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

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August 22, 2019 2:22 pm

Turn it into something useful that will green the planet.

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 22, 2019 4:48 pm

This sounds a lot like thermal depolymerization.

My understanding is the process isn’t economical.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  SMC
August 22, 2019 5:25 pm

“My understanding is the process isn’t economical.”

Neither is recycling.

michael hart
Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 22, 2019 9:20 pm

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.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  michael hart
August 22, 2019 10:39 pm

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.

Gerry, England
Reply to  michael hart
August 23, 2019 5:43 am

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.

Reply to  Jeff Alberts
August 22, 2019 9:33 pm

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…

old construction worker
Reply to  KcTaz
August 23, 2019 4:16 am

38 years; Broken window econ. How nice.

Curious George
Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 22, 2019 5:47 pm

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.

Reply to  Curious George
August 23, 2019 6:31 pm

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!

Reply to  co2isnotevil
August 23, 2019 2:31 am

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.

Alec Rawls
August 22, 2019 2:27 pm

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

August 22, 2019 2:29 pm

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.

Reply to  commieBob
August 22, 2019 2:43 pm

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.

Ron Long
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 3:05 pm

Why don’t you do it?

Reply to  Ron Long
August 22, 2019 4:20 pm

I second that.

You do the sorting, Nick! Show us your dedication!!!

Reply to  Ron Long
August 24, 2019 3:44 am

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.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 3:11 pm

Burn it for energy in a fluidized bed incinerator.

Reply to  Fraizer
August 22, 2019 5:22 pm

Will that would make too much sense and we cant have that.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 3:52 pm

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.

Reply to  aussiecol
August 23, 2019 2:38 am

A well built and well maintained plant to burn garbage for energy is no problem environmentally. I live near one so I know:

(Official PR, yes, but factually correct, unfortunately in Swedish)

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 4:34 pm

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)

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Mr.
August 22, 2019 6:46 pm

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.

Reply to  Mr.
August 22, 2019 7:45 pm

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.

Reply to  Mr.
August 27, 2019 8:04 am

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.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 5:18 pm

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

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
August 22, 2019 5:26 pm

Not enough plastic, or sponges, in the known universe for that, Nicholas.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
August 22, 2019 7:21 pm

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.

Dr. Bob
Reply to  commieBob
August 22, 2019 4:06 pm

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.

Michael F
August 22, 2019 2:37 pm

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

August 22, 2019 2:46 pm

Well, here’s a suggestion….

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  TEWS_Pilot
August 22, 2019 5:37 pm

Wow. That is so transgressive in 2019. I am surprised YouTube hasn’t banned it.

Dr. Bob
August 22, 2019 2:51 pm

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.

Reply to  Dr. Bob
August 22, 2019 5:20 pm

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…

David A Bidwell
Reply to  JEHILL
August 22, 2019 9:35 pm

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

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Dr. Bob
August 22, 2019 5:50 pm

Sorry, I have to call false on these assertions.

Dr Deanster
August 22, 2019 2:56 pm

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

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 22, 2019 3:10 pm

I see megawatt-hours of electricity. 😉
But I agree with your assessment Dr Deanster.

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 22, 2019 4:51 pm

If only it were that simple. In the end, it could be cheaper and easier to just landfill it.

Reply to  Dr Deanster
August 22, 2019 5:22 pm

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.

Reply to  Alastair Brickell
August 22, 2019 6:53 pm

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.

Interested Observer
Reply to  Bryan - oz4caster
August 23, 2019 12:24 am

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.

Tom Abbott
August 22, 2019 3:28 pm

““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.

August 22, 2019 3:28 pm

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.


Reply to  Michael
August 23, 2019 1:52 am

” it still produces CO2. ”

& your problem with CO2 is….??

August 22, 2019 3:37 pm

High temperature incineration heating water for energy production.

August 22, 2019 3:45 pm

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.

August 22, 2019 3:47 pm

Bring back the backyard incinerator, I say.

On the outer Barcoo
August 22, 2019 3:48 pm

“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.

Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
August 22, 2019 5:02 pm

Local Government doesnt “solve” anything, they just poke at problems and move them around.

Reply to  On the outer Barcoo
August 23, 2019 2:49 am

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.

Dr. Bob
August 22, 2019 4:03 pm

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.

August 22, 2019 4:27 pm

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.

August 22, 2019 4:28 pm

insurance fire

John F. Hultquist
August 22, 2019 4:31 pm

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.

Patrick MJD
August 22, 2019 4:56 pm

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”?

Paul of Alexandria
August 22, 2019 5:30 pm

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

old construction worker
Reply to  Paul of Alexandria
August 23, 2019 4:27 am

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

August 22, 2019 5:30 pm

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.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Rob
August 22, 2019 6:43 pm

Penn and Teller did a documentary about recycling and came to the same conclusion.

August 22, 2019 7:12 pm

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.

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
August 23, 2019 6:28 pm

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.

Joe Gallien
August 22, 2019 7:14 pm

Waste plastic can be added to stone mastic asphalt to make roads far more durable. Gone will be the potholes from hell.

High Treason
August 22, 2019 10:48 pm

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.

August 23, 2019 1:29 am

If it’s on the ABC, I tend to doubt its veracity. I need proof.

August 23, 2019 10:32 am

Once the pods land….no more news comes out of that area.

Tom in Florida
August 23, 2019 11:40 am

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

John M. Ware
August 23, 2019 12:02 pm

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.

Dave Cowdell
August 23, 2019 12:29 pm

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.

Master of the Obvious
August 23, 2019 2:08 pm

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.

Johann Wundersamer
August 23, 2019 8:50 pm

Reasonable from SKM Recycling to declare insolvent –

an openly problem worldwide:

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