Working collaboratively to promote sustainable practice across the legal sector

GreenThemes: Waste

18 December 2014 4:48 PM | Anonymous member

AusLSA GreenThemes: Waste
In this Issue:
 *  Harder to recyclable items  - a list of items being recycled at Australian law firms
 *   Recycling Go/No Go - a quick summary of what can and can't be recycled  
 *  Product Stewardship - buying the right product can simplify its end of life  
 *  Food - Food storage tips to reduce food waste  

According to the 2014 AusLSA Report, AusLSA Member law firms have increasing facilities for recycling - this year the provision of organic waste facilities increased by more than 30%. It is also great to hear that building managers are taking a more pro-active approach, facilitating more recycling and even producing waste reports for tenants.

But what more can we do? What else can we recycle? How do we recycle more of what we have?

 Harder to recycle items
Law firms are recycling many things other than standard paper, plastic, glass, metal and organics. At our recent Sustainability Champions Networks we generated this list of harder to recycle items being repurposed in Australian law firms.

 Food    OzharvestBokashi bins
 Mobile phones    Mobile Muster or your local Zoo
 Spectacles    Lions Recycle for Sight and Rotary
 Work attire    Dressed for Success Fitted for work - workplace clothing swaps
 Printer cartridges    Close the Loop
 Lever Arch Files    Admiral Plastics (NSW) recycles their own lever arch files. 
 Electronic Waste    GiveNowTechCollect
 Batteries    Close the Loop
 Light globes    Fluorocycle - signatory program that facilitates fluorescent light recycling
 Furniture    Charities, staff auctions (for charity)
 Letterhead    Remade into A5 notebooks
 Computers    Donated to charities, schools, staff. Staff auction (for charity)
 Books    Workplace book swap  

GiveNow   Provides a list of charities that accept donations 'other than money' including furniture, electrical, food, et al.

Good360   Social Enterprise that helps companies to re-purpose office furniture and equipment by connecting businesses that have goods with charities who need them. 

Reverse Garbage (NSW) 

  A community organisation that promotes reuse of items
GreenCollect (VIC)    A social enterprise that collects office waste for re-use, upcycling and recycling. 

Planet Ark Business Recycling   Good searchable database of recycling options.
Givit   GIVIT is a grassroots charity that connects those in need with those willing to give.

 Recycling: Go - No Go
What can or can't be recycled is often difficult to define, largely because it depends upon the facilities in each council. Generally, the guidelines below will apply, but please check with your local council if you have any questions.  

   Go No Go 
Paper /
  • Envelopes (even those with windows)
  • Small amounts of food residue (eg empty pizza box)
  • Manila folders
  • Phone books
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Staples and sticky tape are OK, but better it is better if they are removed. 

  • Waxed Cardboard - the wax doesn't dissolve
  • Tissues, paper towel and serviettes - are too weak for paper recycling (but can go in Organic!)

  •  Plastics labelled 1 -3 (definitely) and probably those labelled 4 - 6 
  • Bottle Lids
  • Liquids - OHS risk for waste staff
  • Soft plastics - bags, cling film - they get caught up in conveyor belts
  • Polystyrene
  • Plant pots - fertiliser contamination

  • Aluminium drink cans
  • Tin/Steel food cans
  • Small amounts of food residue
  • Aluminium food trays
  • Aerosol containers
  • Large balls of foil
  • Food remnants - it contaminates the trucks and facilities. But things don't have to be spotless. 
  • Coat hangers, pots, pans
  • Small pieces of Aluminium foil - but you can collect it together into a ball and then recycle it!

  • Drinking bottles
  • Food bottles
  • Leaving the labels on is OK

  • Other types of glass - drinking glasses, light bulbs, mirrors, windows - have different melting temps and contaminate recycled glass. 
  • Broken glass - waste is often sorted by hand
  • Lids
  • Liquid/Food stuffs
  • Food waste
  • Paper and cardboard heavily contaminated with food waste
  • Paper tissues, towel and serviettes
  • Meat, dairy, liquids - makes things smelly.
  • Onion, garlic, citrus - depending on composting method as worms don't like these. 
Please note this is a guide only and tries to represent what is common practice in Australia...general disclaimers apply. 

 Product Stewardship
Product Stewardship places more onus on producers to manage the impact of their products over the entire lifecycle of the product, not just during their manufacture. Examples include, South Australia's bottle deposit scheme.  Purchasing products that have good product stewardship from their manufacturers, can extend their lifespan and simplify disposal at end of life.  

Here are a few examples - 
Office equipment   FujiXerox have an zero waste policy including 'end of life'. Their resource recovery centre remanufactures or recycles 97% of products, printer cartridges. 

Coffee pods   Nespresso Capsule Coffe Brigade recycle the plastic, coffee grounds and aluminium in coffee pods. 

 E-waste   - TechCollect - An organisation established by the technology industry to recycle e-waste, particularly TVs and computers.
- Mobile Muster An organisation established by the mobile communications industry to recycle e-waste

Carpets   InterfaceOntera and Cavalier Bremworth all have recycling schemes for their products

Jeans   Nudie jeans offers a free of charge repair service (or will send you a repair kit)

And in the spirit of Christmas - which is all about over-indulgence, isn't it? - here are some tips to reduce your food wastage. 

Food Waste   According to this fantastic infographic, each year, Australia wastes:
  • $8 Billion worth of food equivalent to 4,000,000 tonnes
  • 345kg of food per household costing over $1000
  • 20% of all food purchased
So what can you do to reduce food waste? Buy less is the first step.  But there is more.
Check out these tips for food storage:
  • Store leafy greens and soft cut herbs in a vase
  • Cut up melon and put in a container
  • Store carrots, cucumbers, broccoli in separate containers

Still Tasty
  This website provides useful info on best before and use-by dates and makes an important distinction between safety and quality. For example, frozen meat is safe to keep and eat indefinitely, the 3-6month recommendation is only about quality. 

The site also provides some great tips on storage - did you know that rice, honey, white vinegar, cornflour, sugar and liquor NEVER go off??



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