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Where does the recycling go?

By 16 March 2012 15

Chief Minister Gallagher has alerted us to the existence of a Territory And Municipal Services educational vid on what happens to the contents of your yellow wheely bin after it leaves your curb.

This short video gives Canberrans a behind the scenes look at what happens to their recycling and how it is sorted into six different streams — paper, cardboard, plastics, steel, glass and aluminium — and then baled. For more information on recycling, please visit www.tams.act.gov.au

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15 Responses to Where does the recycling go?
#1
Rawhide Kid Part311:40 am, 16 Mar 12

Its interesting to see the “No Waste by 2010″ slogan on the truck. Is it really possible to have no waste at all?

#2
johnboy11:40 am, 16 Mar 12

And by 2010?

#3
HenryBG12:00 pm, 16 Mar 12

Well, we had “No Tip” by 2005. (They renamed it to a “Resource Management Facility”. Or something.)

Obviously, we just have to rename “waste” to something else, make the change retrospective to 2010, aqnd a whole lot of ACT public servants can sit back on their shiny bums congratulating themselves on a job well done.

#4
pajs12:08 pm, 16 Mar 12

Zero waste is technically possible. You do heaps more to encourage avoidance and reduced generation. Plus a bigger effort aimed at recovery and recycling. You push some stuff into energy recovery, like how the Visy plant at Coolaroo already uses paper, cardboard & some plastics for energy. The small volumes, including some hazardous stuff, you have left go through some kind of thermal process (not mass-burn incineration, but pyrolisis, gasification etc) with the left over ashes & slag going into stable & low-risk civil engineering applications such as road base.

Whether zero waste (as zero waste to landfill) is as economically-efficient as letting some low-value materials still flow to landfill (ie not a biological or industrial feedstock)… that’s a different question.

That aside, the ACT does have the best waste and recycling performance of any Australian jurisdiction, so the ‘Zero Waste by 2010′ committment and the actions it supported haven’t been a complete dud.

#5
Holden Caulfield12:09 pm, 16 Mar 12

I did chuckle that the beer bottle pile was by far the largest once the glass had been sorted into varying colours.

It’s a riveting video too, the producers must be rapt!

Oh, I’m disappointed the “staff members” don’t carry a title such as “recycling assistance facilitator”.

#6
Grail12:12 pm, 16 Mar 12

At our place the two of us generate about one large kitchen bin of waste a week. Most of the packaging we have ends up in recycling.

To get to the point of no waste at all, we would need some way of carrying meat home from the butcher that doesn’t involve non-recyclables. Say, clamshell boxes rather than trays with Glad Wrap or cryovac (which can’t be recycled). Ideally it would be reusable, like the jars I put honey in.

Have a look at what the things are that you are throwing away. Food scraps? Put them in the worm farm (except onions, citrus and meat).

This is a continual process that everyone needs to be involved in. Identify your waste, find ways to not have that waste in your house in the first place, or find ways to substitute reusable/recyclable versions.

#7
stonedwookie12:44 pm, 16 Mar 12

its funny by the time they do all this then put it on anothere truck to sydney to be sent threw anothere power hungry factory it probley leaves a bigger carbon foot print then it would of just to make the items from Scratch.

#8
HenryBG1:35 pm, 16 Mar 12

stonedwookie said :

its funny by the time they do all this then put it on anothere truck to sydney to be sent threw anothere power hungry factory it probley leaves a bigger carbon foot print then it would of just to make the items from Scratch.

Possibly – you would want to see the figures before jumping to conclusions, but really, what’s wrong with landfill anyway? Are we going to run out of land? With sea levels rising, the more we can build land up, the better, so more landfill is good, surely?

#9
Deref1:42 pm, 16 Mar 12

According to the voiceover there’s an awful lot of swording going on there. And they deal with a lot of boddles. I assume a boddle is something you wear to prevent injury when your swording.

#10
peterh3:46 pm, 16 Mar 12

One thing that South Australia does that would be of use to reduce waste in canberra is the bottle and can deposit scheme. Kids gain an extra income, more bottles and cans get recycled. The South Australian government also have a video, and households also have an extra bin – the green waste bin. (probably doing the trash pack companies out of business) its a bit of fun to compare the videos.

http://www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au/at-home/recycle-right/what-happens-to-your-recycling

#11
pajs4:53 pm, 16 Mar 12

HenryBG said :

stonedwookie said :

its funny by the time they do all this then put it on anothere truck to sydney to be sent threw anothere power hungry factory it probley leaves a bigger carbon foot print then it would of just to make the items from Scratch.

Possibly – you would want to see the figures before jumping to conclusions, but really, what’s wrong with landfill anyway? Are we going to run out of land? With sea levels rising, the more we can build land up, the better, so more landfill is good, surely?

Transport of baled recyclables for further processing on the east coast of Australia is a pretty low carbon footprint. With stuff like aluminium, there’s so much embodied energy that recycling is a no-brainer compared to virgin materials. This is a decent source for information on the environmental benefits of recycling: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/warr/BenefitRecycling.htm

Henry, I’m assuming you are having a lend about landfill, but I’ll bite. I generally don’t have a problem with well-engineered and well-managed landfills being a backup option after sensible recovery and recycling. But landfill wastes resources, including non-renewable resources, which could go to higher value uses. Landfills produce methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and average landfill gas capture rates in Australia are not great. Landfill leachate, especially at unlined sites, can contain some unpleasant substances pulled out of the waste mass, and has the potential to contaminate groundwater. More than half of the landfills in Queensland, for example, are unlined.

Some places in Australia have no shortage of space for landfills, but other places are constrained in terms of sites in sensible locations. WA, for instance, won’t allow new landfills on the sandy soils of much of the area near Perth, due to risk of contaminating critical groundwater supplies. While there are some cluey people doing a good job of managing many landfills in Australia, there is also a cowboy contingent doing stupid things like taking waste they aren’t able to handle safely. Not to mention the implications of landfill, even when closed, for adjoining land uses (ask people living in the evacuation zone in Cranbourne in Melbourne how safe landfills can be…).

So useful things, but not that great and not that smart a solution for a lot of waste. I’d much rather see Australia get to something like 5% of waste generated ending up in landfill, instead of more like 50%.

#12
Felix the Cat5:11 pm, 16 Mar 12

stonedwookie said :

its funny by the time they do all this then put it on anothere truck to sydney to be sent threw anothere power hungry factory it probley leaves a bigger carbon foot print then it would of just to make the items from Scratch.

I always thought the same thing, especially when you take into account the manufacture of the fleet of trucks needed to pick up all th recycling waste.

I do remember reading something on the internet some time back by somebody who had done a study into it and had drawn the same conclusion that recycling isn’t really that green. But saying that I try and recycle as much as I can.I figure they already have the facilities in place (the trucks, the waste sorting depot etc) so I may as well use it rather than just chuck everything out. Costs me nothing apart from a few minutes of my time to sort recycling from non-recycling.

#13
bd8412:04 am, 17 Mar 12

Where does my recycling go? Well normally nowhere because they forget to pick it up most fortnights. Then half of it goes to the tip because the rules don’t allow you to have an adequate number of bins, or charge you an extraordinary annual amount for something that would cost next to nothing to provide extra capacity.

#14
bugmenot7:41 am, 17 Mar 12

Stories I have heard involve the recycling centre only being able to process a certain amount of material per day. Once that limit is met, the rest just gets trucked off to landfill.

Probably a big reason why the public isn’t allowed into the tip any more.

#15
Deref8:02 am, 17 Mar 12

Deref said :

According to the voiceover there’s an awful lot of swording going on there. And they deal with a lot of boddles. I assume a boddle is something you wear to prevent injury when [b]your[/b] swording.

“You’re”

Hoist with my own petard!

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