Where does my waste go?

Posted on: July 13, 2020

Depending on your local council and the type of property you live in, you will have up to three bins at home – red-top, yellow-top and green-top.

Each is used to dispose of different types of waste at your home (red-top for general rubbish, yellow-top for recyclables and green-top for green/organic waste).

No matter which municipality you are in, the journey the bins take from your home to their final destination is pretty much the same.

Watch this video from the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council to see the typical journey taken by waste produced in WA households once it's collected from the kerbside.

Transcript - Where does my waste go?

The below text is a transcript of the video "What happens to my waste".

[This animated video was produced by the South Metropolitan Regional Council. The images appearing simple reinforce the voiceover]


“By working together we aim to minimise the amount of waste being created and increase the amount of waste that is recycled and composted.

“To do this the process needs to start with you at home; in managing your waste at home better you need to correctly separate your recyclables from your organic waste.

“A double compartment bin or two separate bins is a good way to ensure that you’re separating items that go into the yellow and green-top bins.

“Your yellow-top bin is for all recyclable items such as glass, paper, cardboard, metals and plastic.

“Ensure any containers, bottles or cans have been emptied and rinsed and the lids have been removed.

“The waste you put into your green-top bin is turned into compost, so please place mainly organic waste such as food scraps, grass, small plant clippings and any other organic materials in this bin.

“There are some exceptions, like nappies, which go in your green-top bin.

“The non-organic materials that go into your green bin are screened-out. Check your annual resource recovery fridge calendar or the recycle right website for a list of what goes in which bin.

“Avoid plastic bags and plastic bin liners where you can, we recommend using other alternative like compostable bin liners made from vegetable based oil or newspaper.

“Some items such as paint, old electrical items, batteries, gas bottles, hazardous and medical waste is not to be disposed of in your bins. These products can be taken to your local transfer station or disposed of at set drop off days.

“Dry-cell batteries, mobile phones and printer toner cartridges may be taken to your local library or shopping center.

“Instead of filling your bins with old clothing be charitable and put them in local charity bins.

“Check your resource recovery fridge calendar or visit the recycle right website to find your nearest drop off location.

“So you've done your bit and now it’s time for us to do the rest.

“Our trucks stop by regularly to empty your bins of their valuable contents.

“Once the trucks are full they head off to our regional resource recovery facility, at the facility the green and yellow bin waste is put through different processes to recover and recycle as much of the valuable product as possible.

“The waste from your green-top bin goes to the waste composting facility, after removing any large non-organic material the waste is fed into giant machines called Digesters that convert it into compost which is used on farms and in parks and gardens.

“The waste from your yellow-top bin goes to the materials recovery facility; here it is put onto a conveyor for manual inspection and separation using sophisticated sorting technologies.

“It is divided into paper and cardboard, plastics, metal and glass and then taken to factories and turned into new items such as tin cans, papers, plastic and glass bottles and even hi-vis vests.

“The more we are able to reduce, recover, recycle and compost the better and brighter out future will be for both our environment, community and our families.

“So remember - avoid waste where you can and separate your waste in the kitchen into recycling and composting.

“Rinse your containers, take your lids off and consider alternatives to plastic bin liners.

“To further reduce your waste volumes consider chickens and worm farming or composting food scraps for your own vegetable garden.

“If we work together we can recycle right.”


New life for recyclables – the journey of the contents of your yellow (recycling) bin

What goes in the bin: Tins, aluminium and steel cans, glass bottles and jars, cartons (flattened), paper (not shredded) and cardboard, and rigid plastic containers and bottles

Where it goes: After being collected from your kerbside, the recycling truck takes the materials to the regional resource recovery centre. Here the material is loaded onto conveyors where contamination is removed and then the materials are sorted by machines into plastic, metal, glass and paper. The sorted materials are then sent to different factories and made into new products.

Be A GREAT Sort:

  • Remove lids from all jars, bottles and plastic containers
  • Containers should be clean and empty (you don’t need to remove stickers)
  • Don’t bag up items, keep them loose in the bin


Back to nature – the journey of the contents of your green (organics) bin


What goes in the bin: Depending on your council, this bin can be used for organic matter such as food scraps and for garden matter like leaves, lawn clippings, prunings and cuttings, leaves and flowers, and small branches

Where it goes: After being collected from your kerbside bin, the green waste truck takes all the material to the regional council facility where the materials are dropped off, and the large and dangerous items are sorted. The green waste is then loaded into giant composters (“digesters”) which turn for 3 days. The compost is then screened for inorganic material before it is kept in rows in a giant shed and watered for 4-6 weeks. Then, after the compost is screened again and any inorganic material is removed, it is taken and further processed to be used on farms, parks and gardens.

Be A GREAT Sort: To avoid contaminating the green waste

  • NO glass, plastic or ceramic items (including plant pots, garden hose or tools)
  • NO hazardous waste
  • NO demolition or building materials (including painted or treated timber, sand, dirt, soil, stones or rocks)


No-man’s land – the journey of the contents of your red (rubbish) bin

What goes in the bin: All household rubbish that cannot be recycled such as food scraps (if these can’t go in your green bin), broken crockery and glassware, polystyrene and foam, cooking oil, cling film, kitty litter, nappies, aluminium trays, wine bladders, cereal bags and empty motor oil containers and other garbage items.

Where it goes: Depending on your council, the general waste is collected from your kerbside and delivered to a resource recovery centre, where it may be processed through an advanced treatment system which recovers recyclables, generates biogas and coverts organic matter into compost. The unrecoverable materials are deposited into a landfill site.

Be A GREAT Sort:

  • Find better ways to dispose of the waste that goes into your red bin
  • Double check – the items going into your red bin can’t go into a yellow or green bin, be recycled (through dedicated programs, sites or bins), re-purposed or re-used
  • Food – compost food scraps, start up a worm farm, feed the chooks

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