Turning plastic lids into household items

Lids 4 Kids program has won the Waste Reduction Award in the City’s Community Green Achiever Awards.

The Community Green Achiever Awards recognise and celebrate community-led action that promotes sustainability, supports biodiversity and protects our environment.

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 Lids4Kidsinitiative.

The innovative project sees the lifespan of plastic lids, used for milk, water and soft drink containers, extended from days – or even mere minutes – to a much longer term, minimising the devastating impact single use plastic is having on our environment.

Why can’t lids be recycled in your yellow-lid wheelie 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

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

Initially, the lids were provided to Envision Hands to create children’s mobility aids. However, despite the organisation’s efforts, the mobility aids produced from recycled lids did not meet internal quality standards, so the project ceased.

Lids4Kids closes the gap between households and recyclers to help keep small recyclable items out of landfill.

As with many organisations the pandemic stalled some of Lids4Kids’ operations, however 2022 is seeing a resurgence in households and businesses collecting lids, which are then channelled into various recycling projects.

What plastic lids can be dropped off for recycling?

Any plastic lids from milk bottles, disposable water, juice and soft drink bottles (including pop tops) as well as UHT milk cartons. You just need to make sure they’re clean, dry and remove any white foam inserts if there are any. Place them in a recycled bag or box and sort them by colour if you can.

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.

Lids larger than a credit card, such as disposable coffee cups, spreads (such as vegemite), and sauce bottles cannot be accepted.

Sorting and recycling plastic lids

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

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

These same lids are also used by Queenscliffe’s Southern OceanEnvironment Link for educational programs.

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.

Lid sorting sessions

Before the lids are provided to the processors, they are sorted according to colour and plastic type by volunteers. Sorting sessions are held every second Friday afternoon in Newtown – see latest information on the Lids4Kids WesternVic Facebook group page.

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.

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.

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.

Jennifer Jarrard – Regional Co-ordinator of Lids4Kids Western Victoria and Secretary of Lids4Kids Australia Ltd Board

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

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.

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