Growth and benefit of recycling in the ACT
As individuals, everyone plays a role in the generation of waste. Sustainable waste management is something individuals and community can benefit from. To create a cleaner place to live, waste management can reduce greenhouse house gas production and lower the rate of raw materials being used for new production. The Australian Capital Territory is one of the leading jurisdictions in Australia for waste management, with over 70% of waste generated in the Territory being recycled or reused (1). The advantage is that the Territory is relatively compact and has a community that is aware and supportive of environmentally-focused efforts to recycle and reduce waste (1).
Waste produced in the ACT had grown significantly. The estimated growth is 5% per year in the past 15 years (1). There are many factors that have affected this including an increasing population, income and consumption levels, consumer preferences for packaged and single-use containers as well as the shorter life cycle of electronic items like mobile phones, computers and televisions. It has been recognised by the local government that waste needs to be reduced. The key sources of waste for the Territory includes construction and demolition, garden, commercial and household waste. Interestingly, 10-20% of household waste is readily recyclable and includes materials like aluminium cans and glass bottles that have not been correctly and placed in the incorrect rubbish bin (1).
Aluminium cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles can all be processed into new products. Cans are melted down to aluminium alloys. These alloys are remade back into aluminium cans and aeroplane wings (2). When plastic bottles are recycled they can be processed into base level plastics and manufactured into new plastic products - examples include other plastic bottles and polar fleeces. Glass bottles can be broken down into tiny particles, minute fine grains that can be used as sand in construction materials, for example, these are used as drainage material or roadbeds. Glass bottles are also broken down and made into new glass bottles (2).
To improve waste reduction and reuse products like aluminium cans and glass bottles the ACT introduced a Container Deposit Scheme in June 2018. Under the scheme, residents can return empty beverage containers and receive a 10 cent refund which can be donated to charity or the refund can be kept by the individual (2). Containers that are eligible are often those commonly found in in the litter and include most glass, aluminium, steel or paper cartons between 150mL and 3L in size (2). When depositing used containers, those eligible for refund will be recognised and accepted. Since July 2019 there have been 18 return points in operation in the Territory. The introduction of a Container Deposit Scheme's in the Territory has been successful with over 500,000 bottles returned in the first month (3). In the first month of operation 'more than $45,000 had been refunded to Canberra residents from the ACT's Container Deposit Scheme' (3). The first month of the scheme saw 60 per cent of transactions coming from express points where less than 500 containers can return at one time. The remaining 40 per were from bulk depots, these can handle larger amounts of deposit (3).
With the option to keep the refund or donate to charity there are charities like St Vincent de Paul that are benefiting from the scheme. St Vincent de Paul Society Canberra/Goulburn compliance and governance director Patrick McKenna revealed that there has been steady growth of individuals using the scheme. Mr McKenna stated that 'the donations are very important to us. One of the initiatives (the money will go towards) is to create employment and social inclusion in the Oaks Estate, where there's a lot of people there on Newstart and want to get back into the workforce' (3).
Acquiring value from waste resources require innovation from government and businesses to be able to transform waste into usable products. Technology in waste has improved significantly whereby waste is able to be sorted, processed and recovered for future resources. One example is an Auto Redemption Terminal (ART) which positions recycling facilities to realise significant productivity gains, improved customer relationships and highly secure and auditable product management (4).
Container Deposit Systems offer a suite of technology solutions to match facilities of all scales. Auto Redemption Terminal (ART) offers a scalable customer interface allowing for rapid throughput, utilising high levels of customer self-service, under depot supervision. An ART based system can be integrated with a Cash Redemption Terminal (CRT) or can be customised into a broad range of settings. The system can be scaled up to integrate sorting systems. Features of the technology include in time data capture, count and classification and 24-hour service support, nationwide. CRT is a cash dispensing terminal which gives automated payment of deposit upon scanning of a barcoded ticket, provided by the customer. The CRT is paired with various count and sort technology depending on the scale of the facility. It includes features of in-time data capture, secure cash management and 24 hours service support across the nation.
https://s3.ap-southeast-2. amazonaws.com/hdp.au.prod.app. act-yoursay.files/2315/2385/ 3153/ACT_Waste_Management_ Strategy_2011-2025..pdf
https://www.canberratimes.com. au/story/6013604/almost- 500000-bottles-returned-to- container-deposit-scheme-in- first-month/
https://www. containerdepositsystems.com. au/technology