Our recycling innovation is helping Lismore become a model of sustainability
We pride ourselves on being environmental and industry leaders in resource recovery, and have implemented a number of initiatives that are working towards the goal of Lismore being a model of sustainability.
Materials Recovery Facility
In May 2014 we opened our Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) to enable recyclables to be processed locally instead of sending them to Queensland. The MRF uses a series of screens to sort materials and we also have a team of workers from the House With No Steps who manually sort recyclables into individual streams so the materials can be baled for sale.
Glass Processing Plant
In May 2014 we also opened a Glass Processing Plant in conjunction with the MRF. The plant uses imploder technology and is one of only two plants of this kind in Australia. The plant crushes glass down to create glass sand that is transported to Council’s Blakebrook Quarry for use in road base and asphalt.
We used glass sand for the first time in June 2015 on a 500m section of road near Numulgi Hall with excellent results. The glass sand will now be used in all road base going forward, and the only issue will be can supply keep up with demand.
The Glass Processing Plant has a broad environmental impact as conventional glass recycling is costly and requires significant technology to separate different coloured glass for re-processing, with a high loss rate due to breakage. When turning glass into sand, we can crush everything together, regardless of the colour or type of glass.
As well as ensuring more glass can be recycled and therefore reducing transport miles, transforming glass back into sand reduces the need to mine as much virgin material for road base and asphalt, decreasing road resealing costs as well as limiting truck movements on the road.
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels
In 2014 we also became the first council to provide special collection satchels for residents to collect problem waste.
Problem waste includes household batteries, reading glasses, corks, CDs and DVDs, X-rays, mobile phones and accessories, small electronics (such as cameras, iPods, calculators) and printer cartridges.
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels are specially-made bags that residents can fill with problem waste at home and, when full, seal up and place into their yellow-lidded recycling bins.
The unique design of the MRF enables staff from the House With No Steps to manually remove the satchels from the recycling stream and the problem waste is then sorted and sent off to be recycled through various programs.
For example, reading glasses are given to the local Lions Club to send to impoverished nations around the world while old X-rays go to the Scouts, who recycle them and raise funds for their activities. Used printer cartridges are sent to Planet Ark to be recycled into plastic products and mobile phones are recycled through the Mobile Muster.
The Resource Recovery Collection Satchels will help us recycle 100 tonnes of these mixed products every year.
Resource Recovery Collection Satchels are free and can be picked up from Revolve Shop at 313 Wyrallah Road, East Lismore, Council’s Corporate Centre at 43 Oliver Avenue, Goonellabah, and from the Lismore Library at 110 Magellan Street. They are also available at selected primary schools.
Plastic Bag Recycling – Bag the Bag
We are one of only two councils in Australia that are currently able to offer kerbside recycling of plastic bags.
A program called Bag the Bag was created and we now encourage everyone to place their plastic bags and soft plastics in a plastic bag. When it's full, tie it up and place it in your yellow-lidded recycling bin.
The unique design of our MRF enables staff from the House With No Steps to manually remove the full bags from the recycling and the plastic can then be processed and baled for sale.
Plastics from our MRF are sold to be remanufactured into other plastic products, keeping them out of landfill. As plastic bags are made from non-renewable resources such as oil and gas, it’s important to re-use them as a precious resource instead of discarding them to harm our environment.
Here are some scary facts about plastic bags that will hopefully remind you just how important it is to always Bag the Bag!
- Plastic bags take between 15 and 1000 years to break down in the environment.
- In the marine environment, plastic bag litter is lethal, killing at least 100,000 birds, whales and turtles every year.
- On land, plastic bag litter can block drains and trap birds. It can also kill livestock.
- At least 80 million plastic bags end up as litter on our beaches, streets and parks every year.