Taking action of waste paper recycling

WASTE PAPER NEEDS A RETHINK… CEO of Foott Waste Solutions in Shepparton, Peter Foott considers the future of recycling waste paper. Photo: Steve Hutcheson

Waste paper is becoming an increasing problem in finding an appropriate place for it. Until 2018, much of Australia’s waste paper was being exported to China where it was being recycled and returned to us as paper.

According to CEO of Foott Waste Solutions, Peter Foott here in Shepparton, the limits on contaminants in bulk waste, items such as plastics, even metal and glass, all termed garbage was acceptable at five percent of the total mass. Following the trade war initiated by US, China has clamped down on the amounts of garbage, now only accepting less than half of one percent making it almost impossible for recyclers to maintain. The result has seen massive stockpiling of waste paper here in Victoria over the past couple of years causing Australia to rethink what it does with all of its waste products.

Recently, the Australian government has set an implementation date for its policy of stopping the export of contaminated loads of paper and cardboard, which will mean systems can be put in place to ensure more products can be recycled locally, enhancing the circular economy.

Australians have shown they are great recyclers. The recovery and recycling of paper and cardboard has increased dramatically over the last fifteen years. This has been made possible because of increased recovery rates from kerbside collections and from commercial and industrial sources, and because of significant investments in paper recycling capacity by various companies.

While there are no plans afoot, the opportunity presents itself to take advantage of the government initiative for a waste paper recycling plant to be considered for the Goulburn Valley and Shepparton in particular, as a means to bring in investment and job opportunities. It also makes it clear we need to look more critically at how we sort our waste paper before sending it off to the recyclers.