Waste Not, Want Not
Author: Ryan Collins
When I first started out in the waste and recycling industry, I, like most Aussies, thought it was all pretty simple. Household packaging goes in the recycling bin almost everything else goes in the general waste.
Well, as time and technology move on, it turns out there is a lot more to waste than that.
I recently attended the Waste 2015 Conference in Coffs Harbour. It's the largest waste management conference in Australia with more than 500 delegates sharing information on community educational initiatives, technologies and future programs. Basically talking rubbish for two days.
I was there with our Head of Campaigns, Brad Gray (pictured), and I went along to promote our BusinessRecycling.com.au website to recyclers and councils.
I learnt that innovative programs and technology are helping communities to collect materials and increase recycling rates. I hope you find them as exciting as I did.
We are all good recyclers at home, but when we're out and about, recycling bins can be few and far between. I try to take a re-usable water bottle with me wherever I go, but on the odd occasion when I buy a takeaway drink I 'm often left with a bottle to deal with, and I just can't put one in the general waste. This is where Reverse Vending Machines come in. Instead of putting money in and getting something out, reverse vending machines work by customers inserting bottles and cans and receiving a reward.
The City of Sydney recently trialed two machines with different incentives (such as small prizes valued or meal vouchers) to encourage greater recycling of plastic or aluminum drink containers. This incentive-based approach recycled more than 60,000 containers from the two locations. These machines are used extensively in Europe and residents of NSW will be seeing a lot more of them when the state's container deposit scheme kicks off in 2017.
I'm sure we all have clothes in our cupboards that we NEVER wear (I have a few shirts from my grunge phase that may have gone out of style). But whether it's through fashion mistakes or over buying, there has been a 30% increase in textiles and clothing in the waste stream in the past 20 years globally.
Normally, clothes and textiles are a significant contaminant in recycling as they get caught in sorting machines, but Coffs Harbour Council trialed a program to collect clothes (in specially designed bags) using their yellow lidded bins. The program collected 1.5 tonnes of clothes of which 1.4 tonnes was donated to charity, which was a win for both the environment and charity organisations.
When it comes to waste it's not as simple as throwing rubbish in the bin. The future of recycling is bright. There is new technology and more programs coming your way so are sure to keep an eye out!
To find the best recycling options for items as diverse as household packaging and clothes check with your local council or visit RecyclingNearYou (or call 1300 733 712).