Helpful Tips for Managing Household Waste

The following article was kindly written and contributed by Briana Jones.

Waste management and waste reduction are pressing issues around the world. With the global population predicted to balloon to 9.7 billion by 2050, it’s imperative that we find ways to minimise waste and manage it properly. If we don’t, we’ll soon be living in a world with more waste than available resources.

Thankfully, there are many ways that individuals and families can contribute to the worthwhile cause of managing and minimising waste. Here are some simple, helpful tips to help manage waste in your Australian home.

Avoid Plastics

Plastic is highly convenient, which is why it’s difficult to give it up completely. Still, you can take baby steps by minimising the use of plastics. In particular, avoid plastic bags as much as you can. Bring your own reusable bags when shopping. If you don’t have disabilities that require the use of a plastic straw, decline it. Are you a coffee lover? Get a high-quality insulated container so you can get your hot or cold beverages to go. A good way to minimise your dependence on plastics is to evaluate where, when, and how you use plastic and make small adjustments there.

Minimise the Use of Paper

Except for a few circumstances, paper is highly recyclable. However, it still remains as one of the most common types of waste to end up in landfills. This means that we also have to be mindful of how we use paper and minimise where we can. Consider unsubscribing to various mailing lists, transact electronically as much as possible, and opt to read online magazines and newspapers (especially if you don’t read cover to cover). If and when available, ask merchants to not print a receipt and send you a verified e-receipt instead. In the kitchen, you might want to switch from using paper towels to rags that you can wash over and over. To up the ante even further, don’t buy the rags but make them from old clothing that aren’t fit to be worn anymore instead.

Hire a Skip for Big Projects

If you need to dispose of a lot of waste, the usual trash bins won’t cut it. Hire a skip instead, so you can better manage both the volume and the variety of rubbish you’re dealing with. With a reliable skip bin provider, you can get the correct skip bin size and type where you can throw in general waste, green waste, bulky and solid fill waste (like rubble or bricks), and recyclable heavy materials like white waste. Once you’re done, just call the skip company and they’ll pick up the bins to ensure that every piece of trash is sent to their correct destinations. If you need to dispose of hazardous materials like chemicals, pesticides, or old vehicle tyres, get in touch with your skip bin provider so they can help you with proper disposal.

Compost What You Can

A lot of kitchen waste like fruit and vegetable peelings and garden waste like leaves and branches can be composted. You don’t even need to dig up a traditional pit to be able to compost. All you need is a heavy-duty bin and you’re all set. If you don’t have a garden of your own where you can use the compost, look around your neighbourhood. There may be homes that need some fertiliser for their plants and flowers. There might even be a nearby farm where you can donate compost and compostable waste.

Recycle or Repurpose

There are plenty of things in your home that, at first glance, might seem like waste but can actually be recycled or reused in some other way. Glass and plastic containers can be used to keep leftovers. They can also be used as storage solutions for various items like craft materials. Printer paper can be turned into scratch paper for your home office. Other possible uses include making grocery lists or as drawing paper for your toddler. Be creative! You can turn to the ever-helpful internet to discover different ways on how to recycle or re-purpose various materials at home.

Buy in Bulk

Most of the things we buy for our home come in different kinds of packaging. From food to bathroom essentials, our household needs come in plastic bags, boxes, or packets. Buying in bulk can help minimise the waste that comes from packaging. Visit the bulk food section in the supermarket where you can buy cereals, rice, spices, and dry foods. You can store these at home using the above mentioned glass and plastic containers. Get large containers of shampoo, liquid hand soap, detergents, and other non-perishable goods and necessities. The more you buy in bulk, the more you can reduce the amount of waste you generate at home.

Donate

If there are items lying around in your home that you aren’t using but are still serviceable, consider donating them instead of just letting them gather dust. Schools, orphanages, churches and religious institutions, and charitable organisations are always looking for donations in kind like clothes, blankets, shoes, books, and even small appliances. Don’t hoard! Unused items take up precious space in your home. Moreover, living amongst clutter can make you sick (allergies, anyone?) and even affect your mood.

Those living a zero-waste or at least a low-waste lifestyle is certainly admirable. However, it’s not easy or even possible for some people. Still, this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t make the effort to properly manage waste and minimise the amount of waste we generate where we can. Consider these helpful tips to keep your home clean and healthy, and ultimately contribute to protect the planet.

Why More People Should Care About Proper Waste Disposal

Most of us regard the topic of waste disposal as important but rather boring, and we often have an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards it. While we Australians are generally strict about sorting our rubbish compared to most countries, we now have a full-blown waste disposal crisis on our hands.

The reasons for it are quite complex and real policy changes will have to be done to solve it. In the meantime, we can further reduce the impact of the crisis by being more dutiful in our rubbish segregation and collection.

Here are just a few reasons to care more about waste disposal and removal:

1.) Much of the waste has a real dollar value

Precious metals, plastics, and compostables are often disposed of in a way that makes recovering them for recycling uneconomical, if not impossible. Unfortunately, when rubbish is not sorted correctly, much of it often ends up in facilities overseas, which causes a wide host of problems. By sorting the rubbish properly for removal, you can help the local economy by allowing local facilities to easily recycle and repurpose your refuse. Why More People Should Care About Proper Waste Disposal

2.) Overseas waste disposal creates numerous problems

One unfortunate thing about how we manage waste in Australia is the fact that the most economical way to dispose of many types of waste is to ship them off to countries in the developing world. Transporting the waste overseas puts out a lot of greenhouse gasses and also creates diplomatic friction that destroys our reputation abroad. Today, there are now many countries refusing to take in waste products, which has caused a backlog in our waste disposal capacity.

While not the sole reason for these issues, improper waste disposal at home is a major reason so much of our waste has to be sent to other countries. Not sorting and disposing of rubbish properly greatly raises the cost of recovering different materials, which often means that the most economical way to recycle unsorted rubbish tends to be shipping it overseas to a country that does have the facilities to economically process the rubbish.

3.) Improper waste disposal can wreak havoc on the environment

This is something that one would think would be ingrained in us as children, especially given Australia’s unique ecosystem. While many positive strides have been made in the way we dispose of rubbish, it is still a very real issue, with about 40% of it ending up in landfills where they will likely never be processed into anything of real value ever again.

Animals, especially birds, often make their way to landfills and piles of uncollected rubbish, which are hotbeds of disease and they can spread rubbish and diseases throughout the ecosystem.

4.) Toxic chemicals from improperly disposed waste can get into our drinking water

Contaminated water supplies are a serious issue in Australia, especially in areas that do not have much freshwater to begin with. This is often the result of improperly disposed mining, agricultural and industrial waste but has also happened as a result of domestic and commercial waste not being properly removed as well. As water is essential to our survival, we must remove dangerous waste properly to ensure that water tables are free from contamination.

5.) Our landfills are already filled to crisis levels

There are only 38 landfills in the entire continent of Australia, with nearly all of them filled beyond their designed capacity. This makes it critical that we can recycle as much rubbish as possible, which means proper disposal and removal is key.

6.) Rotting waste can destroy property values

Uncollected refuse can make it significantly harder to sell or rent out property at rates that you would prefer. Not only that, your neighbours will certainly not appreciate having piles of uncollected rubbish in their vicinity.

Visit Local Rubbish Removal to find professional rubbish removal services close to where you live. All you have to do is give your location and fill in the form to get a free quote of rubbish removal prices from services in your area.

Here’s What Happens to Our Plastic Recycling When it Goes Offshore

Last year many Australians were surprised to learn that around half of our plastic waste collected for recycling is exported, and up to 70% was going to China.

So much of the world’s plastic was being sent to China that China imposed strict conditions on further imports. The decision sent ripples around the globe, leaving most advanced economies struggling to manage vast quantities of mixed plastics and mixed paper.

By July 2018, which is when the most recent data was available, plastic waste exports from Australia to China and Hong Kong reduced by 90%. Since then Southeast Asia has become the new destination for Australia’s recycled plastics, with 80-87% going to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Other countries have also begun to accept Australia’s plastics, including the Philippines and Myanmar.

But it looks like these countries may no longer deal with Australia’s detritus.

In the middle of last year Thailand and Vietnam announced restrictions on imports. Vietnam announced it would stop issuing import licences for plastic imports, as well as paper and metals, and Thailand plans to stop all imports by 2021. Malaysia has revoked some import permits and Indonesia has begun inspecting 100% of scrap import shipments.

Why are these countries restricting plastic imports?

The reason these countries are restricting plastic imports is because of serious environmental and labour issues with the way the majority of plastics are recycled. For example, in Vietnam more than half of the plastic imported into the country is sold on to “craft villages”, where it is processed informally, mainly at a household scale.

Informal processing involves washing and melting the plastic, which uses a lot of water and energy and produces a lot of smoke. The untreated water is discharged to waterways and around 20% of the plastic is unusable so it is dumped and usually burnt, creating further litter and air quality problems. Burning plastic can produce harmful air pollutants such as dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls and the wash water contains a cocktail of chemical residues, in addition to detergents used for washing.

Working conditions at these informal processors are also hazardous, with burners operating at 260-400℃. Workers have little or no protective equipment. The discharge from a whole village of household processors concentrates the air and water pollution in the local area.

Before Vietnam’s ban on imports, craft villages such as Minh Khai, outside Hanoi, had more than 900 households recycling plastic scraps, processing 650 tonnes of plastics per day. Of this, 25-30% was discarded, and 7 million litres of wastewater from washing was discharged each day without proper treatment.

These recycling villages existed before the China ban, but during 2018 the flow of plastics increased so much that households started running their operations 24 hours a day.

The rapid increase in household-level plastic recycling has been a great concern to local authorities, due to the hazardous nature of emissions to air and water. In addition, this new industry contributes to an already significant plastic litter problem in Vietnam.

This article was originally published by The Conversation. Click here to read entire article.


DISCOVER THE FUTURE OF SUSTAINABILITY

Join the discussion on the current challenges, successes and opportunities for Australia’s sustainability practices at the 2019 National Sustainability Conference this April.

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Strawberry Grower’s Despair Over Mass Dumping of Fruit Amid Demand for Extra Large Sizes

A Queensland strawberry grower has posted an emotional video to social media, despairing about throwing away drum loads of edible fruit because they do not meet retailers’ demand for extra-large berries as the season reaches its peak.

A spike in winter temperatures brought fields to peak production late last week.

In response, Coles dropped prices to as low as $1.00 per 250-gram punnet in New South Wales over the weekend to help suppliers move tonnes of excess produce.

Mandy Schultz was appalled by fruit waste on their farm so decided to freeze and freeze dry strawberries. (ABC Rural: Jennifer Nichols)

The glut may be great news for strawberry lovers, but growers are counting the cost.

On Friday, Wamuran grower Mandy Schultz received a phone call from a wholesale agent to say he was not accepting anything but extra-large strawberries.

She walked through her family’s packing shed that night, filming the trays of rejected sweet, small fruit that had been emptied into drums for disposal.

The dietitian launched her own waste-fighting program last year.

Titled LuvaBerry’s Our War on Waste, it saw Ms Schultz and her team freezing and freeze-drying excess fruit, that she then sold at scheduled meets in carparks.

But this time, on Friday, the freezers were already full.

“We are a farm that makes a really big effort with our waste, so what about the waste from the farms that don’t have anything in place?” Ms Schultz said.

Farm’s first open day helps address glut

On Sunday Ms Schultz welcomed more than 100 visitors to the farm’s first open day.

Families did their bit to eat excess fruit, picking assorted sizes of strawberries for $10 per kilogram.

Matt Garratt drove up from Brisbane to support the farm’s war on waste and expressed his surprise that size could be such an issue.

“I actually personally quite like small strawberries, I like them better than the large ones, so that’s a bit frustrating,” he said.

Price squeeze

Mandy’s husband Adrian Schultz is the vice-president of the Queensland Strawberry Growers Association and revealed that while production peaks are an annual event, gluts have been exacerbated by larger plantings.

Highly productive new varieties of strawberries that fruit earlier in the season have also impacted profits.

This article was originally published by ABC. Continue reading here.


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Q&A With Project Seabin Co-Founder Pete Ceglinski

After seeing one too many pieces of plastic in the ocean, two avid surfers decided to do something about it, creating a “Seabin” that would collect trash, oil, fuel and detergents from the water.

We had the opportunity to chat with co founder and CEO Pete Ceglinski about the Seabin Project and the ultimate goal of pollution free oceans for future generations.

Q: How did the idea for Seabin Project come about?

A: It came about from being sick of seeing floating debris in the water of marinas around the world. We needed a practical solution that was based upstream so we could catch the litter before it went out to sea and into our oceans.

Q: How does the Seabin work?

A: It is very simple, the Seabin is attached to the floating dock and then it simply draws in water from the surface, and we then pump it out the bottom of the Seabin. As the water passes through the filter, it traps all the plastics, and litter. We are also catching surface oils with the addition of a very simple oil filter.

Pete Ceglinski

For myself and the team at Seabin, its very important to point out that Seabin’s will not fix our ocean plastics problem nor will the technology stop people from littering. We have decided to focus on a “whole solution” strategy where we have created Educational and Scientific programs combined with technology and community events.

Q: Why don’t fish and sea life get caught in the Seabins?

A: There is a possibility of marine life being pulled into the Seabin, but it is a very rare occurrence. If any fish did get pulled into the Seabin, they are normally alive as the filter is submerged in water and can be thrown back into the water. The fish tend to stay away from the surface of the water and seem to sense the current of the water near the Seabin.

Q: How much rubbish can one Seabin hold?

A: Each catch bag can hold 20Kgs of debris, the catch bag can be changed as needed and it is possible to capture up to 120Kgs of debris per day. The Seabin was designed for ergonomics of one person holding a catch bag by their side. If we go any larger then we need to reassess how the catch bag will be changed.

Q: How long do Seabins last?

Image: Instagram (@seabin_project)

A: The warranty is for two years but we are looking at a 3-5 year or more life span. The materials are extremely robust and 100% reyclable

Q: Who should be investing in Seabins?

A: Everyone! Haha, just kidding. Not everyone can buy a Seabin as they are designed for Ports, Marinas and Yacht clubs. These are our main clients. However, we have created a crowdfunding kit where its possible for people to raise money to donate a Seabin to a local marina.

Q: The Seabins have hit Australian shores – where can we expect to see them?

A: We have two demonstration purpose Seabins arriving this month and are in the process of setting up events in Australias major cities with marina access. We will be inviting everyone to come see them in action around June. The commercial Seabins should be available around Sept – Oct this year. We have some delays as the certification process is a lot more detailed than Europe and other countries.

Find out more about Seabin Project at seabinproject.com


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