A PLATEAU in the amount of waste diverted away from landfill has served as a timely reminder of the importance of properly sorting household and business waste, according to an Orange councillor.
A report by consultant EnvironCon revealed 44 per cent of household rubbish did not go to landfill in the year to June, down from 47 per cent during the same period in 2017.
Total waste diverted from landfill, including commercial and demolition waste, fell from 47 per cent to 42 per cent – 48 per cent of the diversions were organics.
Orange City Council environmental sustainability committee chairman and councillor Stephen Nugent said it was difficult to pinpoint the cause, but recycling efforts were essential, even in the wake of the China Sword decision.
“It’s an important reminder that we need to take responsibility for managing our own waste,” he said.
“We are still recycling – once it goes to landfill, it’s bundled up and it’s there forever basically – a lot of it won’t break down.”
However, he noted the amount of rubbish per person from 1.67 tonnes per person per year to 1.47 tonnes.
“There’s a trend there – I had concerns we were plateauing but when you see the increase [in diversion rate] in the past three years, it’s better than we were before in 2013 when only 15-20 per cent was diverted to landfill,” he said.
The greatest drop this year came from the construction and demolition waste category, which fell from 77 per cent diversion to 65 per cent, however Cr Nugent said a contractor had not yet collected bricks when the data was taken.
“That wasn’t reflected in those figures, but it will be next year, so I’m confident construction and demolition will come back up,” he said.
“The bricks can be crushed up and used in roadbase, which is an example of a niche industry with a product that’s being recycled.”
With Return and Earn taking a significant portion of recyclables out of the council’s waste stream, Cr Nugent said perhaps the 70 per cent diversion target from the EPA needed to be reviewed.
“Should the figures for Return and Earn be included in the considerations of how Orange is meeting that overall target,” he said.
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