Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s (LPSC) Manager Regulatory Services, Steve Ryder, has welcomed the recent announcement that more supermarket chains will begin phasing out single-use plastic bags over the next 12 months.
“Far too much waste is ending up in landfill. We must all realise and act on our shared responsibility for reducing the environmental, health and safety footprint of products and materials across the manufacture-supply-consumption chain and at end-of-life. The problem is growing exponentially. The nature of waste has changed, with more complex goods now a significant component of landfill and the changing nature of the waste stream is affecting our capacity to recover materials from discarded products. If we don’t act now we are courting disaster,” Steve said.
“The reduction in plastic bags is a small start. It is estimated, as a nation, we use up to four billion throwaway plastic bags each year. Now we need to take further steps to reduce landfill. We need to avoid the generation of waste, reduce the amount of waste, including hazardous waste, for disposal to allow us to better manage waste as a resource in a safe and environmentally sound manner. It is vital we contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, energy conservation and production, water efficiency and the productivity of our land,” he said.
“There is also the economic cost we face as a community in efficiently disposing of waste. Landfill should be the least preferred option because it costs the most to residents and to Council. These costs include both costs for landfill establishment, operation and end of life management, environmental fees, as well as impacts on the environment, human health and social amenity. The non-market/external costs are greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of organic wastes, other air emissions, emissions to soil and groundwater,” he continued.
“Unfortunately, a lot of material received through recycling is contaminated before it arrives at the waste management facility and ends up in landfill as a result. It is essential that items placed in recycling bins are clean and not contaminated with other waste. Food waste itself is also a big issue. People should consider charities in town that may be able to use food that would otherwise be sent to waste or the option of composting.
“Plastics are another big problem. It is not even exactly known how long plastic takes to break down, but it is believed in some cases it may be thousands of years. It is not just the accumulation of plastics that harms the environment, it is also the fragments and toxins released during photo-decomposition that pollute our soil and water. So, reducing plastic waste would be another big plus,” he said.
“The first thing we must try to do is reduce the amount of waste we generate in the first place and if each person changes the way they think and act, it can be reduced. Reducing waste also reduces litter. Remember, everything dropped can find its way to roads, waterways, bush land and parks. Avoid waste, look for ways to produce and use goods that stop waste being generated. Reduce waste, choose products that can be used productively, recycled locally, and have minimal packaging and where possible, re-use containers and packaging. You can find lots of tips for reducing waste online,” he continued.
“LPSC operates waste management facilities and transfer stations in Quirindi, Werris Creek, Willow Tree, Wallabadah, Blackville, Caroona, Pine Ridge, Premer and Spring Ridge. The services available at each of these locations can be found online at - http://lpsc.nsw.gov.au/index.php/our-environment/waste-management-facilities,” Steve concluded.