Changes to Recycling

What's changed? opens in a new window

The contents of the City of Cockburn’s yellow lid recycling bins are sent to Suez opens in a new window's opens in a new windowrecycling facility in Bibra Lake, where the materials are separated and sent away for recycling into new products. This facility was not affected by the Cleanaway facility fire in October 2019. 
Until recently, many of Western Australia's recyclable materials were sent to China, the world's largest manufacturer. On 1 January 2018, China implemented their 'National Sword Program' which banned the import of 24 types of waste and put in place much stricter standards for contamination levels. As a result, other countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia received an oversupply of material and also stopped accepting imports. This has made recyclable materials harder to sell and has pushed down commodity prices across the world. 
soft plastics, polystyrene, aerosol cans and meat trays are not allowed in the recycling bin in WA

As a result of this change, the State Government has established a Waste Taskforce to look at ways to address the issue. Western Australia's three recycling companies have worked together to establish a new, consistent list of items that can be placed in the recycling bin, with the aim of reducing contamination so that materials can still be sold.   

What can you recycle and where does it go?

The following items can still be placed in your recycling bin:
  • Aluminium cans - sent overseas to be made into aluminium sheets and baking trays
  • Paper and cardboard (not shredded paper) - sent to paper mills overseas to be made into new cardboard, containers and tissues
  • Plastic bottles, tubs and containers - sent to plastic processors overseas to be made into containers, garments and mats
  • Steel cans - sent to steel mills overseas to be made into mild steel products and ingots, and
  • Glass bottles and jars - crushed and used in WA as road base and construction material
All items should be clean, dry and empty with lids removed. Place all items loose in your recycling bin.
For more information about what you can put into each of your bins, select from the following:

What is the City doing to help?

Currently, Perth does not have facilities to recycle most materials but we think this needs to change. The City of Cockburn is searching for solutions, including advocating for a State and Federal government commitment to establish recycling industries in Australia.

The City has also been involved with two new roads paved with recycled waste products opens in a new window as well as an extensive waste education program in place, including bin tagging, school talks, tours, workshops and events.

What does this mean for you?

All recycling facilities in WA can no longer accept the following items in the yellow-lid recycling bin:
Soft ‘scrunchable’ plastics

Plastic bags, cling wrap, bubble wrap, lolly wrappers, chip packets, cereal bags and other soft, scrunchable plastics get mixed up with bales of paper and cardboard at the recycling facilities, making them hard to sell. 
Please take all soft plastics (except cling wrap) to REDcycle opens in a new window bins in major supermarkets. These will be recycled into park equipment, bollards and other items. The City is one of Western Australia’s biggest buyers of these products as we are committed to ensuring a market for recycled materials. The City has also trialled the use of soft plastics as an additive in roads in Port Coogee. 

If placed in your general waste bin, soft plastics will be filtered out and sent to landfill. 

You can help by purchasing less soft plastic, choosing items with minimal packaging, using reusable bags and contacting producers to request that they minimise unnecessary packaging.

Aerosol cans

Aerosol cans are hazardous as they generally contain residual flammable liquids, which can cause fires and explosions at the recycling facility. Please take aerosols to Henderson Waste Recovery Park or the City's Administration Building at 9 Coleville Crescent, Spearwood. They will be sent off for recycling through the City's Hazardous Household Waste program. 

Meat trays

Due to contamination of meat trays and the mixture of materials used to make them, they should be placed in your general waste bin. Consider buying your meat from a butcher where purchases are wrapped in paper or try taking your own reusable container. 


Polystyrene is light and bulky, making it uneconomical to transport overseas for recycling. Large pieces of polystyrene packaging can be taken to Henderson Waste Recovery Park for compaction and recycling. Small pieces can be placed in your general waste bin. 

Frequently asked Questions (FAQ's)

What are soft plastics?
Soft plastics are plastics that can be easily scrunched into a ball including plastic bags, bubble wrap, lolly wrappers, chip packets and cereal bags to name a few. If it is plastic but cannot be scrunched into a ball, it is hard plastic.

Please visit the REDcycle website opens in a new window to find out which items can be recycled via their collections bins in Coles and Woolworths. 
If I put my soft plastics into the general waste bin instead of taking them to a REDcycle bin, where do they go?
The contents of the general waste bin go to landfill at the Henderson Waste Recovery Park. This is why we recommend putting soft plastics in your general waste bin as a last resort only. 
Why can't I have a special bin for soft plastics?
The only soft plastic recycling facility in Australia is operated by RED Group, who accept soft plastics from the REDcycle bins in Coles and Woolworths and turn them into materials which can be purchased from Replas opens in a new window. They are currently at capacity and are not accepting soft plastics from anywhere other than Coles and Woolworths.
Do all types of meat trays go into the general waste bin?
Yes. Even if the trays are washed, they still go into the general waste bin.
Do shopping centres accept aerosols?
No. At this stage, they can only be taken to the Henderson Waste Recovery Park and the City’s Administration Building located at 9 Coleville Crescent, Spearwood. 

This is because aerosols are classed as hazardous wastes and need to be collected in a supervised location to reduce health and safety risks. 
Do these changes affect Cockburn only or are they state-wide?
State-wide. All recycling facilities in WA agreed on the changes, following the formation of a Waste Taskforce by the State Government.
As less material can now be recycled in my yellow-lid bin, can I get a bigger general waste bin?
No – the City is committed to working with residents to reduce the use of single use plastics and waste being sent to landfill. Meat trays, polystyrene and aerosol cans are a very small percentage of a household’s overall recycling waste by volume.  Whilst soft plastics are abundant in today’s society, they are small and lightweight so do not take up much space in the bin. 
My local grocery store does not have a REDcycle bin. What can I do?
If you local grocery store does not have a REDcycle bin, visit the REDcycle opens in a new window website and enter in your postcode. The page will show the nearest grocery store to you that has a REDcycle bin. 
If China banned a number of waste items back in January 2018, why have we just found out about the changes?
The National Sword Program was implemented by China in January 2018 but it took some time for the impact on the global market to be felt, including other countries implementing their own recyclable material import bans. Once this became apparent, the State Government launched their Waste Taskforce on 29 March 2018. As part of this Taskforce, the change to what can be recycled was agreed by the three WA recycling facilities. This was communicated to local governments in an information session on 24 August 2018.
What bin do the lids from bottles and jars go into?
Metal lids (e.g. from jars, beer bottles) from bottles and jars go into the yellow-lid recycling bin. Metal lids get picked up by magnets at the recycling facility and baled with the rest of the metals for recycling.
Small plastic lids (and other items smaller than your hand) won’t be picked up by the magnets so should go into the general waste bin or dropped off to a collection point. 
If REDcycle can recycle soft plastics, why can't the City of Cockburn?
REDcycle (who collect the soft plastics from supermarkets) are able to recycle soft plastics as they have a clean, uncontaminated stream of material from the collection bins. Soft plastics in kerbside recycling bins are often contaminated by the items they’re mixed with and they also contaminate other streams such as paper and cardboard, making them harder to sell. REDcycle operate the only facility in Australia that can reprocess the materials into Replas products. Unfortunately, they are at full capacity and are not able to accept soft plastics from local government. We will continue to advocate for a State and Federal government commitment to establish more recycling facilities here in Australia.
Why isnt more being done to develop the recycling industry in WA?
The City of Cockburn agrees that investment in the development of a recycling industry in WA is vital. We continue to advocate for a State and Federal government commitment to establish recycling industries.

More information and contacts

The State Government has launched a new website, Own Your Impact opens in a new window, to help the community reduce waste and recycle correctly. 

For more information, contact the Waste Education Team on 08 9411 3444.



Whadjuk Boodja
9 Coleville Crescent,
Spearwood 6163

PO Box 1215, Bibra Lake DC,
Western Australia, 6965

Office opening hours:
8.30am to 4.30pm
Monday to Friday (excluding public holidays)

Language Support

Cockburn Nyungar moort Beeliar boodja-k kaadadjiny. Koora, yeyi, benang baalap nidja boodja-k kaaradjiny.
Ngalak kaadatj dayin boodja, kep wer malayin. Ngalak kaadatj koora koora wer yeyi ngalang birdiya.

City of Cockburn acknowledges the Nyungar people of Beeliar boodja. Long ago, now and in the future they care for country.
We acknowledge a continuing connection to land, waters and culture and pay our respects to the Elders, past, present and emerging.