Walcha Council reassures community

Walcha Council has spoken out following a report aired on the ABC TV’s Four Corners program on Monday evening about the waste management industry.

“The report raised a number of concerns, in particular the amount of recycling actually being reprocessed into new products and how much is ending up in landfill,” said Walcha Council’s Senior Manager – Water, Sewer & Waste, Tess Dawson.

“We would like to reassure residents that their hard work of sorting recycling is achieving the desired outcome of diverting waste from landfill.”

Ms Dawson said Walcha had two separate recycling streams: the fortnightly kerbside collection and the collection from drop off points around the shire (Nowendoc, Woolbrook, Yarrowitch, North St Works Depot and the Walcha Waste Depot).

“Kerbside recycling is collected and processed by Uralla Shire Council (USC) with the processed recyclates ending up in most of the same markets as the recyclates processed at Walcha’s own Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) at the Walcha Waste Depot,” she said.

“What ends up in landfill after USC have processed Walcha’s recycling depends on the quality of the recycling that is placed in individual household bins.”

At the time of going to print Uralla Shire Council was unable to confirm how much of the Walcha kerbside recycling was contaminated and therefore destined for landfill.

At Walcha’s recycling drop off points residents separate and place recycling into individual types, like milk plastic and soft drink containers .

“The various materials collected are hand sorted at the Walcha Waste Depot by Council staff ensuring our products are free of contamination and highly sought after for reprocessing back into their respective products,” Ms Dawson said.

Turning first to glass recycling, Four Corners took viewers inside Polytrade's facilities where thousands of tonnes of glass are being stockpiled, and some landfilled, instead of being recycled.

In NSW alone, about 460,000 tonnes of used glass is produced a year.

“At the Walcha Waste Depot MRF the glass is hand sorted into coloured and clear streams, which ensures our product is consistently in high demand,” Ms Dawson said. “Our glass is collected by Armidale Recycling Services (ARS) who has an enviable reputation in the recycling market, and Council is very confident the community’s glass is being reprocessed into new glass products.” 

Ms Dawson said Council cared about diverting waste from landfill and increasing recycling, but there was only so much that can be done at a local government level.

“A coordinated effort is needed by both state and federal governments to create viable Australian markets for recyclates,” she said.

“A couple of things that could be done straightaway by Government which would make a big difference to waste management include banning single use plastic bags and polystyrene packaging. We encourage all our residents to continue their great waste recycling work.”