March 2018 | Nell Carr
RECYCLING HAS received a lot of interest lately, possibly because of the replay of the ABC series “War on Waste”, which depicts a huge bundle of soft plastic being trundled around Canberra by Craig Reucassel.
Jan and Steve Blakeney helped to raise consciousness of the environment when they arrived in Deloraine from the US in the 1970s. Jan began limited recycling at her Healthwise shop, but it was not until the Deloraine Environment Centre opened a room in the newly-acquired Deloraine House in 1989, that a group from the Centre decided that the former “Cobber” Eade foundry and blacksmith’s on the site could be utilised as a recycling shed, that large scale recycling of food cans, paper, aluminium and glass began.
In those days, Boags and Cascade bottles were washed and refilled, and the breweries were paying 30 cents per dozen. We were making $30 weekly towards the Centre’s expenses. Huge numbers of bottles were brought in at Christmas and New Year, and after public festivals, and were collected from businesses round the town on Mondays. (Volunteers became familiar with the customary Friday evening “booze up” in some shops and offices). But eventually, all glass bottles were broken up into ‘cullet’, - only 3c a kg. - to be melted down for new glass.
Since then, plastics can be recycled, even soft plastic, at the Deloraine Tip.
When Trash Transformers (Sonia Chergwin and Billie Willis) took over the tip, and set up recycling facilities, the Environment Centre closed the shed. The shed was becoming increasingly dilapidated and leaky, and would never have passed OH&S inspection. It has been replaced by a smart new facility for Deloraine House.
It is hard to credit that until the 1960s, Deloraine tip was on the banks of the Meander below the train park. Since that time, waste has increased exponentially, and a trip to the Deloraine tip is an unpleasant experience, with plastic bags and even some recyclable items lying about.
On their website, Meander Valley Council anticipates that the Deloraine tip will reach capacity during the next decade. One wonders where to next? In recent years, TVs, white goods, and e-waste have become the most conspicuous piles of waste - computers particularly, are quickly superseded when new, improved models appear. What will happen to them when the tip is closed?
Under new management, there is now an increasing pile of wool bale-sized bags of recyclables. Apparently their contents are to be compressed, which will make them more compact and therefore cheaper to send interstate for processing. It is unclear whether or not any actual reprocessing of materials occurs in our state, possibly aluminium, export interstate makes it so much more expensive.
Worldwide, soft plastic has become an enormous problem, littering beaches on uninhabited islands, and floating as ‘islands’ in the oceans. Photo-degradable plastic, which breaks up into minute particles, threatens the lives of the marine animals which unwittingly ingest it.