City Targets Plastic Bags In Bins

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Plastic pollution is a huge problem, here and around the world, and one of the most problematic sources of our not so fantastic addiction to plastic is the humble plastic bag. The City of Greater Geelong is targeting plastic pollution and its efforts to reduce the number of plastic bags contaminating recycling and green waste bins are starting to pay off.

According to City, a total of 3,525 recycling bins and 2,757 green waste bins in Newcomb, Belmont and Bell Post Hill were inspected via cameras fixed to collection trucks.

“Plastic bags were overwhelmingly the most common item incorrectly placed in recycling and green waste bins,” City of Greater Geelong City Services Director Will Tieppo said. “More than 86 per cent of recycling contamination and 79 per cent of green waste contamination was due to plastic bags.”

The audits revealed that recycling items being tied up in plastic bags was the major cause of recycling contamination. The camera audits also showed that residents were filling up their recycling and green waste bins with rubbish when their red-lid rubbish bins were full.

Over the course of the City’s initial bin audits, people who had incorrectly placed plastic bags in their yellow or green lid bin had a sticker placed on it letting them know that plastic bags don’t belong there.

“In almost 80 per cent of cases, the educational stickers led to a change in behaviour, with follow up bin audits showing plastic bags had been removed from recycling bins,” Mr Tieppo said.

“We’re really trying to push the message to keep recyclables loose and not in a plastic bag, so we’ve given the people we’ve noticed that are doing this a re-usable recycling bag. They can use this bag to collect their recyclables in and then empty it into their yellow lid bin.”  

The City advised that this was the first stage of the bin audit program, launched in response to the region’s climbing recycling contamination rate that currently sits at 9.53 per cent.

Audits will now be rolled out in Corio, Waurn Ponds, Whittington and Geelong West.

Did you know: The once pristine sands of the remote Henderson Island in the South Pacific has the highest recorded levels of plastic rubbish in the world? The millions of pieces of plastic litter covering the beaches has to be seen to be believed. Read more at ABC News

This local response is just part of what will need to be a massive global effort in the near future, with a growing body of research and evidence showing that plastic pollution is shaping up to equal climate change as a threat to the planet.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, it is conservatively estimated that 5.25 trillion plastic particles – most of it in tiny shredded pieces and weighing a total of 268,940 tonnes - is currently floating in the world’s oceans. Plastic production continues to boom, up to 322 million tonnes in 2015 from 1.5 million tonnes in 1950 (source: Statista) and most of that still goes to landfill.

Feature Image Courtesy: Tract Consulting
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