Byron mayor Simon Richardson has told Echonetdaily he would like to see the Byron Shire Council working towards ‘zero landfill’ as the future for Byron Shire.
‘We are currently in great need to determine our future landfill site,’ said Richardson. ‘I believe we can and should turn our waste into productive and innovative products rather than paying to put it in a hole in the ground.’
Part of this change of thinking has been used in Lismore Councils approach to setting up their $3.65m materials recovery facility (MRF, pronounced ‘Murph’) and glass processing plant in Lismore. This plant also recycles material from neighbouring councils including Byron, Richmond Valley and Ballina.
Cr Richardson is currently pushing for Byron to become a zero waste council by encouraging councillors to formally acknowledge that they are aiming for no landfill.
‘Action needs ambition,’ he said. ‘Council should articulate a position of support for zero landfill as a key plank to its waste and resource recovery strategies and policies.’
Rather than spending ‘tens of millions of dollars on establishing a new landfill site,’ Richardson believes the council should be setting up ‘innovative businesses’ that can utilise the shire’s waste to generate income and jobs in the local area.
He is aiming to ‘work alongside stakeholders to collect, manage and reuse commercial and residential organic and non organic waste.’ He says it is about ‘a change of thinking – seeing “waste” as a solution and opportunity not just a problem and challenge.’
What you can do
The opening of the MRF by the Lismore council in 2014 now means that you can recycle a much wider range of your waste according to a current Council Dirty Dozen recycling campaign. You are no longer limited by the recycling triangle and can put a much wider range of plastics and other materials in your recycling bin.
Put in all your broken glass and crockery including pyrex, drinking glass and window glass the only type not welcome is your car windscreen. The glass processing plant crushes the glass to produce glass sand for road construction. This not only reduces landfill but also reduces the mined sand need for building roads.
Bag a bag
Put your plastic bags in a bag. All soft plastics including freezer bags, clean cling film, pasta and biscuit packets – they can now all be recycled you just have to put them all into one bag, tie it up and into the yellow bin they go.
Polystyrene, if it’s clean, can also be recycled but once again put it in a bag. As for the dreaded bean bag beans, you can recycle them but you need to take them to the recycling centres. ‘The beans just go everywhere,’ said Danielle Hanigan Lismore’s waste education officer.
Itsy bitsy bits? Yes, you can also recycle all those little bits of plastic like bread tags and straws just gather them together into an empty milk bottle or other plastic container as they are too small for the machine to retrieve.
All hard plastics including toys, tableware and pot plants can also be tossed in. They are no longer thrown in the bin as the new facility is able to extract the hard plastics and they are crushed into bails and sent to Brisbane to a company called Genuine Recycling to be processed.
What to do with batteries, mobile phones, electrical cord, reading glasses, x rays, and DVD’s? You can now easily recycle them. Put them into the specially marked recycling bags, called resource recovery satchels, they are available from your local libraries, council offices and the Byron resource recovery centre. I was so impressed I’ve just gone and picked one up myself!
Like the bean bag bean, lightbulbs also need to be delivered separately to the waste recycling centres. In Lismore they can also be taken to major lighting retailers and Bunnings to be recycled.
Food containers – if there is no food in them – pop them in the bin, no need to wash them. However, food on paper, paper towels or pizza boxes etc go into the organic waste bin.
Shredded paper blocks up the MRF machine so make sure that goes into organic too.
For more information visit the Northern Rivers Waste website.