We have a ma­jor role to play

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

We need to think op­ti­misti­cally as well as clearly about how we’re go­ing to tackle the tricky is­sues con­fronting our re­cy­cling in­dus­try.

The fun­da­men­tal mar­ket rules of sup­ply and de­mand were there at the ge­n­e­sis of re­cy­cling shift­ing into main­stream so­ci­ety and, sur­prise, sur­prise, they have never gone away.

If you don’t have or are un­able to cre­ate a mar­ket for waste prod­ucts they be­come – wait for it – garbage.

The truth is, while it has been branded as re­cy­clable ma­te­rial, what we have been ex­port­ing to China has be­come ‘garbage’.

What coun­try in its right mind would ac­cept garbage as a sus­tain­able im­port?

No won­der the pulled the pin.

De­spite such a big ex­port loss the Chi­nese de­ci­sion rep­re­sents, all is far from lost.

If we can fur­ther de-garbage our waste and do a bet­ter job at Chi­nese sort­ing, from house­holder right through to pro­cess­ing stages, we will, more than ever, find our­selves with a col­lec­tion of raw prod­ucts with a value that will ebb and flow with de­mand.

Have a va­ri­ety of clean, raw prod­ucts at your dis­posal and you sud­denly have an in­ter­na­tional mar­ket bar­gain­ing chip.

It is al­most akin to farm­ers hav­ing field bins full of dif­fer­ent types of grain, or min­ers sep­a­rat­ing and stor­ing min­er­als and wait­ing for prices to im­prove be­fore tak­ing the prod­uct to mar­ket.

Add to that an in­crease in study and re­search into the po­ten­tial of these raw prod­ucts and the pic­ture can sud­denly and dra­mat­i­cally ap­pear rosier.

But this type of spec­u­la­tion doesn’t just hap­pen.

It takes cre­ative and out­side­the-box think­ing to seize the ini­tia­tive.

What about us? Here in the Wim­mera we could be for­given for be­liev­ing that we are al­most too far re­moved and small to play a ma­jor role in find­ing a so­lu­tion to what rep­re­sents a state, na­tional and even global prob­lem. But that’s not the case.

We cre­ate waste like any­one else, waste we have to man­age.

Who’s to say this can’t go well be­yond sim­ply tak­ing greater ef­fort when sort­ing our house­hold rub­bish?

Let’s dare to think big for a mo­ment.

Econ­omy of scale has been an en­emy fight­ing against us when it comes to pro­cess­ing just about any­thing other than agri­cul­tural prod­ucts in our re­gion, re­cy­clable prod­ucts be­ing one of them.

But what if, in­stead of work­ing hard to find some­where to send our re­cy­clables, we came up with a way of pro­cess­ing them here and over­came the econ­omy of scale by invit­ing oth­ers to send their re­cy­clables here as well. I’m not talk­ing about cre­at­ing a mas­sive rub­bish-dump headache, but more about a ma­jor op­er­at­ing plant or se­ries of plants that em­ploy a lot of peo­ple to es­tab­lish stores of clean raw prod­ucts and cap­i­talises on our evolv­ing freight ser­vices.

We might be able to even­tu­ally add a re­search and de­vel­op­ment cen­tre to ex­plore what else we can do with the glass, pa­per, plas­tic and metal we throw away. And then… and so on.

I’m the first to ad­mit that the idea is noth­ing more than glo­ri­fied dreamy con­cept.

Then again, there are places in the world that are al­ready do­ing this so why not give at least part of it some thought?

There is no es­cap­ing the throw­away world of con­sumerism with­out gov­ern­ments step­ping in with harsh prod­uct reg­u­la­tions.

We will con­tinue to pro­duce waste and we need to con­tinue to come up with ideas.

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