Day 32. Waste

In September 2012 on September 13, 2012 at 11:34 am

Until yesterday, I was somewhat in the dark about exactly what happens to our household waste and recycling.

A trip to Wingfield Waste and Recycling Centre with my son’s Year 3 class has set me straight.

Now I’m not usually a sucker for big machinery and equipment, but mate this place was brilliant! Immediately following our arrival from the neatly-kept Eastern suburbs of Adelaide, we were straight into the guts and the glory. A couple of teachers, some lovely Mums, 30-odd kids and I piled into a bus and were driven directly into an enormous shed filled with household garbage and a couple of hundred scavenging squawking seagulls. There were multiple rubbish trucks, a front-end loader, a compactor and an enormous pincer all in action. Like traffic in Jakarta, it seemed random but I’m sure everyone knew their place and role. The kids were simply enthralled. I heard one lad claim,

I saw 8 seagulls get killed.


The compacted contents of that shed – including dead seagulls – were destined for landfill 70 kms north of Adelaide.

But there was more. We drove up what seemed like mountains of rubble to sites operated by Adelaide Resource Recovery. Here construction and demolition material was dumped, sorted and distributed for re-use, mostly as Recycled Rubble. We saw the sorting area for materials collected in mini-skips (those big rectangular collection bins), where plastics, metals, timber, cardboard and wood were separated and redistributed. We saw black pipes emerge from the ground here and there, apparent carriers of methane derived from rotting landfill below us: this methane powers houses in estates not far from the centre. We saw piles of hard plastics, which would be compacted and sent to China to be melted down and re-used to make interiors for new cars. We saw the Himalayas of garden clippings; enormous mounds of green and other once-living materials which would be purified of contaminating barbies (yes, barbies!), hoses and plastic potting mix bags and sold by Jeffries in their final form as garden compost.

After returning to the on-site activity centre and completing some KESAB-run work sheets, our new knowledge was firmly set in place.

An excellent excursion all in all. Now to tackle my pile of newspapers.


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