How to up your recycling game in 2019

If you think two bins – one for recycling and one for general waste – is enough to do your bit for the environment, think again.

According to chef and waste warrior Sara Oteri, four is the magic number.

When former MasterChef favourite and food presenter, Sara Oteri, renovated her Melbourne kitchen, she factored considerations like form, functionality and aesthetics into her designs.

And while she needed the cabinetry real estate for her appliances, cooking equipment and serving ware, it was also important to Sara to include enough space for her four (yes, four) bins.

Sara’s bin system is hidden away to keep the lines of her kitchen clean. Picture: Ross Campbell

As something of a waste warrior, Sara is committed to doing all that she can to ensure she’s responsible and considerate when it comes to recycling waste.

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This meant adopting a four bin system in her kitchen, a decision she says has reduced the amount of general waste produced on a huge scale.

You’d be surprised how little general waste is left after recycling all that you can. Picture: Ross Campbell

“The first step to becoming a conscious recycler is simply changing your awareness and taking the time to understand how waste is processed because when you realise that most of it just gets buried in the ground, it becomes hard to sleep at night,” says Sara.

To help you ensure you’re doing all that you can (for both the environment and your quality of sleep) Sara shares her expert tips and a comprehensive guide to creating a four-bin recycling system.

How to recycle food scraps

Sara pops all food scraps in a small compost bin throughout the day. Picture: Penny Lane

For green waste, Sara uses both a Bokashi bin and a compost bin. “The compost bin is used throughout the day; as I cook I’m constantly throwing organic food scraps into it.”

At the end of the day, all of the scraps collected are thrown into the Bokashi bin. Bokashi bins are ideal for apartment living as they’re compact and require no worms.

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The Bokashi bin and household recycling bin are kept together in this large drawer. Picture: Ross Campbell

Recycling soft plastics

Not all plastics are made equal, as Sara came to learn during her recycling research.

“I’d previously thought that soft plastics were considered recyclable in the same way as hard plastics – that they were taken away and made into other things, but apparently that’s not what happens!”

Soft plastics need to be recycled in a completely different way, consumers are encouraged to collect their soft plastics

Unsure about what is defined as a soft plastic? As a general rule of thumb, soft plastics can be scrunched into a ball. We’re talking about things like biscuit packets, bread bags, bubble wrap, clean cat and dog food pouches, silver-lined chip packets and snack bar wrappers, cling wrap, and pasta packets, to name a few.

Not all plastics are made equal. Make sure you sort them out the right way. Picture: Getty

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The benefits of recycling

Bins number three and four are comprised of your general waste and your household recycling (you know the drill here, and if you don’t you can find out what is able to be recycled here).

Collect your food scraps and donate them to a local composting station. Picture: Getty

Sara says she’s also noticed a positive change in her kitchen behaviours after implementing the new recycling scheme.

“After splitting your waste in this way you become very aware of where you over-invest in one area. You may see one bin fill up a lot quicker than another, and this causes you to more consciously understand your waste.”

For example, Sara says that you may not want to empty your compost bin so often, and so suddenly you find yourself cutting off the end of the carrots less than you used to.

“It just takes a little bit of effort!”

Article repurposed from How to up your recycling game in 2019 by Katie Skelly. Author at