Ways To Improve Recycling Practices
Reducing waste and being mindful of what we put in our rubbish bins is important for our environment. ‘The more we recycle, the less waste reaches a landfill. Not only does this conserve valuable landfill space, but it also ensures that fewer emissions are generated.' (1). Due to this recognition by community and individuals, there are ongoing ideas around how recycling can be improved. Recycling planning includes transparent recycling bins, Micro-factories and further investment into recycling. Positive recycling practices need to remain a central topic to waste management so as to reduce the burden on the environment. The approach to progressive recycling has and will continue to be explored by politicians, researchers and businesses.
Transparent Recycling Bins
A recent proposal in South Australia is to lead the way to see through recycling bins. The hope is that this introduction will reduce the amount of organic waste in landfills. ‘When the recyclable organic waste reaches a landfill, it decomposes in the absence of oxygen. This process produces greenhouse gases including methane and carbon dioxide. These greenhouse gases are responsible for global warming.' (1).
Former Greens Senator, now Adelaide City Counsellor Robert Simms is pushing for the introduction of transparent wheeling bins in the hope of making people see their recycling first hand and reduce the likelihood of recycling organic waste ending up in a landfill. ‘Robert Simms said we need to do what we can to encourage positive behavioral change, having a see-through bin leads people to do that, and it also builds community understanding about recycling too, because you can see what's in and what's out.' (2). A goal of this approach is to help tourists place recycling in the correct bins by placing plastic recycling bottles in a recycling bin rather than a waste bin.
In addition to the benefit of people being more aware of what they are putting into their recycling bin the direction to move to clear recycling bins could also assist container deposit schemes. The collection of bottles and cans for recycling would be a quicker process with less organic waste to dig through when processing recyclable materials. South Australia has a positive track record for introducing helpful recycling ideas with Mr. Simms stating ‘We were the first state in the country to have a container deposit scheme, and that's something that has become a world leader. We've also led the way when it comes to phasing out plastic bags' (2).
It is evident that Australia is actively reviewing its recycling processes. In recent years Micro-factories have been considered as a way to reuse the waste in this country. The technology exists and continues to grow in Australia to lead the world on rubbish. Micro-factories can turn waste like glass, electronic waste and plastics into reusable materials. ‘Green-friendly micro-factories can reduce landfill, create new jobs, provide opportunities for businesses and boost our declining manufacturing sector. Micro factories can operate on a site as small as 50 square meters and can be located wherever waste may be stockpiled.' (3).
Micro-factories are just getting underway in Australia. ‘The idea is being envisioned through new technology at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney's Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) center. Professor Veena Sahajwalla, SMaRT Director, and her colleagues are trialing eco-friendly Micro-factories, which comprise one or a series of small machines and devices that use patented technology to convert waste into new and reusable resources. The term Micro-factory refers to a small dimension factory able to produce small dimension materials and was first proposed by the Mechanical Engineer Laboratory of Japan in 1990.' (4). The new technology to Australia is an exciting space to watch as it will potentially convert waste into reusable products.
Further Investment Into Recycling
Another suggestion is for residents to pay more for recycling with the increasing demands on local councils to manage waste. In 2018 a survey found that 80% of Australian's are willing to pay $10 per week for better recycling services. The survey of over 2000 people in New South Wales showed that over 60% of respondents said that Australia should ‘invest in new technology to reform waste into high-value materials for re-use' (5). Interestingly just over 15% of respondents supported recycling materials to be ‘incinerated for electricity generation', while ‘only 2.7% supported finding another country to take up the export trade, and 5.7% supported dumping in landfill' (5).
The survey highlights that people want technology to be invested in order to improve recycling practices. Individuals paying more for improved recycling methods could assist the ever-growing demand for positive recycling approaches in Australia. With South Australia being the first state in Australia to introduce container deposit schemes further investment into recycling practices can benefit the environment. By making this investment we are committing to less greenhouse gas emission due to reduced landfill and reduced plastic in our oceans. ‘It is estimated that 90% of all waste floating on the surface of oceans is plastic waste. Every year, over 1 million sea birds and over 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic pollution. Moreover, all sea turtles, a large range of fish species, 22% of all crustaceans and 44% of seabird species have been found to have plastic in their bodies.' (1).
It is established that we cannot recycle all products. There are however many waste products and materials that can be recycled. With innovation like container deposit schemes and supporting technologies offered in these facilities, we can ensure there is less greenhouse gas emission and impact on marine animals. Recycling businesses are for front of managing waste effectively. With ever-emerging recycling ideas, these businesses will continue to have a positive impact on waste management and reusable materials.
1. https://4waste.com.au/recycling/why-is-it-important- to-recycle/
3. https://www.smh.com.au/national/micro-factories-are-home-grown-answer-to-incredible-rubbish-recycling- problem-20180228p4z25w.html
4. https://www.smh.com.au/national/micro-factories-are-home-grown-answer-to-incredible-rubbish-recycling- problem-20180228-p4z25w.html