Recycling isn’t all bad. A little perspective

17 Apr 2019 Recycling isn’t all bad. A little perspective

Did you see the 60 minutes story on Australia’s recycling industry shipping materials offshore to Malaysia? I didn't though I'm going to comment anyway. This is obviously a sad story, particularly for those of us trying to reduce waste in Australia and globally. However it does not mean you should just give up, throw your hands in the air and stop sorting your recycling from your waste.

There are a number of things that we can do as individuals to ease this situation. Firstly steel, aluminium, glass, paper and cardboard in particular being diverted from landfill via kerbsite recycling is saving tonnes of waste and reducing the need for virgin materials. 

Plastic makes up less than 9% of products sent to recycling and while that is still a lot of material and certainly shipping it to Malaysia is far from a good thing. Hopefully all the bad coverage is forcing the industry to look at itself, and it should also force us as individuals to look at ourselves and our behaviour.

I’ve heard many people say when asked about using so much plastic “its ok I put it all in the recycle bin”. Recycling is part of reducing waste but our aim should be to reduce our single-use culture and to look for alternatives in the products that we buy each day. 

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Think the waste hierarchy mantra (refuse, reduce, rethink, reuse and recycle) are we thinking of these things as we go about our day? Well this is a good time to start thinking about it again.

Look to each product you purchase and look to the best possible option;

1.Can you make it or grow it at home.

2. Can you bring your own reusable container and avoid packaging all together. 

3. If these options are not available, can you go without? Try shopping at a 7eleven one day and challenge yourself to buy anything without plastic. A regular supermarket or market should be a lot easier to find sustenance without plastic.
4. Does it come in carboard, glass or steel, packaging you might feel more confident about recycling and or packaging more favourable to reuse?

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We recycle about 50% of what goes into the recycle bin, so this is another good reminder to make sure you are familiar with what is recycled locally to avoid contamination. Its too easy to just toss it in their and say to yourself "yeah that'll be ok to recycle".

While plastic has made food storage easier over the years, its not a great substance to store and heat food, if it can be avoided its a better option to go with glass for example.

Given the current state of recycling around the world and China's reduction in foreign waste intake. Lets hope governments look to real solutions and for us as individuals its the perfect time to once again plan our consumption in favour of zero plastic and always think reusable. Reuse is our best option and recycling as a genuine and useful back up and if it isnt reusable, compostable or, recyclable in your area, avoid it.

Paul Hellier - Founder

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