Council weighs up fifth bin for recycling, while SKM clean-up continues

One council is considering adding a fifth bin to its recycling collection, as the receivers of SKM reveal what they find in council recycling delivered to them.

12/09/2019 5:10:00 AM

Far too much rubbish has been deposited incorrectly into council recycling bins. “Clothes, blankets, doonas, couch parts, gas bottles, car batteries, bowling balls, cricket bats, baby seats, printers, televisions.' And that's not the worst of it.

One council is considering adding a fifth bin to its recycling collection, as the receivers of SKM reveal what they find in council recycling delivered to them.

Talking pointsBatteries, light globes and e-waste (anything with a power cord or battery) cannot go in recycling.Cans do not need to be rinsed thoroughly before being recycled.Broken glass contaminates everything else in the bin.Plastic bags of any type - including biodegradable - cannot be recycled.

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Remove the tops from bottles before recycling.Residents of one local council could soon get up to five bins to help them sort their rubbish from their recycling.Surf Coast Shire, which covers Torquay, Anglesea and Lorne, has been forced to dump 350 tonnes of recycling a month into landfill since the collapse of recycling company SKM, which collected for 30 councils across the state.

Now the council is planning to roll out a fourth bin for residents to separate glass from other recycling. And a fifth bin could soon follow, acting chief executive Anne Howard has said.“The use of a fifth bin is still being explored including what will be collected and the scale and location of the trial,” she said, adding that many residents had taken responsibility for their recycling instead of letting it go to landfill, taking it direct to local transfer stations."

Deakin University recycling expert Trevor Thornton, who lives on the Surf Coast, said he was warming to the idea of separate bins for glass, as broken glass can make other paper and plastic unfit for recycling.AdvertisementMost councils have a bin for rubbish, another for garden waste (and sometimes food scraps) and another for recycling. Abbotsford residents are currently trialling a fourth bin for glass.

Dr Thornton said a fifth bin could be used to separate cardboard and paper from plastic. He said inconsistent recycling practices across different councils had proved confusing for households. “We need to be consistent across the state, if not the country.”

SKM site manager Peter Venditti with the finished product, plastic ready to be recycled.Credit:Joe ArmaoWhile Surf Coast makes its preparations for extra bins, SKM's receivers KordaMentha have been overseeing a massive overhaul of the company's main Laverton North sorting centre.

Peter Venditti is site manager at Laverton North, and is working hard with KordaMentha to restore order to the company’s centre by the end of this month. Mr Venditti said the recycler, where he has worked since April, had been accepting far too much rubbish deposited incorrectly into council recycling bins and then brought to SKM.

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“Clothes, blankets, doonas, couch parts, gas bottles, car batteries, bowling balls, cricket bats, baby seats, printers, televisions, pots and pans, nappies. And the amount of shoes we get is just staggering,” he said.“We get lawnmowers, we get DVD players, we get computers. The amount of monitors we get that can’t be recycled is astounding.”

Site manager Peter Venditti with plastics before they go through their first round of sorting at SKM's Laverton North plant.Credit:Joe ArmaoHe said plastic bags were the worst thing he dealt with operating the plant, because they wrapped around sorting belt conveyors. He said residents too often put batteries – car batteries as well as household batteries – into recycling that councils brought to SKM. Food waste was also too common.

“It doesn’t matter if you wash your cans before you put them into the recycling, but ... the amount of pizza left in pizza boxes we get is remarkable.”Containers of used syringes are found daily in recycling deposited by councils at SKM's Laverton North sorting centre.

Credit:Joe ArmaoHe said the “biggest killer” he had encountered since starting in the job was an engine block someone had put into recycling. “We tore a $30,000 belt because someone [else] put a car axle in their recycling. It stopped the plant for two days.”

KordaMentha partner Bryan Webster is in charge of preparing all of SKM’s sorting and storage facilities for sale. He said Victorians needed to be better educated about “what can and can’t go into recycling”, and that councils also needed to be more vigilant about what they brought to sorting companies.

“There is a mismatch between what the councils thought was coming here and what actually has been coming out the back of their trucks,” Mr Webster said.A mountain of contaminated glass that will have to be sent to landfill because it is so mixed in with other products it cannot be separated.

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Credit:Joe ArmaoHe said the team he was overseeing at SKM would make sure its plants would work in a way they had not for years under the previous owners – who put a premium on bringing as much recycling to the plant as possible.“The work we have been doing here is about re-setting the site so that what has happened in the past doesn’t happen in the future. We are setting it up so the future owner has a just-in-time plant that will properly recycle materials,” Mr Webster said.

Batteries placed in recycling bins and brought to SKM's Laverton North recycling plant. Read more: The Age »

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