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Posts from the ‘Waste’ Category

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.

Soft Plastics Recycling trial a success!!

We have recieved the following news about the recent Soft Plastics Recycling Trial which has been happening in Gawler.

NRC logo

Soft Plastics recycling- Gawler

A very important trial is currently happening in Gawler; kerb-side soft plastics recycling. Although only relatively small in scale, it is one of the first such programs in Australia.

Soft or flexible plastics make up one of the largest proportions of the general household waste stream that is not being currently recycled. There are many reasons why it has not been recycled previously, including difficulties in handling and processing and convenience for people.

In mid July this year, NAWMA and Visy, in conjunction with the Gawler Regional Natural Resource Centre (NRC), ran a small trial of the practicalities of collecting soft plastics through the kerb-side recycling bins. This trial was only for households in Gawler with a collection on a Friday.

The trial involved placing soft or flexible plastics into a supplied yellow bag, securing it off with the supplied tie and placing it in the normal household recycling bin (yellow lid).

The trial looked at the type of bag that would be strong enough to use, how the sorting process would occur back at NAWMA and the quality of the plastic collected. On all accounts the trial was successful.

A good outcome from that initial trial in July was the extension of the trial for a longer period. The extended trial is still only for Gawler households with the Friday morning pickup.

One of the aims of extending the trial is to gain more information and experience about this form of kerb-side recycling that can feed into a potentially larger, separate trial in the near future.

So, firstly what are soft or flexible plastics? Any plastic, that when scrunched up by hand, does not reform back into a shape, is called a soft plastic.

These include:

  • Shopping bags (thin plastic)
  • Vegetable bags used in supermarkets etc
  • Bread bags
  • Biscuit packets
  • Lolly packets
  • Pasta and rice bags
  • Frozen food bags
  • Cling wrap

At the moment we are not collecting the metal backed plastics, although we may in the futureFrom this ongoing trial we have also leant a few important lessons.

The first is to squeeze as much air as possible out of the bag before tying it off securely. When the bags go into the truck, the load is ‘half’ compacted. This puts pressure on the bags. When they reach NAWMA they go through a big rolling drum that allows different materials to drop out along the way. In this process the bags are tumbled around with all the other material, so if there is a lot of air left in the bag, the chance of it splitting increases as it is goes through the different stages.

The other issue to think about is that the plastics need to be clean, that is free of food wastes. So, for example no bread crumbs in packets etc. There have been concerns raised about packaging with meat juice still in it. Some people rinse off all the juices, let the plastic dry and then place it in the yellow bag, but if you prefer not to do this, it is best not to put this material in your yellow bag, as it could create a health hazard for you.

Another issue is dirt in with the plastic. We should keep the plastic free of dirt etc, but in most cases the plastics we are collecting are from inside the house, so this may not be a big issue, but be very cautious about including soft plastics that have been out in the weather for a while and may be contaminated with dirt etc.

At the moment there are around 50 families collecting for the ongoing trial. NAMWA is happy for more households to join in. So if you are a Gawler resident and would like to recycle your soft plastics, please let Emily at the NRC, or myself know so we can get things organised.

Also, if you need more bags, just contact Emily or myself know and we will make sure you get them.

To recap, for the normal fortnightly recycling days in Gawler, put your yellow bag with your clean soft plastics (flattened out and securely tied) into your recycling (yellow lid) bin.

Hopefully over time we will see large amounts of this plastic being diverted from land fill. Great stuff.


Paul Koch

17th October 2013.

0431 866 586

This is great news and we would like to encourage more people to get involved.

Contact Paul Koch on the details above or Emily at the NRC if you need more yellow bags or if you would like to be involved

ph: (08) 8523 7715



Be part of a new Gawler recycling trial!

The Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) and VISY Industries are working to devise a program which will remove soft plastics from the waste stream. The program will look at how soft plastics can be placed in the yellow lid recycling bin in a separate, clearly marked plastic bag. This special bag will allow sorters at the recycling facility to remove the bags and their contents for recycling. The strength of the bags needs to be tested to ensure breakages will not occur before and during travel to the facility.

This trial will also allow VISY and NAWMA staff to fine-tune the system and start to measure how much soft plastic could be diverted from landfill.

Some dates are yet to be confirmed, however, the trial will involve you collecting your soft plastics starting now, put them in special bags that will be available around late June, for the 1 day trial mid-July.

Want to get involved?

If you live in the Gawler region and want to get involved in this initial trial please contact Paul Koch -Town of Gawler Councillor, by a text on 0431 866 586 or e-mail or Emily Griffiths, NRC Coordinator at