A few weeks ago, the ABC program Four Corners revealed that a lot of recyclable rubbish was going into landfill, instead of being recycled.
Sustainability Victoria has responded quickly to this report, urging people not to think they should forget about recycling. Acting CEO Carl Muller says recycling does play a vital role in Victoria’s environment and economy.
“While some recycled material does go to landfill, or is stockpiled until it can be used, it’s essential that we all continue to support recycling,” he said.
It is not possible for all recycled material to be used straight away, because resource prices for materials fluctuate. In fact, the ABC showed that much of the recycled material is stored. Most of the Four Corners program looked at illegal dumping of other rubbish, not just recyclables.
Reducing the amount of waste we produce, and buying goods with recycled content, will help build markets for these products and help protect clean air, a healthy natural environment and easy access to energy.
Sustainability Victoria detailed some of the savings generated by recycling everyday items. Each year, kerbside recycling in Victoria saves enough water to fill more than 4,500 Olympic sized swimming pools, and prevents 386,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases being emitted into the atmosphere. That’s equal to taking more than 64,000 cars off the road for a year.
Glass made from recycled materials requires only 40% of the energy needed to make glass from sand. Recycling one glass jar saves enough energy to power a 100-watt light bulb for four hours, or a fluorescent bulb for 20 hours.
Paper and cardboard products made from recycled material conserves trees, and their production uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than making them from raw materials.
One tonne of recycled paper saves three cubic metres of landfill space.
The energy saved by recycling one plastic drink bottle would power a computer for 25 minutes.
Making new products from recycled steel cans helps save up to 75% of the energy and 40% of the water needed to make steel from raw materials, and reduces air pollution by almost 90%.
Recycling six aluminium cans saves enough energy to offset the carbon emissions from a 10km journey in an average-size car, 17km bus ride or 25km train trip.
Sustainability Victoria has an easy-to-use online calculator to help estimate the environmental benefits of recycling. Visit sustainability.vic.gov.au, and enter “Life cycle assessment calculator” in the Search box.