Keep Recycling Right following China National Sword Policy

Yellow Recycle Bin

Bellingen Shire residents are great recyclers with 88% regularly recycling through their yellow bin. This commitment and effort helps to ensure that resources are reused with the materials being processed and recycled back into usable products.

Until recently, many of the items collected through kerbside recycling have been sorted and baled in local facilities and then on-sold to processors in China. This is particularly true of paper and cardboard and mixed plastics. The Chinese government has recently introduced a policy change known as the National Sword, which restricts the importation of certain waste products to ensure the health and safety of their own workforce and the viability of these reprocessing businesses.

The National Sword presents a great opportunity for Australian industry and all levels of government. The development of local capacity to reprocess our recycling is vital to the long-term viability of kerbside recycling and will create local industries and jobs.

To ensure our yellow bin contents can continue to be recycled, Council is asking residents to continue their great efforts with recycling and to minimise the amount of contamination in their yellow bins.

Bellingen Shire Mayor, Cr Dominic King said “It is also important that we reduce the amount of waste and recycling we generate by consuming less, buying recycled products and reusing more; think Refuse, Reduce, Reuse then Recycle.”

Residents are asked to recycle right by:

  • Keeping it simple by only putting the following into the yellow bin:
    • Aluminium cans
    • Steel cans
    • Glass bottles
    • Paper and cardboard, and
    • Plastic food containers (if you can ‘scrunch’ it in your hands, it is not recyclable through the kerbside system)
  • Keeping their recycling as clean as possible (rinse containers before placing in the yellow bin. HINT – use the washing up water when you’ve done the dishes)
  • If you are unsure whether something can be recycled, check Council’s website at or the Coffs Coast Waste Services website at
  • Do not put anything smaller than a business card in the recycling bin
  • Remember to keep your recycling loose, no plastic bags. This ensures the products can be sorted appropriately.

The China Sword policy has placed some stress on our local recycling industry however, it is also providing us with a great opportunity to grow local, sustainable businesses to ensure our resources continue to be used in our region. We can all do our bit to realise this opportunity. Council is working with all levels of government to advocate policy and structural changes and to incentivise local solutions. Residents can help by REFUSING, REDUCING, REUSING and RECYCLING RIGHT.

For further information please contact Molly Odgers, Waste Management Coordinator on 6655 3700.