We’ve seen and shared the Youtube videos of sea animals dying from plastic pollution, and added a ‘like’ to social media posts that promote saving the earth one reusable bag or straw at a time. But after we’ve done those things, do we actually do something in our lives that truly make a difference in reversing our evident pollution problems?
It’s easy to overlook these problems and only do the bare minimum when we don’t feel the negative effects on a daily basis. But pollution is a problem that affects us all and requires our proactivity, especially now in Australia where waste management has become quite problematic.
Australia’s Waste Recycling Crisis
As of January 2018, China imposed a ban on the importation of lower-grade waste, which includes plastic scraps and mixed, unsorted paper. This ban hit Australia hard, and it revealed that:
1. We’re heavily reliant on shipping our waste to China, and
2. Our supposed ‘recyclables’ are low-grade because they contain too many different types of unsorted plastic.
It was also revealed by a recent Fairfax Media investigation that thousands of tonnes of recyclable waste material in Australia is actually being dumped straight to landfills.
Most would argue that companies should be the ones to prevent pollution right from the start by using recycled materials for their packaging instead of using virgin resources, but unfortunately, the cost difference is just too great. Materials made out of virgin resources cost a lot less than recycled ones, and there isn’t much else incentive or a government-mandated order for these companies to make that switch. It’s disheartening considering how much virgin resources could be saved and how much waste could be reused and recycled, not to mention the number of jobs that could be generated. According to the Australian Recycling Sector, ‘the recycling industry generates more jobs per tonne of waste recycled than per tonne of waste sent to landfill, potentially providing 0.15-0.3 per cent of Australia’s jobs.’
What We Can Do
Currently, many businesses choose to simply throw recyclables in with the normal rubbish that get sent to landfills since it’s cheaper than actually recycling. And when people do think of recycling, it’s often not segregated enough and ends up being too contaminated to be recycled.
In order to make a substantial difference, we need to take on a better, more proactive mindset and establish better recycling habits. According to Jenni Downes, research consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney, Australian households need to improve the way they recycle. Plastics and papers should be well-sorted to produce high-quality recyclables.
Recycling in Australia is actually not that difficult thanks to a number of recycling centres and online resources already in place. If you need rubbish removal, are looking to recycle or need more information about recycling in your area, you’ll find several resources here at Storage Works, Artarmon. You may also find more information at the SITA Australia, Artarmon and Artarmon Community Recycling Centre websites. For recycling mobile phones and other e-waste you can turn to TechCollect, or head to Officeworks or major local telephone companies around Chatswood, Crows Nest, North Sydney, Lane Cove, Neutral Bay and nearby areas.
Eliminating the Need for Recycling
Downes has said that the China ban on imported waste actually had one good effect: disrupting our already distorted recycling industry. This disruption has caused us to not only look at improving our local recycling she says, but also look at other options such as reusing products. Reusing products consumes far less energy than recycling.
Here at Storage Works we’re firm believers in reuse and are willing to buy good quality, second-hand moving and storage boxes in Sydney. These can be resold or reused for personal and business storage in Sydney. Our self storage centres are easy to find and are located in Artarmon, near North Sydney, Chatswood, Crows Nest, Lane Cove, St Leonards, Neutral Bay and Mosman.
Choosing products that produce minimal to no recyclable waste however, should be the ultimate goal. ‘Recycling should be considered the last line of defence,’ Downes has said. ‘What should be first is reducing the need for that product in the first place.’