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Australia - Waste Disposal

In Australia the main method of collecting household waste is by collecting at the roadside. All homes in the main urban areas are given bins for their refuse. One of these is for recyclable materials, another is for household waste that cannot be recycled and another is for green waste from the garden. The recycling bins tend to be larger than the standard bins as the local authorities in all areas are now actively encouraging recycling. If you live in a rural area then you may be expected to take your waste to a collection point. Arrangements will vary according to the local authority that you live in but details of how your refuse is dealt with will be available on the website of the local authority.

General waste is then taken to landfill sites and recyclable waste is sorted and sent on to different firms to be re-used. Recycling is becoming increasingly popular in the country and nearly all households recycle part of their rubbish each week. In Australia there is also a system of capturing gas produced at landfill sites and using this to create electricity.

Collections are generally weekly, although there may be regional variations on this. Your local authority will be able to tell you when and how often your bins will be emptied. Bins will vary in colour so that they can be easily identified. Recycling and household waste bins are usually collected on the same day and as in the UK and the US, different neighbourhoods will have their bins emptied on different days. Most authorities will publish this information on their website.

Materials that can be placed in the recycling bin include glass, paper, cardboard, cartons, books, plastic and aluminium cans. A complete list of items that will be accepted in your area can be supplied by the local authority. There should be no food waste but it is not essential to clean the items, a simple rinse will be enough. You can place most recyclable items in the bin but items such as old furniture which can be broken down and recycled in parts should be taken to a transfer centre or landfill site that has the facility to deal with it.

In addition to the kerbside collections you can also take your recycling to one of the many recycling points. Landfill sites often have containers for recyclable items and these include household white goods, garden waste and the general plastics, paper and glass that you would normally put in your recycling bin. In some areas there may be a charge for taking some items from you. If you have a large amount of recyclable material each week and find that your bin is too small then you can request an additional bin. The request should be made directly to the local authorities but you will be asked to ensure that you are packing the bin properly first, by crushing tins and collapsing down boxes so that they take up less space in the bin. Australian households are also asked to consider the items that they buy, as purchasing items with less packaging can mean less waste in the first place.

It is considered that Australians are some of the best recyclers in the world. In New South Wales nearly 50% of all waste is recycled, but it is estimated that nearly 80% of all household waste can be recycled. There is an annual ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ where volunteers collected litter and rubbish and over the 15 years that the project has been running more than 200,000 tonnes of rubbish has been collected. This scheme and the general policy on recycling have been developed as Australia was once one of the largest producers of waste in the world. Australians have responded well to requests to actively recycle the items that they use.

Most homes are connected to mains drainage systems for wastewater and sewerage. In rural areas many homes are connected to private drainage systems. If this is the case then the home owner is responsible for having the septic tank emptied when it needs to be done. The drainage for your home can be clarified with the local authorities and in rural areas there are private firms that can be hired for the emptying of the septic tank.

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