Paper and cardboard processed through the ACT materials recovery facility (MRF) will be temporarily stored to manage the impacts of the bushfire crisis in NSW.
According to Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel, the MRF at Hume processes approximately 470 tonnes of paper and cardboard each week from kerbside recycling bins, local council areas and commercial entities.
Mr Steel said the material is then packaged and sent to a Visy pulp and paper mill in Tumut, for recycling into paper and cardboard products.
“The operator of the MRF, Re.Group, has advised the ACT Government that although the Visy mill at Tumut has not been directly impacted by the fires, a number of their plantations and stored wood chips were burnt around the Eden area,” Mr Steel said.
“Visy’s products are manufactured using a combination of recycled content and wood chips, and the impact of the fire on the plantations means that Visy temporarily needs to slow production of recycled paper and cardboard.”
As Visy has been unable to accept all of the ACT’s paper recycling at this time, Mr Steel said the Hume MRF has reached storage capacity.
“While about half the volume of paper and cardboard will continue to be sent to Visy each week, the ACT Government has taken the decision to temporarily store the remaining material at Mugga Lane and West Belconnen resource management facilities over the coming weeks,” Mr Steel said.
“The additional storage locations have been determined in consultation with ACT Fire and Rescue to minimise fire safety risks, and ACT Fire and Rescue has also been involved in assessing the stockpiles at the Hume MRF.”
Mr Steel said temporarily storing the baled paper will help prevent land filling in the short term, while the state government waits for the recycling industry to recover from the fires and process the material.
“Landfilling is the last resort, and will only be considered if the recycling industry is unable to recover and increase production levels, and stored material can no longer be safely managed,” Mr Steel said.
“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with Re.Group to review arrangements and explore all options to avoid landfilling paper and cardboard. Re.Group are actively looking for other markets to sell the recycled paper and cardboard to and have been advised by Visy that they are working to resume full operations as soon as possible.”