Where your recyclables end up

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: Shoalhaven City Council has been quick to reassure ratepayers that our waste stays here.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT: Shoalhaven City Council has been quick to reassure ratepayers that our waste stays here.

Shoalhaven mayor Amanda Findley has been quick to reassure ratepayers that 95 per cent of items placed in yellow bins are sorted recycled locally at the Bomaderry recycling facility, Shoalhaven Recycling.

Cr Findley said council had received several enquiries into its waste management practices after a Four Corners report on Monday night looked at where waste ends up.

The program found a staggering amount of the state’s waste is taken by road and rail to facilities in Queensland and Victoria; however council has stressed it did not subscribe to an out of sight, out of mind mentality. 

Council said the program exposed a number of practices occurring in areas of the waste industry the public should rightly be outraged about.

“Shoalhaven City Council strongly condemns the unscrupulous waste processing practices exposed in Monday night’s Four Corners program,” Cr Findley said. 

“The claims and exposés made in the program are simply not applicable in any way to Shoalhaven City Council’s waste services practices.”

Cr Findley said the remaining 5 per cent of items placed in yellow bins consist of non-recyclable items, such as foodstuffs and disposable nappies, which are sent to landfill.

The program said glass was widely sent to landfill or stockpiled in warehouses in Victoria; however this is not the case for the Shoalhaven. 

Since 2009 Shoalhaven Recycling has turned broken glass into a sand-like product used in construction work.

READ MORE: Shoalhaven recycles well, but it could do better

Shoalhaven Recycling project manager Stephen Willis shows how broken glass can be recycled into a sand-like product used in local construction works. Photo: Jessica Long

Shoalhaven Recycling project manager Stephen Willis shows how broken glass can be recycled into a sand-like product used in local construction works. Photo: Jessica Long

“In the Shoalhaven glass is crushed to create a glass sand and reused in the local area under an EPA resource recovery order and exemption,” Cr Findley said.

“The glass sand is reused under concrete slabs, for pipe embedment in trenches, for road making activities and as a drainage material in landscaping – and it is not sent to landfill or to warehouses in Victoria.”

Shoalhaven Recycling is also actively investigating further options to reuse glass which include filter media and a sand replacement in concrete and asphalt.

Paper, cardboard, tin cans, aluminium, scrap metal and plastic containers continue to be sold to long and established customers in the recycling market, Cr Findley said. 

The program claimed the majority of red bin waste was taken to Queensland to avoid paying the high NSW landfill levy of $138 per tonne, however, Cr Findley rebutted these claims. 

“All red bin waste collected through council’s contractor is transported directly to the landfill at West Nowra which is owned and operated by council,” Cr Findley said.

“There is no incentive to take any of this waste material over a distance of 1000 kilometres all the way to Queensland.”

Cr Findley said council was transparent with their waste management and offer residents the opportunity to take a “tip tour”, where all aspects of waste and recycling in the Shoalhaven can be seen, explained and explored.

This story Where your recyclables end up first appeared on Milton Ulladulla Times.