What do you think about waste and recycling in SA?

Help us develop the next waste strategy to build on South Australia’s achievements in recycling, resource recovery and the circular economy.

To guide the discussion, we invite your feedback in response to the following questions.

  • What are the most important issues to you in relation to waste and recycling?
  • Can you offer any ideas for how waste and recycling services could be improved in South Australia?

In the Draft Strategy you can find specific questions relating to:

  • Community and householders
  • Government, business and industry
  • Local government

You may wish to consider issues such as:

  • bin infrastructure, including food caddies;
  • frequency of collections;
  • hard waste collections;
  • education to support behaviour change in councils;
  • contracting requirements or specifications for waste management and recycling services;
  • support in data collection and transparency in disclosing information;
  • support for Infrastructure (including soft infrastructure) and for educating households;
  • consistency across local government areas;
  • encouraging local processing;
  • end markets for materials collected;
  • costs and environmental benefits and whether these are taken into account when awarding contracts.

Thanks for your input.

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Robert Tumath

03 Jul 2020

Hello all,
There seem to be three main problems with our current system:
1. Recyclables going into general waste.
2. Contamination of recyclables.
3. The cost of sorting recyclables.

1. & 2. are generally due to either laziness or lack of information and could be addressed to some extent by:
- Have more extensive information displayed on bins (e.g. stickers that can be updated).
- Local government issuing comprehensive information along with their usual bin calendars (both as fridge magnets?).
- Include in school curriculum.

3. is the one that exasperates me particularly! Some years ago I was visiting relatives in the UK and they didn't have a recycle bin at all! Instead, there was a recycling depot at the local major shopping centre that consisted of a fenced yard with various poly bins and large skips, all clearly labelled for the various materials. These included different plastic types (their products all have codes), paper, metals, glass, even appliances and electronic devices. There was a steady stream of trucks arriving to exchange full containers for empty, then they headed off to the appropriate recycling factory with high value, near 100% pure material.....simple and sustainable.
In practice, each household stores their recyclables in suitable containers and place them in the car boot when going on their shopping trip - very little effort and no increase in travel/energy use. Those with disabilities or unable to travel have theirs collected by council, who also collect the general and green/compostable waste.

Bob Tumath, Port Augusta

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Carol Burney

26 Jun 2020

Hi! I read the draft report and it's great to see the general movement to a circular economy. In particular, the proposal to ban plastic cutlery/straws and mandate compostable containers for all delivery and takeaway food is an excellent move. I would also like to see the all single use plastic bags that currently are on offer at supermarkets for fruit and vegetables changed for compostable bags. Regarding paper products, your report mentions requiring government bodies to source recycled products where possible...a great move. There is no reason for tissues, toilet paper or printer paper to be made from new materials when most of it will go straight to waste anyway.

Government Agency

Green Industries SA > Carol Burney

26 Jun 2020

Thank you for your feedback, Carol. You'll be pleased to hear that the Single Use Plastics legislation is currently in Parliament. Procurement, particularly public procurement, is a linchpin for the circular economy, because we need markets to make recycling viable. At a local government level, last year a number of councils committed to 'buying back' the contents of their yellow bins: www.lga.sa.gov.au/sa-councils/part-of-your-everyday/waste-management

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Jenny Pierce

22 Jun 2020

I am unsure if all suburbs are able to put their food scraps in their green bin for collection once a fortnight as we are able to do in the Port Adelaide Enfield district. If not, I believe this should happen as soon as possible. I think that a campaign to teach everyone what can and can not be put in the three different bins is essential. I am forever explaining to people what they can put in each bin as so many people have no idea. I would like to see green bins also placed throughout the CBD next to the two bins already provided with signage attached to each to show what can be discarded in each. Now that Australian culture has embraced barista coffee I think it is important to campaign for people to use re-usable cups. At present most disposable coffee cups have a plastic lining on the inside which means they can not be put in a green bin and end up in land fill. I would like to see a ban on plastic lined coffee cups and make it mandatory to use disposable cups that are biodegradable. I would suggest putting a small surcharge on the biodegradable ones to encourage people to bring their reusable cup with them. If green bins were also placed in the CBD and shopping centres and other recreational areas and there were signs showing that you could place your disposable coffee cup in the green bin then much waste would be diverted from land fill.

Government Agency

Green Industries SA > Jenny Pierce

23 Jun 2020

Hi Jenny
Thank you for your interest and comments. It is encouraging to hear your interest in food waste in particular.
All metropolitan Adelaide local government areas accept food scraps in the green bin, although for some that system is 'opt in', and residents may be required to purchase a green bin. Some regional councils also offer this, but not all, as it is simply not practicable in all regional areas, or the infrastructure is not in place to accept food organics for processing.

In the Port Adelaide Enfield council, as you are aware, we understand that council supplies food waste caddies and compostable bags across the council area and encourages all council residents to place food scraps in the green waste bin.
Green Industries SA agrees that creating awareness of what items can go in each bin is really important. Our campaign Which Bin? was launched in May 2019 to help educate householders on recycling. You may be interested to see some new videos which were released for the launch just last weekend, with a focus on food waste: www.facebook.com/watch/?ref=saved&v=1399320576935295.
Here's also an ad you can expect to see on TV: www.youtube.com/watch?v=fonlY2EAyl8.

Unlike our household bin systems, green and yellow bins in public place areas are a little more complex to implement. Unfortunately these can be prone to ‘contamination’ – meaning, people putting the wrong things in the wrong bins and contaminating the recyclables or organic material. To implement, many elements need to be in place to ensure it could work successfully. But the good news is that many commercial organisations have back of house food waste collection in place and more businesses are continuing to put these systems in place. On this, you might be interested in the draft Food Waste Strategy for SA, which is also out for consultation now: https://yoursay.sa.gov.au/discussions/valuing-our-food-waste-what-do-you-think-about-food-waste-in-sa

At some public areas, such as events and venues, green bins can be successfully introduced. Along with clear bin signage and requiring food and beverage vendors to use compostable food service ware, significant diversion of food and packaging materials can be achieved. Diversion of organics from events is discussed further in the draft Food Waste Strategy for SA.

Disposable coffee cups are a vexed issue for many councils, and while progress has been made towards a culture of reusable cups, current concerns around COVID-19 have seen several announcements that outlets will not be offering service in reusable cups. Green Industries SA has, through a partnership with Innovyz, been supporting work on developing a disposable cup where the lining can be removed (www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvvr7ccEvwY). 

There is a piece of legislation in Parliament right now concerning banning some single use plastic items from supply - in the first instance, this does not include disposable coffee cups, but the legislation has the capability to expand the scope of banned products (www.greenindustries.sa.gov.au/plastics). Green Industries SA has engaged Boomerang Alliance to deliver the Plastic Free Precincts SA program. Working with the hospitality, café, and food service sector, the local coordinators assist businesses with to switch from single-use plastics, including disposable coffee cups, to better alternatives.

Compostable cups were identified for consideration for future inclusion in this legislation which would also need to consider provision and collection of green bins in public places and resolving design and education issues to avoid contaminating both green bins and yellow bins.

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