ABOUT 15 tonnes of polystyrene, 2181 tonnes of metal and 478 tonnes of cardboard were among the items recycled through one of WA’s largest waste authorities last financial year.
Mindarie Regional Council (MRC) collected almost 3000 tonnes of recyclable material in 2018-19 – the equivalent weight as 30 blue whales.
That also included 232 tonnes of e-waste, 53 tonnes of glass and 0.9 tonnes of aluminium that was recycled instead of going into landfill.
MRC is urging residents to keep recycling, despite difficulties caused by China’s ban on importing a range of foreign waste materials.
Chief executive Gunther Hoppe urged people to “keep recycling” in the lead up to National Recycling Week, held from November 11 to 17.
“Recycling is an important process to capture valuable material and stop it from going into landfill,” Mr Hoppe said.
“China and other countries are still taking our recyclables; they just want clean, usable recyclables, not recyclables mixed with other waste.”
To help combat the ban introduced by China in January 2018, all three material recovery facilities in WA agreed to make changes to the materials accepted in the yellow-top recycling bin late last year.
The changes aimed to help keep contamination rates low to better meet China’s strict standards, and meant residents should only place materials from five categories in their yellow-top recycling bin at home – paper and cardboard; glass bottles and jars; plastic bottles, tubs, and containers; steel cans; and aluminium cans.
Items that can no longer go in the yellow top bin include soft plastics, polystyrene, aerosols and meat trays.
“If residents can keep to these new standards, it will decrease the contamination at the material recovery facilities giving the items a much better chance of actually being recycled,” Mr Hoppe said.
Despite the tighter restrictions on recycling in the yellow-top bin, many items can still be recycled via other means.
MRC collects a range of recyclable items at its Tamala Park facility, many of which can not go in household bins.
Residents can drop off polystyrene packaging used to package electronic goods, whitegoods, electronic waste, any metal items, cardboard, and glass and aluminium containers for free at 1700 Marmion Avenue, Tamala Park.
“Not everything that can be recycled is recycled in the yellow-top bin,” Mr Hoppe said.
“Mobile phones, metal pots, barbecues, even your old toaster – they can’t go in your yellow-top bin but they have valuable components that can be recycled into other materials or products.”
The facility also collects batteries, fluorescent lights, mobile phones and ink cartridges, and MRC manages almost 60 collection points around Perth, including shopping centres and libraries, for those items.
Mr Hoppe said that when people dropped off items to Tamala Park or through any of the MRC’s collection points, they could be confident they were being recycled appropriately.
“We have been careful to appoint reputable recyclers to manage the material we collect,” he said.
“The polystyrene our residents drop off to us gets transported to our recycler and turned into granules which can then be reused to make new plastic products.
“With mobile phones, almost all of the materials used are recycled including glass, aluminium, plastic, and a number of other valuable metals.
“These are then used to create new products or even used as a material in road base.”
While recycling was important, Mr Hoppe said the best course of action was to avoid or reduce waste in the first place.
“We should think about whether we really need the item, whether we can buy it second-hand instead, whether we can buy it without packaging, or perhaps just buy less of it,” he said.
“Our common piece of advice to people is that an empty bin is a good bin.”
For more information on the items MRC accepts for recycling and for a list of collection points around Perth, visit mrc.wa.gov.au.
MRC member councils include the cities of Wanneroo, Joondalup, Stirling, Perth and Vincent, as well as towns of Cambridge and Victoria Park.