My local council the City of Stirling is in the process of changing their Waste Collection and Recycling Services. I’ve been meaning to blog about this since March when I found out the City of Stirling no longer sorted rubbish from the Single Bin Recycling system, even though the Council hadn’t bothered telling anyone. I’ve broken the topic into a number of posts and will upload them in the coming weeks, just to space out the garbage.
- Worm Farms: recycling kitchen waste
- Green Waste: compost DIY recycling
- General Waste & Landfill
- Single Bin Recycling: pros and cons
The rubbish/garbage we produce is expensive to remove, recycle and stockpile in landfill* if it’s not recycled. Sometimes recyclable materials are more expensive to recycle than dump in landfill. This is changing as we accumulate more and more landfill and people care more about the consequences of rubbish disposal. Our governments are realising landfill is expensive.
On Clean Up Australia Day in March I talked to someone at Star Swamp about whether the rubbish we collected would be recycled. He told me the City of Stirling no longer used the Atlas Recycling Facility to sort recyclable materials from waste since it closed. In February the Council was waiting on an “upgrade at its recycling facility” and the new AnaeCo Recycling Facility in Shenton Park “will be taking the City’s waste within the next few weeks.” 
Months later the Council admitted Atlas Recycling Facility shut down in August 2013 with all waste currently sent to landfill and no recycling in the City of Stirling.  Our garbage collection trucks still proudly display Recycling Truck as they drive around our streets. I wonder how long it will take for them to rectify this.
The new strategy to manage household waste will include three bins for each house:
- 140L bin for general waste (red lid)
- 240L bin for green waste (green lid)
- 240L bin for recycling (yellow lid)
This new system will be implemented in July 2015. How do we recycle household waste between now and July 2015? Drop off accepted items at the Recycling Centre in Balcatta, demonstrating just how much the City of Stirling cares about recycling (not).
An insightful Letter to the Editor in the Stirling Times on 3 June pointed out the futility of not having a contingency plan when the contracted Atlas Recycling Facility closed. The City of Stirling only looked into fixing the situation because a resident mistakenly threw out jewellery and contacted the Council asking if it had been found. (It was lost in landfill.) 
In 2007 the Western Australian government adopted a vision of Zero Waste to Landfill by 2020. In the 2006-07 financial year 25% of our municipal waste (waste collected by local government) was diverted from landfill ie. recycled. A website for Towards Zero Waste is still online, but no longer links to any information. Someone in WA realised how difficult (and costly) Zero Waste really is. Other states were involved and South Australia is recognised for its progressive waste management and recycling.
The current WA government is more modest with their Creating the Right Environment Waste Strategy.
“In 2009/10 waste recovery across Western Australia was just 30%. The Strategy aims to achieve a 50% municipal recovery rate by 2015 and increase this to 65% by 2020 across the metropolitan area.”
The 5% increase in recycling in three years across the State isn’t much of an improvement. We need to get our act together if we want to more than double municipal waste diverted from landfill in 10 years. Half way through the time frame, the City of Stirling isn’t helping matters by recycling nothing. How much will this change by July 2015?
*Note: Some places dispose of garbage at sea (very destructive to marine habitats and ocean life) but in Australia we stockpile our garbage in designated landfill areas, basically out of sight, out of mind.
- Cipriano, Belinda (2014) “Single Bins Under Review” Stirling Times, 18 Feb
- Rabe, Tom (2014) “Recycling on Hold” Stirling Times, 27 May p.1,5
- Breedon, Sid (2014) “Rubbish Fiasco Really Stinks” Letter to the Editor Stirling Times, 3 June p.8