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‘Bringing WA out of the dark ages’: Three-bin system to be rolled out across Perth

“You only have to go to a primary school to meet schoolkids these days to know that younger people want to participate in more recycling, [and see] more reuse and less rubbish in our environment.

“We’re going to work cooperatively with local councils across the state to make sure we implement it. It’s what people across the community are screaming out for and we’re going to do it.

“Reducing waste and better recycling is all a part of making sure our society, our community, and our world is more inhabitable into the future.”

The document’s major points include reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill to 15 per cent, a 20 per cent reduction in the amount of waste generated per person and ultimately reducing Western Australia’s overall footprint by 75 per cent by 2030.

It has three main objectives: avoid, recover and protect.

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Mr Dawson acknowledged while the document outlined ambitious targets, the correct implementation would mean they were achievable.

“At the moment every West Australian generates about 2500 kilograms of waste every year,” he said.

“That equates to about 250 big plastic bags. We want to reduce the waste that is generated to about 200 plastic bags.

“At the moment about 100 of those bags … gets reused and recycled.

“We want to bring that up to about 150. We’re going to have a 75 per cent target, and a 20 per cent reduction in waste generated by people in WA.”

One major cornerstone of the strategy is the forced implementation of the FOGO bin.

A FOGO bin, food organics and garden organics, means food scraps and garden clippings are separated from other watste categories so they can be reused to create compost.

A trial of the system in 7000 homes in the South Metropolitan Council region found after implementing the system, about 68 per cent of waste that was going into red bins was able to be taken out, put into a green-lidded bin and recycled.

“They were able to mulch that material and use it for things like parks and gardens,” Mr Dawson said.

“It will be a requirement that by 2025, all councils in the metropolitan and Peel areas will have these three bins.

“We’ve given a long phase in time – that’s so councils can start budgeting for the extra cost over a period of time for bringing in an extra bin if they haven’t done it already.

“Bearing in mind that many councils already have that third bin in place, and those that haven’t, a few of those are already in conversations with the department, with the waste authority to bring that in.

“For those that have the third bin anyway, many are just putting in garden waste, so the extra addition for them is that they will now be able to put food waste in and that will mean less waste going to landfill.

An architectural concept design for Australia's first major waste to energy plant, the Kwinana facility outside Perth.

An architectural concept design for Australia’s first major waste to energy plant, the Kwinana facility outside Perth.Credit:Phoenix Energy

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This was just above the state target of 65 per cent of all household waste being diverted from landfill by 2020.

The waste diverted in Melville went through a facility in Canning Vale and produced more than 1200 tonnes of high quality compost – equivalent to 120 full waste trucks of material that would otherwise be rotting in landfill, producing harmful methane gas.

Residents also got a new kitchen caddy to empty into a new big lime green-topped bin, the same size as the standard kerbside recycling bin.

The caddy contained educational materials and a year’s supply of compostable liners.

Landfill bins were replaced with small red-topped bins, only collected fortnightly.

Enthusiastic recyclers were offered an even bigger, 360-litre recycling bin and 17 per cent of residents have opted for this.

Mr Dawson said the project’s results were encouraging, although said its future success would be dependent on finding viable waste markets for the state.

“[Right now] if you put the wrong thing in your yellow recycling bin, chances are that whole bin will have to go to landfill,” he said.

“So what this waste strategy looks at doing [is] providing a strategy for how to separate the waste, and it also looks at how we might create markets in Western Australia and around the country to be able to recycle stuff on shore.”

The 42-page document builds off Western Australia’s previous strategy, ‘Creating the Right Environment’, which was first introduced in 2012.

In its opening statements, the document said while the past strategy had its achievements, they were simply not enough.

“Western Australia has some challenging features when it comes to waste management, but these cannot be an excuse,” it reads.

“Our state is vast and located a considerable distance from waste end-markets, which can impact investment in waste and recycling infrastructure and overall recycling rates.

“However we have encouraging waste management results and momentum on which to build.”

with Emma Young

Hannah Barry covers breaking news with a focus on social justice and animal welfare for WAtoday.

Dakshayani is a reporter for WAtoday.

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