Reduce and reuse waste

On average Australians dispose of more than 60 Million tonnes of waste per year.  This amounts to more than 2 tonnes of waste for each one of us per year. This includes waste from our kitchens, bathrooms, laundries and our gardens. Although we've made great improvements in our waste disposal habits over recent years, there are still lots of ways we can do more.

Some Useful household tips to reduce and reuse waste:

  • Avoid single use plastic bags, bottles, straws - consider the reusable options instead
  • Don't forget your reusable bags and containers when visiting the shops
  • Reduce the amount of packaging you buy. Look for products without packaging and avoid individually wrapped portions
  • Favour products made from recyclable material, or with a high recycled content (recycled paper, clothing, furniture)
  • Buy in bulk, or choose concentrated products in reusable containers.
  • Donate unwanted clothes and or household goods to charities or your local Transfer Station to be resold at the Buyback Shop.
  • Give old magazines and books to nursing, charities, schools, hospitals etc
  • Compost your food waste to create a mulch. This will improve soil structure and texture and promote aeration which increases the soil's water-holding capacity.

For further steps to good recycling and what items can and can't go in your recycling bin please access related documents for the Waste and Recycling flyer and the "Which bin do I put it in" Pantry card.

Waste and Recycling YouTube education resources

To redirect to the Cairns Regional Council You Tube site, please choose from the following resources:

  • Recycle Right Cairns Regional Council's new Recycle Right website helps you figure out which common household rubbish items can/can't be recycled and tells you which bin to put them in.
  • Recycling your waste around the house How and why to reduce waste in your wheelie bins.
  • Reuse to reduce waste Re-using things is great way to reduce our waste. See how and why to reuse your items instead of throwing them away.
  • Our Region's waste / recycling story This is a great educational tool for schools. A complete detailed description of what happens to waste and recycling in the Cairns Region.
  • Our recycling story A great educational tool for schools. Provides more detailed on recycling in the Cairns region.
  • Contaminated recycling Contaminated recyclables such as gas bottles, dirty nappies, sharps and hazardous waste can be harmful and dangerous to the people who sort out your rubbish at the materials recovery facility.
  • Recycling hazardous items Hazardous items are dangerous for the people who sort our rubbish and recyclables in the Cairns region.
  • Sorting out the silly season Watch this video to learn about taking care of the environment by recycling thoughtfully during the Christmas and New Year period.

Bin collections and services

For further information on bin collections and services please view the Binformation page. Please report any missed collection, bin damage or theft within 24 hours to Customer Service on (07) 4044 3044.

E-waste (electronic waste)

Cairns Regional Council residents can, as part of the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme, dispose of e-waste (televisions and computers) at Portsmith and Smithfield transfer stations for free. The service will enable householders and small business the ability to dispose of up to 15 acceptable electronic equipment items per delivery free of charge.

Accepted scheme items:

  • Televisions & Monitors (all types)
  • Computers (laptops, desktops, notebooks, iPads, tablets, gaming consoles, servers etc.)
  • Computers accessories including: network devices, hard drives, cables, CD/DVD Drives,
  • Keyboards/Mice, iPods, Multi-media speakers, power supplies, UPS, printed circuit boards, printers, scanners and multi-functional devices

Please note:

  • Other metal kitchen & household appliances with electronic components, such as microwaves, white-goods and kettles are accepted free of charge as scrap metal at all transfer stations.
  • All other electrical goods and household appliances can be placed into separate collection areas at all transfer stations (fees may apply). Ask the transfer station staff if you are not sure which bin to put it in. These items will be recovered for resale where possible.

Please refer to for further information

Container Refund Scheme

The QLD Container Refund Scheme (CRS) commenced on 1 November  2018.  The scheme is run by an organisation called Container Exchange appointed by the Queensland Government.  Read more about the CRS program and registered collection points.

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Last updated: 16 June 2020