Dungog Shire Council has started baling recyclable waste thanks to an equipment rebate grant under the NSW Environmental Protection Authority’s Bin Trim Project and the construction of a purpose-built baling shed.
A twin chamber baler was installed at the waste facility last week with the aim of assisting the collection and processing of paper and cardboard along with soft plastics – a waste stream that the council has recently started to accept from the public free of charge.
“The baler will help us add value to our recyclable waste stream” said Council’s Manager Environmental Services Paul Minett.
“In the past we have actually paid contractors to remove paper and cardboard in bulk skip bins because the value of the product was less than the transportation costs. In its baled form, the product has greater value and larger volumes can be transported to the processing facilities.”
Baling is considered essential for the transport of plastics due to their low density.
“Soft plastics, those that can be scrunched in your hand, have traditionally been rejected by recycling processors, who have not adapted technology to process them,” said Mr Minett.
“They are therefore not accepted in the yellow lidded recycling bins which is problematical as soft plastics including all the single use bags that households discard on a daily basis end up in landfill with a damaging portion finding their way into the environment.
“The technology is available to re-process soft plastics and council is now providing an option for environmentally aware householders and business to separate these out and to drop them off for free at the waste facility where they can be aggregated and transported away for recycling.”
The Council has established partnerships with community driven group Boomerang Bags and the Plastics Police Partnerships to provide facilities and also to promote and educate the community to reduce, re-use and recycle soft plastics.
“Dungog Shire is actually leading the way in the Hunter in addressing the soft plastics issue and the installation of equipment such as the baler assist the process and provide the community with options – confirming our commitment to environmental management and best practice waste management,” said Mr Minett.
“We are also huge supporters of community groups such as Boomerang Bags which are gaining traction in Dungog Shire “.
Mr Minett reminded householders that under current waste collection contract arrangements, soft plastics are not acceptable for disposal in the yellow lidded recycling bin but may be placed in the general red lidded bin from which all waste is disposed to landfill.
The new soft plastics collection and recycling initiative relies on householders and business separating soft plastics and delivering them to the Dungog Waste Management Facility in Short Street.
Additional soft plastic collection points are currently being investigated by Council and Plastics police.
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