The Aussie state that is the WORST at using yellow bins revealed

A new survey has identified the Aussie state that's most confused by how to use a yellow bin.

Yellow bins out the front of a home in Bellevue Hill, NSW. There are large amounts of cardboard in some.
A new survey has revealed the Aussie state that's most confused by how to use a yellow bin. Source: Michael Dahsltrom

An international waste management company has ranked five Aussie states on how well they use their recycling bins. Some of the results are slightly embarrassing.

Close to 1200 respondents were given a list of 20 items and asked which bin they should go in. When it came to compostable coffee cups 77 per cent got it wrong, while 78 failed on the subject of vapes.

But don’t worry, Aussie did very well on a few questions. Over 90 per cent correctly identified where plastic bottles go, 87 per cent got paper right, and 82 per cent know what to do with garden waste.

The nationwide YouGov survey of 1172 people was commissioned by Veolia to help identify why its customers are sending their rubbish out in the wrong bins, and then help devise solutions so more objects are recycled.

The rules on what goes in each bin can vary, but there are some items like batteries that can never go in your red bin. Close to 40 per cent of people were getting their disposal wrong. Veolia concluded businesses and governments needed to improve education because when placed in bins, they can put the community at risk by causing fires in trucks and landfill.

Its survey also found vapes were in the too hard basket for many. A quarter of respondents had either littered vapes or seen someone else drop one. And most people agreed they’d use kerbside bins or supermarket drop-off points if they were available.

Related: Aussie council accused of overcharging residents $10m in waste fees

A shot showing a supermarket isle (left). A chart with the 20 items on it. (right)
Respondents were asked which bin 20 household items should be placed inside. Source: Michael Dahlstrom/Veolia

When it comes to recycling there were only four percentage points separating the states, and all performed quite poorly. Queenslanders correctly connected the right item with right bin 56 per cent of the time, NSW came in at 58 per cent, followed by South Australia and Western Australia at 59 per cent, and the winner at 60 per cent was Victoria.

Queenslanders were the most likely to use their general waste bin, and South Australians avoided it the most.

CEO of Veolia in Australia, Dr Richard Kirkman, doesn’t think it’s entirely Aussie consumers who are to blame for the mistakes. He noted that many brands incorrectly say they’re recyclable, compostable or biodegradable when they really should go in the red rubbish bin.

“There is a big difference between what is recyclable and what can be recycled ― especially at industrial scale. Not everything that is recyclable is recycled,” he said.

Because of this, compostable coffee cups continue to be one of the most confusing items for consumers — with over 70 per cent incorrectly believing they could be recycled. Around 60 per cent thought biodegradable bags and bamboo cutlery went in the yellow bin.

Nearly everyone surveyed said products should clearly state whether they can be recycled or not. And 94 per cent thought bins should have instructions detailing what should be put in them.

What objects can be put in a garden waste or FOGO bin also appeared to be causing confusion. Of those surveyed, 87 per cent knew what to do with vegetable scraps but only 50 per cent knew what to do with meat and only 44 per cent were confident when it came to pet food.

One thing Veolia hopes to help its customers understand is that dead animals can’t go in green bins because they carry a disease risk.

“The most shocking result is how we dispose of dead animals, with 38 per cent of people putting them in the wrong bin and even more, 42 per cent, not knowing what to do at all,” Dr Kirkman said.

“Some people might have thought we were being darkly humorous when we added dead animals as waste items, but it’s not as uncommon as you think. We’ve had a dead cow cut in half, a donkey’s head and dead pets turn up in green bins. These all pose contamination risks.”

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