Australians could soon be forced to put out SIX bins on garbage night in a bid to solve the country’s recycling crisis
- Residents may be forced to separate recyclable waste such as glass and paper
- The move comes after China stopped Australia from importing their waste
- Landfill in Victoria has since skyrocketed with nowhere to dump the rubbish
Australians could be forced to separate their household waste into six bins to address the country’s recycling crisis.
Infrastructure Victoria is pushing for the state Government to approve the separation of organics, plastics, paper and cardboard, glass and metals – as well as rubbish – because mixing the items leads to contamination.
China made the decision to stop Australia from importing their waste into the country in 2018 because the contents were contaminated.
Landfill in Victoria has since skyrocketed with nowhere to dump the re-usable waste.
Infrastructure Victoria is pushing for the state Government to approve the separation of organics, plastics, paper and card, glass and metals because mixing the items leads to contamination (stock image)
‘The glass gets broken, paper and cardboard get tiny particles of glass in it … they’re so mixed up and contaminated and it’s really hard to extract a high-value material that can be recycled,’ project director at Infrastructure Victoria Elissa McNamara told the ABC.
‘In the past, we’ve really been able to just set and forget.’
Infrastructure Victoria has proposed a number of actions to address the recycling crisis, which includes implementing a ‘waste-to energy’ policy.
This would see some food waste converted into low-emission electricity.
The report emphasised the importance of making better use of food waste after a bin audit found food made up around 35 per cent of the weight of household bins.
Promoting the use of more recycled products and banning single-use plastic bags across the entire state has also been suggested.
Statistics highlighting Victoria’s recycling crisis found the state’s total waste increased from 7.4million tonnes in 2000 to 13.4million in 2017-18.
Waste stockpiling and illegal dumping of items such as tyres and other hazardous waste have been identified as significant problems.
Australians could be forced to separate their household waste into six garbage bins to address the country’s recycling crisis
Data collected by Sustainability Victoria at present does not report on the movement of materials diverted from landfill.
The report says there is an uncertainty about the extent to which materials are being recycled and have raised concerns about the lack of data collected.
Some waste streams including paper, metals, plastics, tyre and rubber are still reliant on overseas markets, which are shrinking.
Victoria shipped nearly all their plastic exports and 75 per cent of their paper and cardboard to China, before they banned the imports.
Warnings for Victorian waste plants
Victoria’s environment watchdog has handed out warnings to more than a third of waste plants they audited for stockpiling high-risk material.
A dedicated task force to tackle the issue completed 292 inspections in the 2018-2019 financial year and issued 109 notices, the Environment Protection Authority annual report showed.
‘Throughout the year, EPA took strong regulatory action against resource recovery facilities that were stockpiling materials,’ chief executive Dr Cathy Wilkinson said.
The watchdog also handed out 24 sanctions across 164 facilities, she said.
A stockpile of more than 5300 tonnes of tyres at West Numurkah, near the NSW border, was removed by the authority.
‘The removal of this stockpile eliminated the significant fire risk at this site for the local community,’ Dr Wilkinson said in the report.
But the agency was also keeping a close eye on warehousing illegal stockpiles of hazardous chemicals.
‘The scale of deliberate waste crime uncovered reinforces the need for EPA to become a stronger law enforcement agency with improved intelligence and data analytics capability, modern digital systems and more effective compliance and enforcement,’ Dr Wilkinson said.
The report shows the watchdog had also increased inspections of licensed facilities and of unlicensed premises, finding more dangerous chemical stockpiles, shifted to electronic waste transport certificates and established better intelligence sharing.
The massive audit was sparked by a series of fires at illegal warehouses and licensed recycling plants.
Firefighters were again called to one of those recycling plants on Friday.
The Coolaroo property of the defunct SKM processor had been the scene of previous industrial fires.
Crews were called to the Maffra Street property around 8.30am and found smoke coming from a waste pile about two metres by three metres.
Firefighters brought the incident under control within 30 minutes, a Metropolitan Fire Brigade spokeswoman said.