ACT News


Heavy load on the road to waste

EVERY weekday about 200 truckloads of rubbish arrive at Mugga Lane tip. On average that is 739 tonnes, but Canberrans are also filling the tip with items that could be recycled and have pushed forward the closure of the dump.

Almost a decade after every Canberrans household received a recycling bin, a 2004 audit of kerbside garbage found over a quarter of what was sent to the dump could be recycled. The last domestic waste audit in 2009 found about 13 per cent of kerbside waste could be reused.

Waste audits have been done every two or three years, but a spokesman from Territory and Municipal Services said another audit had not been scheduled.

On a tour of the landfill face, vast tracts of cardboard, paint tins and tree waste were visible.

Director of ACT NOWaste Chris Ware said a new compactor was purchased about two years ago to increase the life of the tip. For every cubic metre of space, 950 kilograms of waste is compressed in.


"A grab claw goes through and picks out metals ... things that end up here that shouldn't. We do some recovery up here, but we rely on people to sort it out before they send it to landfill," Mr Ware said.

According to the 2009 report, 39 per cent of garbage sent to the tip was food and kitchen waste, 6.6 per cent was garden and kitchen organic waste and 2.3 per cent was newspaper and magazines.

Since the last audit, plastic bags have been banned in the territory and Mr Ware said there seemed to be fewer flying around.

"People still buy bags to put their garbage in, but they have become precious."

The last audit recorded 5.9 per cent of the rubbish thrown out by residents was in plastic bags.

Mr Ware said the ACT has a resource recovery rate of more than 70 per cent. But this has dropped down from its peak of 75 per cent in 2005-06.

The current landfill is due to run out in 2015.