Plastics not always so fantastic for Cleanaway

Plastic is not always so fantastic when it comes to recycling.

CLEAN TEAM: Driver Glen Smith with Cleanaway branch manager David Collins at the new Albury Materials Recovery Facility in Lavington, which has the capacity to process up to 2700 tonnes of material a month. Picture: Supplied

CLEAN TEAM: Driver Glen Smith with Cleanaway branch manager David Collins at the new Albury Materials Recovery Facility in Lavington, which has the capacity to process up to 2700 tonnes of material a month. Picture: Supplied

TRASH IS TREASURE: Cleanaway's Victorian general manager Clete Elms with regional manager Pat Beath. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

TRASH IS TREASURE: Cleanaway's Victorian general manager Clete Elms with regional manager Pat Beath. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS

Cleanaway Albury reports residents are embracing the three-bin sorting system as part of the region’s Halve Waste initiative but there’s one product still in the sin bin.

Plastic bags.

These pesky plastics tend to get caught in the sorting machinery at recycling centres causing breakdowns and delays and increasing the cost of recycling.

Planet Ark reports more than one in four Australians think plastic bags can go into household recycling bins.

During National Recycling Week from November 13 to 19, the environmental organisation wants to highlight continued education and awareness of recycling soft plastics.

In late 2012, the REDcycle program created a revolution in soft plastics recycling, allowing householders to recycle a wider range of those materials by returning them to supermarket drop-off points.

In September 2017, The Border Mail reported REDcycle collections points had expanded in the region, driving unprecedented demand.

Coles in Albury, Lavington, Wodonga, Myrtleford, Wangaratta and Wagga now have collection points while Chiltern Post Office has offered the service for some time already.

The plastic packaging is processed in Australia and sent to manufacturer Replas, which converts it into products such as outdoor furniture and signage, for schools and communities.

Cleanaway Albury education officer Chelsey Martin says while local residents have been doing a great job with recycling, plastic bags are still finding their way into yellow bins.

“People are placing their recyclables into plastic bags; instead we urge residents to put items loosely into recycling bins for collection,” Ms Martin advises.

“Soft plastics need to go through the REDcycle collection points.”

Cleanaway officially opened its new Albury Materials Recovering Facility this week and plastic bags (along with those contentious coffee cups) are not welcome at the $5 million recycling plant.

The company advises using the “scrunch test” for plastics – if an item can be scrunched into a ball and doesn’t pop back to its original shape, don’t put it into your kerbside bin.

For a more detailed list you can check out the Halve Waste website and click on your local council or shire.

Halve Waste is an initiative of Albury City Council, City of Wodonga, Federation Council and the shires of Towong, Greater Hume and Indigo with the goal to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by 50 per cent by 2020.

Cleanaway Albury branch manager David Collins says they are well on track to reaching that goal.

The opening of the new facility at Lavington is another step in the company’s clean vision to “recover, re-use and recycle” items that might otherwise end up in landfill.