Recycle household items

Learn about what can go in your yellow lid bin and other ways to recycle household items.


Project Status: When you need to do this

Items that belong in the yellow lid bin include plastic drink and sauce bottles, food containers, tubs and trays, meat trays, ice cream and yogurt tubs, plastic fruit boxes, moulded plastic containers for cleaning and personal care products. Glass bottles and jars. Aluminium and steel cans and tins, aerosol cans, aluminium foil. Cardboard, paper, clean pizza boxes.

Check the item can go in your yellow lid bin

We provide households with a yellow lid bin for recycling.

Only place accepted items in your yellow lid bin for recycling. We can’t collect your bin if:

  • it contains a large amount of unacceptable items
  • the bin lid can’t close
  • there's material outside your bin.

Learn 6 handy tips to help you recycle right.


Australasian Recycling Label

Keep an eye out for this label – it helps make recycling easier.

Recycle eligible bottles and cans with Return and Earn

You can drop off eligible containers to the NSW Government’s Return and Earn collection points and receive 10c an item.

These containers can also be recycled in your yellow lid bin.


All enquiries about Return and Earn can be directed to TOMRA, the network operator at [email protected] or 1800 290 691.

Ask a waste avoidance expert

Get answers to all your tricky questions about reducing, reusing and recycling at home.

If your item can’t go in the yellow lid bin, check if it can be recycled in other ways

These free services are available to all residents in our local area.

Understanding the Australasian Recycling Label

The Australasian Recycling Label is a classification system for packaging that makes recycling easier.

It tells you which part of the package belongs in the recycling bin, the rubbish bin, or if you need to do something else with it.

Look out for the Australasian Recycling Label on the products you buy and refer to this label where you can.

There are 3 types of label classifications:

  1. Recyclable: The solid recycling symbol means this piece of packaging can be placed in the recycling bin as it is. Each piece of packaging with this label must be placed separately in the recycling bin.
  2. Conditionally recyclable: The clear recycling symbol means that you must follow the instructions to recycle this packaging part. If you don’t follow the instructions, it must go in the rubbish bin.
  3. Not recyclable: The bin symbol means that this piece of packaging is not recyclable and must go in the rubbish bin. Do not place it in the recycling bin.
Australian recycling label. Box - Recyclable: This can be placed in your kerbside recycling. Wrap (Store drop off) - Conditionally recyclable: Can be recycled if the instructions below the symbol are followed. Lid - Not recyclable: This cannot be placed in kerbside recycling. Please dispose in your rubbish bin. Package component: This refers to an individual component of the packaging.
A container with label showing ingredients and how it can be recycled.
A container with label showing ingredients and how it can be recycled.

6 handy recycling tips

1. Don’t put recycling in plastic bags

Place your recycling loosely in the yellow lid bin – never in plastic bags. Plastic bags jam the machinery at our sorting facility, so we can’t recycle the bags or the items inside. Use a container or box to store your recycling before putting them into your bin.

2. Remove all food and liquid from containers

No need to rinse containers before putting them in the recycling bin. They just need to be empty and dry. You might like to rinse anyway, as it keeps your recycling bin extra clean and odour-free.

3. Lids and labels can stay on

Keep lids and labels on jars and bottles. The recycling process will remove these. If you have a can top that can’t reattach, place it inside and squeeze the can closed. This helps stop smaller items from getting lost in the recycling process.

4. Give plastic items the ‘scrunch test’

A soft plastic is a plastic that can be easily scrunched into a ball, like bread bags, chocolate wrappers or plastic bags. Soft plastics can’t go in your yellow lid bin. Put them in your red lid bin.

Hard plastic packaging that keeps its structure or bounces back when you try scrunching it can be recycled in your yellow lid bin.

5. Give cardboard items the ‘tear test’

Check if a cardboard item is lined with plastic by giving it a tear. If you can’t easily tear your cardboard item, or if you see a thin layer of plastic when you do, it should go in your rubbish bin. This is common for small ice cream tubs, tetra packs and coffee cups.

6. Ignore the plastics identification number

Some plastic items have a triangle symbol of 3 chasing arrows with a number from 1 to 7 inside.

Plastics identification code

This may look like a recycling symbol, but it’s not.

The number refers to the type of plastic the item is made from.

Each type of plastic can be used to make both recyclable and non-recyclable items, so don’t use the number to decide that something can go in your yellow lid bin. Instead, refer to the Australasian Recycling Label and use the tips above to help you identify if an item is recyclable or not. 

City of Sydney News

After you finish

Where it all goes

After items are collected, they’re taken to a recycling transfer station in Alexandria, mixed with recycling from nearby council areas, and taken to Smithfield for processing. There, employees manually remove contamination, like plastic bags, and machines sort the recycling into types: paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, steel and aluminium.

These materials undergo further processing and are turned into packaging. For example, recycled glass can become a new glass bottle, paper and cardboard can become a new cardboard box and aluminium foil can become a new aluminium can.

View the journey of glass as it gets recycled.

Take your recycling to the next level

  1. Buy products that can be recycled. By recycling more, you help keep items out of the red lid bin and landfill – something that could save you money. If you’re a property owner, you may be able to reduce your domestic waste charge by completing the residential waste service application to reduce the size, number or collection frequency of your red lid bins. You can also order extra free yellow lid recycling bins.
  2. Buy items made from recycled material. This reduces the need for mining new resources, supports the recycling market and helps us move towards a circular economy.
  3. Reduce the waste you create. While recycling is important, we must reduce and avoid waste altogether. Learn more about the 4Rs and avoiding waste at home.

Get help with recycling

Ask our virtual assistant.