Local governments within the South West have implemented waste reduction and recycling programs aimed at reducing landfill and lengthening the lives of waste management facilities within their boundaries.
The Shire of Augusta Margaret River was the latest local government to adopt the three bin waste system, with plans to produce nutrient-rich compost from food and garden waste.
The South West Regional Waste Group comprising of 13 local governments has commissioned a market sounding exercise aimed at identifying viable new technologies and best practice approaches to reducing the volume of waste to landfill.
Foremost on the group's agenda is an investigation into ways to maximise waste recovery which also took advantage of economies of scale and minimised the burden on ratepayers.
City of Busselton mayor Grant Henley said they wanted to get a full picture of all the different types of waste produced both now and into the future so they could make informed decisions about effective and efficient management.
The Mail sat down with Cleanaway, the company tasked with collecting our waste, to find out where it goes...
All waste collected by Cleanaway in the South West and Great Southern Regions is sent to a Department of Water and Environmental Regulation licenced landfill as directed by the individual Local Government.
Some of the landfills used include Cleanaway's Banksia Road Landfill near Dardanup, the Bunbury Harvey Regional Council's Stanley Road Landfill in Australind, the Manjimup Landfill, Bridgetown Landfill, Donnybrook Landfill, Hanrahan Road Waste Management Facility in Albany and the Wylie Bay Waste Facility in Esperance.
There are also a number of transfer stations in these regions where waste is dropped off and consolidated into bins and transfer trailers for transport to a landfill facility.
Cleanaway also collects organic waste which is sent to composting facilities for re-use as soil conditioner.
Cleanaway also collects co-mingled recycling in most of these areas (yellow top bin). All co-mingled recycling collected by Cleanaway in the South West is sent to our Bunbury Recyclables Transfer Station, where it is placed into transfer trailers and sent to Cleanaway's Perth Material Recovery Facility.
The Perth MRF is one of the newest, largest and most advanced recycling processing facilities in Australia. It is capable of processing over 200,000 tonnes of recyclables each year.
The Perth MRF uses machinery to separate the recyclables into their various commodity streams including steel cans, aluminium cans, cardboard, paper, plastics and glass.
In order to get the commodity streams to a high enough quality to sell to manufacturers, we must use teams of people to provide quality control to remove the contaminants.
Recyclables from the Albany Region are sent to the Albany MRF and Recyclables from Esperance are sent to the Esperance MRF, where similar recovery operations occur.
No waste is sent overseas. However most of the recovered recyclables are sent overseas (except glass) to manufacturers and mills in China and South East Asia.
This is because Australia does not have a large manufacturing industry and therefore there is little demand locally for recyclables.
All recyclables are turned into raw products such as paper pulp, plastic flake or resins to be used in manufacturing new products.
Cleanaway has a quality assurance program in place for all entities that purchase our material. This includes giving us commitments that the product they are purchasing is being used for recycling.
Since China limited the recyclables it would accept in 2018, there has been a sharp decline in demand for recyclables.
This means that only high quality recyclable streams are able to be sold on the international market.
Therefore it is very important that residents only place acceptable recyclables in their recycling bin and do not contaminate the bin with items such as food or garden waste, textiles, nappies and soiled recyclables.
Residents can check their local government websites for the list of acceptable recyclables in their area. In general, recyclables should be clean and dry.
Waste should be appropriately disposed of to limit the impact of waste collection and disposal operations on the environment.
This requires a network of transfer stations and engineered landfills to reduce transport costs, reduce carbon emissions and ensure the waste is appropriately contained, monitored and managed for many years to come.
Engineered and licenced landfills provide an appropriate, low cost disposal option for regional waste streams and many convert a portion of the waste into energy via landfill gas capture and power generation systems such as at Cleanaway's Banksia Road Facility.
Are you comfortable with the methods used to dispose of waste in the South West?
Let us know at www.margaretrivermail.com.au/comment
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.