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Australians are the second-highest producers of waste per person, behind the USA. This means there is considerable room for improvement, and even small behavioural changes could generate big savings. Reusing and recycling helps to reduce waste. It also means we use fewer resources and helps to lower emissions from waste transport and landfill.
The waste management sector generates four per cent of Tasmania's greenhouse gas emissions. Cutting down the amount of waste going into our bins not only reduces emissions from transporting waste, it also reduces methane emissions from landfill. We could reduce total waste going to landfill each year by up to one third if we all composted and mulched our green waste. The best way to reduce waste is to avoid buying things you don’t need. Plan your shopping carefully and stick to your list. Choose items with low or no packaging.
Reusing doesn’t just mean taking your green bags to use at the supermarket. In fact, you can reuse a whole range of things, from household products through to the house itself. For example, choose non-disposable items wherever possible, such as cloths instead of paper towels, reusable razors instead of disposable, or handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
At the other end of the scale, a great deal of energy and resources goes into the materials used to construct a home and eventually, due to the mixed nature of these materials, most end up in landfill. The emissions generated from the construction of a typical house are nearly equal to those generated from heating and cooling that house over 50 years. Renovating and reusing existing buildings and materials will reduce the demand for new resources, lower waste volumes, and save money.
Recycling is the conversion of materials into new products when they are no longer useful in their current form. This process reduces the demand for new materials, reduces air pollution from incineration, and lowers the volume of waste going to landfill.
Using materials with a high recycled content reduces emissions, is good for the environment, and will help create a market for recycled resources. It raises the price paid by recyclers for recovered resources and increases the viability of recycling.
Most Tasmanian councils offer regular kerbside collection of mixed recyclables including steel, aluminium, cardboard, plastic and paper. Take care not to contaminate your recycling with food scraps, compostable waste, or nappies. Materials such as paint cans, oils, batteries, gas cylinders, medical waste and sharps, chemicals and other toxic items, are hazardous and cannot go into your recycling bin. You can find more information about the recycling and waste services offered by your council, as well as local drop-off options for items like computers, batteries and printer cartridges, at the Recycling Near You website.
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