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Owners Corporation Waste Management: Watch Your Recyclables


The fallout from China’s foreign recycling import ban continues to affect property owners and waste management service providers alike.

China announced it would no longer import recyclable waste products from overseas counties in July 2017, and all of a sudden, Australian recyclers had to find somewhere else for the 619,000 tonnes of materials China used to take on board.

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The result has meant that recyclers have become a lot more picky with respect to what they deem as acceptable when taking loads of recyclable waste.

The big issue for recyclers is the high level of contamination in recyclable bins, which greatly diminishes the recyclable value of the materials and the amount of processing required.

Plastic shopping bags, sticky tape left on cardboard boxes and foam packaging are the biggest contaminants, according to iDump director Matt Cetiner.

“Plastic bags and packaging foam simply are not recyclable. They should not go in recyclable bins,” he said.

“Any cardboard boxes that are thrown in the bin with other stuff in it, even if it has sticky tape on it, aren’t recyclable.

“What’s happening with the China is ban is that where recycling companies used to accept a certain amount of contaminated recyclables, they’re not accepting it anymore because they have nowhere to send it to. There’s no market for it any more.”


Companies like iDump are now risking their reputation and their business every time they take a contaminated load of recyclables.

“Even if they see a handful of shopping bags in the load, they’ll charge the whole lot as general waste,” Mr. Cetiner explained.

“On top of that, we get a $400 fine and if a company does it three or four times then they’ll cancel their account. They won’t be able to take waste there anymore.”

Waste management contractors are not allowed to sort through the bins they pick up, due to Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) issues.

“Our drivers aren’t allowed to put their hands in the bins to sort through them,” Mr. Cetiner said.

“So they’ll look in the bin and if there’s a lot of contaminated waste, they’ll just take it as general waste.

“If they can’t see much on the top, but they see a lot of contamination as they’re tipping it into the bin, they’ll put it back and leave it for the general waste to pick up.

“Otherwise we will get the $400 fine and risk having our account cancelled.”

To avoid this, and ensure that your property’s recycling bin is used for recycling, it is up to every occupant to ensure that they only place recyclable items in the bins and remove all forms of contamination themselves.

“We have signs [see above] at all the properties where we pick up waste that show what is and isn’t recyclable,” Mr. Cetiner said.

Owners and occupants alike should become increasingly wary of what they put in their recycling bins to avoid increased costs.

“It’s affecting everyone, not just us at iDump,” Mr. Cetiner said.

“As costs increase, it will eventually affect the property owners as well.”

If you are concerned about improper recycling at your property, call Strata Plan today to chat about potential solutions for your community.

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