Our recycling system is ummm…not in great shape. Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) announced a temporary shutdown of two major recycling sites. Main reason? Safety regulations breaches or, in other words, mountains of recyclable waste that can easily catch on fire.
Two closed sites might not sound alarming, but let me tell you what does – over thirty local councils that are being forced to send 1000 tonnes of recyclable waste straight to landfill. And there is still no clear solution in sight.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, disappointed or flat out angry about this -you should! We all put our trust in the recycling system, and we hope that our efforts matter. The truth is we literally cannot recycle our way out of this one. We can pretend that it’s not happening or write angry comments, but we can also choose to see it as an opportunity to do better. Here is what you can do:
Minimise your waste
“When your bathtub is overflowing, you don’t run for a mop before you turn off the faucet. Recycling is the mop. We need to turn off the faucet.” – Joshua Jackson at 2018 Our Ocean Conference in Bali, Indonesia.
Our bathroom is flooded and it’s time to turn off the tap. We have been doing such a great job sorting our waste, but this crisis has shown that it’s simply not enough. We might not have control over the recycling system and processes, but we do have control over our own waste.
Every time you reach for a bin to throw something out, think whether it’s possible to eliminate this piece of waste. Maybe you can start with an easy swap like a reusable coffee cup or replacing your glad wrap with beeswax wraps? Or you might just want to go all in and stop using disposable plastics altogether. Another great way to reduce waste is by shopping package-free. Bulk stores and markets are great places to start – just remember to bring containers/jars and reusable bags.
Put pressure on the Victorian Government to act
Individual action matters. However, there are also people that we employ who have a responsibility to protect our environment and ensure that perfectly recycable waste doesn’t just end up in a landfill.
Environment Victoria has been putting pressure on Premier Andrews to address the recycling crisis. They even put together a 5-step solution that can virtually eliminate the problem and create jobs in the state. You can help Environment Victoria get the message across by signing their petition and asking all your mates to do the same.
Seek support in local sustainable living groups
You are not alone – there are thousands of people in Australia who are working on reducing their environmental footprint. Here are just a couple of groups you can join on Facebook to connect with local eco-warriors:
Hold off on putting out your recycling bins
I know what you are thinking – this is not a real solution. And you are right, it is just a band-aid. However, until recycling sites reopen our recycling bins might as well be labelled as general waste. Try to hold off until we have a clear answer on the issue from the EPA or local councils.