Saturday, November 19, 2011

The cans and can'ts of recycling and resource recovery

Bin it properly, there's no time to waste

Waste transfer recycling station manager Mick Pombert at Chullora. Picture: SIMON BULLARD
Waste transfer recycling station manager Mick Pombert at Chullora. Picture: SIMON BULLARD
MANY OF us have stood bleary eyed over the recycling bin first thing in the morning pondering whether that thing in our hand is rubbish or recycling.
But have you ever wondered where it all goes after the decision is made?
Well, the answer is probably somewhere like Chullora Resource Facility.
The 13.5ha site, run by waste management company SITA, takes in refuse and recycling from across Sydney and operates in much the same way as the sites used by Woollahra Council in Alexandria and Rockdale.
Despite being one of the city’s smaller sites, Chullora still deals with between 600 and 800 tonnes of waste and recycling each day.
Much of the sorting is done by machines, which predominantly use weight to distinguish between different materials, but the human touch is still needed to pick out the waste and to do some of the sorting.
For example, green, brown and clear glass are separated by hand so they can be recycled effectively.
Woollahra Council waste projects co-ordinator Pamela Mina explained that the commercial success of these operations proved Sydney residents were really getting the message about recycling.
“Our community is really good at recycling,” she said.
“We’ve got really good recycling rates. I think we have an 80 per cent recovery rate at the moment.
“So people are pulling out and separating 80 per cent of what’s recyclable from their garbage. Awareness and education is a huge focus for us, getting the message out there about what is recyclable.
“We hold a lot of workshops for residents, so they are able to actually go out there and actively participate in waste minimisation.”
* All hard plastics can now be recycled; you no longer need to pay attention to the numbers or symbols on packaging.
* Soft plastics, such as bubble wrap, should not go in recycling bins.
* The parts of pizza boxes that have food on them cannot be recycled but the clean areas can.
* Items smaller than a 50 cent coin are almost impossible to recycle effectively; consider this when deciding what to do with bottle tops.
* Plastic bags can’t currently be recycled and anything you put in a plastic bag, even if it’s in the recycling bin, will go into landfill.
* Bottles and jars are the only type of glass that you should recycle. Drinking glass, window glass or other types have a different melting temperature.
The article above was so informative that I had to reprint it.

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