Most people have for years put their plastic waste in their yellow-lidded bins with little doubt that it was actually being recycled.
It made us feel good about participating in something that helped the environment. It was like a badge of honour.
But few of us knew or even thought about where the plastic was ending up.
Hunter councils have done a lot to promote recycling. They've talked it up as a great way to help the environment. But is it?
The Newcastle Herald reported that Hunter Resource Recovery - which manages kerbside recycling for Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Singleton councils - believed plastic waste from this region was being sent to Malaysia for legal recycling.
But the company involved, Polytrade, told the Herald that it had "not exported plastics to Malaysia since October 2018".
Solo Waste, which is the waste contractor for Hunter councils and subcontracts business to Polytrade, attributed this to a misunderstanding and an error in reports on the matter.
At the very least, this has exposed problems in knowing precisely where the Hunter's plastic waste is ending up. There's clearly no transparent and up-to-date tracking system.
Even if reputable companies are involved in collecting, sorting and transporting our plastic waste, it then moves out of sight into the hands of international traders.
This presents a major ethical dilemma. This problem has become more apparent since the Chinese government banned imports of plastic waste in January last year under its China National Sword Policy.
The decision threw the recycling industry into crisis.
Polytrade concedes that the recycling industry is facing "unprecedented challenges".
As Greenpeace and other organisations have pointed out, plastic waste from Western countries has been shipped to Third World countries with poor waste-processing records.
In many cases, waste has been burnt, dumped or sent to poorly regulated landfills.
Since China Sword, councils worldwide - including the Hunter - have faced having to pay waste companies more money to take plastic waste.
So, councils are paying companies to take and recycle plastic waste in an industry that is in crisis. The waste is not clearly tracked and there is an inherent incentive for it to be disposed of as cheaply as possible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said only 12 per cent of the 3 million tonnes of plastic waste produced in Australia each year actually gets recycled. Greenpeace said only 9 per cent of plastic waste was recycled worldwide, 12 per cent was incinerated and 79 per cent was dumped in landfills or the natural environment.
It seems abundantly clear that this sector needs a lot more public attention and care.