China’s refusal to no longer accept Australia’s recycling material has presented beer drinkers with a rare chance to do something productive for society.
For the last ten years, Australia has exported approximately half it’s recyclable material collected from the curbside – paper, plastic and metals – to China.
This has alleviated the issue of landfill in Australia, but apparently created an issue of landfill in China. Last month, China popped up and said it will no longer take our rubbish.
It sounded just like what an emerging superpower would say, but then again maybe they’ve got enough home-grown garbage to deal with.
The upshot is, back in Australia, the whole fortnightly thing with the yellow wheelie bin is suddenly looming as a recycling charade at best, or if councils continue to charge for recycling, only to shove it in landfill with all the other garbage, false pretence.
Last week Ipswich council put the issue on the agenda when it pulled it’s curbside recycling program, the mayor claiming in the absence of China, he couldn’t find a local contractor willing to take the so-called recyclable stuff because they couldn’t turn a buck. Others councils are tipped to follow if we can’t find economically viable recycling methods, particularly in regional areas.
The reaction in Ipswich was outrage. The public wanted to believe that by sorting their stuff before it was taken away, they were being part of the solution. But if it’s being taken away to landfill, it seems we’ll remain very much part of the problem.
Various government bodies are meeting next week to thrash out a solution, one of which might be to focus on cutting down on waste … so crazy it just might work.
The one silver lining, from an environmentally conscious beer drinker’s perspective, is that metals like aluminium remain a goer when it comes to turning a recycling buck.
Without making light of the issue, I immediately noted there was another small thing, beyond installing solar, reusable coffee cups and compost, I could do to help save my planet – by swinging over from stubbies to cans.
It’s something I’ve been considering of late anyhow. The rise of craft beer has seen the benchmark size of the glass stubbie reduced from 375ml to 330ml which has seemed like an outrageous rip to make us pay more for less. This idea of quality over quantity is a contentious issue for many beer drinkers, anyhow, particularly when you can get craft beer in cans these days.
This recycling crisis is, for mine, the final nail in the glass stubbie coffin. I get more beer in a can (until they reduce the size of those too, just like they did with chips). Cans be recycled economically. And cans don’t make as much noise when you dump them in the bin next morning. Win, win, win.
As for the rest of my rampant consumerism, here’s hoping necessity is the mother of recycling invention, otherwise we’re facing some challenging environmental choices in the near future.