The recycling situation

I don’t know how many people think about waste and recycling on a daily basis, but I know I do and have been doing so more and more lately, as I notice the issue (and the product) around me.

It is a topic I often see on the news, with headlines such as ‘China ban on foreign rubbish leaves recycling industry in a mess’ and ‘Malaysia, flooded with plastic waste, begins sending rubbish back to developed nations’. It’s becoming more prevalent and something really needs to be done about it sooner than later, something that isn’t an offshore solution.

It’s taken me a while to write this because I haven’t been exactly sure what I am trying to say. I think there are a lot of people who don’t have an opinion on the matter because they choose not to think about it or don’t fully understand the issue. But the more that is said about it, the more information there is available and it becomes easier to understand.

It shocked me to learn what Australia has done with our recycling for so many years. I never thought about it as an export market until I heard the news that China was no longer accepting our recycling.  I always thought our recycling was taken to a factory within Australia to be recreated into usable materials. How naive of me!

It’s hard to comprehend that our government isn’t doing more to support local recycling plants, like investing in them, rather than contributing funding to ‘research’ and ‘design’. It is disappointing that today, at least 15 Victorian councils are dumping recycling into landfill, contributing to the global waste crisis, because it is too expensive or difficult to do anything else.

Now I want to talk about the need to educate. If people are aware of the issues around recycling and know what is going on within their local council, they can do more, and will be more likely to help. Find out if your recycling needs to be cleaned, and what is accepted in each bin. There are councils within Victoria who are still sorting, cleaning and transforming our recycling into new products, but there are also some who demand recyclables to be cleaned. These councils may talk of ‘contamination’ in a fear mongering way, possibly because they have cut back on resources at recycling plants, due to lack of government funding. It takes a few minutes to visit your council’s website to find out what can be put in your bins. You would think education campaigns would be seen as a sure-fire way for councils to communicate to the people by getting messages out through digital or television marketing, but you don’t see much of this around.

With this recent bout of federal funding, it appears efforts are being made to do something, but the focus of these efforts is questionable. The more it is raised as an issue, the less our government can turn a blind eye to it.

I would be interested to hear other people’s thoughts on the topic, so please if the issue of waste or recycling ever crosses your mind, feel free to reach out. The more of us there are that are talking about these things, the more likely something will be done about it.

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