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Good – but could be much better

Posted: 9am 09 Nov 2020

Almost 90 per cent of us recycle goods – but not always very well!

In fact, more than 30,990 tonnes of recyclables were collected in Moreton Bay Regional Council bins in the 2019-20 financial year – yet more was found in general waste bins.

In National Recycling Week (November 9-15) an appeal has been made to try and improve those figures, the process and keep striving for ‘zero waste’.

Really good

“We are really good at recycling items like paper, cardboard, glass, steel and aluminium cans,” Planet Ark Recycling Campaigns Manager Claire Bell told Moreton Daily.

“Container Deposit Schemes have been particularly successful, but some items still cause frequent confusion and contamination in kerbside recycling bins.

“We need more resources and education from the grassroots up to the national level.”

‘Miracle’ escape

Mayor Peter Flannery recently revealed one of the worst cases, with a full barbecue gas cylinder being pulled from a recycling truck at Narangba Waste Management Facility.

“The fact that nothing went wrong from the wheelie bin, to the collection truck, to processing at the recycling facility is a miracle,” he said.

Less dangerous, but still of concern, is confusion over items such as clothing and textiles, soft plastics, household batteries and mattresses, which are one of the biggest items in landfill.

Mattress trial

A council trial is currently under way where mattresses are shredded to recover the metal springs. Officers are also looking at ways to recycle the foam and fabric material.

After two years Containers for Change is proving one of our biggest successes with more than 180 million items collected in the Moreton Bay Region – that’s $18 million in refunds.

Queensland is also ahead of projections having this week recycled its three billionth drink container and Redcliffe is one of the program’s strongest areas.

Education crucial

“Customer education has been crucial,” said Containers for Change spokesman Adam Nicholson, “but there’s now a good hold on what and where items can be recycled.”

Containers for Change follows national standards and Mr Nicholson said there was potential for further change around items such as wine bottles.

Mayor Peter Flannery added: “If you’re at all confused, council’s website has a comprehensive list of what you can and can’t throw into bins and what should be taken to a waste management facility.”

Check it out

Visit: moretonbay.qld.gov.au/services/waste-recycling/disposal

This region’s general recycling goes to the Visy Material Recovery Facility at Gibson Island, Murarrie. For details check the Visy website visy.com.au/recycling/education

For more on Containers for Change visit containersforchange.com.au

Dos and don’ts – items commonly confused by residents:

You can recycle:

  • E-waste – One of the fastest growing waste streams in the world - with a low recycling rate.
  • Soft plastics – can be recycled at Coles and Woolworths, if it doesn’t return to shape when scrunched into a ball. Includes chip packets and lolly wrappers
  • Lids – Remove from bottles which go to Containers for Change and recycle through yellow-top bin. Other bottles, leave lids and labels on
  • Plastic containers (especially ones that have contained food) – A quick rinse and dry and these are good to go in your kerbside recycling bin.
  • X rays can be recycled and contain some valuable materials including silver!
  • Coffee pods – go to dedicated recyclers, not council yellow-top bins
  • Mattresses can be recycled. Check with retailer or take to council waste facility
  • Unwanted medicines can be disposed of in the Return Unwanted Medicines program.

You cannot recycle:

  • Polystyrene – One of the worst materials in terms of its recycling. It should never go in the recycling bin. Steer clear of it whenever possible.
  • Household batteries - Hazardous, take to a waste facility or battery recycling retailer. Do not put in wheelie bins. Batteries have started fires inside bin collection trucks.
  • Old clothes and shoes – If they cannot be donated, they belong in the waste bin or taken to council waste facility
  • Recycle bottle lids through yellow-top bins
  • Empty aluminium or steel aerosol cans can be recycled. Cans with paint, oil should be taken to council waste facility
  • Garden waste/food scraps – Should not be put in recycling bins.

Planet Ark figures:

  • 6 tonnes of textiles go to landfill in Australia every 10 minutes
  • $1026 is the cost of food waste for the average household in Australia each year
  • 63 per cent of paper and cardboard packaging is recovered in Australia, but just 16 per cent of plastic packaging
  • 21.7kg is the amount of e-waste each Australian disposes of each year … one of the highest in the world
  • 100 per cent recycled plastic is used in all Coca Cola’s bottles under 1 litre in Australia
  • Kerbside collect makes up only 20 per cent of recycling in Australia

Containers for Change

3 billion containers collected in Queensland equates to:

  • 3.63 million full wheelie bins
  • 871,000 cubic meters of material saved from landfill
  • 113,000 cars taken off the road
  • or saving yearly energy in 275,000 households

Moreton Bay Regional Council in 2019-20:

  • 451,500 tonnes of waste and recyclable/rescued materials managed by council (bins serviced and waste facilities)
  • More than 8652 tonnes of recycle/rescued materials are generated in the region each week. A small car is about 1 tonne.
  • More than 30,990 tonnes of recyclables (paper, cardboard, plus glass, steel, aluminium, plastic containers) were collected in bins.
  • That’s about 596kg/0.59 of a tonne per week - and it could be recycling more as recyclables are found in general waste bins.

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