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Byron Shire
June 15, 2024

Local team aims to build recycling centre

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Khaled Al Khawaldeh

A group of local recycling enthusiasts received a much-needed boost to their efforts last Thursday, when they received $17,500 at the Southern Cross Credit Union (SCCU) office in Mullumbimby. 

Some of the Precious Plastics Northern Rivers team. Photo Jeff Dawson

The money was awarded to the Precious Plastics Northern Rivers initiative, as part of the annual Southern Cross Credit Union community grants. 

The money will go towards purchasing the equipment necessary to shred, melt and remould certain plastics for a variety of uses. It’s proposed that artisans will be able to use the materials. 

Financially viable 

Tim Winton-Brown, a member of Precious Plastics Northern Rivers team, believes making this a ‘financially viable solution, rather than just a charitable enterprise’, is crucial in securing the future of the project and projects like it.   

‘We want to create something that doesn’t just help the environment, but also something that truly gives back to the local community and can support itself’.

The team of locals originally met online through the Precious Plastics global network. The worldwide not-for-profit organisation is where environmentalists, engineers and entrepreneurs can connect and access all the necessary blueprints and networks required to create localised recycling centres that produce high grade recycleable plastics. 

Currently all kerbside recycling within the Byron Shire is delivered to the Lismore City Council Regional Materials Recovery Facility, where it’s sorted and sold to international and local buyers. This can be expensive, time consuming and can often result in many recyclable materials laying around for extended periods until an appropriate buyer is found. 

The local Precious Plastics initiative hopes to skip over these issues by creating a more direct pathway between producers of waste and local creators, where prices and deals can be negotiated directly. 

Milk bottle focus

The team has already begun to focus their efforts on milk bottles, which they say are in abundance in dumpsters behind the area’s countless cafes and restaurants. Despite advances in automation, most sorting of recycled materials is still done by hand, requiring expensive labour which reduces its price competitiveness. 

For now, the team are hoping that they can secure a location and get the facility up and running in a bid to inspire more Australians to take recycling into their own hands.

Khaled Al Khawaldeh is an Echo intern.

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