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Podcasts about Australia for intermediate learners of English

Postcast 15 – Rubbish – It’s Not All Rubbish


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Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack

Podcast Number 15 – Rubbish – It’s Not All Rubbish


One of the regular jobs in our house is to take out the rubbish. It’s amazing how much rubbish we create each week. Every time I look at our kitchen rubbish bin, it seems to be full. In Australia, we help control our rubbish by recycling. Recycling means that certain types of rubbish are collected separately and then turned back into something useful. This helps keep our environment cleaner.

Each household in our part of Melbourne has 3 rubbish bins. We need to sort our rubbish and put it into one of these three bins. I keep our three bins out near the clothes line, behind the garage.


The first bin we have is black in colour and is for real rubbish. By real rubbish, I mean that it will be thrown away and can really be called rubbish. In this bin we put things such as food scraps, food wrappings, broken glass, plastic bags, old or broken cups and plates, old light globes, used tissues, plastic cling wrap, jar lids, tea bags, coffee grounds, polystyrene foam (for example take away cups and meat trays), anything sharp and anything else about which you are not sure. The rubbish from this bin is taken away to be buried in landfill.

The second bin we have is brown in colour. Into that bin goes any garden waste. We have a garden at our house, but I don’t like gardening very much. Therefore I don’t use the garden waste bin a lot. I’m afraid our garden is not as good looking as it could be. However, my wife enjoys gardening so she will often work in the garden and then put the garden waste into the brown bin. Garden waste includes such things as grass clippings, small branches and leaves. All of the garden waste which is collected is sent to a garden waste recycling centre, where it is made into mulch. Mulch is put onto gardens to keep the moisture in the soil and to stop weeds from growing. There is one of these garden waste recycling centres near my home. I walk past it each morning on my regular walk.


The third bin we have is green in colour. This bin is used for recyclables and is the most interesting one. So what goes into this bin? Well, it is for those things which can be turned into something useful, that is, recycled. Our local council has given us a list of what can, and can’t, go into this bin. Things which can go in are:

  1. Glass bottles and jars – these are sorted and then used to make new glass bottles.
  2. Plastic drink bottles – these are made from plastic which can be recycled. They have a small triangle on their base, with a number in the middle of the triangle. For example, a plastic milk bottle has, on its base, a triangle with a 1 in the middle. Any plastic bottle with a 1, or indeed a 2,3,4,5,6 or 7 in the triangle can be recycled. This type of plastic is turned into resin which is used to make new rubbish bins and also other plastic products.
  3. Milk and fruit juice cartons – these are recycled into paper for use in printers and for writing.
  4. Aluminium cans – these are recycled to make more aluminium cans. Did you know that making a recycled aluminium can uses 20 times less energy than making a new aluminium can.
  5. Steel and aerosol cans – these are recycled to make new cans, train tracks and other steel products.
  6. Old newspapers, magazines and advertising material – these are recycled to make paper for newspapers, cardboard packaging, insulation and building products.
  7. Cardboard boxes – these are recycled to make new packaging.


For our house, about 40% of our rubbish goes into the recycle bin. It’s great that these materials are not wasted and can be used again and again. It means that less rubbish is buried in landfill and that’s good for the environment.

Our rubbish is collected once a week on a Friday. We must put our bins out on the edge of the street, so that the rubbish truck, the garden waste truck or the recycling truck can pick it up.


The black bin is collected every week, while the other two bins are collected every 2 weeks. I am happy to say, that since 1998 when we moved into this house, we have never forgotten to put our bins out for pick up. Not bad eh?

If you have a question or a comment to make, please leave it by clicking the comments link at the top of this story. You can leave your comment in English or in any language and I will translate it. Or, you can send me an email at I would like to hear any suggestions you may have. I would especially like your suggestions for podcast topics. Goodbye until next time.


Podcast 15 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?

You can take the quiz as many times as you like.



aerosol cans = a steel can used to hold something under pressure, like fly spray

base = the bottom of something. For example, the bottom of a bottle

behind = in the back of

boxes = rectangular containers that you put things in.

buried = when something is put in the ground and covered up

cardboard packaging = the material used to wrap something in.

cartons = like a bottle, but made of hard paper

coffee grounds = what is left of the coffee beans after you make coffee

collected = when things are put into one place

control = to make something do as you want

create = to make something

environment = the world around us

garage = where you park your car

grass clippings = when you mow the lawn, grass clippings are made.

insulation = used in a house to keep it warm. Usually put in the ceiling or walls

landfill = a way of burying very large amounts of rubbish in the ground.

light globes = made of glass and uses electricity to make light in a room

middle = when something is in the centre

plastic cling wrap = clear covering used to cover food

polystyrene foam = a very light material used for throw away cups and other things

products = things that are made by man

regular = when somethings always happens at fixed times

resin = a product that is used to make plastic

separately = when things are kept apart

sharp = when something can cut you

steel = very hard metal

tissues = paper used to wipe things

triangle = a shape with 3 corners and 3 straight sides

wrappings = used to cover up something like food. For example, paper

If you would like to help me improve my website, click the link below to answer 3 short questions.


  1. Hope all citizens are as responsible as you sir. The problem with our waste is due to lack of management. Some people end up dumping their garbage or waste on oceans because their bin is already messed up and do not know what to do. That’s totally wrong. If you are unsure, better call for help on disposing the waste.


    • Hi Henry,
      Many thanks for your comment. I agree that sometimes people need to use the services of waste disposal companies when they have special types of waste, such as chemicals or other dangerous waste, or they have large quantities of waste.

      Have a great day.

  2. Hello Rob,

    My name is Dmitry, I’m writting you from Russia. Thanks for your free podcasts, I listen to them with a great pleasure.
    Unfortunately, There is a big problem with rubbish in Russia. People don’t worry about our nature and we don’t have such a good system of recycling as yours. I hope in the nearest years this problem will be solved in our country.
    Please, don’t stop making your interest podcasts! You help many people all over the world to learn English in a simple form and to learn more about your wonderful country!
    All the best,

    • Hi Dmitry,
      Many thanks for your comment. Your kind words are greatly appreciated. It is interesting to hear about how other countries handle recycling. While Australia does have a system for household rubbish, I think there are many areas where we can improve. For example, roadside rubbish is still a problem here and I believe there are many countries which do a much better job in that respect, for example Japan which I visited in 2006. I would also like to see a bottle/can collection system, where you can earn money by returning empty bottles and cans. One of our states, South Australia, has such a system and I think it helps keep South Australian towns, cities and roads cleaner than in other states.
      Thanks again for your comment.
      Have a great day.

  3. Hello Rob,

    Stumbled upon your page when searching for pictures of old bins in Manningham. I believe they have now caught up with the Australian Standards of donning red, yellow & green lids? Your podcast is a fantastic resource of knowledge and learning for migrants like myself.

    Concerning light globes in household bins – older light globes (incandescent), mostly glass and a bit of metal, may be put into your bin; but most homes now have fluorescent light bulbs that contain mercury vapour, and should be taken to special collection points so we don’t contaminate our land and water. Your council depot would take care of it:

    I work as a waste educator for culturally diverse Sydney.

    • Hi Louie,

      Many thanks for your comment and your interest. Thanks for clarifying the point about light globes. Your job sounds like an interesting and worthwhile one. It’s important that we dispose of our rubbish correctly.

      Have a great day.

  4. Hi Rob

    Manuel my 14 year old, who is still with a cold, and me have been listening this podcast very pleasufully.
    In Spain we have a bin for biodegradable stuff, another one for plastic bottles or cans, another one for paper and the last one for glass. The first one is collected every day except Sundays. The others regularly but I don’t know how often.
    We don’t have bins in each house. We use plastic bags to carry the stuff to the public bins.
    Besides, in public places such as schools or goverment buildings there are bins for batteries. And once a week, big objects such as furniture can be left next to the bins and are collected.
    In Spain a prívate firm pays to the government to collect the recyclable stuff because they make a profit with it. I ‘ve always asked how much they win, but it isn’t very transparent.

    Thank you for your free lessons for me and my kids. Teresa, 12, is studying because she has an exam of european geography tomorrow, so she will join us other day.

    • Hi Ignacio,

      Your recycling system sounds very good. It’s great that you can leave large objects such as furniture out once a week. In our system, you can only do that twice a year. It means that you need to save all that old furniture for one of the two pick ups each year. I like your system better in that regard.
      Good luck to Teresa for her geography exam.
      Many thanks for your comment. I think it’s fantastic that you and Manuel can listen to the podcast together.
      Have a great day,

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