Recycling has made headlines in the media this year... and there is plenty of good coming out of the conversation. Whilst China has traditionally been our largest recipient of commingled kerbside recyclables, its change in policy is encouraging more on-shore processing, and Australian innovation. Some materials cannot currently be accepted in kerbside collections but are still recyclable in other ways. Check out the tips on this page to make sure you are being part of the solution!
Most of us realise how necessary it is to get it right on bin night (thanks, War on Waste!) so how good are you at recycling?
Remember that public place and kerbside recycling services are for household items made from paper, cardboard, plastics that holds their shape (known as hard plastics) and with any number on the base, aluminium and steel cans, glass and plastic bottles, and assorted other packaging from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry, such as UHT cartons, empty aerosol cans, detergent bottles and pizza boxes - just eat all the pizza first.
Contaminants can cause big problems at Materials Recovery Facilities (MRFs) and all too often include nappies, strapping tape, plastic bags and bagged recyclables, polystyrene and garbage. Please do the right thing by your community, local industry and the environment by using the right bin.
On the other hand, much of what many people call "waste" is a reusable resource, even when it's not recyclable through your kerbside collection. Here are some tips on common household items and information on what to do with them.
Soft plastic are any clean plastics you can scrunch up, and include plastic carry bags, bags used for bread, produce, cereal, biscuits, dog food, potting mix and many more, as well as bubble wrap. These resources should be taken to participating supermarkets for specialist recycling (www.redcycle.net.au).
Leftover food makes up an astonishing 25 - 40% of many householders' garbage bins! Check out the simple, tasty and free recipes you can quickly create from the leftovers in your fridge and pantry, at www.lovefoodhatewaste.vic.gov.au.
Mobile Phones keep us connected to the world around us. However, many of us also have another one... or two... stashed in drawers. Mobiles contain valuable and scarce resources such as coltan (tantalite), mined from pristine habitats. So, when the time comes to move your mobile on, be sure to take it to a participating drop-off points for specialist recycling via Mobile Muster. Typical locations include phone shops, civic centres and libraries: www.mobilemuster.com.au/locator-map/
Batteries power so many of our gadgets, and as a result also create a significant waste stream. They contain hazards such as lead and acid, so it's important these are kept out of landfill. Do the right thing by taking your dead batteries* to transfer stations, Aldi, Bunnings or Officeworks collection points. Remember that whilst rechargeable batteries cost more initially, they have a long lifespan when compared to regular batteries and are therefore a more sustainable choice. *Note that NBN batteries should be taken by Moorabool residents to Ballarat or Melton transfer stations.
E-waste is the single biggest waste stream of developed societies. Anything with a battery or cord that is no longer wanted or needed becomes a problem for the environment unless disposed of wisely. E-waste never belongs in your kerbside recycle bin and, from July 2019, e-waste will be banned from landfill altogether, so it shouldn't go into your garbage bin either. Check out the very cool video clip at www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/Campaigns/eWaste. Many items will be free to dispose of at council transfer stations and some, such as TVs and computers, are already free to drop off in our shire.
The waste hierarchy teaches us all to rethink and reduce our consumer habits, before we use resources that are often in limited supply. Single use coffee cups have attracted a lot of attention, as they aren't recyclable through kerbside collections, whereas a reusable cup not only lasts for years but often attracts a cafe discount on your coffee! This is just one example of how, as consumers, we have the power to make sustainable choices about our purchases every day.
Got something you no longer want or need, but that is good enough to "go round" again for someone else to make use of? We invite you to make a personal pledge to connect with your local community by listing items in your local papers, online buy-swap-sell, or reaching out to charities including food banks. Likewise, buying (or being given!) something preloved saves not only your wallet but material resources and the water, energy and carbon miles needed to create, transport and sell those items new. Be sure to give your local op shops some extra support during National Op Shop Week at the start of October!
And, when you do go shopping, bringing your own reusable bags makes more sense than ever. There are great quiet achievers all around us, like Boomerang Bag members busily hand-creating a range of practical and fun carry bags that are free to everyone!
Got questions? Ask Council's waste project officer, or check out these websites: