What is waste?
Waste is something that is no longer useful or wanted, that can’t be recycled, reused or recovered in any way. Examples of waste include:
- disposable nappies
- foam/polystyrene food trays and cups
- ropes and hoses
- garbage bags
- rags and old fabric
- broken glass and crockery
- kitty litter
All of the items that we use and consume; eg. cars, buildings, clothes, food, containers, and furniture, are made from our environment and use natural resources like water, coal, oil or wood. If these products aren’t reused or recycled and sent to landfill, then new material has to come from our environment to create new products. This uses energy, water and other natural resources. Greenhouse gases, which contribute to climate change, are created by the production and transport of materials as well as through rotting organic material in landfill. There is also less and less space available for landfill sites.
Avoiding waste is the best option for the environment, then reducing, reusing and recycling.
The waste management hierarchy
(Please note Zero Waste SA is now Green Industries SA. Contact details and other links on this page may no longer be current)
Top 10 waste avoidance tips
- Use re-usable and refillable containers for storing food and drinks instead of single-use disposable containers.
- Use a re-usable coffee cup, some cafes now offer a discount for using your own cup.
- Avoid using coffee pod machines as they create a huge amount of waste. Many pods are made from aluminium which is one of the most energy intensive materials to produce. Nespresso offers a recycling service for pods, so if you already have a pod machine, please recycle your pods at one of their collection stores.
- Bring your reusable shopping bags with you when shopping and store them in your car so that you don’t forget them, and for those unplanned ‘stop by the shop on the way home’ occasions.
- Prepare a list of the things you need before you go shopping to avoid ending up with items that you may not need or want.
- Buy larger, bulk packages and avoid small individually wrapped items.
- Buy cleaning products in concentrated form and use a refillable container to store it. Or, why not make your own homemade cleaning products using ingredients such baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. There are many great recipes on the web.
- Compost your food scraps using your own compost system at home or through your green organics bin.
- Prepare smaller meals and pack the leftovers into containers for ready-made lunches or for dinner the following night.
- Donate your unwanted clothes, toys and other goods to charity and second hand stores and while you are there why not purchase as few things that you may need too?
These top ten waste avoidance tips will save you money as well as saving the planet.
What can be recycled?
South Australia has a goal to recycle 70% of all of the waste we produce. Most of our waste can be recycled in some way. Plastic, glass, metal, paper and cardboard as well as green organics can be recycled in your household bins. East Waste also collects larger items such as furniture, and some electrical goods through the hard waste collection. Many of the items collected as hard waste are also able to be recycled.
You can search for any item on Recycle Near You website to see where you can recycle it in your suburb.
What happens to waste after collection?
Waste collected in your blue or red lidded bins is taken to waste processing facilities and placed into landfill. The landfill sites are large holes dug into the ground, where rubbish is compacted and then covered over with soil once the site is full. Pipes are used to extract the gases released as organic material breaks down in the landfill site. This gas can be used to generate electricity.