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Dead cats, rotting fish not suitable for reuse, says frustrated recycler

Australia’s recycling industry says it is under pressure from rising electricity and transport costs as it calls again on the community to cut pollutants thrown into bins.

One of the largest recycling plants in regional South Australia has appealed to the community to stop throwing dead dogs, cats and rotting fish into sidewalk recycling bins.

Ian Weber, general manager of Green Triangle Recyclers, said such pollutants are driving costs up as operators struggled with rising costs and difficulties in exporting to China.

He said more than 30 percent of the material the plant received was contaminated with non-recyclable goods, including dead animals, food waste and diapers.

More than 12,000 tons of material flows through the Mount Gambier plant every year.

“We have higher production costs with increasing electricity and we also now have a significantly higher freight rate than we have experienced before, both nationally and internationally,” said Mr. Weber.

“If any of their material goes overseas, the cost of boxing it now is quite high and the overall transport across Australia has increased significantly.”

Green Triangle Recyclers says contaminated material can affect profits.ABC Southeast: Jack D Evans

Export issues

Mr Weber said the company was also having problems with the Chinese market.

“At this point, China has stopped taking contaminated material,” he said.

“In general, the mixed plastic or soft plastic market has a high level of contamination.

“Before, a number of materials came to China from our factory, including HDPE, which is high-density polyethylene, and PT, which is polyethylene terephthalate, which is your cola and juice bottles.”

He said the only product China now took was high-quality cardboard.

Mr. Weber said the company had been unable to find an additional market and was forced to rely solely on domestic markets.

He said the company was trying to “wipe it out” and that alternative uses for plastic, paper and cardboard had to be found for the domestic market.

While the number of people recycling had remained constant in recent years, he said people were putting wrong materials in the recycling bins.

He called on people to look at council websites and educate themselves about what went in and what didn’t go into household recycling bins.

“Just because you think you want it to be recyclable doesn’t mean it is,” Weber said.

“In fact, it has a significant impact on the profitability and viability of our business.

Industry still viable, municipality says

Suzanne Toumbourou, chief executive officer of the Australian Council of Recycling, said the industry is taking steps to reduce pressure on recyclers.

“When manufacturing things like heavy-duty single-use plastic shopping bags, they’ve identified potential minimum standards for recycled content so we can ensure that what we recycle is productively put back on the market,” she said.

“On the other hand, they are looking at banning non-recyclable materials like takeout containers and replacing them with materials that are much easier to recycle.”

Despite the pressure on the industry, Ms Toumbourou said recycling remains financially viable.

“We work in a circular economy to ensure that the recovered materials are reused and recycled,” she said.

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