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Thirty-five per cent of Veolia’s waste being sent to landfill

By Jared Prestwidge

AS MUCH as 35 per cent of Veolia Echuca’s recycled waste is still ending up in landfill because too many people either don’t understand what should go in yellow topped bins — or don’t give a damn.

Putting the wrong materials in causes enough trouble but when people dump things such as dirty nappies, Tetra Pak, syringes, food and worse it contaminates most of the things with which it comes into contact.

“We process approximately 1000 wheelie bins an hour at our Echuca Material Recovery Facility and we’re sending about 35 per cent of those loads to landfill,” Veolia sustainability co-ordinator Francesa Stafford said.

“We want to help educate our customers and community about what gets in the bin to reduce those implications of having to continue to send things to landfill.”

And that’s the message Veolia hammered home to council representatives and industry partners touring the plant — a tour with information sessions highlighting the range of issues and safety risks contamination causes.

Another factor contributing to this confusion is the Chinese National Sword policy, introduced in January 2018, restricting imports of waste.

The policy has left certain products such as Tetra Pak, with no market to be sold to, and destined for landfill.

Campaspe Shire regulatory and community services general manager Paul McKenzie said 29 per cent of all recycling waste collected in Campaspe is made up of either contaminated material or recyclable items with no end market.

“Of that, 13.9 per cent of the total recycling waste received is contamination such as food and garden organics, clothing, building products, soft plastics, polystyrene, soil and nappies and 15.1 per cent was recyclable material that does not currently have an end market,” he said.

Veolia northwest regional manager Stephen Elliott said recycling education was a huge base to cover for councils but was key to lowering the contamination rate.

“Hopefully they can promote to the ratepayers what we really need in in that council kerbside service each fortnight when we collect it and make it easier for us,” he said.

“Contamination is one of the biggest challenges within this facility we face each day.”