Keep recycling Byron Shire while Australia works on new solutions

Published on 13 March 2018

recycling stack

Byron Shire residents are urged to continue their commitment to recycling despite the challenges being faced by Australia’s recycling industry.

Until last year the majority of Australia and the developed world’s recycling was sent to China for manufacturing, but a recent policy change, known as the National Sword, has placed much tighter restrictions on unsorted and contaminated products entering China for recycling.

China is now requiring that contamination rates for plastics, paper and cardboard products are below 0.5%, which is having an impact on the national recycling industry because most Materials Recovery Facilities cannot comply with this threshold.

The policy shift is affecting councils across Australia but Byron Shire is fortunate because it sends kerbside recycling to Lismore City Council’s state-of-the-art recycling centre said Lloyd Isaacson, Team Leader Resource Recovery and Quarry.

“Recyclables collected from the yellow bin every fortnight will continue to be taken and managed in Lismore,” Mr Isaacson said.

“Lismore’s material sorting technology means that it is still managing to find local and international markets for most recyclables.

“Any products that there aren’t a market for at the moment will be stockpiled until alternative markets are found.

“The main message to Byron Shire residents is that they should continue their excellent recycling practices,” Mr Isaacson said.

“It’s important for people to realise that this is a national problem, and councils in the Northern Rivers are aware of the importance of this issue to our communities and the environment.

“This decision by China, whilst having an impact on the world’s recycling industry in the short-term, will also force much needed change in our national recycling industry,” he said.

“We recognise that sending recyclable material to China is not ideal but up to this point it is the only option councils like ours have to maintain a viable recycling service and we are confident that State and Federal Governments will now look at driving innovation and investment in technology to develop new processing facilities and markets for recycled products in Australia.

“This will no doubt lead to more jobs and a better outcome for the environment,” Mr Isaacson said.

“The important message is that people continue to recycle their waste and please keep it clean and uncontaminated,” he said.

Council is asking residents to make some small adjustments to household recycling habits to help cope with the change, such as:

  • Keep your recycling as clean as possible
  • Do not put anything into your recycling bin that cannot be recycled.  Keep it simple - aluminium, steel, glass, hard plastic, bagged up soft plastic, paper and cardboard.
  • Do no put anything smaller than a business card in the recycling bin.
  • Things made of different types of materials such as plastic toys, hoses etc do not go in the recycling bin.
  • Don’t undo your good work by contaminating the recycling bin with things like dirty nappies, clothing, shoes, ropes, fairy lights, string etc.

For more information contact Lloyd Isaacson, Team Leader Resource Recovery and Quarry, on 6626 7084 or Lucy Wilson, Resource Recovery Education Officer, on 6626 7077.