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Recycling domestic refuse in the Perth metropolitan area is an economically feasible and energy efficient proposition.

Around half a million tonnes of domestic refuse is generated annually throughout the Perth metropolitan area, the majority of the refuse being landfilied. Consequently, $12 million to $16 million of secondary resources are lost from the economy, a further 20 petajoules of energy being wasted, equivalent to the energy that would be used annually by 1.5 million Perth homes.

A 95% energy saving is derived from recycling aluminium cans, a 50% energy saving from remelting waste or broken glass, with an 85% energy saving from reusing glass containers and bottles, than producing comparative products from raw materials. There is a 45% energy saving by recycling polyethylene and polypropylene, 40% saving by recycling polyvinylchloride and polystyrene, and 40% energy saving from recycling polyethylene terephthalate, with a further 68% energy saving by recycling paper pulp.

The separation of domestic refuse at the source of generation by householder participation eliminates the need for expensive, and often ineffective, mechanical separation and sorting equipment. By providing each dwelling with a suitable receptacle, or receptacles, for placing recycling materials in, the residents need not be involved with messy and time consuming manual separation processes, but rather separate and discard the refuse into the appropriate receptacle as the refuse is generated.

The cost of collecting recycling materials is met by the revenue generated from their sale when the participation rate from the collection round is 30% to 40%, a reasonable goal to be achieved within the first two years of operation.

The recycling contractor may need to be initially subsidised on a per house basis until such time as the break even point is attained. It is possible for the local council to subsidise a recycling collection, without financially disadvantaging ratepayers by contributing the savings from lower tonnages being disposed of by landfill.

in order to service the entire Perth metropolitan area with a fortnightly collection of recycling materials, a capital outlay in the range of $4 million to $10 million would be required. In addition to this, an annual expenditure of between $2 million and $5.5 million would pay for the ongoing operation of all schemes whilst providing employment for 200 unskilled workers and 50 semi-skilled workers.

There are six major components to the establishment, implementation and operation of separation at source door-to-door recycling schemes, as summarised below.

1. Local Government initiates the implementation of a recycling programme to establish regular and frequent door to door collections of recyclable materials:

  • contract the collection of all recyclable materials;
  • promotion of scheme and education;
  • provision of receptacle to all dwellings; and
  • further education and promotion.
  1. Separation at source of all recyclable materials implemented.
  2. Collection of recyclables by contractor.
  3. Further separation at depot into following streams:
  • cans and tins
  • aluminium
  • steel
  • bimetallic, jars
  • glass bottles and containers
  • refillable bottles
  • non-refiliable bottles and containers
  • colour sorted glass
  • paper
  • newsprint
  • print (high) quality
  • magazines
  • cardboard
  • plastic
  • polyethylene: high density containers, bags — low density bags and film
  • PET: soft drink bottles
  • polyvinylchloride: bottles, containers, film
  • polystyrene: bottles, containers, food and produce trays
  • polypropylene: bottles, containers
  • rags, cloth, and clothing
  • other recyclable materials, including car batteries, used motor oil, solvents
  1. Collection by industry, or transport to industry.
  2. Industry processes material for recycling.

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