Thursday, 12 April 2012

Get Waste Wise

A Visit to SKM Recycling

 It was a freezing cold day in 2010 when I visited SKM Recycling. It was part of a sustainability program called Green Town, which aimed at teaching different cultures the importance of living sustainably. 

As soon as we pulled up in the mini-bus the smell was rotten, disgusting (I should have took a hankie with peppermint oil on it).  The manager  greeted us and took us on a tour of the waste station, not that my nose was happy.  We started in the plastic section, which had rubbish stacked up to the roof and again the smell of rotten milk, juice, soft drink and god knows what else was making me sick. The view of so much rubbish was also turning my stomach.  The manager explained that over 300 big semi truckloads of rubbish go through there a day, A DAY!  

SKM hire workers to sort through the horrible rubbish and salvage what can be recycled then they turn it into another usable product, or sell metals off to other companies to do the same. It all sounds reasonable to do such a thing and prevent waste from going into landfill, but there is a problem with this wonderful process and it lies with us. 

Places like SKM have to meet strict guidelines when it comes to grading the contamination levels of materials, meaning if materials are too dirty they cannot be reused.  This also applies to plastic bags, if rubbish is tied in a plastic bag workers do not have the time to open them and sort it out, and do you know where it ends up?

Landfill where it can let off its toxic gases that leach into our earth, yuk.  There are also barge boats out there now just floating about full of rubbish, and countries pay other poor counties to take rubbish which ends up in another part of earth. It is a vicious cycle of waste and it can be changed slowly but surely. We finished up around the aluminium can recycling plant. The manager explained that if the material has a higher than 4% contamination level it cannot be recycled and ends up in landfill also.

Message- empty and rinse out all recyclables, never put cigarette butts in bottles or cans, and strictly keep disposable nappies out of the recycling bin.

The image of rubbish still sits with me today and the smell took a week to leave my nose.  When I got home, and still now, I think this is a very serious matter and more support is needed for those recycling plants, also more importantly people need to be educated.  If one trip can affect my thoughts, so much, I imagine it can with others to. 

Now if you want to see just how much waste we produce, visit your local tip or recycling plant, and that is just local. Think global........

We can start to take charge of this right from our very home, every bit counts.  The following chart states what simple steps you can take to reduce your waste and the benefits of doing so.

 “Make a change” Michael Jackson

By reducing your waste you will prevent damaging substances going into and out of the land.

Actions you can take
Benefit to the environment
I do this
I made the change
Be good at recycling all paper and recyclable material, no plastic bags 
Reduces waste to landfill by 20%

Reduce the amount of waste in your rubbish bin each week by making a compost  
Reduces your waste  by a whopping 50%

Compost or mulch your green waste
 Use Council's kerbside green waste collection service for your branches, lawn clippings and leaves
Reduce green waste by putting mulch on your garden can reduce water loss through evaporation by up to 75%

Take a reusable bag or basket when you go shopping and take away shops.  Can drop off excess bags at shopping complex
Reduces plastics going to landfill- thats up to 360 bags per year

Choose products which contain recycled materials such as toilet tissue, paper stationery and packaging made from recycled material
Reduces plastics going to landfill and helps keep the process of recycling in business.

Buy, products that come in reusable or recyclable packaging. (Think about what you're going to do with the package after the contents have been used or removed.)  For example, can your glass containers or steel cans become storage containers?
Buying in bulk reduces extra packaging
Thats up to 286kg of your waste per year kept out of landfill

Use whitegoods & electronics pick up, use local tip to dispose if industrial goods.
Will prevent them going to land fill

Donate your unwanted clothes, books, toys, magazines and furniture to charity organisations. These items will be distributed or sold to raise funds for people in need
Prevents around 100kg of household waste per year going to landfill

Put a no junk mail sticker on your letter box, use the internet to look at catalogues and newspapers.
Saves over 1000’s of peices paper going to waste per year

Limit the use of disposable items. Instead of paper towels use cloth, instead of disposable cups, plates and utensils use washable ones
Keep extra kilos of waste going to landfill each year

Borrow, hire or lease items when you can instead of always purchasing new items. For example, lending a CD or DVD from a friend or library

Prevents around 100kg of household waste per year going to landfill and saves  money to put towards other needs or uses.

When you are out and about always remember to put your rubbish in the bin
Reduces litter going into storm water drains and affecting wildlife.

Buy second-hand items where appropriate.  For example, drapes or blinds for extra insulation of windows.
Source reduction is even more helpful to society than recycling.
(Just remember that buying second-hand does not mean you are not wealthy it’s about being resourceful and actually saves you money!)
Keeps items already in circulation stay there instead of going to landfill.  This can also help companies develop new ways to recycle and re-develop because the demand is needed.

Minimise printing. Use computer and internet functions to view and store documents. Think, do I really need to print this?
Minimises paper wastage

Other options
  • Start a swap/borrow group with your friends with terms and conditions. For example, listing who has what and responsibility of items.  Keep in mind not to use items with sentimental value.
  • If you’re courageous, start a Green Team at work.  By being sustainable, it can reduce running costs for a business and, under some circumstances, even make a profit from recycling. 
  • If you find you have been too good at keeping packaging for later use and it’s in excess you can find  local places that may have a use for them. For example, art and craft places for jars and other bulk packaging, emergency food relief services, local primary schools- just give them a call and see if they need what you have.   
Warning- hoarding can become a serious health and safety issue so do be sure to dispose of before it gets out of hand.
Please note
When dropping off clothes, books and toys to a charity please place these inside the charity bin or drop them off when the shop is open.  Materials left around charity bins are not accepted, are considered to be litter, and may therefore attract a litter fine and extra cost to the charity for disposal.

Some useful links

Mobile waste collection
Waste facilities

These two places you can list your stuff for people to take for free, or do a barter. You may even find something, for free

This is a place to send old TV’s

Go and listen to Michael Jackson's heal the world, get right into it and take some action.  It’s for you and for me and the entire human race..........

Thank You For Reading

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