CHOICE membership

RECYCLING : is it a farce in Australia?


Here’s a suggestion for governments- why not re-use glass bottles and jars, instead of smashing them up, re-melting and forming into new bottles. When I was much younger, milk came in bottles and they were re-used over and over, probably for years, without any apparent problem.
We re-use our glass jars over and over when I make preserves each year from our fruit crops, why can’t we go back to doing that as a society? I’m sure scanners to determine the condition of bottles/jars at the rate of thousands per hour could easily be used to determine if a container was damaged in any way.
The idea of having to re-process the glass just seems ridiculous, but as we now know, even that is not happening- glass is accumulating in vast warehouses, before ending up in landfill… just how ridiculous can you get!?


We have identified the issue .
Next step . What do we need to do to rectify?
This is the central issue . How do we reduce waste like the Europeans ?
One method is to look at successful countries such as Germany and copy their methods . That is what are their road rules to reduce waste and recycle.


Identity politics occupies the airwaves as these are deemed more ‘newsworthy’. Real issues to do with our lives are far from ‘sexy’. Regulatory and compliance activities are also not sexy or occupy as much interest, or entertainment, as identity issues. Well meaning programs can identify a plethora of problems, yet rarely squeak in a possible solution. All the creators want is a reaction. Solutions are well outside the timeframe of the average perons attention span. We have the society we deserve and in keeping with the average intellect.


I recall the days of " reusable products or items", especially, the glass milk bottle. When something didn’t work, you bought parts to repair it. You bought a toaster. Some years went by and the element burned out. You bought a new one and replaced the old. It kept manufacturing moving. Then, we hit the Era of "Planned obsolescence "as you may recall, “if it stops working, throw it out”. It’s cheaper to buy a new one; and our economy keeps on moving.


The Federal Government, State Government, Councils, the ACCC, EPA, Police and Justices all have a problem. If they got on the ball, we could alleviate some of it. It’s not so much that recycling itself is problematic, it’s the Recyclers making money illegally. Same as drug dealers,theft, crime and corruption, all capital gains made illegally. Of course Greed plays a great part , especially with the Rich and super Rich, those we might call “snobs”.


It looks like both state governments, the ETA are all closing a blind eye to this problem and seem to ignore that impunity to those breaking the law will encourage others to do the same to the detriment of the community.


I’ll throw up a troll about planned obsolescence. I am not a proponent, just putting up an argument that it is not all bad.

Using the toaster as an example, if there are 7 million households there might be 7 million toasters. If the toasters were built to quality and repairability, and if an element pair failed every 5 years, there would be fewer raw materials required and waste is reduced to the burnt elements not the toaster, but what happens to the factories and jobs making toasters and elements?

I once again post the link to the ultimate explanation for the modern world economy, for better or worse. And highly recommend all these socially conscious videos at


It looks like no one really gives a stuff. One good thing about the Internet, you can Google all the way back and see how all this started and continues till this day. Except for CHOICE !!!..


I suspect they are totally blind (on purpose, due to corruption etc), so closing their blind eye wont make a lot of difference :smirk:


First thing we need to do is get rid of plastic water bottles & all the unnecessary packaging. Robyn.


Regarding plastic bottles as well as plastic packaging of any type for anything, a small start is for consumers to be better educated about the difference between the words ‘degradable’ and ‘biodegradable’. It could change buying decisions and in response, corporate action as well as accelerating research into better, more eco friendly and economically viable alternatives.

One of the troubling outcomes of human love for plastic is


I agree bigmitch8. It is also extremely disheartening that so many companies such as supermarkets, local councils, and state and federal governments seem to be colluding to dupe Australians trying to reduce / reuse / recycle. I think we need to say we do not want to pretend to recycle. Even if it is cheaper to import glass, Australians want to reuse our own glass rather than put it in landfill.


Very appropriate and courteous response, syncretic. All points well made. The key to word recognition is diversity in letter shape. Words in CAPITALS BECOME A SEA OF GREY due to their uniformity of height.


Well said, Robyn. We have a local organisation selling bottled water to raise funds for a charity Click here. Looks like it’s ‘save the kids but destroy the environment’. Doesn’t make sense to me, but then neither does paying $2 when you could fill your own bottle at home for nothing.


One has to also remember that products from the resource recovery industry need to be competitively priced and quality to be used as a replacement for virgin materials.

As a community, we could move towards compulsory recycling content in products, but this could affect end product prices and potentially product quality.

We could also move towards standardised packaging/containers, something I have raised with the packaging industry with a cold response. Packaging is seen as allowing two similar products to differentiate themselves, for example, changing packing shape to better target a particular consumer sector (e.g making beer containers more masculine to make them more attractive to males).

Standard containers (like the tallie beer bottles) would allow reuse which is better than recycling…but, it is also difficult to implement where international open markets exist and it would be difficult to regulate imported products.

The government could subsidise price of resource recovered materials, but this skews the market and cost may be far greater and and perceived benefits.

It would be better to recycle than not to recycle as the more generated should place downward pressure on prices and make it more attractive to use. It use will replace virgin materials which would otherwise have not been needed due to increase demand for the product. It is also essential that only high quality materials are recycled as this maximises the quality of the final products using the recycled materials. Higher quality means higher value for recycling.

Ensuring that only high quality materials are recycled are our responsibility and how we can contribute to and ensure opportunities for recycling are maximised. We can all ensure that only materials which should be placed in recycling receptables. Not doing so diminishes the quality of the recycled materials impacting Iimits value (price) for recycling.

We also need to be more accepting of recycled products.


Found the link below whilst browsing for some info on this topic . Worth a read as it confirms some information given to me by a worker at a recycling plant .


We need to have facilities to refill our containers without having to buy new containersful of product. Also, all of our products come with far too much packaging.


Not more regulation! When anything is perceived to go wrong, we need a new law or regulation. Explain where recycling has gone wrong, explain where corruption has taken place, etc. The Queensland loophole, whereby it was cheaper to dump waste (not recycling material) by transporting it from Sydney to Queensland, has been closed long ago. Your rant seems political and I don’t like you using Choice to get your anti-government feelings out. Stick to consumer issues and leave aside the politics!


If regulations are currently not working then new or amended ones are required. I think many people in this topic have responded to the 4 Corners report in particular, which indicates the problem is not resolved and hence on-going. I live near the area where the dumping in Ipswich has been occurring and we saw the smoke from the large dump fire which they, 4 Corners, reported on.

Recycling materials and even lack of effort or regulation has been part of many responses on this site and consumers who want want us to have environmentally sensitive packaging of goods are wanting good practices put in place eg reduction of plastic wrapping and bags that cannot be recycled well. This means that some issues are political and should not be left up to the market to decide what is good for their profit line but rather what is good for all, and the generations to come, and thus are consumer issues.


Our council , Hobsons Bay , in Melbourne provides us with a bag to put bubble wrap , plastic bread bags , freezer bags and supermarket bags , etc in . You then tie it off and place it in the re cycle bin . What happens to it then I really don’t know but I presume they , the council , are being perceived to be doing something pro active to minimise the environmental impact of the aforesaid items . One can only hope .