Page 4227 - Week 13 - Thursday, 25 November 1993

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Recycling - Plastic Bags

Mr Cornwell asked the Minister for Urban Services:

Has consideration been given to installing plastic bag collection points at ACT Recycling Centres and, if so, what was the decision; if not, why not.

Mr Connolly - the answer to the members question is as follows:

The recycling of plastic is complex given that each type of plastic must be collected separately. There are seven major plastic grades each with its own unique chemical composition and are identified by the number 1-7 inside the recycling triangle.

All grades of plastic are light and often bulky, making collection difficult. This is compounded by the usually low prices and lack of markets for recycled plastic products.

Despite these limitations the ACT Government Recycling Unit has been actively pursuing further plastic recycling opportunities within the ACT, currently collecting PET (Grade 1) and HDPE (Grade 2).

The recycling of plastic shopping bags is inhibited by collection and segregation costs and the lack of markets. It takes 750 000 plastic shopping bags to make a tonne which, after sorting as plastic bags are usually made from a mixture of grades 2 and 4, would have a value of approximately $100.

The kerbside recycling trial currently operating in Kaleen, Melba and Dickson has shown that plastic shopping bags are easily contaminated by food scraps, dockets and fruit ends. Once contaminated the plastic shopping bags are unsuitable for recycling.

Instead of recycling plastic shopping bags, the Recycling Unit is promoting and encouraging the community of Canberra to "re-use" their old shopping bags or use string bags when ever they do their shopping.

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