How can we reduce waste
Waste management is a priority across Australia. Community members, families, businesses and governments are always looking for innovative ways to reduce waste to ensure our planet and environment is safe and clean. There are many progressive ways to use products that are often considered rubbish. Current innovations include increasing council bins, sharing green waste, swapping out plastics and recycling.
Increasing Council Bins
There has been a recent suggestion of introducing 6 Council Bins in Victoria. 'A report from Infrastructure Victoria said one of the "best practice" solutions was to separate at least five types of materials into rubbish crates. These include organics, plastics, paper and card, glass and metals' (1). In addition, regular waste bins will still be required bringing the total number of 6 bins to each home. In Victoria at present households have three bins – green, mixed and household waste. Infrastructure Victoria's Elise McNamara has said it is important to review what is 'reasonable' to roll out (1). With waste doubling in the state in the last 20 years (2) Victorians may be required to separate their rubbish further with Elise stating that 'more separation of waste at the household level is very helpful' (3).
Sharing Green Waste
Often green waste like vegetable scraps end up in rubbish bins and then in landfill.
Burying organic waste in landfills is a big problem and it’s not just because of the resources lost (4). When green waste goes to landfills, it undergoes decomposition without oxygen whereby methane is produced. When methane is released into the atmosphere it is a potent greenhouse gas. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide (4). Organic waste can be used by households to support gardens.
An innovation, started in New South Wales, called Green Waste is a worldwide free initiative and web app. It aims 'to connect people and support urban compost' (5). The innovation assists people who have food scraps - instead of throwing them into the garbage the scraps can be turned into compost. The web app helps people find a neighbour with a composting bin, worm farm or chickens who are willing to accept green waste. To sign up visit sharewaste.com and review a map of your area. You can become a host, whereby you accept kitchen scraps from neighbours or you can find local hosts and get in touch directly to make arrangements. When you chat with the host you can enquire as to what types of scrap they accept and make a time to drop of green waste.
Swapping Out Plastics
It is well known that single-use plastics are not ideal for the environment. It can take thousands of years for some plastics to decompose. While it is waiting to decompose plastics are contaminating the earth's soil and water. The toxic chemicals used to make plastics get transferred into animal tissue and eventually enter the human food chain (6). One example is styrofoam products, these are toxic and damage the nervous system, lungs and reproductive organs. For many species around the planet, plastic waste is causing significant damage. Items like plastic bags and straws can choke wildlife and block animals' stomachs. Animals like turtles and dolphins mistake plastic bags in the ocean as food and ingest them.
Swapping out single-use plastics for reusable products is one way to reduce the impact. Some suggestions for swapping out include using reusable bags, a reusable cup, a reusable water bottle, reusable food covers, and a reusable straw. When you do your grocery shopping remember to take reusable shopping bags. Create a new habit and be prepared with a bag for every purchase (7). You can make your own reusable bags with old clothing and pieces of fabric from your home. When you get your fruit and vegetables bring your own mesh-like bags to avoid using single-use plastic bags found in the fresh food section. When visiting the bakery, bring a cloth bread bag that can be made or purchased.
Swap out disposable cups with a reusable cup. Coffee cups and other takeaway cups include a coating of polyethylene plastic. This means the cups are hard to recycle or compost and often end up in the environment or landfill. Using a travel cup or a jar with a lid when purchasing your morning cup of joe sometimes means a discount from your local cafe so it's great for the wallet also. Get in the habit of always having a reusable water bottle handy. Plastic bottles cause pollution and use resources that are finite. Simply refill your bottle with water. Plastic food wraps are considered standard in home kitchens. There are great alternatives like beeswax wraps, silicone wraps or simply use a plate or tea towels to cover food. Finally plastic straws; are in the top 10 items picked up at beach cleanups in Australia (7). Use a paper straw or have a reusable straw on hand for when purchasing beverages.
There are times when it is difficult to reuse or reduce waste. Recycling, as much as possible, will benefit the environment. Any items like cardboard and newspapers can be placed in recycling bins. Before something is thrown in the general waste bin, ask, 'can this be recycled?'. People are able to bring cans and bottles to recycling depots, to not only help conserve resources, but they can also collect the deposit money.
Container Deposit Systems' technology positions recycling facilities to release significant productivity gains, improved customer relationships and highly secure and auditable product management. CDS offers Automated Redemption Terminals (ART), which is a scalable customer interface allowing for rapid throughput, utilising high levels of customer self-service under depot supervision. An ART based system can be fully self-contained with integrated an integrated Cash Redemption Terminal or it can be customised into a range of settings. The system can be scaled up to integrate sorting systems. The terminal allows for self-service under depot supervision, has in-time data capture and can count and classify.
1. https://www.fiveaa.com.au/ news/new-plan-would-mean- every-house-needs-six-rubbish- bins
2. https://www.abc.net.au/news/ 2019-10-20/elissa-mcnamara- from-infrastructure-victoria- 1/11618644
3. https://7news.com.au/news/vic/ victorians-could-have-to-sort- rubbish-into-six-bin-crates-c- 514244?utm_source=t.co&utm_ medium=referral
4. https://environmentvictoria. org.au/resource/organic-waste/
6. https://www.naturespath.com/ en-us/blog/single-use- plastics-bad-can/
7. https://www.womenagainstwaste. com.au/articles/2019/8/8/5- simple-swaps-to-significantly- reduce-single-use-plasticnbsp