Stop wasting my time

AMY WARNE worked in the waste industry for seven years and lives in Hamilton Hill. In this week’s THINKING ALLOWED, she takes Fremantle mayoral candidate Ra Stewart to task for proposing to feed plastic bags to incinerators in waste to energy plants.

ASSUMING Ra Stewart was not misquoted by the Herald, her comments about waste are gibberish at best, and utterly wrong and irresponsible at worst.

To say that we need to keep using plastic bags to feed the incineration machine totally contradicts the ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ message where Reduce is the most important R.

Incineration plants do not use ‘micro bacteria’.

Ra may be getting confused with the existing Southern Metropolitan Regional Council facility which composts the contents of our general waste bin, diverting around 55 per cent of our waste from landfill.

• Freo mayoral candidate Ra Stewart. File photo

Or she may be referring to new discoveries of bacteria that break down particular types of plastic—this is still very much in the research phase and anyway would not solve the problem of plastic bags becoming litter and causing damage to our natural marine environment.

I am not necessarily opposed to incineration technology.

It works well and safely in much of Europe and Asia.

However regulation must exist to ensure incinerators are constantly monitored for emissions and that they do not undermine the existing composting and recycling systems or initiatives to reduce waste in the first place.

An incineration plant is proposed for Kwinana, however it looks likely to be some years away.

The WA Waste Authority’s aim is to divert 65 per cent of Perth’s waste to landfill by 2020.

Fremantle currently sends all its waste to the SMRC Region Resource Recovery Centre which already diverts over 65 per cent of that waste from landfill by composting the general waste, mulching the garden waste and recycling the recyclables.

Perth only achieved 36 per cent diversion rates in 2015/16.

The current system is good, but is set to get better with Fremantle to introduce the bright green lidded FOGO (food organic, garden organic) bin which will be composted at the SMRC.

It’s anticipated that this will produce a much better quality of compost than now, due to reduced contamination.

The system of having one dedicated FOGO bin, one dedicated recycling bin and one general waste bin that will go straight to landfill or incineration is, I think, the holy grail of waste collection systems.

Sadly, we still need that third general waste bin because we make stuff that cannot be composted or recycled.

So that’s where “Reduce” comes in.

The City of Fremantle has never been shy of leading.

After listening to what the community (Plastic Free Freo) said about plastic bags in 2013 it took up the battle and has not relented, despite an unfriendly state government.

Fremantle has also embraced the idea of a container deposit scheme with one of the state’s first reverse vending machines.

Now finally, they have traction on these crucial issues with a more sympathetic state government.

The City of Fremantle also actively supports community Reduce initiatives like Boomerang Bags at the Growers Green, the Community Composting Bank at Hilton Harvest and Responsible Cafes.

To imply that Fremantle’s waste systems are unsustainable is profoundly ill informed. Waste is a fundamental service provided by any council.

I am not feeling overly confident that Ra is onto it.

One response to “Stop wasting my time

  1. How sad, unethical and outrageous that Fremantle would be willing to send their waste to burn in another community…but not far enough away to avoid the toxic pollution that will surely blow over Fremantle….containing Persistent Organic Pollutants like dioxin, nanoparticles and mercury. What a wonderful legacy for the regions children. Despite the myths that are peddled by the waste management industry about how fab this industry is….it is always shocking to witness just how gulllible LGA’s are when it comes to waste management. A closer look would reveal that the EU is in fact discouraging their member states from supporting waste to energy incineration…exactly because it is undermining recycling and other more effective zero waste outcomes. Indeed the EU has legislated that all states must separate their organics and provides incentives for member states to decommission old incinerators and invest in zero waste management instead of new incinerators…these are the facts that the WA waste management industry and LGA’s don’t want to talk about….I guess it wouldn’t look good after the hundreds of thousands of dollars of ratepayers money they have spent on junket trips to overseas incinerators….where of course they get the red carpet treatment and presentations of just how wonderful they are operating their own facilities….because they are hardly going to say they are crap now are they? What a gross misrepresentation of an industry – to ignore the experience of the host communities and their struggle for environmental justice, independent experts who are warning about the failed EU regulation and resulting pollution or the the growing global movement for sustainable, ethical, economical and vastly more effective Zero Waste movement. And while the much touted EU Best Available Standards for incineration are thrown around in LGA and waste management circles as the golden standard which will ensure that the industry in Australia will be safe, non polluting and ‘just so innovative’, the awful truth is that this standard is under review…exactly because it is failing….and EU incinerators are one of the single biggest contributors of deadly POPs to the marine environment globally – yes those pollutants that are now adsorbing onto marine debris – that were put there by incinerators…Im sure the perverse irony is not lost here! The idea of burning plastic waste in incinerators…which is just another way to burn fossil fuels….in a really toxic form. And I thought Fremantle was the home of sustainability and progressive politics.

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