COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 18 October 2021, 7am (AEST)

TropEco Get Involved JCU's War On Waste

JCU's War On Waste


JCU sends 700,000kg of waste to landfill every year and our recycling rate is 20%.

Help us Reach 70%

JCU's War on Waste - Recycling

Check out our new video on how to recycle correctly at JCU

How you can Help

War on Waste - Soft Plastics

We need your help to win the 'War on Waste'. It is up to all students and staff at JCU to reduce waste, recycle right and minimise contamination.

The JCU Waste and Recycling Procedures provide a comprehensive and easy to navigate guide on waste management at JCU. Please take the time to have a read of them as they will answer many of the questions you may have.

You can help decrease the amount of waste sent to landfill by bringing your own coffee cup, water bottle, and reusable bag.

TropEco Water BottleReusable bagCoffee Cup

Contamination means that there are items that can't be recycled being put into the recycling bin.

Recycle Right

If there is too much contamination, then the whole lot ends up going to landfill!

It is up to you to do the right thing, use the right bin. Common items that can not be recycled in the yellow lidded bins include:

  • coffee cups
  • plastic bags
  • food and liquids

Lots of things including batteries, paper, e-waste, metals, and food waste. The JCU Waste and Recycling Procedures provide a comprehensive and easy to navigate guide on waste management at JCU. They include information on getting rid of:    Bins

Battery Bins

  • general waste
  • general recycling
  • furniture reuse
  • e-waste (electronic items)
  • battery recycling
  • green waste
  • food waste
  • clothing donations
  • miscellaneous recycling

We're always looking for staff and students to help us win the War on Waste. Here are some simple things you can do to help:

  • Get on social media and encourage others to support our campaign by using the hashtag #waronwaste and share our webpage.
  • Post photos and videos on social media of good and bad waste and recycling practices at JCU using #waronwaste.
  • Volunteer with TropEco as a Sustainability Intern or staff champion and help implement programs to fight the War on Waste.
  • Organise a TropEco representative to attend a staff meeting or morning tea to talk about the War on Waste campaign.
  • Encourage others to do the right thing. Remember the waste hierarchy - Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Ask us for an information pack for your lunch room or office to help staff better understand how to manage waste and recycling correctly.

Can I recycle my coffee cup?

The short answer is no. Disposable coffee cups have a thin plastic liner that means the recycling facilities cannot process them, therefore they all end up in landfill. The plastic lids can be recycled however, a better option is to bring your own reusable coffee cup, which is supported by most vendors on campus. Some even provide a discount for bringing your own cup.

Coffee Cup

Does my recycling end up going to landfill anyway?

No. This is a common misconception and is entirely incorrect.

The recycling process works as follows:

1. Staff and students place recyclable items in the correct bin.

2. Cleaning staff collect the recycling, ensure it is not contaminated and place the recyclables in the recycle skip for collection by the waste contractor. If the recycle bin contamination rate is higher than 10% it is disposed of as waste to landfill by the cleaners, so it is important that staff and students do their bit to minimise contamination.

3. JCU's waste contractors collect the recycling and transport it to the local Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), where recyclables are sorted, baled and sent for recycling.

JCU receives monthly reports from our waste contractors for the Cairns and Townsville campuses showing the total waste sent to landfill and total recycling. We also get a report from the MRF on the breakdown of the recycling and amount of general waste in the recycling. This way we can ensure that the recycling is actually occurring once it leaves JCU.

What types of plastic can I recycle?

Hard plastic items that contain a recycle symbol with the numbers 1-7 can be recycled in the regular yellow recycle bin. A good rule of thumb is that if you can scrunch it up in your hand, then it is not recyclable in the normal recycle bin. TropEco will soon be implementing a recycle hub on both campuses which will allow recycling of soft plastic items such as plastic bags, food wrappers, bubble wrap and many other soft plastic items or you can take them to the Woolworths on the Townsville campus for recycling. Please ensure all plastic items these are free from food scraps or liquids when recycling.

I just saw the cleaner put the recycling in the waste bin. Aren't they meant to be recycling it?

We are working closely with our cleaning staff to ensure they are well informed of the process of recycling at JCU. Cleaning staff are a critical stakeholder in our attempt to reach the aspirational target of 70% recycling (currently 20%), so ensuring cleaning staff understand the process and support the program is a priority for our campaign.

In some cases cleaning staff will place recycling in the general waste if the bin is contaminated with 10% or more of non-recyclable items. We work closely with our cleaning staff on how to identify and deal with contaminated recycling. This helps to ensure that the entire truckload of recycling is not rejected when it gets to the recycling facility due to a high contamination rate.

If you have any concerns about a member of our cleaning staff please contact

To find out more: