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6 Biggest Recycling Myths an Expert Wants You to Stop Believing

There are plenty of sustainability topics that are quite confusing to understand (hello, composting!), and the topic of recycling definitely ranks high on the list.

Exactly what can and can’t you recycle? How much waste is really recycled? Are recycled products good quality?

There are a lot of myths floating around, leaving many people questioning whether it’s actually worth investing the time and energy into recycling. So, in celebration of World Environment Day on June 5, we’re debunking the biggest recycling myths to help you become a better global citizen.

6 Biggest Recycling Myths Debunked

1. Myth: Recycling pays for itself

Although it would be great if recycling could end all problems, it’s merely just a better alternative to something worse.

“Whilst recycling is better than putting things in your general waste bin at home, the best thing is not using anything at all,” founder of Banish and recycling guru, Lottie Dalziel, tells Bed Threads Journal.

2. Myth: Anything with a recycling symbol on it is recyclable

This is one of the biggest misconceptions. That three-arrowed triangle you see on a package? Yeah, that doesn’t mean it can be recycled. That symbol is actually used to determine what type of plastic an item is made out of – not all of which can be recycled.

3. Myth: Recycle anything ‘just in case’

Many believe it’s better to put something they think they might be able to recycle in the recycling bin, just in case.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t any little recycling fairies at the other end, which handpick wrong items out of the recycling,” Dalziel says. “My motto is: ‘If in doubt, throw it out’. Put it in your general waste bin and do your research for next time if it can actually be recycled properly.”

4. Myth: Recycling is simple

Sorry, learning how to recycle isn’t something you can pick up overnight.

“I am a sustainability expert and I still get confused,” Dalziel admits. “Be thirsty for knowledge and don’t beat yourself up about not finding it easy.”

Take baby steps and only recycle something if you 100 per cent know how to do it correctly.

5. Myth: ‘If my best friend can recycle it, so can I’

“In Australia, each council is responsible for recycling and using different waste providers. This means some areas will have four bins and others may have two."

Head to your local council's website to see what is and isn’t accepted in your area.

6. Myth: Products made from recycled materials are inferior

Many people are skeptical of the quality of recycled items, thinking that they’re of lesser quality. While this may have been the case when recycling first came to the forefront of environmental efforts, technology has immensely improved over the years. Now, products manufactured from recycled materials are equally, if not better, than their non-recyclable counterparts. For example, various studies have show that paper with recycled content now meets higher performance standards.

Manufacturers have learnt a great deal since the early days and since the demand for recycled products continues to rise, producers are continuously making considerable strides in quality.

Lottie Dalziel is the founder of Banish, Australia’s eco-friendly and plastic-free online store. Find her on Instagram @lottiedl and

Interested in cutting down your food waste by composting? Here's a (very) practical guide to composting in a small apartment.

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