Ask Megan!

Ever wondered why Midcoast Council doesn’t accept food in their green waste bins? Or why rural areas don’t have a green bin at all? Do I take the lids off my recycling?

These are all commonly asked questions, and our resident Waste Education Officer is at your service!

Simply complete the form below and have your questions answered. You can even send your question in via Facebook!

All questions and answers (unless related to a specific residence or service) will then be added below for everyone to learn from.


Ask Megan

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Let’s start with these great questions from Harrington residents.

Where does our recycling get processed?

Currently, our paper & cardboard is sent to Sydney, our steel & aluminium is sent to Newcastle, and our plastics are sent all the way to Melbourne. Unfortunately there are limited recyclers within Australia, and this is something that the State and Federal Government are working on.

 Why don’t we accept food waste in our green bins?

The current contract with JR Richards only allows for green waste (sticks, leaves, grass) in our green bins, as we don’t have a local processing facility that can safely remove the pathogens that are found in food organics. This is something that Council are considering for the next contract period due mid 2021. Our Regional Group of Councils MIDWASTE run Scraps to Soils workshops and Midcoast Council provide subsidised compost bins for residents to encourage recycling of food scraps and diverting valuable minerals from landfill.

What plastics can be recycled?

We currently have excess plastics that can not be recycled within Australia. This is a worldwide issue, since Jan 2018, when China ceased receiving many recyclable products from around the world. The Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) which sorts the yellow bin contents is largely machine based and works best with common household items, rigid plastic containers. Whilst we don’t really talk ‘numbers’ 1-7 the best and most valuable (easily recyclable) plastics are a 1 PET (soft drink/water ) and 2 HDPE (milk bottles) you can book a tour to experience it for yourself.

Maggots in the red bin in summer?

Summer is very hot in this region, and flies are common. The best way to keep them from your wheely bin is to enclose all your waste. But there is no need to run out and buy bin liners, there a lots of bags already in your home – it might be from the potatoes, carrots or even the loaf of bread. You can grow herbs near your bins to deter flies – such as basil, lavender, mint and rosemary, and they can be used in the house also – double win!

What can I do with bread tags? Can I recycle them?

Bread tags are very small and low grade plastic and can’t be recycled. If you don’t like the thought of putting them in the red bin, use them to organise your cables in the office, permanent marker with printer, pc, internet etc and you will always know which one to turn on. You can also use them as name tags for your wine glasses at your next event, or guitar picks. Don’t forget you can always use them for craft – get creative 🙂

I have a number of paint tins with paint in them. Can I dispose of them at your tip?

These can be dropped off for free at any of our Community Recycling Centres (Tuncurry, Gloucester or The Bucketts Way), or you can find out when our mobile Community Recycling trailer will be visiting your area. Visit


I’m ready to dispose of my bound World Book Encyclopedias. Old and out of date, nobody wants them! Should I remove the covers, put covers in the red bin, and pages in the yellow one? Or are you aware of a more useful way of disposing of them?

It is amazing all the things they can be used for.

  • Cut the spine out to use as book marks
  • Use the pages as backing for paintings or artwork
  • Decoupage items using the pages
  • Use the hardcovers to make jewellery boxes or purses
  • Use them as shelving
  • Stack them and put a table top on them
  • Turn them into a lamp stand
  • Cut a square or round and use them as a planter box for succulents

Alternatively, I would suggest putting them in the recycling bin, maybe over a few weeks to make sure they don’t put your bin overweight.


Why do we have to take the lids off plastic bottles?

The lids of plastic bottles differs to the type of plastic that the bottle itself is made from. Unfortunately the lid is of a lower quality and unable to be recycled. It can also become a safety issue as a projectile when the plastic items are compacted and baled.

Is there any recycling available for wine corks?

Not all corks are created equal – some are actually synthetic – a plastic type. I have been stockpiling them to make a cork noticeboard by cutting them in half and gluing them into an old picture frame. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest, but I am not aware of any recycling program for them.