Environmental groups suggest Australia should get rid of the yellow bin and implement highly separated systems.
Environmental groups suggest Australia should get rid of the yellow bin and implement highly separated systems.

Is this the end of the yellow bin?

THE solution to Australia's recycling woes could lie in ditching the confusing yellow bin.

What was once hailed as a solution to our waste recycling problem and had everyone thinking they were doing the right thing has now become a bone of contention for Aussies.

Highly separate bins systems are already the norm in many countries overseas but in Australia everything goes into the one bin - and that can be a big issue.

Now environmental experts are calling for a system similar to that of Germany's, with up to four different categories just for recycling - paper, plastic, organic and two kinds of glass for clear and coloured - to be set up here.

Jayne Paramor, deputy director of national environmental group The Boomerang Alliance said this could improve the quality of Australia's recycling.

 

Dirty pizza boxes can be a problem for the yellow bins. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Dirty pizza boxes can be a problem for the yellow bins. Picture: Darren England/AAP

 

"It's almost a case of going back a step," she told The Guardian.

"We used to actually separate our paper out from our plastics and glass and tins.

"It was only about 10-15 years ago that that changed and [some councils] decided everything to go in one bin. That was when the problem started."

How well your household's waste is recycled will depend on your local council's waste facility - and the problem with putting it all in the one bin means there's potential for contamination.

Glass could smash and get embedded with paper, food could still be attached to dirty pizza boxes and leaving a lid on a bottle could hinder the whole process.

Ms Paramor said our system was restricted based on our recycling infrastructure.

Earlier this year, Ipswich City Council in Queensland became the first in Australia to decide to ditch recycling because the whole ordeal had become too expensive, highlighting the country's recycling crisis.

Glass has been banned from all kerbside bins in Ipswich since May in an attempt to simplify the process.

They have also banned lolly bags, bread bags, cereal box liners and frozen vegetable packets from the yellow bins.

Most people don't separate their soft plastics, which can be recycled through the REDcycle collection bins at Coles and Woolworths.

With Ipswich's commingled bins at 52 per cent contamination, most of the them were being sent to landfill anyway.

About the same time the Federal Government made a huge commitment to eliminate landfill-found packaging in all Australian products by 2025.

 

Local councils in Australia say the contaminated content of yellow bins ends up in landfill anyway.
Local councils in Australia say the contaminated content of yellow bins ends up in landfill anyway.

Australia produces some 64 million tonnes of rubbish a year, of which 35 million tonnes is recycled.

Some four million tonnes of recyclable material is exported, and of that 1.3 million tonnes went to China.

But China has banned these imports from about 100 countries including Australia and the extra waste eradication burden threatens to bust the budgets of local councils.

The garbage which had been sent to China was about 30 per cent of our recyclable paper and 35 per cent of our recyclable plastic - around four per cent of what we recycle in total.

Earlier this year, a Senate inquiry was told Queensland ratepayers may have to foot a $50 million bill for the recycling crisis.

The Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) surveyed the state's 77 councils and found there was unprecedented stockpiling of recycling in the wake of China's decision.

The waste and resource recovery industry employs 50,000 people and contributes more than $50 billion a year to the Australian economy.

The South Australian Government says its annual turnover is about $1 billion, contributing around $500 million to Gross State Product and employing 5000 people.

Ms Paramor and other environmental groups believe a new system would help Australia overcome the effects of China's ban in the short-term. But she said cost was a big issue.

"Especially as we see money being pulled out of local councils regularly these days," she said. "Money needs to be put behind this and leadership needs to come from the top, the Commonwealth Government."


Pets who are desperately seeking a new home

Pets who are desperately seeking a new home

Six animals who are seeking adoption from the RSPCA

Ipswich Special School opens their own thrift shop

Ipswich Special School opens their own thrift shop

Grab a bargain at this unique thrift shop

Businesses sign on to help drive Adopt-a-Family appeal

Businesses sign on to help drive Adopt-a-Family appeal

More than 90 families get adopted in less than a week.

Local Partners