When you think about rubbish or trash, what comes to mind? Probably a lot of things. We will walk through this subject and explore the different types and different methods to handle rubbish removal in Adelaide.Household Waste – This is one of the most common types of rubbish. It is what is generated daily from our own bodies and from what we cook and use. Generally this is disposed of through regular rubbish pickups, sewage, and recycling centres. Hazardous Substances – This can range from chemicals used for cleaning or pesticides, or petrol or oil-based products. They require special handling. Contact your council or product manufacturer for the proper procedures based on the element you are working with.
Medical Waste – While most of that comes from medical facilities, it can also be generated at home if you need regular injections (like insulin) or unused medications. Never put unused medications down a drain or flush them, nor should you put them in with regular trash. Contact your local pharmacy for the appropriate method to return or dispose of drugs. Syringes and specialized medical apparatus should be handled as directed by your medical team.E-Waste – These are electric or electronic devices that no longer work or are obsolete and have been replaced. This category of rubbish grows every day with the advent of new technology. The upside is that about 90 of it is able to be recycled and reused as other products. Check with your local council to find the best place to take these items for disposal.Recyclables – Much of the waste we generate can be recycled. Most plastics, aluminium, paper and cardboard are the most common. Kerbside recycling is the easiest. Just separate as directed by your waste disposal company and it is done for you. There may be some items that you need to take to a specialized centre but those are fewer and fewer.Construction and Demolition – Building new structures plus repairing and renovating existing buildings is going to generate a specific type of rubbish. Contractors and tradespeople will be able to help you dispose of this mess in the best way.Green Waste – This is probably the easiest to handle. From leftovers from last night’s dinner to spent flowers and grass, anything that will degrade on its own is in this category. Composting is probably the best option, but if that is not feasible, this can be carted away as garbage.Recycle, Reuse, Reduce. We hear this mantra over and over. As custodians of this planet we should be aware of what rubbish we produce and how to reduce the amount dumped in our landfills and how we can be better in the course of our daily living.
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Liquid/Solid Household Waste
When you think about waste materials, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the daily refuse. It is placed in bins and taken outside your home on a designated day and then a collector comes along and removes it for you. Generally this solid waste goes into a landfill. Liquid can also be waste. That can be anything from water leftover from washing dishes or a bath to sewage or the juice remaining after cooking a nice piece of roast. Basically it is anything that we don’t feel has any further value is ready for rubbish removal.Depending on the type, there are specific methods of disposal. Most of these centre around public and personal safety. Arbitrarily disposing of solid or liquid waste materials can be harmful to the environment, human and otherwise. As it degrades, it can pose health risks that can be transmitted through insects, scavenging animals like rodents and dogs or cats, as well through the air.
So, we have stuff that we no longer need. How can we get rid of it? Much of it can be recycled like cardboard, aluminium. Food products can be sent through a disposal and ground to the point it is released into the sewer system. In certain circumstances, it can also be burned or added to a compost pile. As soon as something is identified as waste, it should be added to the group for appropriate disposal. Don’t let it hang around any longer than necessary.Solid waste – There is organic; that is anything that will decompose on its own, like garbage. If left on its own, it will start to smell awful, which is why we rely on disposal services. There is also hard matter that just doesn’t degrade, like plastics. Some of this inorganic material can be dangerous or combustible. Local councils will offer free hard waste collection, but there are also private companies who will gladly relieve you of your trash for a fee. There will be some specifications about how much they will pick up at a given time and exactly what it can consist of. Liquids – Liquid waste is a bit different. Some can be reused for irrigation or other suitable purposes, but sewage must be sent to a waste treatment facility. These companies remove the water and any organic solids are then converted into fertilizers to reuse the nutrients. Liquid waste can also be disposed of in landfills by using environmentally appropriate techniques to solidify it without adding volume and allowing it to be included in landfills.Those on septic tanks have a whole different set of rules to follow, especially when it comes time to dig up the tank and rid it of the accumulated sludge. This should only be handled by qualified, licensed professionals who will guide you it its proper handling and disposal.
Some items are obviously dangerous like those from medical facilities or by-products from manufacturing. Around the home these are things that can explode, including pressurized cans; catch on fire; are or become infectious; and those that would change as they are being disposed of. An example would be a substance that is non-toxic in its current state, but when changed like through burning, becomes dangerous.Some of these things are pretty obvious like petrol, paints, and chemicals. Some less obvious are broken thermometers, fluorescents including CFLs, computer equipment, and dead batteries. There are, of course, appropriate ways to handle these things. If you have any questions, contact the manufacturer, local council, or check the EPA website.
- Computers – There are a lot of reusable parts even on obsolete systems. There are recycling programs like Byteback. The best plan is to contact your local council for instructions. Printer cartridges can be taken to Australia Post and Harvey Norman for recycling.
- Mobiles – Phones and their accessories can be recycled through retailers and other sites specially designated.
- Batteries – All batteries contain acid, from the ones that run your cars to those little ones in hearing aids. They should never be simply thrown into the kitchen bin. There are some permanent sites where you can turn them in. Check out what is available in your area.
- Motor Oils – If you change your own oil, either in your car or lawn mowing equipment, place the used oil in a safe container and find an appropriate place through the Oil Directory.
- Fluorescents – About a decade ago everyone was being encouraged to switch from incandescent to fluorescents including compact fluorescent globes (CFL) because of their lower energy use and longevity. Well, they can wear out. If so, take them to an appropriate disposal area. They are filled with mercury and if the glass is broken, the mercury is immediately released and should not be breathed in. Fortunately LEDs are rapidly replacing the CFLs.
- Plastic Bags – Not only are these plastic bags creating unsightly litter, they are a threat to wildlife. Just take them back to the supermarket where you will find a bin specifically for the purpose of recycling. As much as possible, use your own cloth, reusable shopping bags.
- Medication – Prescription and non-prescription medications can be returned to your local pharmacy. If you need syringes, like for insulin, you should be provided with an acceptable container for their disposal and instructions. Keep all medications out of the reach of children.
Don’t think it is a good idea to just dump anything you don’t want. If it is hazardous, this is a crime and you will find yourself with hefty financial penalties.Before we leave the subject of medications, if you travel, you might want to know a few things. First, keep your medications in your carryon. Luggage does get misplaced by the airlines and you don’t want to be without critical drugs. Anything liquid is limited to 3.4 ounces and should be in a sealed bag. The medication will probably be examined during pre-flight check in. If you don’t want your meds x-rayed, just tell the inspector and they can do a visual check. Nitroglycerin tablets and sprays are permitted.
Medical and Clinical Waste
If you or a loved one is having in-home care during a serious illness, there may be some waste products that should receive careful handling. If the patient is receiving chemotherapy or radiation, they may have items that have bodily fluids (like blood, urine, etc.) or used in the clean-up process. The definition of medical waste is pretty broad. There are a number of reasons to be concerned with this issue. Friends and family visiting the patient don’t want to be confronted with blood drops or other fluids. There could be the risk of infection. Also, the risk to the environment from improperly disposing of the waste is significant.There are some basics to disposing of these materials.
Your medical provider should give the patient a medical waste container. This can be used for anything connected with body fluids or solid waste. This would include the disposable gloves that caregivers use. The medical provider should also supply the home with a “sharps container”. This is a specifically designed storage bin for needles or other sharp objects used in connection with the treatment. Do not put sharps in with other waste products.
- Sharp Things – Sharps containers are specially designed, hard, thick plastic bins that are difficult to open. They are available for purchase. Needles, pens, lancets and other sharp things should be placed inside the bin immediately after use. Don’t leave them lying around. Contact your waste disposal company to see if they will accept filled sharps containers. If they don’t, check with the doctor’s office about an appropriate place to take these containers. Never put a sharps container in a recycle bin.
- Disinfectants – Regular cleaning precautions are advised. Consulting with the medical team will give you the information for sanitation. This could include bleach or ammonia or an industrial disinfectant. Don’t guess. If you have questions, get answers from an expert on the medical group.
- Cloth – Used gauze, bandages, gloves, etc. can be placed in a sealed plastic bag. There are some designed specifically for medical waste, but it must be well sealed. Check with your waste management company about whether you can simply put the sealed bag out with the regular trash.
- Medicines – If there is unused medication, including pills, liquid, or other, do not flush it down the toilet or put it down a drain. Also, don’t just put them in the regular trash that will end up in a landfill. There are designated centres for unused or unwanted medications and that is where it needs to go. You may wish to remove labels for personal privacy. If you use one of these dropboxes, realize they are not designed for sharps.
- Radioactive – There are people who receive radiation therapy or iodine treatment for thyroid conditions. For these individuals their urine and faeces may be considered radioactive on a low level basis. Your healthcare provider should give the patient and caregivers explicit instructions for handling this waste or materials that may come in contact with it. Follow those instructions implicitly.
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Let your rubbish problem become ours
We have become an electronics society. Much of our lives revolve around mobile phones, computers, tablets, smart watches. Technology is always changing and evolving. That poses the question of what to do with outmoded hardware. This is commonly known as E Waste.E Waste generally is defined as televisions, printers, laptops, phones, tablets, keyboards, modems, microwaves, landline telephones, scanners, video games, and all of the cords and bits that go along with them. That’s not all. Consider air conditioners, electric fans, vacuums, electric knives, shavers, sewing machines, drills, lawn mowers, exercise equipment with electronic components. These are only the household items. Then we have the commercial area that will include large copiers, telephone systems, plus food and drink dispensers.Since the fall of 2012 Adelaide bans all E Waste from landfill disposal and South Australia followed suit in 2013.
The good news is that at least 90 of this equipment can be recycled. So, when you upgrade, recycle your old electronics. Contact your local waste management company to see if they know where these products can find a new home.As these electronic devices are disassembled, all of the metals, glass, and plastic are repurposed but not necessarily in another electronic device. That means part of your old laptop could be in the next necklace you buy, or the plastic outdoor chair for your porch. By recycling we won’t need to mine for the limited resources; we can simply repurpose those outdated appliances and equipment. Here are some suggestions to best implement your recycling strategy:
- Clean first – Be sure to thoroughly wipe any hard drives. Just deleting them may not be sufficient for personal safety.
- Make a Date – Select a day and mark it on your calendar to review any obsolete electronics. Pool resources with neighbours, friends, or coworkers.
- Sell It – If you have the wherewithal, sell it through word of mouth, eBay, or a yard sale.
- Where to Take It – Check techcollect.com.au for collection sites. Check with charitable organizations. Frequently they will accept usable electronics for their own business use or to distribute to the less fortunate. Check with your local council to see what their rules are. Also try recyclingnearyou.com.au, which is sponsored by Planet Ark. This site gives detailed information about recycling programs categorized by State and even postcode. It includes places for printer cartridge recycling.
If you are interested in how various pieces of equipment are sorted out for reuse, here is a short list.
- Computers and Peripherals – Some upgrading and they can be offered to lower-income families. Disassembled, they return glass, circuit boards and plastics to a raw state.
- Phones – After taking them apart, the lithium is used for new batteries. The plastics are repurposed into shipping pallets.
- Appliances – This can range from VCRs, alarm clocks, toasters, irons, etc. All of the glass, copper and other metals, and plastic are separated and then reused in manufacturing.
- Batteries – All of the metals (lead, cadmium, lithium, manganese, nickel, etc.) are extracted and separated. These have a variety of uses in other products and can be reused time after time. This saves mining for new resources and depleting them.
- Cartridges – Plastics are remade into outdoor furniture and toys. The toner is added to road resurfacing products and the ink is resold as recycled.
Recycling is taking rubbish and turning it into new things. It saves on energy consumption, air pollution and landfill space. It also means we won’t need to rely on newly extracted raw materials. Its goal is redirecting rubbish and environmental responsibility.Not everything is recyclable, but quite a bit is.
- Aluminium – This will include cans from soft (or not so soft) drinks, bakeware and foil. Yes, it does take energy to recycle these products, but in addition to not having to mine and extract new minerals, recycling only uses 26 of energy it took to produce them in the first place.
- Tins – These are those tin-lined steel cans that hold vegetables, fruits, beans, and a variety of other products. They are one of the most recycled items in the household. They are tossed into fiery furnaces and melted down and then mixed with new steel. This process saves 75 of the energy needed to create new steel from raw materials.
- Cardboard – Recycled this is used for cereal boxes, paper towels, facial tissues, paper, and…more corrugated boxes.
- Magazines – Initially magazines were difficult to reprocess. Technology has advanced and they are very recyclable. Phone books are a bit different. Call your local council to see how they should be handled and where they can be deposited.
- Paper – First remember that paper has two sides. If possible, use all of it for your printing, notes, and other uses. Then have it turned into a lower grade of the same paper you just used.
- Newspaper – While fewer people are actually reading hardcopy news, there is still a fair amount around today. They are turned into parts of cereal boxes, egg cartons, grocery bags and pencil barrels. It is a great insulator. When turning a grassy patch in your yard into a floral or edible section, lay down a couple of layers of newspaper on top of the grass and then add your new soil. It will prevent the grass from returning, and will simply decompose into your new plot as compost.
- Glass – This is a little trickier. You will need to separate the glass by colour: clear, brown (amber), and green (emerald). Not all recycle companies deal in glass because of its inherent danger to workers. Check local companies, councils and regulations. There are some items that will not be taken. Ceramics (like dishes), Pyrex, mirrors or window glass, crystal, and light bulbs are not to be included with your glass. Of course, everything should be cleaned of food or dirt.
- Plastics – Plastic is a wonderful product because of its light weight and versatility. However, it takes a lot of fossil resources to manufacture and takes a long time to decompose. Check the bottom of your plastic item and you will see a code number. This is a preliminary indicator of whether it is recyclable.
If the product is not appropriate for recycling, at least consider whether it is reusable or in some other way can reduce the amount of trash in our community.
Construction and Demolition Debris
Sooner or later every home will need some construction. It can be from re-modelling to update a kitchen or bath. It can also come from a change in family status. Adding family members through birth or having elderly relatives move in means adjusting space and frequently adding rooms. It can also come as a result of an unfortunate event like a burst pipe or leaky roof.The bottom line is that construction is going to come with its own form of stress on the occupants, workers and contractors. Part of that pressure comes from having to deal with the mess, the leftovers, the rubbish removal. This can include wood, concrete, dirt, metals, flooring, glass, and others. It is always best to have a tidy worksite from a safety perspective as well as to appease your neighbors and family. The volume can seem insurmountable.
- Reducing Waste – There are a few ways to decrease the amount of trash involved in a construction project. There are now modular metal forms that can be reused for concrete constructions. That way the plywood used to create the form into which the concrete is poured will be used again and again and won’t just be tossed in a trash heap. When comparing products to purchase, ask about how they are packaged. If the goods are shipped with minimal packing or with reusable or recycling products, this is an advantage to the environment.
- Reusing – We have all seen those DIY shows where someone comes in with a sledge hammer and completely demolishes all the kitchen cabinets in a few blows. Instead contact local charities to see if they can be reused in housing projects like Habitat for Humanity. In a home that has little to nothing, those old cabinets can be valuable. Also think about whether the wood can be repurposed to another project. Other items can include bricks, glass and plastics.
- Disposal – If there are materials that must be thrown out, see if it is possible to sort them by type for recycling. For example, placing all the plastics in a single bin and then arranging for a recycling company to cart them away. Look at the metal. Copper is very valuable and it can be sold.
Being responsible for the waste management at a construction site should be an integral part of the project. Granted, the volume in a construction project is considerably larger than normal household waste. In construction projects for commercial enterprises, it will be even greater. It will also probably weigh more. This will have a serious impact on landfill sites.As a result regulations are in place to require builders to recycle onsite waste. Many are creating their own management plans. These efforts will allow the construction companies to:
- Save money from the purchase of new materials and hauling costs
- Reduce on-site rubbish
- Become more favourable in the view of customers and potential new clients
- Avoid penalties for non compliance
These are all issues to be considered when taking on new construction or renovation projects either through a contractor or your own efforts.
TIME FOR ACTION
Let your rubbish problem become ours
Its definition is simple; green waste is anything that is biodegradable. This is a substance that is organic and will be broken down by natural processes, generally bacteria. It is important to note that in Australia there are different rules in each state about what is classified as green. Check with your local council to see what is and is not acceptable.
- Reduce Landfills – By appropriately composting, it reduces the amount of material in the landfill. If incorrectly composted, or just dumped into a landfill, the organic matter will generate methane gas. This is one of the largest contributors to atmospheric damage.
- Reduces Reliance on Chemical Fertilisers – All growing things need food and by adding nutrients to the soil, our vegetables will develop deeper root systems. Using organic compost means you are not spending money on commercial products and still growing better food.
- Composting – If you are up to the challenge and have an appropriate spot, you can try your hand at composting. You can simply find a handy corner and start a pile. Downsides include:
- It can attract rodents, insects, and other pests. Chicken wire across the top should help.
- It will generate a lot of heat.
- It will need to be turned periodically which will take physical strength.
- It will take months to decompose.
- If it is uncovered, it will become quite smelly.
There are also bins available for sale, which is the preferable method. Whichever you choose, a pile or a bin, keep it moist. The liquid will help break down the material.Even if you don’t have a proper place for a compost bin, there are a number of things you can do.
- Grass Clippings – When you mow, select a mower with a mulching blade. Instead of bagging the clippings and having them taken away, the mulch mower will slice the grass blades and they will fall back into the lawn where they will decompose quickly. This is a natural fertilizer.
- Leaves – When the trees drop their leaves, rake or blow them into your flower or veg gardens. This has a double effect of decomposing into nutrients and giving ground cover or mulch to protect the plants during the cooler months. You can also simply run your mulcher-mower over the area and the leaves will be chewed up and drop into the lawn.
Small amounts of garden waste can be placed in standard garbage or green waste bins to be picked up by your local waste removal company. Bins are restricted in capacity and if you have a lot of seasonal clean up, it may well exceed the limit. Check with your landlord or local council about the best way to proceed.There are services that provide green waste removal. Generally they offer bins, bags and skips. These companies are more flexible with their collection schedule and you can work out an arrangement that suits your needs.You can also find the nearest tip and take it in yourself. If you don’t have a vehicle or cart appropriate to transport your waste, you will need to rent or borrow one. It will take time. Depending on the tip site, you may also be charged a fee for the privilege of dumping.
Did you ever think there were so many different types of rubbish and waste and how many ways there can be to dispose of any one of them? Generating the rubbish is the easy part. Getting rid of it in the most ecologically responsible method becomes more problematic. Sometimes it is physically difficult, expensive, or undesirable. It is hoped that this article will give you some good ideas about how to make it more palatable and economically feasible while still being socially responsible with your rubbish removal in Adelaide.
- If you regularly recycle and repurpose, you will probably find that you have little true trash that needs to go into the landfill.
- Encourage your local council, municipality and public officials to explore better and more convenient methods for recycling.
- Think before you throw. Birds will eat eggshells and the calcium they derive will actually help their brood. Those pods from one-serving coffee makers can be repurposed to start seedlings for your garden; dispose of the used grounds into the soil.
- Donate. That old laptop or playstation may be obsolete for you but to someone who has none, it could be a godsend.
- Make the effort to take your glass and ceramics to a recycling depot. You may even get paid a little for it. If you don’t need the money, put it in a poor box at church or give it to a homeless person on the street.
- Basically, take a breath. Before you throw something in a bin that will find a home in a landfill, pause and see if there is another alternative. Just look for a recycling bin or set up a new place in your home to put things. The easier it is, the more likely you are to comply.
- Lead by example. Occasionally try for a teachable moment to children. If they see you take a soft drink can out of the trash and then place it in the recycle bin, maybe they will remember it. Keep a set of cloth tote bags in the car for that quick stop on the way home. I have actually seen people bring their own Tupperware containers to restaurants to take home their leftovers so they wouldn’t need a Styrofoam doggie box.
- Check out social media. There are a number of blogs out on the internet. Occasionally rotate through them to see if you come across new ideas that you can implement in your home or workplace.
If each person only improved by one small amount, eventually we will see a tremendous impact on the amount of waste generated. There will always be rubbish, but the less we have to deal with, the better.
TIME FOR ACTION
Let your rubbish problem become ours