Do Labels Need To Be Removed for Recycling?

August 12, 2021

You’ll find labels and stickers on almost every food package, container, or product; so, do labels need to be removed for recycling?

Due to old restrictions and a lack of clear guidelines, many Australians are rightly confused when it comes to recycling labels and stickers. The good news is, that with modern recycling processes and effective recycling techniques, you can recycle the majority of labels and stickers. As rubbish removal experts ourselves, we understand how frustrating it can be trying to work out how to recycle properly from your home. In this article, we will clear up a few misconceptions when it comes to recycling and provide you with all of the necessary guidance on when, where and how to recycle stickers and labels from goods.

Do Labels Need to Be Removed for Recycling?

This is the question that causes the most confusion for Australians. In previous years, it was necessary to remove paper labels and adhesive from containers or packages as they could be dangerous or contaminate other material during the recycling process. Although some centres may remove the labels once they receive the recyclable material, many recycling centres simply burn off the labels during the recycling process.

So, do labels need to be removed for recycling? Well, paper labels stuck onto cardboard, or other paper-based materials are typically recyclable. However, if the label has ink or adhesive, it could contaminate the material and should be removed.

If a plastic label is attached to a plastic package or container of the same material, these too are typically recyclable. As always, be sure to check the recycling label on the plastic itself. This will let you know if you can recycle it in your household collection. There is more information surrounding recycling labels further along in this article.

The biggest consideration in recycling paper is ensuring there is no food residue on the material. Residual food makes the material unsuitable for recycling as unlike in glass, metal, and plastic recycling, you cannot recycle paper material with food on it. Providing leading household rubbish removal services across Sydney, this is something we cannot stress enough to those looking to do the right thing with their general day-to-day waste.

Can Stickers Be Recycled?

Can you recycle stickers? The simple answer is yes, but there is more to it. Although you can put stickers in your recycling bin, often, they are not recycled.

The adhesive used on the stickers is recyclable but can causes issues with the recycling machines. A build-up of sticky residue and labels can negatively affect the machines and result in reduced efficiency and even the need for repairs.

Another issue with stickers is that they are coated in materials such as silicone, PET, and polypropylene to make them resistant to weather conditions. Each of these coatings require separate recycling processes, while the paper being recycled is often of low quality and not worth recycling. This is because the energy and effort that go into recycling these materials outweigh the quality and yield of the recycled material.   

However, as businesses and manufacturers look to use more sustainable practices and materials, stickers are being made from more recyclable materials and adhesives. So, it is important to keep on recycling stickers.

Use Recycling Labels to Your Advantage

While it is important to know the answer to, “Do labels need to be removed for recycling?” It is equally important that we are recycling the packages and materials that these labels and stickers come with. With incorrect placement of material into recycling and rubbish streams, it reduces the efficiency of the recycling process and requires more energy and resources to complete.

To help reduce confusion, there are recycling labels on every piece of packaging in Australia. This makes it easier for Australians to correctly recycle their packaging and reduce contamination during the process. There are three types of labels.

Recyclable: If this coloured label is on your packaging, it means you can place it in your recycling bin. If the packaging or material is made up of multiple pieces, there will be a label for each. Each piece is to be placed separately in the bin.

Conditionally Recyclable: This clear symbol means there are special instructions to recycle the material. If these instructions aren’t followed, the material is to be placed in the rubbish bin as it will cause contamination otherwise. An example of this is the recycling of soft plastics which are recycled separately from household collection streams.

Instructions for conditionally recyclable materials may include but are not limited to:

  • Return to Store
  • Rinse & Return to Store
  • Scrunch into ball
  • Remove Handles
  • Fold to Recycle
  • Place in used envelope

Not Recyclable: This bin symbol means that the piece of material is not recyclable and must be disposed of in your rubbish bin. If you try to place it in the recycling bin, it will not get recycled and could contaminate other material during the process. If rubbish collectors see material like this in your rubbish bin, they may not collect the entire load.

So, while it is important to know how to recycle stickers, you should always be aware of the recycling labels on packages and products.

Can Plastic Bags With Paper Labels Be Recycled?

When it comes to plastic bags, they can be a real hassle to recycle. Although being phased out, single use plastics are often used for packaging and will have labels and stickers on them. While it is a little tricker to recycle soft plastics, it is still possible. As plastics bags and paper labels are made from different materials, they will need to be recycled separately.

Plastic bags can be recycled as soft plastics. Soft plastics are any plastic materials that you can scrunch up in your hand such as pasta bags, post satchels, ice cream wrappers and plastic film around grocery items such as toilet paper. When recycling these items, it is very important to separate the paper labels. Once you have separated the labels and soft plastics there are a few ways you can dispose of them.

Can You Recycle Stickers From Fresh Fruit and Vegetables?

If you have fruit stickers, you can stick them to a piece of soft plastic, and they can be recycled with the rest of the material.

Dispose of soft plastics at participating soft plastic recycling centres. Most Australian grocery stores have soft plastic recycling bins you can use. All you need to do is collect your soft plastics and dispose of them at a participating centre.

When these soft plastics are recycled, they are created into new materials such as benches, fences, signs, and fitness trails.

What You Can’t Recycle

Although there are many soft plastic materials that you can recycle, certain materials such as cellophane, polystyrene, and composite material that is not easily separated cannot be recycled and should be disposed of in the bin.

If you are still asking yourself do labels need to be removed for recycling, or you would like a same day rubbish removal service, you can use a professional rubbish removal service. They will happily pick up any soft plastics or other household waste and responsibly dispose of it. Professional rubbish removalists such as Ridly, are experts in rubbish disposal and recycling processes. They know the ins and outs of recycling and can save you the headache of figuring out how to recycle stickers and labels from plastic packaging and various materials.

So, can plastic bags with paper labels be recycled? Yes, but only if you separate the paper and plastic material as they are recycled using different processes. Use a soft plastic recycling centre or professional for your soft plastics and place your paper labels in the recycling bin.

How to Easily Remove Labels and Stickers for Recycling

Can stickers be recycled? Yes, and we have some great methods for removing them from packaging and products.

If you are looking to remove labels and stickers from plastic, glass, or metal containers, the easiest way is to soak them in warm soapy water. After a short soak, the labels should come off easily.

If there is any residue left on the container, all need to do is mix a small amount bicarbonate soda and water together and give it a scrub with a cloth or brush. Alternatively, you can use household cleaners such as methylated spirits, white vinegar, or citrus based cleaners.

The Best Way to Recycle Stickers and Labels

While recycling is all well and good, the best way to reduce our overall waste is to reduce the amount of material we use.  The less you have to ask yourself, "Do labels need to be removed for recycling?", the better. Many stickers and labels come from pre-packaged foods and other household items. Try to use reusable shopping bags and packaging when going shopping. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be sourced without packaging if you bring your own bags. It also saves the hassle of worrying about what to recycle.

Alternatively, if you do require packages or containers, try to re-use them. There are so many ways in which people re-use glass jars in their households or repurpose packaging for a second use.

Additionally, if you are looking to be more informed about the recycling options in your local government area, check your council guidelines or speak to a recycling professional. The team at Ridly Rubbish Removals offer our support and services including same day rubbish removal to help businesses and residents with all their recycling and waste disposal needs.

If you want to book a rubbish removal service with the experts, get in touch with Ridly 0491 181 130.

Ready to be rid of it? Grab a quick quote from our team.

Call us on 0488 846 336.

Recycling with Ridly

View all

Ridly's Tips

View all

Call us on 0488 846 336,
or request a quote:

By submitting you accept our terms & conditions.
Close icon
Sapling icon
This service is
Carbon Neutral
Close icon