Rubbish might not be the most interesting topic to think about, but it is important that we dispose of it correctly. When we understand some of the misconceptions and myths about rubbish, we are better able to make decisions and reduce the impact we have on the environment.
Rubbish, waste & recycling myths
1. “There’s no point recycling, it goes into one truck and is sent to a landfill”
After your rubbish is collected, it goes to Auckland’s recovery facilities. It is then separated into steel and aluminium, paper and cardboard, plastic and glass. Recyclables are baled and sent to businesses that process or remanufacture them into new products.
Most of Auckland’s recycling is sorted automatically. Paper and cardboard is separated with a vibrating machine, scanners identify different types of plastic, whilst metal items are removed using magnets. All that remains at the end of the process is glass, which is sorted by colour.
2. “Garden waste biodegrades, so it’s okay to send that to landfill”
While it will break down eventually, it does so very slowly.
Most landfills are tightly packed and anaerobic – which means “living in the absence of air”. With little air, there will be few microorganisms to break matter down.
The greater concern is that this environment creates methane. If methane leaks into the air it absorbs the sun’s heat and warms the atmosphere. For this reason, methane is considered a greenhouse gas.
It is better to compost garden waste at home. Compost is rich in beneficial fungi and bacteria that help plants to grow and stay healthy. If you don’t want to compost it yourself, it’s a good idea to hire a garden waste collection service who will dispose of it correctly so that it doesn’t go on to create unwanted methane.
3. “There is a floating “island” of rubbish in the pacific”
Whilst the “Pacific Trash Vortex” sparked headlines a few years ago, there was little evidence found when researchers undertook a thorough survey of the area.
“The continued use of verbiage such as ‘plastic islands’, ’twice the size of Texas’, is pure hyperbole that I personally believe undermines the credibility of those that should be focused on helping reduce the source stream of marine debris to our oceans.”
However, we should dispose of our plastic waste carefully. The vast majority of plastic in the oceans is tiny, but it can be ingested by animals when feeding. Also, our inner harbours get polluted with plastics and at higher concentrations than in the Pacific Ocean.
4: “Tetra Pak’s can’t be recycled”
This used to be true, but for the past few years, Auckland processing facilities have been recycling Tetra Pak packaging.
“Once the cartons and cups are collected, they are baled and shipped to recycling mills in Australia, India and Korea. They are then soaked in water to separate the paper from the plastic and/or aluminium layers, and the content is turned into products like cardboard boxes toilet paper, tissue and notebooks. The separated aluminium foil can be made into roof tiles and plastic pots, or gasified to make energy”.
5: “Wasting food isn’t a big deal”
The food production chain outputs carbon dioxide. “It is estimated that consumers in high-income countries discard up to 30 percent of fruit and vegetable purchases and trim products up to 33 percent by weight during household preparation”.
There is also a moral consideration. We have plenty of food in New Zealand but many people in the world go hungry, so we should take care not to waste it. The waste must then be collected and processed for disposal, which all adds to our cost of living.
6: “It’s easier to do it yourself”
If you’ve got more than a few items, especially if some of the items need to be disposed of at different sites, then it can be easier to hire someone to collect it for you.
Hiring rubbish removal professionals can be so much easier than dealing with home waste yourself. They have the right equipment and will load and sweep up for you. This leaves you free time for the more important things in life.
7: “Landfills poison the environment”
We should keep waste to a minimum, but landfill can help the environment.
While it’s a good idea to reduce what we put in a landfill, modern landfills do help to reduce environmental impact. The land is eventually reclaimed and many housing developments, parks, and golf courses are built on recovered landfills.
Due to good management, toxin leakage is thankfully rare in New Zealand. Whilst problems can occur, councils take their environmental responsibilities seriously and look to mitigate such risks.
8: “Recycling costs more than sending rubbish to landfill”
The recycling process can be more expensive than putting rubbish directly into a landfill, but we need to consider the lifetime cost.
For example, the cost of land is increasing whilst the cost of recycling is falling. In almost every instance a tonne of waste recycled is much cheaper than a tonne of waste landfilled.
What you can do
The most effective thing you can do to minimise waste is to reduce what you buy, especially disposable items. Try to buy longer lasting items.
Try to reuse items as much as possible. Can you think up a new use for that thing you’re about to throw out? Could someone else make use of it?
Compost at home. Commercial methods of composting require the use of oil-reliant machinery and a sped-up method of oxidising organic matter at a high heat to get it to break down quickly. It’s a lot more environmentally friendly to compost at home.
However, all homes generate some waste. If you don’t have time to take care of it yourself, call the professionals at Junk2Go and we’ll make sure your rubbish is disposed of quickly and correctly.
Junk2Go is an established rubbish removal service catering to the Auckland region. We remove rubbish and junk from just about anywhere – from houses, shops, offices, schools, cafes, building sites, sporting events, garages, storage facilities and lock ups.