GreenYes Digest V96 #63

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GreenYes Digest Sun, 29 Dec 96 Volume 96 : Issue 63

Today's Topics:
NO WASTE BY 2010: Canberra Document
Waste Prevention.Musing

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Date: Sat, 28 Dec 96 22:48:42 PST
Subject: NO WASTE BY 2010: Canberra Document

The following document describes Canberra's (Australia) plan to eliminate solid
waste by 2010. I have reproduced the Introduction and Executive Summary here.
The entire document (66K) is available at:

--Bill Sheehan

A Waste Management Strategy for Canberra


By 2010 it is envisaged that waste will have been eliminated by a community

* has encouraged the producers of goods to take responsibility for the
form in which their products are sold to ensure that waste is not
generated with the initial production, during use or at the end of the
product's life;

* has created an environment for developing innovative solutions to avoid
generating waste;

* only buys what it needs. Whether they be building materials or [Image]
groceries, waste is avoided by efficient buying and production

* has created cost-effective methods for recovering resources so that
materials can either be re-used or reprocessed into valuable products;
* has created industries dealing in unwanted materials;

* has extended the opportunities for resource recovery to the Canberra
region; and

* takes pride in its achievements in eliminating waste and includes
environmental education as a key element in achieving the vision.

A Waste Management Strategy for Canberra


In a natural eco-system there is a balance whereby the wastes from one
process become the resources for other processes. Nothing is wasted. In a
consumer society waste is an accepted part of life. A strategy is needed to
reverse this trend and prevent leaving future generations the legacy of our

The Waste Management Strategy for Canberra has been developed to set the
vision and future directions for waste management in the Australian Capital
Territory. The strategy is the result of extensive community consultation
which has identified a strong desire to achieve a waste free society by

Improving current waste management practices will provide opportunities to
develop new and innovative businesses with significant employment potential
as well as establishing Canberra as a centre of excellence in sustainable
resource management.

Although ambitious, reaching no waste by 2010 is achievable with the
willingness, co-operation and participation of all sectors of the Canberra

The strategy establishes a framework for sustainable resource management and
lists broad actions which are needed to achieve the aim of a waste-free

These include: Community Commitment, Avoidance and Reduction, Resource
Recovery, Residual Waste Management, and Creative Solutions.

1. Community Commitment

The success of this strategy will rely largely on the acceptance and
commitment of the community. Information programs aimed at raising awareness
coupled with feedback to the community, are essential. There will be rewards
and recognition for successful community initiatives which reduce waste .

2. Avoidance and Reduction

A waste inventory must be developed so the community can identify all wastes
being either generated or recycled. The inventory will include quantities,
qualities and the full costs of each type of waste. Only then can benchmarks
be set and performances monitored.

Individuals will be encouraged to reduce waste by making sound decisions
when they buy products. Specific programs will be developed to enable people
to adopt smart purchasing practices.

ACT industries will be encouraged to adopt cleaner production practices in
order to reduce emissions and by -products during production. Cleaner
production and waste reduction agreements will be negotiated with industries
operating in the ACT.

As a first step, industries will be encouraged to audit their waste to
improve their environmental performance. In future, it may be necessary to
introduce mandatory waste audits.

3. Resource Recovery

Infrastructure will need to be established to accelerate the process of
turning waste into resources. The development of Resource Recovery Estates,
dedicated to separating, reprocessing and value-adding materials, will help
solve many disposal problems and provide employment opportunities. These
estates will include educational centres, workshops and cottage industries.

Similarly, a Resource Exchange Network will also be established to match the
unwanted outputs from one process with the needs for such resources in other
activities. A Resource Exchange Network will promote markets for recovered
products, provide a central data base of available materials and indicate
their potential re-uses.

4. Residual Waste Management

Promoting best practice in waste management will require the development of
systems that are safe and environmentally responsible, the rationalisation
of recycling and waste handling infrastructures and the redesign of
landfills to maximise the recovery of resources.

Landfill charges will need to recognise the full environmental costs of
disposal and encourage resource recovery.

5. Creative Solutions

Research and development will play a key role in identifying innovative
solutions to maximise resource recovery. This will go hand in hand with
identifying, developing and promoting new markets for sustainable resource

Links will need to be fostered with peak community, government and industry
groups to influence decisions for waste management, and with industry and
research organisations to develop new waste management practices. This will
need to be done on a regional level.

This strategy promotes a more integrated and strategic approach to resource
management. This approach is consistent with the ecologically sustainable
development principles promoted in the National Capital Beyond 2000
Strategic Plan, waste minimisation legislation in NSW, the ACT and
Sub-region Planning Strategy and moves to develop a regional waste
strategy through the Regional Leaders Forum.

6. Making It Happen

Waste inventory and benchmarks.


Current waste management practices evolved from the need to maintain public

With the concentration of populations in cities and increasing consumerism,
the waste management systems had to cope with ever increasing volumes of
waste. By the 1970's engineered landfill was identified as the accepted
standard for waste disposal.

In Australia, landfills are the dominant waste disposal option. In recent
years, however, it has become more difficult to establish new landfills as
tighter environmental controls have been introduced. Incinerating waste has
been suggested as an alternative to landfills, but these are expensive to
construct and costly to run. Local communties have expressed opposition to
waste disposal sites in their "backyards".

The cost of waste disposal has increased appreciably in recent years and has
forced communities to review the present one-way system of production,
consumption and disposal.

By 1990, governments were trying to find ways of sustaining development. A
new term emerged as result - Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). In
recognition that existing waste practises need to change for ESD to be
achieved, all Australian governments have made a commitment to minimise

The absence of heavy industry in Canberra limits wastes to those generated
by teritary industries, such as public administration; tourism, building and
construction and householders.

Considerable progress has been made toward achieving the national target of
halving waste by the turn of the century. Total waste delivered to ACT
landfill sites decreased by 39% from 415, 798 tonnes in 1993-94 to 252,068
tonnes in 1995-96. This is largely as a result of introducing waste disposal
charges at landfill with major reductions in demolition waste, clean fill
and organic garden waste being dumped. (Table 1).

Recycling has also made a significant impact in reducing waste. The
community has participated strongly in using the comprehensive range of
recycling services available, including the kerbside collections of paper
and containers, garden waste composting, demolition waste reprocessing,
clothing collection, metal and oil recovery as well as landfill salvage by
Revolve. The results of these two recycling activites are detailed in Table

There is an established hierachy for waste management which has a preferred
option of avoiding waste and a least preferred option of disposal.

Significant progress has been made in reducing some waste by
providing recycling alternatives which have been supported by education
programs and introducing disposal fees.

The scope for making further gains in reducing waste will depend on
developing markets for recovered materials, new technologies that minimise
waste and the provision of infrastructure to recover a wider range of

Entire document is available at:

For further information contact:


Date: Sun, 29 Dec 1996 06:23:05 -0500
Subject: Waste Prevention.Musing

At the risk of being politically incorrect on an issue many of us hold dear,
I am concerned about the future of "repair." This stems from some miserable
experiences in the past two months trying to get electronic machines

I sent my VCR (non-warranty) to Circuit City's repair center, which charged
me $20 for even an estimate. I figured it was worth it because I thought the
problem was fairly simple and I would have them repair it. They came back
with an outrageous estimate which basically said they would rebuild the
machine. I took it back and eventually found a local hole-in-the-wall that
only works on TVs and VCRs. They repaired it for half the Circuit City
estimate and in just a couple of hours. I wish I'd found them first, but

Then my answering machine broke (also non-warranty). Since it's also part of
my fax and phone, I was in trouble over this one. Fortunately, Panasonic had
a repair facility south of San Francisco and had a ready-made shipping
process arranged through Pak-Mail. However, Panasonic could not explain the
shipping/repair process to me, I could never get through to the repair shop
on the phone (although they did answer my faxes within 24 hours), and
Pak-Mail did not tell me that they only ship on Fridays (which cost me almost
an extra week in down-time). Eventually I got my answering machine/fax/phone
back (while I was traveling, when I had asked them to hold it) but the
technician had caused an additional problem which he could not help me fix
over the phone. I had to send it back. It returned with yet another problem .
. . . This went on for over a month.

Then my printer broke (still under warranty). This time I had to deal with
Hewlett-Packard. They, too, had a ready-made shipping process with Federal
Express, but they could only arrange shipping one day ahead of time, when I
would have to be home for at least a 4-hour period, and when that magic day
finally arrived, they messed up the orders and didn't notify FedEx to pick up
my machine. After I took it to FedEx myself (they had to give me their own
FedEx # to do that, which they didn't want to do, but did), it went off to
Oregon and just arrived back. I haven't checked it yet to find out whether
it's operating properly. I hope it is.

The point of all this is not simply to vent frustration, although there's
certainly been a lot of that. Sometimes I had to spend almost a whole day
tracking down just how to fit into each company's repair process, with
numerous phone calls, and then try to make it happen. I was surprised at how
many usually quite environmentally aware friends said to me, "I guess you're
doing this because your work is so dedicated to recycling, so you really HAVE
to do it, don't you?" Implying that they'd just chuck the machines and buy
new ones.

After the amount of frustration and lost work-time and stress and effort and
hair-pulling involved, I can understand why. After all, my business depends
on machines like these. If I were a big corporation, I suppose it wouldn't be
such a problem; I might have plenty of other machines to substitute and
someone to send and receive packages at any time. As a small business, like a
lot of other small businesses, I don't have that luxury, although I did
arrange backups through the telephone company and my computer fax software
that helped me limp through.

Panasonic had no loaner program. HP did have an interesting arrangement: If I
wanted to pay $65 more, they would deliver to me the next day someone ELSE's
repaired machine for my permanent use, and take mine to fix on their own time
to give to someone else with a similar need in the future.

What concerns me is that if it's so difficult and requires so much effort to
get products repaired from major companies that obviously have worked hard
to set up repair systems, how can we sell "repair" as a viable option to more
consumerism? I'm worried that it could approach the situation with returnable
bottles, which are nice to recommend in theory, but impossible to put into
practice in all but scattered, small situations because the once-national
returnable bottle system has been dismantled and destroyed. Are we going that
way with repair, too?

Susan Kinsella


End of GreenYes Digest V96 #63