Alice Springs reduces waste and reliance on natural resources

Article image - Alice Springs reduces waste and reliance on natural resources Mayor Ryan and Minister Hampton lay a concrete footpath in a residential area of Alice Springs using the recycled glass as a replacement for river sand.

In June, Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan and Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia and the Environment Karl Hampton officially opened Alice Springs Town Council’s new glass crushing facility.

The facility will be used mainly to process glass collected as part of Council’s Cash for Glass and Aluminium Beverage Containers recycling initiative. It is the largest glass crusher in regional Australia.

“This will put Alice Springs well and truly on the map of being a place that is innovative and looking at ways we can recycle our waste,” Minister Hampton said.

Glass crushed at the recycling facility is being used in non load bearing cements, such as footpaths, as well as in reflective paint used on Central Australian roads.

Council launched the Cash for Containers initiative in July 2009. The scheme is available to all Council residents for a maximum 500 containers per person, per day, and the deposit centre is open two days a week.

Residents receive a payment of five cents per aluminium or glass drink container. The collected glass is then crushed using the new facility, while aluminium cans are crushed and sent interstate for recycling.

The program has proved so popular with the local community that more than seven million containers were voluntarily collected in the program’s first year of operation. As such, Council will now continue this successful scheme into 2011, dedicating $400,000 from its budget to run the scheme, including a $300,000 grant from the Northern Territory Government.

In the past, Alice Springs Town Council has spent a high percentage of ratepayer’s funds on litter. Unlike many major metropolitan councils, it has been constrained in its efforts to offer long term kerbside recycling to local residents, due mostly to a small population size and the cost of recycling per tonnage making it financially unsustainable. These cost prohibitive issues are further compounded by the lack of regional or remote recycling facilities in Central Australia until now.

In 2011, the Northern Territory Government will introduce a Territory wide Cash for Containers scheme. But at the 21st Environment Protection and Heritage Council meeting held in Darwin in July, Minister Hampton urged Environment Minister’s from around the country to follow the lead of South Australia and the Northern Territory in introducing Container Deposit Legislation (CDL).

Mayor Ryan has also put his full support behind the push for a National Container Deposit Legislation.

“In a remote location with a population of fewer then 30,000 people, the community has handed in more then seven million glass and aluminium drink containers,” Mayor Ryan said. “In my eyes, that’s seven million more reasons to tackle CDL in the Territory and right across Australia.”