Tonnes dumped after WA fire
Recycled material has been dumped in landfill in the weeks since a fire destroyed one of the Western Australia’s biggest recycling facilities.
Cleanaway's $20 million facility in Perth's east caught fire last month, destroying large compacted bales of recycled material.
Dozens if local governments that had contracts with Cleanaway for kerbside waste collection have been forced to dump their recyclables, and are scrambling to put interim measures in place.
There is no time frame on when services will return to normal.
Some local governments have been told not to stockpile material as it could create a further fire risk.
The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder says it generates about 180 tonnes of recycling each month, which now has to be dumped at a refuse station in town.
“The fire immediately caused a cessation in them taking any refuse or recycling material, so at the moment it's all going into landfill,” CEO John Walker said.
“Our kerbside collection continues, people still put their recycling in the bin, we collect it … but we're dumping it in the tip.”
Cleanaway has held discussions with the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) about sending material to its Canning Vale facility.
“SMRC has commenced ramping up its operations to achieve its maximum capacity,” the company's WA general manager Brad Gornall said.
“From Monday 2 December 2019, an amount of co-mingled recycling will commence being diverted to SMRC.
“Unfortunately, the recycling processing capacity within the Perth market is unable to absorb the entire volume that was processed by the Guildford Materials Recovery Facility.
“It is inevitable that some co-mingled recycling may continue to be diverted to landfill once SMRC reaches its maximum capacity.”
Reports say 20 councils had contracts with Cleanaway.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson is displeased with the situation.
“I am scandalised to hear that some material that is capable of being recycled is going to landfill,” he told reporters this week.
“It simply should not be happening and is symptomatic of our need to increase capacity to process recycling in Western Australia.
“I've asked the director general for urgent advice about how the material could be diverted.”
Mr Dawson said the state has three other major recyclers that should have the capacity to deal with the recyclable material generated.
“The forced shutdown of one of these facilities due to fire has significantly impacted on that capacity,” he said.
“I urge Cleanaway to find solutions and ensure that the WA community to can remain confident in our recycling system.”