Plastic recycling in the MidCoast

Published on 16 April 2019

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Around 265 tonnes of plastic waste presented by MidCoast locals each year is processed at the Tuncurry Material Recovery Facility, and on-sold to specialist Australian businesses to be recycled into PET flakes.

“We have a strong recycling culture in our local region, with 73% of all households regularly using their yellow-lidded bins”, explained Paul De Szell, MidCoast Council’s Acting Director of Planning and Natural Systems. “Contrary to a recent report on 60 Minutes that Aussie plastics are ending up in Malaysian landfills, recyclable plastics recovered through our kerbside collection are sorted, baled and on-sold for repurposing”.

Once sorted, recyclable plastics such as soft drink bottles, takeaway containers and plastic fruit punnets are processed by specialist recycling businesses into PET flakes. These then become an ingredient used in manufacturing things like new PET bottles, clothing, carpets, and packaging.  In the MidCoast, plastics are sent to businesses including Australian Recycled Plastics in Narrabri - find out more about them here: http://www.arplastics.com.au/

Historically, waste products suitable for recycling from across the world were sent to China and used in their manufacturing processes. Sustainability and the issue of recycling has escalated following a policy shift in China known as the National Sword when early last year, the Chinese government banned the importation of waste products including PET drink bottles.

“None of the waste produced in our region is transported outside the MidCoast for disposal to landfill”.

MidCoast Council currently pays over $4million per year in waste levy to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for waste disposal within the region. Local landfills are all licensed facilities, and materials are stored within strict license conditions, including processing within 12 months.

“Our message to the local community is to reduce, re-use and recycle”, Paul said. “And to avoid soft plastic waste, like plastic bags, cling wrap and bubble wrap – these soft plastics cannot be recycled and don’t belong in your yellow bin”.

For information about what products are suitable for recycling, and ideas and initiatives to help reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill, visit www.midcoast.nsw.gov.au/waste

View the joint industry media statement issued by Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) yesterday:  https://www.wmrr.asn.au/Public/Press_Releases/Recycling_industry_unites_-_keep_recycling_and_buy_recycled_products.aspx