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Waste reduction, reuse and recycling

Strategies for minimising your footprint

A sustainable home and community is one which supports itself and its surroundings. It is the practice of reducing our impact on the earth’s natural resources, reducing our carbon footprint and living healthier lives. Although we’ve made great improvements in our waste disposal habits over recent years, there are still lots of ways we can do more.

Of the 2.7 tonnes per capita of waste generated in Australia each year, over half (1.4 tonnes) is generated from municipal or construction/demolition sources. Although recycling rates have continued to increase, our rising population and single use/throwaway culture mean more and more material is being sent to landfill. Exacerbating this problem, as of 1 January, 2018 China has stopped taking much of Australia’s recyclable plastics, causing many to declare Australia’s recycling industry in crisis.

Home remodeling and construction can be one of the biggest contributions we will make in our lifetime to the waste stream. Much of this waste can be avoided by on-site reuse, re-sale or reprocessing of materials.

In every aspect of our lives we need to rethink our relationship with stuff, and always think of the four Rs: refuse (single use or throwaway items), reduce (the items you consume), reuse (items you own or buy used items) and recycle (think about the end of life of anything you consume).

 

What can I recycle?

There are many reasons to recycle your household waste: recycling reduces the amount of raw materials and natural resources needed for new packaging and products, saves water and energy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces landfill and creates jobs.

Although many things in your home are recyclable, recycling facilities may not be available, either kerbside or elsewhere, in your area.

And, recycling is important, but how we recycle is equally important. The adage “when in doubt, throw it out” exists because putting the wrong thing in recycling bins can contaminate the stream, causing many recyclable items to be diverted to landfill.

Recycling rules change, and each council has different rules, so it is a good practice to check your local council’s website often and familiarise yourself with what can be collected kerbside, or what can be accepted at nearby transfer stations, or other collection points.

Each state and territory (except NT) also provides resources about waste reduction and recycling: ACT, NSW, SA, TAS, VIC, WA

Another good resource is Planet Ark’s RecyclingNearYou website, which provides information on most household goods, with collection locations by postcode.

 

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