Recycling hit in wake of fire

Sophie ElliottAugusta Margaret River Times
The fire burning at the Cleanaway building in Guildford. Source: 7NEWS
Camera IconThe fire burning at the Cleanaway building in Guildford. Source: 7NEWS Credit: 7NEWS

Recycling from the Capes is likely to end up in landfill after a major Perth waste facility was destroyed by fire last month.

Cleanaway’s $20 million South Guildford Material Recovery Facility went up in smoke on November 25, prompting concern for as many as 20 local government bodies using the contractor.

The City of Busselton and the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River contract Cleanaway for the collection of residents’ kerbside yellow-lid bins.

There are plans to rebuild the facility, but the timeline is unknown.

A Cleanaway spokesman confirmed in the meantime, if appropriate locations were not found to divert the recycling, remaining materials would go to landfill.

“Unfortunately, the recycling processing capacity within the Perth market is insufficient to absorb the entire volume of co-mingled recyclables that was previously processed at the South Guildford MRF,” he said.

“It is therefore inevitable that some co-mingled recyclables will continue to be diverted to landfill, even once the alternative MRF facilities in WA reach their maximum capacity.

“Cleanaway shares the community’s concern at the loss of this facility and the impact on recycling capability in WA.”

City of Busselton chief executive Mike Archer and Shire of Augusta-Margaret River waste education officer Jackie Dickson agreed it was impossible to determine how much of the region’s recycling was lost in the blaze.

Both urged the community to continue recycling as normal.

This week, Cleanaway confirmed a Canning Vale site would process an extra 36,300 tonnes of recycling — increasing to 48,000 tonnes in January.

Mr Archer said the increased processing tonnages in January 2020 meant a big percentage of the South Guildford MRF’s previous collection would be covered.

During the 2018-2019 financial year, 4576 tonnes of waste from the City’s yellow lidded co-mingled recycling bin was processed by Cleanaway in South Guilford.

During the same period, 1533 tonnes of Augusta-Margaret River waste was diverted from landfill.

Since the introduction of the FOGO bin and mandatory recycling in July, this number has increased to 4234 tonnes.

Cleanaway facilities exist in Bunbury and Margaret River, however, they are logistics depots and transfer stations where co-mingled recycling is collected before being transported to Perth.

The Bunbury and Margaret River facilities do not have the capability to carry out the processing that is required to separate recyclable material into its constituent elements.

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