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Plastics Recycling – The Hard Stuff

Waste reduction is an important theme for Transition Gawler. Thanks to Paul Koch and Gawler NRC the Soft Plastics Trial will continue and hopefully grow. But thats not where our efforts need to end. Paul has provided the following idea for a great project that we would like help to get up and running in Gawler. So anyone interested please contact us as we need all the help we can get.

“It is possible in Gawler to recycle much of the plastics in the household.

The most important issue around recycling is separating the different plastics into specific types. Once separated, it moves off to different companies that granulate the plastics and manufacture new products.

If it is a rigid plastic and has a recycling triangle on it, it can go into the yellow topped recycling bin. Some rigid plastics, that don’t have the recycling triangle can also go into the recycling bin.

Soft plastics such as plastic bags, films etc can be recycled via the current trial that uses yellow bags that go into the recycling bin each fortnight.

Other plastics though, that we find around the house, such as old irrigation line, plastic chairs, old plastic toys etc can be recycled , but not necessarily through the yellow bin. (Please note, the white PVC material used for underground drainage cannot be recycled)

The material in the yellow topped  bins goes down to NAWMA where it travels  through a process of mechanical, then hand sorting. The sorting process is designed to pull out specific materials to go into a particular stream for recycling. Plastic items that we tend to use outside aren’t  easily sorted,  so if they go into the recycling bin,  may be missed, going on to general waste and land fill.

One way of effectively recycling this material is delivering it directly to NAWMA. The material then goes in to a ‘mixed plastic’ stream which is taken off to produce things like garden furniture, garden stakes etc. In fact the material is a very valuable resource for these products, so it shouldn’t go to land fill.

We could start a  recycling program for these  ‘mixed plastics’  by setting up a drop off point for Transition Gawler members. It would be best to use a tandem caged trailer. This will give us the volume to make it worth a trip. Once the trailer is full it could be taken down to NAWMA and unloaded. There is no charge for clean plastic of this type. Maybe this could become the focus of our fund raising in the new year unless someone donates one in the meantime?

Like other forms of recycling it’s important not to mix up other materials. In this case you would be after only the plastics. For example if it is an old plastic toy, just the plastics, not any metal bits. These can be recycled separately.

 Once the process is successfully running, it could be made available to the wider community. For example collection could be linked into food swap events. This way you would have a public location for drop offs.

The other form of hard plastic we can recycle are the smaller pieces such as the  lids off containers,  and milk bottles  and other small hard plastics you find around the house, for example old tooth brushes, credit cards, margarine container  lids etc etc. If we put them straight into the recycling bin they are too small to be picked out of the sorting process, and they tend to be lost to land fill. A solution for these plastics is to collect them into a clear plastic bottle, like a cordial bottle and when it’s full, screw on a lid and then pop in into the recycling bin. When it gets to NAWMA it can be identified by the sorters, as it is a clear bottle and taken out to go into the mixed plastic stream.

Recycling is a great way of reducing the materials going to landfill. With a little bit of effort it is possible to recycle almost all the plastics you find in and around the house.

A program like this would be a good, community, grass-roots  initiative to tackle a problem , plus value the material that would normally go to landfill.”

Thanks Paul for this great idea. Lets make it happen.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Sharon Bailey #

    Great idea to link in collection with the produce swap days.

    October 28, 2013

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