We're in the dumps when it comes to recycling


p1909rcycletonysatourBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Pop this one into the lively $75m power house debate: The good news is we could turn rubbish into electricity. The bad news is right now we’re wasting waste.
Here’s one for your next quiz night: Q – Which state or territory recycles the least amount of their rubbish. A – The NT, with 9%.
And now for 20 points: Q – Are we 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25% behind the next poorest performer? A – The nearest is Tasmania which recycles 33%.
The highest recycler, beating us by a factor of nearly nine, is the ACT (79%), followed by SA (78%), NSW (65%), Victoria (62%), Queensland (52%) and WA (39%).
The numbers, based on tonnes per head of population per year, are from the Federal Environment Department’s National Waste Reporting initiative in 2013. These are the latest figures available.
The good news is that we are the second lowest producer of waste, 1.32 tonnes, although illegal dumping is a problem and these amounts would of course not be included in the statistics. The biggest generators of garbage are the ACT and WA with 2.56 tonnes each.
Local consulting engineer Paul Darvodelsky says not all is lost: “I think there is a good case for waste to energy (WtE) for Alice Springs and the Territory.
“It’s not the end game – the point is to reduce wastage for the next 20 years or so whilst we transition to fully renewable energy.  So just a stepping stone.”
Mr Darvodelsky says: “Previous estimates when I looked at this was a WtE plant would cost around $20 to $30 million for Alice Springs and generate about 15% of power baseload as well as potentially providing hot water for the town pool (which I’m told costs a lot to heat).
“So advantages are energy, getting rid of landfill and associated greenhouse gas emissions, hot water, a new grass roots industry for Alice and, I guess, a project a government can can crow about.
“Disadvantages are, it’s not the most renewable thing – we shouldn’t really be making much, if any waste – and community concerns over emissions although there is no real health risk if it’s built properly.
Related reading: Burn, not bury rubbish: Incinerator plan.
PHOTO from our archive: Tony Satour doing the right thing.


  1. A new, grass roots industry for Alice Springs … what a terrific idea!
    That’ll create jobs, be good for the environmental economy, invite tourism opportunities and help deliver a brighter, cleaner and more efficient future for the good people of town.
    Really like it when people create opportunities and thinking outside of the norm. Good luck with this.
    Phil Walcott
    Independent candidate for Braitling

  2. YES! YES! YES! There is so much that could be done! Environmentally friendly practises are just really lacking out here unfortunately, and it is sad to see with all the potential of free sun every day. Let’s do our best to make it happen – together!


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