The ultimate guide to difficult-to-recycle items in Adelaide

Ecolateral, Adelaide’s sustainable living stores, have put together a comprehensive list of how you can recycle each household item to help you get rid of your waste responsibly.

Images: Ecolateral Stores.

A common problem when looking to lead a more sustainable lifestyle is struggling with what item gets recycled where.

Partnering with Terracycle and YCA Recycling, Adelaide sustainability pros Ecolateral have compiled a foolproof A – Z guide to recycling in Adelaide, as well as accepting a huge number of those difficult-to-recycle products in store, so you can clear out your waste, safe in the knowledge that you’ve got rid of your items responsibly.

While some of us may consider eco-friendly lifestyles to be a thing of recent years, Adelaide is actually home to the oldest eco store in the country.

Originally starting out as Waste Not Want Not in 1996, Ecolateral now have three stores across Adelaide, and are dedicated to helping South Aussies leading a more sustainable, eco-friendly lifestyle, providing inspiration and vital education for those looking for ways they can improve. 
The stores have a vast range of over 4,500 products on offer to help customers be as zero waste as they can, as well as shopping local from independently owned stores. 

Ecolateral’s impressive range of products include everything from toys, books, giftware, makeup and menstrual products, ensuring there is an eco-friendly alternative to every item in your house, as well as housing a significant refill section where customers can reduce their single-plastic use and refill products such as cleaning fluids and shampoo. 

Hiring from their passionate customer base, each staff member in the Ecolateral stores are expertly versed in the small changes you can make to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, even if you’re unsure of where or how to begin. 
Simply search through the alphabetised guide below to find out where those puzzling items go for recycling, and read on for Ecolateral’s huge range of accepted products in any of their stores. 

Ecolateral’s sustainable living stores are here to help you recycle some of items that can be puzzling when it comes to recycling, partnering with a number of organisations with each store serving as a community collection point. 

The Ultimate A-Z of recycling

Aerosol cans eg deodorants, body sprays and hairspray – these items can be placed in kerbside recycling bins
Appliances – these can be dropped in collection bins at Bunnings locations

Batteries – standard household batteries may be recycled at Aldi stores or Ikea stores. Lead Acid Batteries may be recycled at Century Yuasa locations.

Blister packs from medicine – Terry White Pharmacy on Melbourne St, North Adelaide is a collection point for empty plastic/foil blister packs. Alternatively, if you are able to separate foil from the plastic then the plastic component can be placed in kerbside recycling. Foil needs to be collected together and recycled with other aluminium. Leftover human medicines need to be returned to any pharmacy for recycling so they don’t enter the environment. Leftover pet medicine can be returned to any veterinarian clinic. 

Child Car Seats – In South Australia child car seats may be dropped off at the RAA depot at Mile End. There is a fee charged by RAA for this service.

Cooking Oil – small amounts of cooking oil can be mixed with organic matter and put in compost or Green Matter collection bins (in council areas that offer green bin services)

Decorations – unless you specifically buy compostable decorations, most are made from mixed materials that cannot be separate for recycling. There is a risk that decorations like tinsel may get stick in the machines that sort recycling. Most decorations need to be put in your landfill bin. Plastic or artificial Christmas trees should be cut or broken in to smaller pieces before being placed in the landfill bin. Natural Christmas tree decorations can be treated as garden waste. If your decorations are still in good condition consider reusing them next year, or alternatively give them to a charity or second hand shop. To avoid decorations that would ultimately end up in landfill consider making decorations from compostable materials like recycled paper or used greeting cards, or natural materials like pinecones, gum-nuts and leaves for a great kids activity

Drinking Glasses – these cannnot be place in kerbside recycling and need to be put in your landfill bin.

Exercise equipment – if your equipment is still in good condition then sell it on Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace. If it is no longer useable then it can go our for hard rubbish collection if your council offers that service.

Eye Glasses – these can be taken to OPSM stores for recycling under the OneSight program. Alternatively Lions Clubs offer glasses recycling with their Recycle for Sight program

Feminine hygiene products – these items must not be flushed down the toilet, and instead they should be wrapped in paper and place in your landfill bin. Instead of using single use items consider reusable items like Hannahpad menstrual pads or menstrual cups.

Film/photo negatives – these cannot be recycled and need to be placed in your landfill bin.

Food Waste – If you live in a council area that provides a Green waste bin (FOGO) then food scraps may be placed into that bin, either loose, wrapped in newspaper or in Australian made Biobag compostable bags. If you’ve got the space then consider recycling your food scraps at home. Home composting is a responsible way of utilising your waste at home and your garden will love you for it. If your council does not yet have food recycling through its Green Organics bin service, and you can’t compost at home you will need to put this waste into your landfill waste bin.

Glow Sticks – these need to be placed in your landfill bin.

Green Organic Garden Waste – these can either be composted at home, placed in your green organics bin or taken to your local industrial composter. Branches put in to green organics bin should be smaller than 15cm diameter and 60cm in length.

Grocery Items – Unwanted food items that are still good can be donated to Foodbank. If you have food that can’t be donated then empty the contents in to your green organics bin if your council offers a FOGO service. Food scraps should not end up in landfill as they create methane gas and contribute to global warming. Recyclable packaging can go in to the yellow kerbside recycling bin, or dropped off at REDcycle soft plastics recycling stations. Any packaging that is mixed materials and can’t be recycled then it should be put in your landfill bin

Irrigation Pipe – YCA Recycling will take your old irrigation pipe and turn it in to new plastic products. If you can’t get to YCA then garden watering pipe, drip line and poly pipe are not otherwise able to be recycled. These need to be cut in to short lengths and placed in the waste bin.

Kitty Litter – Certified compostable kitty litter and pet waste can be put in your green organics bin (if your council accepts food waste). If it is not compostable you need to put it in your landfill bin.

Menstrual Cups – many domestic silicone products can now be recycled at Ecolateral stores, however we do not accept menstrual cups.

Mobile Phones – the mobile muster program takes mobile phones for recycling

Nappies – There are no brands of compostable nappies on the market that can completely break down in commercial composting. Nappies go in the landfill bin.

Newspaper – clean newspaper goes in to your kerbside recycle bin.

Mirrors – these can not be recycled and must be put in to your landfill bin

Paint – Bunnings Warehouse regularly hosts one day collection events for unwanted paint. Check the Bunnings Warehouse website or your local store for details. Alternatively the Paint Back program offers other collection points for paint recycling.

Paper and paper bags – these can be placed in your kerbside recycling bin.

Paper, shredded – if you only have a small quantity of shredded paper you can mix it with green waste and put in to your green organics bin. People who have chooks or rabbits may take your shredded paper for nesting. Shredded paper contained within a paper bag can be placed in your kerbside recycling bin.

Pencils – these can go in your green organics bin.

Pens and markers these can be dropped in at any Ecolateral store for our Writing Instruments recycling program

Pizza Boxes – if pizza boxes are clean they go in your kerbside recycling bin. If your pizza boxes are greasy or contaminated with food scraps they can go in your green organics bin.

Plastic bubble wrap – this can go with your soft plastic to a Recycle collection station at your local supermarket or offer it in a local buy/sell/swap group

Polystyrene – there are no kerbside recycling options for polystyrene. In Adelaide household quantities of polystyrene can be dropped off to the Edinburgh North Resource Recovery Centre any day of the week. For polystyrene recycling options in other areas of Australia reach out to your local council.

Printer and Toner Cartridges – There are several options for printer and toner cartridge recycling. Officeworks and Cartridge World both offer recycling services. Most Australia Post offices are collection points for the Planet Ark Close the Loop cartridge recycling program

Retail Receipts – Most retail receipts are laced with BPA and are not recyclable. If the wording on your receipt is printed in black then it is not recyclable and need to be put in your landfill bin. If your receipt is printed in purple ink then it may be printed on plain paper and can be put in to your recycling bin. Responsible retailers will offer to email you receipts instead of printing them.

Rope – rope needs to go in your landfill bin

Rubber – this goes in your landfill bin

Shampoo & Conditioner bottles – clean empty plastic bottles can be put in your kerbside recycling bin. Alternatively you can take them to your local Ecolateral store for refilling.

Smoke Detectors – although smoke detectors contain trace amounts of radioactive material smoke alarms go in your landfill bin.

Tea Light Candles – these go in your landfill bin.

Tissues – paper towel and tissues can go in to you green organics bin. If your council does not provide you with a green organics FOGO bin then tissues should be put in your landfill bin.

UHT and Tetra Pak cartons – Plastic parts (lid and spout) of the container need to be removed from the carton and collected with other small pieces of plastic (eg other lids) in a plastic juice or milk bottle. Once the plastic bottle is full it can be put in your kerbside recycling bin. The rest of the Tetra Pak carton can be put in your kerbside recycling bin.

Wine Bottles – although these can go in your kerbside recycling it is better to save these up and take these to your local container collection depot with your 10c containers. There is a better chance of these reaching a glass recycling centre unbroken if they don’t go in kerbside recycling.

Wine Corks –  if you can’t find a school or kindy that will take your corks for craft purposes then corks need to go in your landfill bin.

Wooden Pallets – contact the supplier for collection, or break down and put in your green waste bin without the nails.

What Ecolateral will accept in store: Silicone items (must be clean) 

Agreena wraps


Baking trays

Stasher bags


The silicone pieces of utensils (mixed items that are silicone and metal are not accepted) 

Dental products

Toothpaste tubes (cut in half and rinsed out)

Plastic toothbrushes

Bamboo toothbrushes

Electric toothbrush heads

Electric toothbrush bodies can be handed to staff not put in drop off points

Writing instruments


Felt tips

Highlighters and markers

Correction fluid pots (must be empty) 

Correction tape

Mechanical pencils

Eraser pens 

All brands of blades and razors 

Rigid plastic packaging

Flexible pastic packaging 

Find Ecolateral at any of their stores or at their website here.

2/183 Main Rd, Blackwood. 

445 Brighton Rd, Brighton. 

411 Magill Rd, St Morris. 

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