How Do I Organise My Recycling?

By Katerina Stavrou

In this practical series, we ask experts to answer your burning design and home-related questions. Here, Beverley Scheepers, founder of Home And Life Organising (HALO) and advisory board member of the Institute of Professional Organisers International (IOPO), shares some simple ways to store and organise your recyclables.

Recyclables such as paper, cardboard, plastic, glass and tin can quickly turn to clutter if you don’t have a system to keep them organised. Here’s how to prevent recyclables from piling up and making your home look untidy.

Keep recyclables close together

One of my key organising principles is to keep like items together, and the same applies to recyclables. Your recycling will be much easier to organise if everything is stored together – no more having to go to two different locations to dispose of your pizza box and wine bottle!

Photo by SGDI – Sarah Gallop Design Inc.

Store bins in practical spots

The best spot to set up a recycling station is the kitchen, but the laundry is the next best option. Where you choose will depend on how much space you have available and your home’s configuration.

Locating recycling bins near your prep area is the most convenient option. I wouldn’t recommend placing bins in a cupboard for a couple of reasons – first, you want to make the process as effortless as possible, and having to open the cupboard to access the bin requires extra effort. This is made all the more difficult when you are in the middle of food prep and need to access the bin with food-covered hands. Second, having bins inside dark cupboards can attract cockroaches.

Photo by Space Craft Joinery

Look for freestanding bins

Having a series of large, freestanding bins is my preferred set-up: open bins for recycling and closed bins with a foot peddle or sensor lid for food scraps and compost. This way you won’t have to touch a dirty bin when you’re prepping food.

Photo by Suzann Bozorgi Interiors

Pop in a bin liner

Using a bin liner for general rubbish makes it much easier to keep the bin clean, and provides a more convenient way to transfer the rubbish to large, outdoor bins. It is not necessary to use liners for recycling bins as the contents are not as messy, and you would most likely not be able to place the liner with the rest of the contents in the council recycling bin.

Photo by Advance Design Studio, Ltd.

Go as big as you can

When choosing bins, I’d suggest going as big as you can for the space you have available. Once you’ve chosen the location for your rubbish and recycling station, measure up for the maximum-sized bins you can accommodate.

The number of bins you’ll need will depend on your local council’s rules. Some councils require you to separate paper and cardboard from plastic, while others allow you to combine all your recycling in one bin.

Photo by Dan Kitchens Australia

Choose matching bins

Having a number of the same-style bins next to each other creates a consistent and organised look. Even if the bins are different colours or have different-coloured lids, if they are the same size, shape and style they will present as an intentional and coherent solution, rather than a disorganised collection of containers.

A few plain white shoeboxes or empty tissue boxes are great for collecting batteries, lightbulbs, printer cartridges and other small items.

Which container you choose is a matter of personal preference, but as long as you use a series of the same type, you can create a visually pleasing solution.

Photo by Amelia Hallsworth Photography

Keep potentially hazardous items separate

Store items such as batteries and lightbulbs that cannot go in your kerbside recycling bins in a separate container, ready to be taken to the relevant recycling station when you have the time. The key is to keep smaller items together so you don’t end up with collections of random bits and pieces all over the house.

Photo by LindenCraft Fine Renovation and Design

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