Recycling - Let’s get it sorted

Have you ever wondered what happens after the rubbish truck collects your load of recycling?

As The Australian recently pointed out, China and Malaysia have refused to keep taking our rubbish for recycling.

This has put pressure on the community and all levels of government to come up with a better way than just stockpiling.

According to an article in The Conversation, we are not technologically coping with the amount of recyclable items we are putting in our bins.

Jeff Seadon, Senior Lecturer at Auckland University of Technology, estimates there are 193 recovery facilities in Australia. Most are hand-sorted, nine are semi-automated and another nine are fully automated. These numbers are nowhere near enough to sort Australia’s annual recycling pile.

There are two basic ways to sort recycling: mechanical-biological treatment plants, which sort mixed waste into low-grade recycling, and material recovery facilities, which have a stronger focus on extracting reusable stuff.

The Conversation article describes in detail how both methods work.

The mechanical biological plants are high-tech but the recovery method depends on people sorting through the garbage and contaminants that people mix with the recyclables.

The solution? Well, Australia needs to upgrade the technology. How? The author suggests incentives and financial help for recycling companies may be necessary before we can develop a viable domestic recycling industry.

How the Morrison Government spends the $20 million could decide whether this happens or not.

Waste not, want not

Funding aside, there’s no doubt Australia needs to rethink its approach to waste management.

We need to take steps to reduce (and possibly reuse) landfill.

It’s not only our recycling demands that we’re struggling to cope with, either.

When it comes to food waste, Australia has a lot of work to do.

OzHarvest founder, Ronni Kahn says the nation can eliminate the 5.3 million tonnes of edible food that is wasted from households and the commercial sector – and costs our economy $20 billion – every year.

Read more

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