Kurrajong Recycling offers its expert yellow bin tips to avoid sending unnecessary waste into landfill | The Daily Advertiser | Wagga Wagga, NSW

2022-08-20 13:24:36 By : Mr. Rui Xiao

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Ever wondered whether you should remove the lid from a glass bottle before recycling it or wash out a jar of peanut butter before it lands in the yellow bin?

Everyday common misunderstandings like these cost local recycling processors Kurrajong Recycling over $250,000 a year in landfill fees.

The Daily Advertiser went behind-the-scenes at Kurrajong to better understand what goes into processing local waste and how to avoid sending perfectly recyclable items into landfill.

Kurrajong Recycling manager Craig Salan, who oversees kerbside recycling for six local government areas in the region, said educating the public was crucial.

"It's a lot of teaching people to change their habits because when the waste bin is full, the recycling is the one beside it," he said.

A leading best practice tip is only throwing clean items in the yellow bin, meaning a dirty peanut butter jar will indeed most likely end up in landfill.

"That's not a recyclable item, because you've got food scraps in it," Mr Salan said.

"You can't recycle things that have decomposing food in it - that's just not safe to do."

But don't be turned off making the effort by thinking every item should be sparkly clean.

"We're never going to be perfect or otherwise you won't have any materials," Mr Salan said.

Kurrajong general manager Michael Merrylees said contaminated items impact several levels of the process.

"If it's highly contaminated, we either have to slow the equipment down or the product that we're selling is more contaminated and there's more stuff going to landfill," he said.

"In the end, the cleaner the product is coming in the cleaner it is going out."

Another expert tip is to ensure products made of multiple materials are physically separated before being recycled.

"The easiest part of recycling is if it's just one material," Mr Salan said.

"Basically, anything that's a single product and is clean - we can recycle easily."

Conversely, Mr Salan explained, filling your yellow bin with multiple-product recyclable items makes things considerably harder.

"A great example of that is the meat trays from the supermarket," he said.

"You'll have a clear plastic over the top, you'll have a tray underneath it which may be two plastics which stops the meat getting into it - that's a complex product and not easy to recycle, so that would have to go out.

"Plus, it's been contaminated with food scraps."

Mr Salan said some complex products are even harder to identify.

For example, liquid paper board material used in items like long life milk cartons can be made from four different products like cardboard, wax, plastic and even aluminium.

"Those materials may have a recycle label on them but they're extremely difficult to recycle," Mr Salan said.

Mr Salan also made clear the onus of responsibility doesn't just fall on residents to make the process easier but on manufacturers to create recyclable items made of a single product.

"There's a responsibility from the manufacturers of those products to bring stuff in that we can handle," he said.

But in the meantime, removing the steel cap from a glass bottle before recycling it will go a long way.

Once those single product items make it from the kerb and through the recycling process, they can go back into market for a second life.

In 2021 alone, Kurrajong Recycling received 22,000 tonne of recyclable materials like glass, paper, cardboard, aluminium, plastic, steel and e-waste metals.

But amongst those were plenty of non-recyclable items.

Some items which can't be processed through Kurrajong's Wagga-based site are relatively obvious: polystyrene, oil, cookware, and batteries.

But others have likely led to the all too familiar household question of, 'can I recycle this?'

Items like single-use plastic, shredded paper, clothing, hoses, plastic crockery, glassware, scrap metal and cling wrap will all end up in landfill.

Finally, never fill a single-use plastic bag with recyclable material.

"The trouble with bags that are done up is you don't know what's in them," Mr Salan said.

"So, they come out as well."

You'll find a comprehensive list of what you can and can't recycle at the Kurrajong Recycling website.

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Tim is a journalist from Sydney working for the Daily Advertiser in Wagga. He can be reached at tim.piccione@austcommunitymedia.com.au or 0436919968.

Tim is a journalist from Sydney working for the Daily Advertiser in Wagga. He can be reached at tim.piccione@austcommunitymedia.com.au or 0436919968.

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