Plastic recycling piles up in Hobart as councils urged to drop service fees


Updated Sat at 2:56am



The TLGA says it is “business as usual” at the Hobart facility despite plastic piling up.

ABC News: Jessica Hayes

Bales of plastic are piling up in a Tasmanian recycling depot, as local governments across the state’s south scramble to find somewhere to send the product.

Key points:

  • Plastics previously sent interstate are being stockpiled in Hobart
  • The Local Government Association is “confident” of a resolution
  • Councils are being urged to waive or reduce recycling fees

The Tasmanian Local Government Association has confirmed plastics which were previously sent to Victoria for processing are now being stockpiled.

It comes after recycling company SKM was declared insolvent earlier this month, and an announcement by the Commonwealth that it plans to phase in a ban on the export of recyclable waste overseas.

Several large municipalities, including the Hobart City Council, are among the Tasmanian councils which send recyclables to SKM’s Derwent Park facility in Hobart.

TLGA president Christina Holmdahl said councils were working to urgently address the growing issue.

Christina Holmdahl, standing outside, smiles at the camera.

Photo Christina Holmdahl is confident the Local Government Association will be able to resolve the recycling issue.

ABC News: Laura Beavis

“Since that operation [SKM] stopped a few weeks ago, it’s created an issue — not just for the Victorians but also for the Tasmanian councils in the south that relied on that service to process plastics,” she said.

“We are working as quickly as we can to find an alternative solution to the dilemma that the southern councils find themselves in.

“There’s no doubt there is concern because of what’s happened in Victoria.

“It is very early days because this scenario really only developed earlier this week for Tasmania.

“We are confident that we will be able to resolve this issue, and a number of other operators are being contacted and discussions are happening to ensure we can ensure the recyclable materials are properly processed.”

Ms Holmdahl said it was “always desirable to avoid the storing of recyclables like plastics”.

“We’re encouraging Tasmanians to continue to recycle because there will be a solution as quickly as it can be agreed on,” she said.

“The main concern is that if the mechanics that we want to put into place to ensure that we don’t have to go to landfill, if they take longer, then we would obviously store those materials.”

The TLGA insisted it was “business as usual” at the Hobart facility, despite growing volumes of recyclable materials there.

Large cubes of plastic waste bundled in a huge warehouse.

Photo SKM Recycling was declared insolvent in the Supreme Court of Victoria earlier this month.

ABC News: James Oaten

The Derwent Park site has the capacity to sort waste into glass, cardboard, steel and plastics.

While SKM has established contracts for receiving steel and cardboard that do not go through its Victorian operations, plastics are being stockpiled.

Full story here

71 thoughts on “Plastic recycling piles up in Hobart as councils urged to drop service fees

        • In the UK there have been a number of cases of material being allowed to pile up until an accidental fire conveniently recycles it overnight.

          • Or it is dumped in the countryside, fly tipping it’s called IIRC. I used to drive around Berkshire/Hampshire/Wiltshire cleaning up ByWays and RUPPs that people had dumped rubbish on. You name it, it was there.

          • Yes, fly tipping is on the rise in the UK. Councils responding to the EU Landfill Directive – a law to reduce landfill because the Netherlands is very wet and can’t do much landfill – have made it more difficult – and of course more expensive – to get rid of waste. And so it is costing them rising amounts to clean up the results of their policy but pity the private landowners who have to pay to have it removed from their land or get fined by the council scum for illegally storing rubbish. If you are going to fly tip anything, check through for any address or name details.

        • This article doesn’t mention a reason but this one does as to why a recycling plant in So. Aus. had too close.

          THE Twisted Irony of Deep-Green Energy Policy (RET)

          $14,000 per MWh – the price South Australia Pays for Renewables Madness

          NO BUSINESS, big or small, has been spared SA’s skyrocketing power prices.
          But, perhaps the most symbolic case of a South Australian business shutting its doors due to soaring electricity costs is that of the very green, ethical, eco-friendly, planet saving recycling business “Plastics Granulating Services (PGS)”, based in Kilburn in Adelaide’s inner-north.
          …That is a nation-leading level, which energy experts say has contributed to higher prices and statewide blackouts by undermining baseload power like the “blown-up” Port Augusta coal plant.
          South Australia’s sky-high electricity prices have forced an Adelaide plastics recycling business to shut its doors, costing 35 workers their jobs, its managing director says.
          …Plastics Granulating Services (PGS), based in Kilburn in Adelaide’s inner-north, said it had seen its monthly power bills increase from $80,000 to $180,000 over the past 18 months.
          Managing director Stephen Scherer said the high cost of power had crippled his business of 38 years and plans for expansion, and had led to his company being placed in liquidation…

    • Another word redefined – “recycling”. We are no allowed to dump it in the ocean – let’s ship it somewhere where they can dump it in the ocean.

      • Years ago when visiting New York City, Statue of Liberty, etc. I saw barges loaded with rubbish on the river. I asked friend, resident of New York City, what would happen to the rubbish. He said it would be taken out to sea and dumped!

    • It is vastly simpler and more economic to use it as fuel. Plastic is practically solid NG.

      Recycling makes sense for metal, and in some cases for paper (=when there are paper mills nearby). Not much else.

  1. Refine it back into hydrocarbon fuels. It came from fuel feedstocks. Dump it back into that stream.

  2. As always, the perfect is the enemy of the good. The solution to all the plastic we can’t recycle is to turn it into diesel fuel. link Of course, that doesn’t suit the greenies at all because they demand nothing short of perfection.

    • It has nothing to do with greenies. The problem is that it needs sorting, which is labor intensive. That is what the Chinese are unwilling to do any more, and of course, neither are locals.

        • A brilliant idea. Instead of telling us what we should do, show us how it should be done. Get all the climate scientists to join you, Nick – if they believe their own hype that is.

      • Oh? maybe Im just ignorant, but Im sure the articles says ”Bales of plastic are piling up in a Tasmanian recycling depot”.
        Tasmania had chance to build a furnace to handle waste some years ago, but the NIMBY greenies didn’t want it, made it all political because of the native forest wars thats been going on here for decades. As usual, its always someone elses problem somewhere else.

      • It doesn’t just need sorting Nick.
        Where I live we’re asked to rinse containers clean before we place them in the recycling bins.
        I’ve always wondered how much extra energy & hot water is used by millions of households tending to this requirement.
        (My guess is that the extra energy & water used countermands any environmental benefits that accrue from recycling)

        • Exactly! And in a water short country like Australia, rinsing is a waste of fresh, potable, water. I live in a unit/apartment so can’t collect let, alone store, rain water which I would use for such task.

        • Hi Mr.,
          I had to chastise (nicely, of course) my wife for the amount of time she spent cleaning the ‘recyclable’ material going through our kitchen. My argument was not against the idea that it would in someway assist the recycling process (and in other news, can’t it be burned to produce energy in some way?), my rebuke was to ask her what the poor in underprivileged third world countries would think of us ‘washing our rubbish!’. ‘Our’ arrogance is absolutely blinding.

        • The trash needs to be clean before it’s eventually dumped in a land fill.

          If it’s ground up and used as asphalt and concrete aggregate, it doesn’t need to be clean or sorted.

      • I suggest it is processed to fluff it up into sponges.
        You know, for soaking up liberal tears.

      • The problem is that ‘recycling’ has been virtue-signalling BS from the start. If it made any financial sense, companies would be paying for our junk, not charging us to take it away.

        The entire ‘green’ edifice is tottering because none of it ever made any sense.

    • Yes, there are good ways to convert waste into fuels and bad ways. You have to make specification diesel and jet fuel no matter what, and pyrolysis doesn’t make good fuel without severe hydroprocessing after pyrolysis. But gasification to syngas and then conversion of syngas to fuels does produce high quality products.

  3. It’s just another issue the Green lobby has themselves tied up in knots over. What is strange about that – unintended consequences are their fotre

  4. It is very difficult to recycle mixed plastics and sorting is not effective as there are not many differences in characteristics of plastics to make mechanical sorting efficient. And then, once sorted, even recycling plastics takes more energy and cost than making new clean products from conventional resources. Thus the question of what to do with plastics, and all waste for that matter.
    One solution is being implemented by Fulcrum Bioenergy. This is gasification of waste and then conversion of syngas to hydrocarbons which are clean, non-toxic and biodegradable. Multiple products can be made from these hydrocarbons including fuels and chemicals.
    The problem is, the EPA bans the use of plastics in such a process claiming that the best use of plastics is to recycle them. That is not the case and the US has the same issue as Hobart, accumulation of unwanted “recycled” materials. Just like glass, it is still cheaper to start from scratch than recycle as the energy and effort put into recycling is not compensated for by the value of the “recycled” product.

    • Not to mention the transportation costs, the vehicles that sort, stack, and bail are not carbon, more precisely, CO2 neutral. There are not free lunches with the universe. Choosing a solution does not actually solve all problems; it is more of a trade; perfection does not exist.

      Seems weird that carbon based life would need you know carbon based resources (energy and food). Who would have thunk…

      • And all the millions of man hours consumers tally up over the days and years sorting their recyclables. A phenomenal waste of man power.

  5. When I see all those piles of plastic, I see megawatts of electricity that could be generated if we just burned it.

    • Dr Deanster
      August 22, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      Yes, high temperature incineration is the solution…if only you can get past the green idiots. Works well around the world, most notably in Singapore, Sweden, Vienna, Osaka, Bern, etc. Waste to energy plants are the answer.

      We did a tour of the Bern, Switzerland plant a couple of years ago. This plant in the Swiss capital generates about 21MW power, abundant hot water to heat the university and hospitals, recovers 5t iron and a similar quantity of non-ferrous metals a day from the household waste stream…no sorting or washing required (even small batteries go in). You go on the roof to see the smoke but there is none; no smell at all, just a heat shimmer. Modern scrubbing technology is wonderful and efficient.

      The plants are not cheap but last a heck of a lot longer than bird choppers or solar panels.

      • Alastair Brickell and Dr Deanster, I agree that trash incineration with proper pollution controls is a win-win solution. It can generate substantial electricity, greatly reduce overflowing landfill burdens, and add more CO2 plant food to the atmosphere as a bonus. And it should even be profitable. What’s not to like here? Time to start building lots of incinerators.

        • You’ll never get the incinerators to work properly unless you add greenies to the fuel mix.

          That will help solve another waste problem as well.

  6. ““We are working as quickly as we can to find an alternative solution to the dilemma that the southern councils find themselves in.”

    Fire. Burning will dispose of all that plastic.

  7. But if we just burn it, or turn it into fuel of another sort , it still produces CO2.

    Probably overall it makes far more sense to just bury it, but wait, we have now been conditioned into part sorting it prior to collection.

    Solution, hand it all over to the Greens, tell them to solve it and see what will happen.


  8. In Australia some told me proudly that sheep outnumber people there. If they started adding sheeple to the sheep count, I believe the the ratio might approach infinity.

  9. “Christina Holmdahl is confident the Local Government Association will be able to resolve the recycling issue.”

    In the absence of evidence of any plan(s), such confidence smacks of chutzpah.

    • Local (or any) government will never be able to resolve any issues. The whole purpose of government is to get in the way of all resolutions. If it works, keep meddling till it doesn’t.

  10. With natural gas so cheap right now, $2.12/MMBtu, electricity isn’t worth generating from plastics. You have to burn them and they don’t burn well. But you can gasify them to syngas and convert to hydrocarbons. Electricity is worth 2-4 cents/kW whereas fuel is worth $2/gal for fuel and up to $6/gal for pure hydrocarbons like solvents and waxes. So this is a much better value proposition than just burning waste to power.

  11. I like to save those big pickle jars and use them to store other things, like short pasta and rice. Cat food cans are aluminum, which is worth $1/pound at the local recycle center.

    But plastic? Unless you’re going to flatten it, bale it up, and find a place that turns it into something useful like cushioning materials for a local playground, or new playground equipment, plastic is as useless as a wedding dress on a Pontiac.

    If it can be recycled into a usable fuel, as someone has indicated, then what is the real issue? That the “concerned people” just want to complain and not solve the problem themselves? That’s what it sounds like to me.

  12. As I read this . . .

    … to find an alternative solution to the dilemma …

    . . . I wondered what the dilemma is.

    Are there two solutions, equally bad or equally good?
    Are there a dozen solutions – none of which are worth a darn?

    And what is the nature of “properly processed” recyclable materials?

    My take: TLGA president Christina Holmdah hasn’t a clue as to what to do, and has a lot of meetings in her future.

  13. The distance between Hobart and Victoria is 720km all up, most of that is across water. How much energy/fuel is being wasted simply transporting it “inter-state”?

  14. Bale it, dump it down a subduction trench, and it’ll turn back into oil in a few million years.

    • Sent it to us in the U.S.. After a few ice ages well have new carbon supply to use as fuel.

  15. All of these costly and corrupt recycling scams are starting to implode and being exposed for the racket that they are. A lot of the stuff that they were recycling in our area has now been stopped, and the stuff is once again heading straight for the landfills.

  16. IMO China et al banning imports of rubbish is the best thing that has happened in the ‘recycling / circular economy fairy story ever!
    Here in Queensland AU we pretend to recycle by sorting our household rubbish into two garbage bins, and pay the city council to use two sets of trucks to take it away for pretend recycling. They then pay a ‘recycling’ contractor to pretend to recycle it, but we now know that they have just been shipping it to China et al and paying an overseas entity to pretend to recycle it…
    Now that one layer of the fr@ud has been exposed by China et al, at least one of the AU based pretend recyclers has gone bust, so the councils that pretended to recycle their rubbish have to find a new way of pretending to recycle it.
    I see a pattern here. Nobody anywhere is apparently actually recycling any household rubbish, just pretending to! Now I know what they mean by the ‘circular economy’ – the rubbish goes round in ever decreasing circles… for ever. What a con.

    • Problem is, the rubbish destined for China is now going to Indonesia. A segment on TV showed Australian plastics being burned in some sort of an open oven whilst villagers were making Tofu for sale! The plastic burned at a higher temp. said one. What about e-waste disposal? My regional council said it goes to landfill.

  17. Give it to the greenies to sort and process. They can weave baskets from the products.
    Realistically, breaking down the hydrocarbon chains under heat and pressure is the way to deal with plastic waste. Brainless greenies though don’t like the idea of using coal fired energy to do this because they think recycling carbon will destroy the planet.
    Do note, half the population have an IQ below 100- some people are more like dung beetles-swallow every bit of BS served up to them.

  18. Solution:
    Build a mountain with the stuff. Cover with dirt and grass. Add water slides. Rake in the money.

  19. Ship the stuff to Antarctica or Greenland. One good blizzard, and you’ll never see it again. There’s nothing like plastic at 35 degrees below zero to make a nice solid foundation for more ice; and, of course, we know that plastics don’t melt at below-zero temperatures. It should be a fool-proof way to restore the full height and mass of the glaciers. To be sure, you mustn’t get it too close to the shore.

  20. I do wish that the term ” recycling” is used to mean the conversion of a redundant item to a state in which it can be reused. The green semantics of recycling is meant to give householders a rosy view that they are saving the planet. All they are doing is sorting their waste, not recycling.

  21. Call it “Carbon Sequestration” and billions will become available to entomb it into a proper geological repository.

    It’s easy once one masters the terminology.

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