Recycled cloth CC BY-ND 2.0 / Lauren Jong / Flickr

19 Dec 2022


So you’ve mastered the art of household recycling. That’s a definite enviro win! But what about all the big bulky items that have been collecting dust in your garage? Or the leftover medication from last year's flu season?

More likely than not, you’ll probably have some items cluttering the house that you don’t exactly know what to do with. If you’ve exhausted all charitable donation options for your old and pre-loved goods, then it’s good to know where you can dispose of them without harming the environment.

Ready to take your recycling journey a step further? Here are some general guidelines on how you can become a recycling pro, save the planet and declutter your home all at the same time.

Old technology, electronics and accessories

Electronic waste CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Eric Dykstra / Flickr
Electronic waste CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Eric Dykstra / Flickr

Technology is moving at a rapid pace, so it’s no surprise if you’ve got a couple of old iPhones sitting at the bottom of your bedroom drawer.

Australians are among the highest users of new technology, making electronic waste a growing problem. A lot of these electronic items contain valuable resources that can be recycled and recovered.

Here are your options:

  • Donate your old technology to those in need, like schools and charities
  • List and sell them for some extra cash on Gumtree
  • Aldi supermarkets offer free battery recycling services
  • Recycle e-waste at your nearest TechCollect, E-Cycle or Sims Recycling drop-off location

Furniture, mattresses and appliances

Chairs CC / Luke Marshall / Unsplash

Updated your lounge or outgrown your furniture?

Mattresses with no stains and in very good condition will be accepted by charity stores, such as St Vincent de Paul. Some pick them up, but there may be a charge. You can also donate your old furniture or appliances to charities, second-hand shops or antique stores.

Here are some other options:

  • List and sell your stuff online for some extra cash - try FB Buy, Swap and Sell pages in your local area
  • Up-cycle by repairing, repainting or re-upholstering your furniture or someone else's
  • Book a pick-up from your local council
  • Contact your nearest mattress recycler for collection or drop-off

Medication and medical waste

Medication CC BY 2.0 / Charles Williams / Flickr

So you’ve got some out-of-date and/or unwanted medicines sitting in your medicine cabinet. It’s important that you dispose of these safely as you don’t want them to fall in the wrong hands.

Luckily, you’ve got one easy option:

  • Simply return it to any pharmacy in Australia. They’ll help you dispose of it in a responsible manner.

Don’t flush them down the toilet or drains.

Paints, varnishes and thinners

Paint cans CC / Bente Whyatt / Unsplash

You’ve done a great job repainting your walls. It looks very chic and aesthetically pleasing… but what do you do with all the leftover tins of paint?

Paint is hazardous and can’t be recycled as it contains toxic chemicals that are harmful to human health and the environment.

Here are your options:

  • Save leftover paint for future DIY projects
  • Bring it to your nearest drop-off (you can contact your local council or check out RecycleSmart)
  • Recycle completely empty paint tins
  • For small amounts of paint, you can tip it out onto absorbent material, wait for it to dry then put it in the general waste

Never pour paint down the drain or into the ground.

Hazardous waste and chemicals

Hazardous waste disposal CC BY-NC 2.0 / Dave Kellam / Flickr

Do you have unused household cleaners, batteries, oils, gardening or other hazardous chemicals that you want to get rid of?

Household chemicals can be dangerous if they're not processed and disposed of safely. They need to be disposed in accordance with government regulations and in an environmentally sustainable way.

Here are your options:

Never dispose of hazardous waste and chemicals down the drain.

Construction materials

Bricks CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Liz / Flickr

New house? New driveway? New garden fence?

Construction materials account for over one-third of all waste going to landfill in Australia. Unused or old materials that can’t be repurposed for new home renovation projects can often be recovered and recycled.

These materials include:

  • Brick
  • Concrete
  • Fencing
  • Guttering
  • Lattice
  • Masonite
  • Timber
  • Untreated wood

Here are your options:

  • Bring your unwanted materials to your nearest Materials Recovery Facility
  • Some of your local businesses can help you dispose of bricks, timber, concrete and scrap metal

So there you go – a general breakdown of the odd bits and pieces of clutter around your house that you can recycle and dispose of without harming the environment.

If you’re still unsure what to do with your miscellaneous junk, you can download the RecycleSmart app on your phone to find out more. It also has a handy search tool to find out where your local drop-off and collection points are.

Happy recycling!