Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hornsby recycling crisis prompts ‘locals only’ rule

Users of Hornsby Shire Council’s Community Recycling Centre (CRC) at Thornleigh will need to demonstrate they reside in the Local Government Area (LGA) as the Council works to manage local processing in the wake of the collapse of soft plastics collection company, Red Cycle.

Council says residents will be required to show a copy of their NSW driver licence or rates notice in order to recycle soft plastics, hard plastics and Styrofoam at the Thornleigh facility.

The new rule follows the November 2022 closure of Red Cycle, which previously collected soft plastics from Coles and Woolworths.

Residents will also be subject to a weekly limit of one normal shopping bag full of soft plastics (40cmx40cm bag) per week.

“With the close of this service, councils and residents across Sydney are struggling to find alternative collection services for their soft plastics as they try to maintain their recycling practices,” Council said in a statement.

“Due to the scarcity of alternative collection systems in Sydney, Council’s CRC, which has a viable soft plastics recycling service, has faced an unprecedented spike in users of the facility.”

Council says the quantity of soft plastics has more than doubled since November last year and, based on the increasing trend, it is estimated the CRC facility will accept around 50-80 tonnes of soft plastic material over the next 12 months.

“Council has established a strong partnership with Plasmar, a plastics recycling specialist, which sorts soft plastics, pelletises them and then makes a broad range of products including posts, boards, sleepers, bollards, wheel stops and other construction materials,” it said in a statement.

“Plasmar’s Sydney factory has a limited capacity to accept soft plastics generated by our community and, with the rapidly increasing demand on its services, needs to urgently cap the quantities being accepted. Plasmar must ensure it only accepts quantities of soft plastics its manufacturing plant can process and that the products it produces can find resale markets to ensure a sustainable business.

“Restricting our reception of soft and hard plastics and Styrofoam to residents of Hornsby Shire is the first lever we have to pull in an effort to ensure that our recycling processes are not overwhelmed.”

Under the new rule, residents from outside Hornsby Shire will no longer be able to drop off their soft plastics, hard plastics and Styrofoam at the Thornleigh CRC.

Hornsby Mayor, Philip Ruddock AO has called on both the State and Federal Governments to do more to urgently address the soft plastics crisis.

“Both State and Federal levels of government have Plastics Action Plans and it is critical that further funds are invested in recycling services that allow the sorting, processing and remanufacturing of our soft plastics into beneficial products that can be used in our circular economy,” Mayor Ruddock said.

“It is time that government looks to regulate the packaging industry and to heavily invest in the necessary remanufacturing facilities that can turn our waste into useful resources.”

Mayor Ruddock said it was critical that onshore recycling and remanufacturing capacity was developed to ensure Australia’s waste does not need to be exported again, following on from the Global Recycling Crisis caused when China and other countries ceased accepting plastics from Western countries.

“If our recycling systems are going to meet community demand, State and Federal Governments must invest in the rapid expansion of soft and hard plastics sorting and remanufacturing facilities such as Plasmar,” he said.

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