Turning plastic lids into household items

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

Plant pots, clipboards, bowls, pens, earrings and phone holders are some of the everyday items that plastic lids are being recycled into, as part of the Lids4Kids initiative.

Why can’t plastic lids be recycled in your yellow-lid recycling bin?

Plastic lids that are smaller than a credit card fall through the gaps in material recovery facilities and go to landfill, so can’t be recycled through your yellow-lid bin.

Lids4Kids is a not-for-profit organisation founded in Canberra by Tim Miller, which sees such plastic lids kept out of landfill and turned into useful products.

Jennifer Jarrard coordinates Lids4Kids Western Victoria operation, including a passionate group of volunteers here in Geelong.

Australians buy 3.5 million tonnes of plastic each year, but only about 11.5 per cent is recycled. We need to work together with the community and recycling industry to bridge the gap in rescuing small items that can easily be recycled."

What plastic lids can be dropped off for recycling?

Lids 4 Kids collects a range of plastic and aluminium items including:

  • Any plastic lids from milk bottles, cartons, disposable water, juice and soft drink bottles (including pop tops). 
  • Plastic bread tags
  • Medicine blister packs, soft drink pull tabs, beer bottle tops, wine bottle and other aluminium tops and corks are also accepted.
  • Washed aluminium coffee pods that have had the coffee grounds removed can also be donated.

Not accepted: Lids larger than a credit card such as jar tops cannot be accepted.

Sorting and recycling plastic lids

Rescued lids are sorted by volunteers and diverted to a number of different recycling channels depending on the type of plastic and colour.

"Sorting is the biggest challenge in recycling as the bottles and lids are made from different plastics (polymers) and need to be separated," says Jennifer.

 Our weekly sorting sessions are perfect to learn more and get great recycling tips. Sorting lids into different colours is a great activity for all ages, with primary and high school students volunteering during school holidays.

Bright coloured plastic lids made from plastic type #4 (the number you sometimes see in the recycling triangle) are remade into new products, including combs, coasters, clipboards and phone holders, by Ballarat-based company  Zero Plastics Australia.

It takes around 220 lids to make an A4 clipboard, 12 to 15 lids to make a coaster and around 19 to make a comb. Watch the shredding, melting and moulding process

Washed and sorted soft drink and other small lids made from plastic type #2 are forwarded to Precious Plastics in Melbourne to make items such as egg cups and bowls.

Navy blue lids, which are the most common, along with those made from plastic type #5 and a mix of #2 and #4, such as pop top lids, are taken to Geelong’s GT Recycling. About one cubic metre of lids a week are processed there, where they are remade into plastic pellets, which are then used by Victorian manufacturers to make new items such as plant pots.

How can I help?

You can:

  • collect lids, plastic bread tags, medicine blister packs, soft drink pull tabs, beer bottle tops, wine bottle and other aluminium tops and wine corks and drop them off at a Lids4Kids collection site.
  • start up a collection point through your local school, kinder, workplace, sports club or community group
  • wash and dry all lids before donating them – bonus points if you colour sort them and place in recycled bags such as bread bags (make sure to turn bags inside out to remove breadcrumbs).
  • volunteer to help sort the lids into colours and plastic types. You can even pick boxes up to sort at home and return later - a great activity to do with kids.

Who should I contact to get involved?

To get involved as a volunteer join the Lids4Kids Western Victoria Facebook page or call Jennifer on 0407 541 497.

Despite the challenges, Jennifer loves working with Lids4Kids to make a positive change in her community. In 2021, the local chapter of Lids4Kids won the City's Community Green Achiever Award, and was a finalist in the Keep Victoria Beautiful community awards.

It has been very rewarding working with the community in rescuing small recyclables from landfill to protect our environment for future generations and wildlife.

Where can I drop lids off?

An updated list is available at the Lids4Kids Western Victoria Facebook page.

  • ANGLESEA: Anglesea Community House, 5 McMillan St.
  • ARMSTRONG CREEK: Coles, Surf Coast Hwy.
  • BELMONT: Coles, 158 High St.
  • BELMONT: Coles Village Shopping Centre, 65 High St.
  • BELMONT: Lifeline Op Shop, 174 High St.
  • BELMONT: South Barwon Community Centre, 33 Mt Pleasant Rd.
  • BREAKWATER: Cafe Palat, 1/6-10 Apparel Cl.
  • CORIO: Coles Corio Village, Bacchus Marsh Rd and Purnell Rd.
  • DRSDALE: Coles, Murradoc Rd.
  • DRYSDALE: Lifeline Op Shop, Village Walk.
  • DRYSDALE: Tuckerberry Hill Farm, Becks Rd.
  • EAST GEELONG: Eastern Hub and Seasons Café, McKillop St.
  • GEELONG WEST: Coles, Shannon Ave.
  • GEELONG: Coles Westfield, Moorabool St and Brougham St.
  • GROVEDALE: Lifeline Op Shop, Marshalltown Rd.
  • LARA: Coles, Waverley Rd.
  • LEOPOLD: Coles, Bellarine Hwy.
  • NEWCOMB: APCO Service Station, Portarlington Rd.
  • NEWCOMB: Lifeline Op Shop, Watsons Rd.
  • NEWTOWN: 114B Aphrasia St.
  • OCEAN GROVE: Coles, 77 The Terrace.
  • QUEENSCLIFF: Sea All Dolphin Swims, Queenscliff Harbour.
  • ST ALBANS PARK: Lifeline Op Shop, Boundary Rd.
  • TORQUAY: 2/58 Zeally Bay Rd.  
  • TORQUAY: Coles, Bristol Rd.
  • WAURN PONDS: Coles, Pioneer Rd and Princes Hwy.

Page last updated: Friday, 17 June 2022