Notes from a talk to the EAG by Kathy Scarborough, Unley Council Waste Management Coordinator
The main reason for China refusing to accept recyclables from Australia (and the rest of the world) is contamination eg. plastics and rubbish mixed with paper and vice versa. China will only accept material with less than 0.5% contamination which is not achievable through our kerbside recycling collection process.
Recycling companies sort recyclable waste to remove contamination but this is not adequate with present technology to meet China's new standards.
Australian recycling facilities are being expanded to fill the gap but need financial assistance in the short term due to the huge drop in prices they now receive for their products. In the long term they need markets for their recycled output
Replas is a major Australian plastics recycling company producing a wide range of recycled plastic products.(ref. www.replas.com.au )
The amount of general waste could be greatly reduced if the three bin system were better used and understood. eg.
. Food scraps (40% of general waste) can be put in the green organics bin
but are often put in general waste
· Composite materials must be separated before going into the recyclable or green bins eg paper carry-bags with cloth handles, remove the handles. Composite packaging such as plastic/aluminium wrappers cannot be recycled at all.
Some supermarkets are experimenting with plastic free aisles (recent news of plan to phase out plastic packaging is most welcome and will give impetus to this trend)
Plastic disposable coffee cups remain a problem. Disposable cups made of compost-able material are available. They are just not used enough. Even better is to use a reusable cup or 'keep cup'.
The Unley Council website gives guidelines for the minimisation of waste and use of bins. The reference is: