Amidst Australia’s recycling crisis, recycled glass sand paves road to sustainability
China’s recent ban on foreign waste imports has ignited renewed debate around Australia’s desperate need to invest in recycling infrastructure.
In December of 2017, industry officials were still hopeful that this ban would offer an opportunity to review onshore recycling management. However, local and state governments are now feeling the pressure as materials stockpile, with local councils unable to keep collecting materials if there’s nowhere for it to go.
Tony Khoury, Head of the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association, has predicted that material could soon end up in landfill. In Victoria, recycling company Visy have already said they will stop accepting waste from 22 regional councils from February 9.
With this ban displacing more than 600,000 tonnes of recyclable material, industry leaders are calling out to governments in a bid to act.
“If we — as in all governments, at all levels — don’t step up and address this as a collective issue, then we could see the demise of kerbside recycling,” states Roger Lewis, CEO of Hunter Resource Recovery. “I think this is a good opportunity for us now to critically examine how we manage our own waste.”
Recycled glass sand as road base
We must remember, during this time of uncertainty, that government bodies are not the only agents of change; we all have the power – and responsibility – to play a part in the solution. One example Khoury suggested was using Australia’s glut of recycled glass to make road base.
“Through crushing glass back into sand, we can repurpose not only glass bottles and jars, but also plate glass, drinking ware, crockery and Pyrex. This means we are capturing more glass for recycling and less is going to landfill,” states Northern Rivers Waste.
“A lot of the big state government road projects could suck up all the glass that’s being stockpiled around Australia into one of these big road projects,” Mr Lamb said. Construction projects can utilised glass sand for road base and asphalt, drainage work sand pipe bedding, however it is being repeatedly overlooked in favour of newly mined sand.
In the wake of this recycling crisis, we must ask ourselves; are we acting in favour of our nation’s future? Or are our short-sighted decisions leading Australia down an unsustainable path?
Clearly, something needs to change. It is time to rise to the challenge and accept the power and responsibility of creating a sustainable future.
Written by Evelyn Kandris
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