Have you ever wondered what happens to your waste and recycling?
After collection, the garbage trucks deliver their loads to the Clyde Transfer Terminal, where waste is compacted and loaded into shipping containers. Each container can fit about three garbage truck loads full of waste. The waste is then transported by rail to Veolia's Woodlawn Bioreactor Landfill (near Goulburn). The bioreactor landfill speeds up the decomposition process of waste and captures the landfill gases. The gases are then converted into green electricity which is fed back into the power grid.
After collection the paper is delivered to Enfield where it is further sorted into cardboard, newsprint and mixed paper. The mixed recycling is delivered to a recycling sorting facility at Rydalmere. The recyclables are then sorted into material types, both by hand and using machines, as they move along a conveyor belt.
Strong jets of air are used to separate plastics from the other recyclables before being manually sorted into categories such as PET (e.g. drink bottles); HDPE (e.g. milk bottles); and 'plastic other' (e.g. ice cream cartons, margarine tubs). The plastic is then compressed, shredded and washed before being melted, cooled and chopped into small granules which can be spun into fibres to make new plastics.
Glass is sorted by hand or using optical sorters. Optical sorters can sort pieces of glass as small as a fingernail into colour type. There are three main colour types - green, brown and clear. Blue glass is recycled with green glass. After initial sorting, the glass is then crushed and cleaned to form a product called ‘cullet’. The cullet is crushed again and melted in a furnace at 1500°C. The molten glass is then poured into moulds to become new jars and bottles.
Steel and aluminium
Cans are sorted using a giant magnet. They are then squashed into blocks and taken to a smelter, where they are shredded, removed of any paint and heated to 700°C in a furnace to form a liquid. The liquid is poured into moulds and solidified into blocks, which are sent to rolling mills where they can be flattened and turned into new cans.
Paper is sorted into three categories: newsprint, cardboard and mixed paper. It is then compressed into a bale for transporting. Once it arrives at the paper mill it is then mixed with water to form pulp. Air is passed through the pulp to produce a foam which removes ink, or chemicals are used to separate the ink, which is then washed away. The pulp is poured onto a wire screen to drain and form a sheet, which is sent through heavy rollers which dry and straighten the paper. The paper is finally turned into rolls, ready to become new paper products.
Greenwaste is delivered to the greenwaste processing section at Kimbriki waste management centre where it is processed by Australian Native Landscapes. Here it is shredded and composted. The end products are mulch and soil conditioners. This process takes approximately 20 weeks.