20.4 C
Byron Shire
May 28, 2022

Rubbish – could it be the latest resource?

Latest News

Primex Sustainable Farming and Primary Industries Expo new date confirmed

After being postponed due to the flooding and ongoing wet weather the 2022 Primex Sustainable Farming and Primary Industries Expo and will now go ahead on November 10–12.

Other News

One person is in ICU with covid in the Northern Rivers region

There is one person in ICU in the Northern NSW Local Health District and 23 people in hospital with COVID-19. 

Parents rally behind essential local aftercare service

Mullumbimby locals are concerned that a vital, Council-run out of school hours child care service could shut after Byron Council issued a survey hinting at closure.

Frida’s Field: nose-to-tail lunch

On Saturday 4 June, Frida’s Field will pay homage to their holistically-reared Angus-Wagyu cattle by hosting a special five-course...

Fugly Design Award

I would like to second Nick Buckley’s idea for the Fugly Architectural Design Award (in last week’s Echo). Perhaps...

Tweed Council ‘opt in’ to States agritourism – with conditions

The ‘confusing’ Agritourism SEPP was once again back on the table at last week's Tweed Council meeting as Cr Firth pushed to 'opt-out' over the State government's lack detail on conditions.

Kindness on rise in Ballina and beyond

A community battered by natural disasters and COVID is still finding room in its heart for refugees and asylum seekers, according to Ballina Region for Refugees Vice President Stanley Yeo.

Kate Pye

It’s time we started seeing rubbish a bit differently. Waste, whether it is organic or electronic, should be seen as fuel that can be harvested.

Mining older rubbish tips, now known as ‘landfills’, could become a lucrative business and solve many environmental issues. Landfills contain methane gas for energy, compost for agriculture and high concentrations of minerals and rare-earth elements from electronic waste dumped before recycling campaigns started.

Rare earths are a group of 15 elements that have increased in demand lately as they are used in energy-efficient electrical items such as hybrid batteries and other electrical goods. Roughly 20 kilograms are used in every hybrid battery and this is set to double in turn for increased efficiency. Jack Lifton, an independent commodities consultant and strategic metals expert, calls the Toyota Prius ‘the biggest user of rare earths of any object in the world’.

China currently has a monopoly on rare earth production, around 97 per cent of the world’s supply. This is because they undercut prices in the 1990s and forced mines in many other countries to close. In June last year they halved their export quota citing ‘environmental concerns’ which conveniently tripled rare earth prices. In the next few years demand is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually. Mines in many countries including Australia are now planning to reopen in the next few years.

Encouragingly some countries such as Japan and the UK are seeing waste as a resource and energy source. Late last year UK company Advanced Plasma Power entered into discussions to dig up a landfill in Belgium. They plan to recycle more than 50 per cent of the buried materials and convert the rest into electricity.

The main problem with landfill mining currently is its dependency on high commodity prices. Because these prices fluctuate so much, one day it pays to mine landfills, the next day it doesn’t. There’s also a little issue called toxicity from substances like asbestos that could create some health and safety issues. Judging by the way the economy is set up the world will have to wait till we reach rock-bottom resource levels before landfill mining goes mainstream. However it is encouraging to know that it is starting to happen.

Kate Pye is the education officer for Solo Resource Recovery. If you have any questions as to what is currently recyclable, please contact her on 6687 0455.

Previous articleVinyl and Wine
Next articleCC’s Songs from the Sea

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Reasons to be cheerful

After nine long years of being led by the least among us, Australia’s future feels optimistic. Thanks, Western Australia, you were instrumental in booting those numpties out! 

Regrets for treatment of Wardell CORE?

After Ballina Council's recent decision, at its Finance and Facilities Committee Meeting, to effectively evict the Wardell Community Organised Resilience Effort (CORE) from the War Memorial Hall, in mid-flood recovery, some were having second thoughts at their Ordinary Meeting yesterday.

Keep your eyes and ears open for Albert’s Lyrebird

Tweed Council is asking that you put your best bird listening ears on this June and capture the sounds of a rare bird.

Progress at Ross Lane?

The perennial question 'is Ross Lane open?' edged closer to an answer yesterday, with Ballina Council discussing a range of options to solve the flooding problem which regularly cuts off Lennox's main access to the west. Ross Lane has been closed again this week.