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Waste and recycling on the Gold Coast

Information about waste and recycling services on the Gold Coast is available in one central location.

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What is the simplest and easiest way to minimise waste? Recycling of course!

Instead of sending waste to landfill, recycling collects suitable waste materials that are reprocessed into new products.

History of recycling in Australia

Kerbside recycling was first introduced in Sydney in the late 1980s. Since that time, recycling has spread right across the country with 97 per cent of Australian households now playing an active role in kerbside recycling.

In 2007, Queenslanders recycled nearly 269,000 tonnes of household recyclable material in their kerbside recycling bins, which equates to approximately 64 kilograms per capita. On the Gold Coast, we recycled on average 104 kilograms per capita the same year.

The timeline below highlights some other key events in Australia's recycling history.

  • 1815 - The first Australian paper mill to use recycled material was built; it used recycled rags to make paper.
  • 1915 - BHP Steel first started industrial steel scrap recycling.
  • 1920s - Waste paper collections from households and factories started in Melbourne.
  • 1970s - Campaigns to promote aluminium can recycling to the general public began. The Plastic Bottle Institute developed a material-identification code system for plastic bottle manufacturers. (This system has been used to help people identify recyclable products.)
  • 1988 to 1990 - Kerbside recycling was first introduced on the Gold Coast by the Albert Shire Council and the Gold Coast Shire Council.
  • 1992 - Both Coca Cola and Pepsi announced that they would begin using bottles made from 25 per cent recycled plastic resin. 2004 - Gold Coast City Council announces that all rigid plastic bottles and containers can be recycled.
  • 2005 - The installation of new sorting equipment at the Carrara Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) allows Gold Coast City Council to recycle 100 per cent of glass collected.

Benefits of recycling

Recycling has many benefits for our environment, society and economy.

  • Recycling conserves natural resources. Every year each Australian sends around 3.5 kilograms of steel cans to landfill. That's enough steel to make 40,000 fridges! (Source: Can Smart). One tonne of recycled glass cullet saves 1.1 tonnes of raw materials (sand and limestone).
  • Recycling saves energy. Recycling paper only uses 10 per cent of the water and half the energy required for making paper from raw materials, and produces less than a quarter of the pollution. Recycling an aluminium can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours.
  • Recycling reduces the amount of waste being sent to landfill.

Recycling on the Gold Coast

Kerbside recycling was first introduced by the Albert Shire Council in 1988 and on the Gold Coast in 1990. The Gold Coast City Council amalgamated with the Albert Shire in 1994.

In 2009, over 51,000 tonnes of recyclables were collected from Gold Coast kerbside recycling bins with a very low contamination rate of five (5) per cent waste. This is a fantastic rate and is currently one of the lowest in Australia.

On the Gold Coast, recycling is collected every fortnight, on the same day that general waste is collected from households.

The recycling process

Did you know that your recycling is sorted by hand as well as machines?

After your recycling has been picked up it is taken to the MRF operated by Visy at Carrara. Here, recyclables are sorted by machines and by hand.

Once the recyclables have been sorted and separated, they are compacted and baled. These bales are then sold and reprocessed into new products.

Unfortunately, many items that cause contamination end up at the MRF. People often don't realise the problems that even the smallest amounts of non-recyclables can cause. These items are called contaminants and can endanger the sorting staff and prevent other materials from being recycled, which means the whole load has to be sent to landfill.

Common contaminants include:

  • plastic bags
  • disposable nappies
  • food scraps, garden waste or dead animals
  • clothing, shoes or accessories
  • Pyrex or heat-resistant glass
  • crockery, china or ceramics
  • polystyrene or Styrofoam
  • broken mirrors or glassware
  • light bulbs or fluorescent tubes

Please be responsible recyclers and only place recyclable items in your recycling bin.


  • do not bag recyclables - place them loosely in your recycling bin
  • rinse all containers, cleaning food residues from all plastic, metal and glass containers

Buy recycled and close the recycling loop

There is more to recycling than just putting your recycling bin out for collection. Recycling is also about closing the loop. When we buy goods made from recycled materials we are closing the loop.

Some everyday items are made from things we recycle. Newspapers and cardboard boxes are the most common. Some breakfast cereal cartons have a symbol showing they’re made from recycled paper - keep an eye out for it next time you're shopping.

Soft drink cans are often made from aluminium cans that have been recycled, while glass bottles and jars might have been bottles and jars before, too.

Many large plastic products contain recycled materials. Worm farms and compost bins are often made using the plastic from milk bottles, and outdoor clothing called EcoFleece is made from recycled soft drink bottles.

You might be wiping your feet on a doormat made from old tyres or sitting on a bench made from plastic containers.

Whenever you can, try and buy products made from recycled materials, otherwise you’re only doing half the job.

For more information on waste avoidance and reduction around the house visit our Minimising waste page.

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