Trash or Treasure?
The simple answer is that waste costs money and valuable resources to produce and to dispose of.
Paper, cardboard and timber are made from forests and plantations; plastics, synthetic textiles and many chemicals are made from oil extracted from underground; food and fibre are grown on farms or harvested from nature; and metals, glass, concrete and bricks are made from ore and materials mined from the land. It takes a lot of energy, water and labour to grow or extract, process, manufacture and distribute these products, and each step impacts our environment. When disposed to landfill, all of the resources and embodied energy used to make them is lost.
Landfills cost millions of dollars to build, operate and rehabilitate to meet safety and environmental standards, and they have a limited lifespan. Food and green waste (organic materials) breakdown in landfills to produce methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, adding to human induced climate change.
Before you buy or throw it out… Rethink, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.
Rethink, Refuse, Reduce
We can take easy steps to reduce the amount of waste created and resources used, and live more sustainably.
- Rethink - Do you really need more 'stuff' in your life? See The Story of Stuff Project website
- Refuse - Say no to plastic bags and unnecessary packaging, refill your water bottle from the tap, shop with reusable shopping bags and buy in bulk and divide into containers. See Nude Food Day for more ideas
- Reduce - Shop with a list and store food wisely. The Love Food Hate Waste website gives practical food waste reducing information
Additional information on how to reduce waste is available on the Your Energy Savings website.
Reuse and Repurpose
We can limit the amount of waste ending up in landfill by:
- Buying second hand items which still have life in them
- Passing on unwanted goods by either selling or giving them away
- Donating goods to charity
- Be creative or practical to repurpose or remake unwanted items into something new.
Donate usable goods to charity. Check with your local opportunity shop or charity to see what goods they will take. Some of these charities are:
Give away unwanted goods using resources such as Freecycle or Ziilch.
Sell unwanted items and make some money at a garage sale, clearing sale, online or to a dealer. The Garage Sale Trail organises communities around Australia to hold garage sales on the same day and is about sustainability, community, commerce and fun!
Buy second hand goods at vintage, antique or opportunity shops, garage sales, demolition yards, clearing sales or online. The Junk Map is an online directory of Australian businesses that offer quality used, recycled or upcycled goods for your home.
Recycling keeps valuable resources out of landfills and saves on energy needed to make new items from raw materials. Everyday waste items such as paper, metal, glass and hard plastic can be recycled in your Bin Collection or taken to a Waste Facility for free. For more information on what you can put in your recycle bin, see the Get it Right on Bin Night website.
Food and green waste can be recycled at home into compost for Sustainable Gardening. Green Waste can also be taken to our waste facilities at a cost for composting at the Dutson Soil and Organic Recovery Facility.
Our transfer stations accept other items for recycling such as car batteries, gas cylinders, oil, and farm chemical drums for free. E-waste (computers and televisions) is accepted free at the Kilmany Resource Recovery Centre, and a small processing fee is charged at other transfer stations. A processing fee is charged for tyres and mattresses. See our Recycling page for a fill list of what can be recycled at council facilities.
Further information on other items that can be recycled is available at Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You and Sustainability Victoria.