Inner West Independent

‘Do something thoughtful,’ Inner West war on waste

Inner west street artists were commissioned to revamp discarded fridges otherwise destined for landfill. According to OPEK (Organic Planet Earth Kustodian), current landfills are running almost at full capacity. Photo: Supplied.

By EVA BAXTER

As Planet Ark’s National Recycling Week nears its end, the Independent examines the recent ways the inner west is warring with waste.

Coinciding with National Recycling Week 2020, Planet Ark released a report that found, as a result of COVID, 70% of councils had increased volumes of general waste in kerbside bins and 45% of councils reported increased contamination in kerbside recycling bins.

3 issues were identified by councils as the most common mistakes residents make, all involving soft plastic contamination.

“Australians tend to carry recyclables to kerbside bin by hand, however those that carry them in single use plastic bags (10%) are often also putting those bags in the recycling bin.”

28% of packaging is being disposed in the wrong bin or directly disposed to landfill. 38% of Australians incorrectly believe that soft plastics can be recycled in their kerbside bin.

Council course-of-action

Inner West Council’s ‘Our Inner West 2036’ is a strategic plan identifying an ecologically sustainable inner west as a vision for the future of the community, including making the inner west zero-waste with an active share economy.

The council strategies support avoiding waste, reusing, repairing, recycling and sharing, and to provide local reuse and recycling infrastructure, and divert organic material from landfill and advocate for Extended Producer Responsibility.

Inner West Council recently teamed up with RecycleSmart to make recycling tough stuff “as easy as ordering an Uber.”

Residents can now book a collection of recyclable materials that can’t be recycled in yellow recycling bins like soft plastics, batteries, light globes, clothing, toys, white polystyrene, and small electrical items.

Council also offers drop off and collection services and council clean-ups for tricky, bulky, sharp, or chemical waste.

Council commenced an updated collection service on July 5th which allows households to organise their own collection when required, as opposed to previously conforming to a schedule.

The service keeps the streets cleaner, however some residents miss being able to see something they need or want on the footpath and pick it up.

Greens candidate Kobi Shetty told the Independent, “many people are frustrated about the scheduled bulk rubbish collections being cancelled and would like to have them reinstated so that more stuff can be reused.”

Fridge refresh

Artist Nico said, “this campaign aims to change the narrative around used items, from being considered as garbage to something that can be reimagined and remain relevant and useful.”

Five inner west street artists were commissioned by the Bottle-O to revamp discarded fridges kicked to the kerb and rescued and reserviced by the bottle shop chain.

“The Fridge O-doption Program is showing Aussies that with a little love, our old appliances can be given a whole new life.”

Artists Pabs, Nico, Lachlan Heavymetal, Sindy Sinn and Kim Siew decorated the old fridges with unique designs, turning the whitegoods into art.

Kim Siew told the Independent, “I loved the idea of fridges being collected and given a new life. I just thought it was an amazing thing because you see so much illegal dumping everywhere and especially whitegoods.

“It’s just such a shame to think that everything ends up in landfill when actually you can do something thoughtful with them.”

Siew upcycles, and hosts workshops with kids that focus on sustainable materials and using what’s on hand.

A big switch for her was using sustainable packaging to deliver items sold through her Etsy store.

“I would put prints in a plastic sleeve because it’s protection from wet weather, put them in a mailer and send them out.

“Now I think every step is a bit more thoughtful. Tissue paper instead of plastic wrap, recycled mailer instead of just a plastic bubble wrap mailer. Just making those little steps is really good.”

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