Issues Magazine

Articles about Waste

Waste – Eco-Friendly Food Packaging: Is Supply Outstripping Demand?

Issues 92: Waste

Issues 92: Waste

By Michael J. Hubbert

Biodegradable materials are still one of the buzz words of plastics developers, but are consumers really interested in biodegradable plastics packaging or is it a niche industry without a growing market? What are the recent product developments and does the commercial return justify the effort?

Although still very much a niche industry, development and manufacture of biodegradable plastic materials continues apace. But is it an industry without a growing market? Are consumers really interested in biodegradable (or degradable) plastics for packaging, particularly if it would cost them more? Could this be the reason for lack of growth?

Our Toxic Tellies

By Ruth Hessey

We love our televisions – but how well do we look after them when they die?

Over the next six months you’ll probably notice a lot more old TVs dumped on the kerbside of your street or sprouting on median strips – in fact there could be 10 million of them heading to a landfill near you. Once buried with decaying organic waste they will gradually break down, leaking contaminated materials into the soil and water, making resource recovery far more complicated and expensive.

Hospital Waste

By Forbes McGain

The increasing problem of hospital waste has spurred moves to explore barriers to and opportunities for reusing products and recycling, including life cycle assessment.

Large amounts of waste are generated by hospitals. Victoria’s public hospital sector produces the waste equivalent of 200,000 householders and spends about $10 million annually disposing of this waste (http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/environment/waste).

Managing Radioactive Waste in Australia

By Geoff Williams and Stuart Woollett

Radioactive waste needs to be safely managed and disposed of. Australia’s approach to radioactive waste management and disposal must ensure that people and the environment are protected.

The topic of radioactive waste generates debate, both publicly and scientifically. Like chemical and other hazardous waste, radioactive waste needs to be dealt with to ensure its safety and its security.

Proper management and disposal of most forms of radioactive waste is technically straightforward. A robust safety regime has been developed internationally for managing and disposing of radioactive waste.

What Is Radioactive Waste?

Lamp Recycling: The Responsible Thing to Do

By Peter Bitto

Concerns about the disposal of mercury-containing lights in landfill have preceded Australia’s FluoroCycle scheme.

Energy-efficient fluorescent and high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps have replaced incandescent lights and are widely used in our country. Their increasing popularity is due to the fact that fluorescent lights use only about one-quarter of the energy of a common incandescent bulb and last on average five to ten times longer than incandescents.

Putting the Squeeze on Mining Water

By Jason Du

Mining research is finding ways to reduce the water use of a very thirsty industry.

Australia needs to manage its limited freshwater resource more wisely to maintain a sustainable population and economic growth. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports that in 2004–05 Australia’s total water use was nearly 80,000 GL (1 GL is approximately the amount of water in 500 Olympic swimming pools) in agricultural irrigation, household, mining and other industries. More than half of Australian water use occurs in the Murray–Darling Basin, even though this area has only 6% of Australian total surface water runoff (www.nwc.gov.au/www/

“Tyred Landscapes”: The Challenges of Used Tyres

By Gillian Kearney

In search of more waste diversion opportunities, NetWaste has started to investigate what can be done towards solving a problem of the last century and beyond: what to do with used tyres.

What do you see when you look at the image on the opposite page?

  1. a versatile resource that can be reused in landscaping;
  2. a raw product that can be recycled into landscaping mulch;
  3. a new swing for the backyard; or
  4. unsightly pieces of waste or “snake magnets”.

If you chose any of the first three, then you should think further about how to encourage others to look at tyres this way.

Reflections on Urban Use of Recycled Water

By Max Thomas

Recycled water is a valuable urban resource, but indiscriminate use can have serious environmental consequences.

The state government of Victoria deserves credit for its leadership in the move towards conservation and better management of water. Recycling of treated wastewater is one of the strategies being promoted.

The use of recycled water for irrigation of pasture and crops has been common practice in country Victoria for many years. This form of water reuse is done by skilled operators according to EPA guidelines designed to protect human and animal health as well as groundwater, soils and waterways.

Capturing Carbon from Waste Gases

By Colin A. Scholes

Membranes are showing promise as a method of separating carbon dioxide from waste gases, but the uptake of this technology is threatened by a lack of industry incentive to cut carbon emissions.

Many modern industries, such as power generation from fossil fuels, and materials manufacturing such as iron smelting and cement processing, are carbon-intensive. The carbon generated from these industries is released to the atmosphere, contributing to anthropogenically induced climate change. Several carbon reduction strategies are being developed with the aim of reducing present and future greenhouse gas emissions.

Sydney’s Putrescible Waste: Problem or Potential?

By Ian Cohen

Sydney is running out of places to put its waste, with putrescible waste posing particular management challenges. This waste should generate electricity, not landfill.

Sydney has a gigantic rubbish problem. Australia’s largest city just keeps on getting bigger while the increasing rate of consumption is proving a headache for those in charge of finding somewhere to dispose of the rubbish that this generates.

Waste Becomes Art in Regional NSW

By Sue Clarke

NetWaste’s Waste to Art program encourages artists to showcase works made from reused and recycled waste materials.

A horse made from discarded cutlery, a rocking horse made from old wooden pallets, a fruit bowl created using unwanted nuts and bolts, and a set of stunning handbags made from scraps of materials: these are all examples of the amazing artworks that have been showcased in the NetWaste region as part of their annual Waste to Art Program.

NetWaste is a regional waste group that brings together 28 councils in central and western NSW. The total NetWaste area makes up one-third of the state and is home to more than 380,000 people.

Hot Politics: Radioactive Waste in Australia

By Dave Sweeney

Politicians are playing football with a human and environmental threat that will last far beyond their limited tenure. A mature, scientifically and procedurally robust and independent examination of radioactive waste management options in Australia is overdue.

Like all industrial activities, nuclear operations generate waste. Radioactive wastes can be solid, liquid or gaseous, and they pose unique and fundamental management challenges and human and environmental risks. These wastes are produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle, from uranium mining and enrichment to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. Much of this material remains hazardous for many thousands of years.

Battery Waste and Recycling

By Helen Lewis

Increased battery recycling in Australia will help to conserve non-renewable resources and reduce pollution from landfills.

Batteries provide a portable power source for many of the products that have become important to our way of life, from cars and boats through to laptop computers, mobile phones and hearing aids. Like all manufactured products, however, batteries have impacts on the environment at every stage of their life cycle. The metals used to manufacture batteries are non-renewable finite resources, and mining and processing of metal ores is energy-intensive.

Waste Is a Waste

By Andrew Ward

Through clever recycling of pig waste, the South Australian Research and Development Institute has been able to produce feed for aquaculture, water for irrigation and methane for energy.

Editorial

By Sally Woollett

Editor, Issues

An overview of what's in this edition of Issues.