Making Homes for Awkward Waste

By Professional Organiser Rebecca Mezzino

Waste management is a hot topic at the moment. Faced with environmental crises, we’re being encouraged to recycle as much of our waste as possible.

We’ve all got a rubbish bin, they’re pretty standard in Australia homes. Many of us also have a home for our recycling before it goes out in the council bins, too.

These days, though, there are so many different categories of waste that it can be hard to find ways to manage them all. Rather than just giving up and putting it in the landfill bin (which for many items can be actually illegal!), creating homes for all of them can mean you’re doing your bit for the planet without stressing you out too much.

Let’s look at a few different types of waste that need homes, and think about some ways you can store them so that they aren’t in your way.

  • Depositable recycling

    In some Australian states (currently SA, NT, NSW and QLD) you can return certain ontainers to recyclers for a financial refund. If you lived in those states, and wanted to cash in, you’d keep the eligible containers separate to your regular recycling. They can be as large as a 3L bottle so you’ll need a large space for them all, given you will want to take a bulk amount to the recycler to ensure it’s worth the trip. I recommend having a medium-sized bin inside with your other regular kitchen waste. Furthermore, a larger system in the garage or outside in covered bins or tubs can be easily transported in your vehicle when full.

    Another option is a dual-bin with two compartments. One can hold normal recycling, the other can hold deposit recycling.

  • E-waste

    This is another category of waste that you might need to build up a small collection of before taking it to the recycler. Often a tub, bin or box in an office or laundry area can be added to whenever any e-waste is found.

  • Soft plastics

    Soft plastics can be recycled at some supermarket outlets. Having a soft plastics bin in the kitchen near your other waste means you can quickly and easily sort into each appropriate bin without any inconvenience. Perhaps a dual-bin with one side landfill and the other soft plastics.

  • Batteries

    A small tub or box for batteries can be used to collect up used batteries for proper disposal. I recommend keeping the box near the unused batteries so you change them over easily.

  • Hazardous waste

    This is best kept outside the home in a closed box until you can dispose of it at a suitable location. Quite often it’s the same place you can dispose of your batteries and e-waste.

  • Food and other organics

    When food scraps are sent to landfill, they decompose without oxygen to produce methane Methane is a greenhouse gas with over 20 times the global warming capacity of carbon dioxide. Many councils now offer green waste compost services, or you can make your own compost. Having a table-top compost bin (that circulates air) help. You can put your scraps in on a day-to-day basis instead of the landfill bin.

  • Fabric

    Rather than throwing un-donatable clothing into landfill, consider donating them to charity that sell them as rags. Otherwise, you can donate them to specialist fabric recyclers. Vacuum-pack bags can work well to store them until you have enough.


  • Printer cartridges & mobile phones

    Similarly to e-waste, a box or tub in your office area can collect the cartridges and phones. Many retail outlets will accept them so you could do it on a shopping trip.

  • X-rays

    These can be returned to your radiologist in most cases, or you can collect them up and take them to a specialist recycler. They’re heavy, so use small tubs or boxes to keep them in. Don’t forget to first remove the report that comes with them!

  • Lightbulbs

    Fluorescent tubes, compact fluoros (CFLs), HIDs and metal halides all contain mercury and need to be recycled through council, commercial or community programs that safely separate the different elements. Again, a tub or box where you store your new globes is a good place to keep those that will end up going to the recycler. Regular incandescent and halogen globes cannot be recycled and need to go in your regular waste bin (wrap them in paper if they’re broken).

  • Bottle lids

    Small plastic bottle lids can definitely be recycled. However, they can cause issues if they’re left on the bottles with air in them. They can shoot off when the bottles are compressed and damage the equipment. Therefore, you can take a recyclable container, cut the top off and you can collect them all up together and pop it in your council recycling bin when it’s full. Moreover, you can place them back on the bottles, so long as you flatten them and remove all the air first. Small metal bottle-top should also be collected together in a separate container. These can be too small for the machines, causing them to jam the machines.

By taking a little time to create homes for our recyclables, we can ensure that recycling is a quick and easy process for all of us.

Rebecca Mezzino is a Declutter Coach, Author, Podcaster and owner of Clear Space, based in Adelaide. Rebecca is also a Professional Member and Advisory Board Member of the IOPO – Institute of Professional Organisers.

See some of Howards Eco-friendly products to help you reduce your waste when shopping:

Shopping Bag Alternatives


Food Preparation

Thermal Cups


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