t use any single use plastics, we always strive to use biodegradable products, we compost, and we just genuinely do our best to reuse or repurpose rather than just throw away,” Renfrey explained.

According to the Budgewoi local, it’s a lot easier than people think, with small changes yielding big results.

“Some simple things that we’ve done to reduce our waste are reusing things like pasta jars, keeping reusable water bottles and buying products that come in recyclable packaging such as cardboard.

“When it comes to recycling, we recycle everything that we can and avoid wasting as much as possible.

“It takes some adjusting but they’re easy changes to adopt and we rarely have a full red bin as a result.”

This sustainable focus has also bled into Renfrey’s other great passion, sewing, with the mum launching her own eco-product store, Branches Of Me, which stocks a range of reusable, ethically sourced and sustainability driven household items.

Through her business, Renfrey also strives to educate and inspire others to change their recycling habits by sharing some of her family’s top tips and tricks for reducing waste, with its large social media following.

She’s hoping that Cleanaway’s recent announcement will inspire more locals to make a more conscious effort to recycle.

“I love the phrase ‘it doesn’t go away when you throw it away’ and it hurts my soul when I see how much salvageable and recyclable goods that people just throw away on bin day.

“So, I encourage everyone to think bigger when it comes to recycling.

“Think about your furniture, clothing and household items.

“Do they need to be thrown away or can they be repurposed or reused elsewhere?

“It really is as simple as that.

“Start small, do your research and consider how you can improve your habits.

“You don’t have to change the world, it really can be as easy as buying a reusable drink bottle.”

Renfrey’s other key bit of advice is to know the dos and don’t of recycling to avoid unwitting contamination.

What you can put in your yellow bin: Paper and cardboard items free of plastic and foil linings; plastic bottles and containers that held a product used in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry; metal food and drink cans; aerosol spray cans used within the home or on your body; and, glass bottles and jars that held food, drink or medicine products.

Dilon Luke