Recycling – ev­ery­one’s prob­lem

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

It is an un­der­state­ment to sug­gest it is time to bring the in­ter­na­tional, let alone na­tional recycling saga to a head.

If we can’t come up with a so­lu­tion in deal­ing with re­cy­clable ma­te­ri­als, it is time for Aus­tralia and world­wide com­mu­nity, let alone Vic­to­ria, to ap­ply a big stick to the source of this waste.

Ask­ing the con­sum­ing pub­lic to cre­ate de­mand for prod­ucts made from re­cy­cled prod­ucts, to work hard in sep­a­rat­ing garbage and to have faith that ‘some­thing will hap­pen’ is all well and good.

But it is a soft plea in re­sponse to a hard prob­lem.

All clean raw prod­ucts, in­clud­ing re­cy­clable waste, al­ways have value, al­beit at var­i­ous lev­els.

But make no mis­take; if we can’t soon find mar­kets or come up with an­swers for re­cy­clable ma­te­rial, the prod­uct will go into the land­fill as rub­bish.

We will then be con­fronted with the al­most id­i­otic sce­nario of spend­ing a lot more money to dig and man­age a lot more large holes to hide waste, some of it with lit­tle chance of break­ing down into a nat­u­ral state for thou­sands of years.

It is about time we had an­other se­ri­ous look at the prod­ucts and pro­cesses we al­low com­pa­nies to use in pro­duc­ing and pack­ag­ing their goods and how much se­condary waste each prod­uct cre­ates.

The process might in­volve iden­ti­fy­ing and tar­get­ing ma­te­rial and prod­ucts that are to re­cy­cle and have once-only con­sumer use but long-term en­vi­ron­men­tal or land­fill im­pact.

We could then work to grad­u­ally phase out some prod­ucts through di­rect bans or in­cen­tive or dis­in­cen­tive schemes, per­haps based on the end cost to so­ci­ety in pro­cess­ing waste ma­te­rial.

It would force pro­duc­ers to take on higher lev­els of re­spon­si­bil­ity for what they cre­ate and find al­ter­na­tive ways of cre­at­ing or pack­ag­ing their prod­ucts.

It might sound tough and it would be hard to get the equa­tion right with­out caus­ing se­ri­ous fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic harm, es­pe­cially when con­sid­er­ing how open the flood­gates are at the mo­ment.

But we’re talk­ing about a long, drawn-out process that might span decades.

The prob­lem didn’t hap­pen overnight and find­ing a fix is the same.

We’ve suc­cess­fully re­sponded to prob­lem prod­ucts in the past, phas­ing out ev­ery­thing from asbestos to chlo­roflu­o­ro­car­bons, af­ter un­der­stand­ing the threats.

Mak­ing a move is sim­ply based on how im­por­tant we con­sider a need for dras­tic ac­tion.

The money to es­tab­lish gi­ant land­fills to cope with the amount of waste we are cre­at­ing might be bet­ter spent pro­vid­ing sup­port and guid­ance for com­pa­nies en­cour­aged or forced into mak­ing dras­tic changes to their op­er­a­tions.

It seems ironic, that in our quest to pas­sion­ately pur­sue the con­cept of recycling, which still makes a lot of sense and has a huge role to play mov­ing for­ward, we have been blind to its ul­ti­mate fragility.

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