Each week you roll out the old trusty wheelie bin to the curb, leave it there and then roll it back into your specific bin area the next day. The question is though, what is happening to the waste? What does Sydney do with your rubbish once they remove it?
Each of the different types of rubbish is treated differently and here’s how.
It should be noted that some areas have one recycling bin (yellow) and some have two (blue and yellow). We have split them up to explain the different materials more effectively.
Red Bin Rubbish
The Rubbish that doesn’t get recycled goes straight into a landfill. Just a hole in the ground where we dump tonnes of rubbish, then put dirt over it. Before that though, it is sent to a waste treatment plant, which sorts some of the rubbish to help find any possible recyclable goods.
Australia as a whole generated 43.7 million tonnes of waste in 2015, slightly over half of which was recycled. While this is okay, it is not good enough, especially when compared to countries like Sweden, who recycled 98% of their rubbish
In short; we place it in a landfill, where it sits indefinitely producing methane.
Paper and cardboard are amongst the most recycled rubbish around and here’s how Sydney recycles them.
- Firstly they are sorted into different categories i.e. paper or cardboard
- Then they are made into a ‘bale’ (a square of paper) and soaked in water.
- After soaking the bale it is then shredded and turned into ‘pulp’.
- The bales are then screened for plastic and glue, which is then removed.
- Ink is treated similarly, but the removal is achieved through passing air through the pulp, turning it into foam which is washed away. This removes 50% of the ink, so the rest is then removed via spraying the bale with chemicals and washing it again.
- The bales are then flattened and dried numerous times, ensuring they are completely dry and rid of all non-paper material.
- They are then clustered together in large sheets, sometimes up to 20 tonnes, where they are ready for reuse.
- The recycled paper is made into new products, such as new paper or egg cartons.
While many metals, bottles and glass are placed in the blue bin, we’re going to focus on the process of what happens to the most common of these; steel and aluminium.
- All the material passes under a large magnet that lifts up steel, leaving the rest for other sorting methods.
- The Aluminium is then sorted out by an ‘eddy current’. The eddy current effectively acts as a magnet for the aluminium.
- The material is then shredded and put under another magnet to remove any remaining steel.
- Both the steel and aluminium are ‘bailed’ (separately) and head off to the smelter.
- The cans are then stripped of all paint and plastic by heating them at 500 degrees.
- They are then transported to a furnace that burns at 700 degrees, turning them into a liquid.
- The metal is rolled out and made into new cans.
Garden Clippings and plant products that are placed in your bin are turned into mulch, soil conditioners or compost.
- Just like the other recyclable material, it is quickly sorted, into similar material, like branches, bushes and plants.
- Each section is transported to a machine that can most effectively shred the material.
- After the material is shredded is it sent to different machines
- The material is then turned into various products such as mulch, soil conditioners or compost. This occurs either by mixing it together with chemicals and other materials, or leaving it to sit.
Sydney removes way too much rubbish each year. Some of which we recycle correctly, turning it into new and reusable products, some of which we unnecessarily place into a land fill. While this is in reference to just the state government, many private rubbish removal companies in Sydney aim to achieve much higher levels of recycling and sometimes specialise in material that the government just puts in landfill.