Article 1st October 2006.

Talking rubbish, there is good money in trash!

While I was doing a landscaping tafe course, I met another student who in a past life worked as a Garbo (garbage collector) in Western Australia (W.A). The conversation led to me asking about his job. The first thing he said to me was 'There is good money in rubbish'. I looked at him surprised. In rubbish, what do you mean? I asked. He told me how he got paid to take rubbish away and that he often came across items of value that he sold, recycled or used for himself, thus saving the need to spend on a new purchase.

One mans trash is another mans treasure. Don't recycle it, you freecycle it!

How true is this saying. You know that old rubbishy thing that you are just dying to throw out. Well there is a good chance that there is someone in the world just dying to have it. Have your heard about Freecycle, this is such a great website.

When you become a member of freecycle, you can post a message on the board offering to give something away for free. It could be something your want to get rid of. Other people who see your offer and are interested in it will contact you and come and pick it up.

What a wonderful way to recycle your unwanted goods. I have been a member of freecycle for some time and noticed that people will take practically anything. Members are free to take an offer if they like too. So if you happen to spot a second hand TV, Lawnmower or maybe some bricks or old timber. It could be yours for free…first come first served. What a fantastic idea.

Why the system breaks my heart

In the past I did some work in the construction industry. A couple of years ago I was working with a company that was contracted to strip out and refurbish a major government educational institution. We were instructed to throw out all the old desks, chairs, blackboards, whiteboards, doors, curtains, carpets….the works.

Then down came the walls, the partitions, aluminium, glass, timber yellow tongue floors, pine wall studs, and hardwood wall studs. The job was rush, rush, and rush. There was not even enough time to take the nails out of the pine studs for reuse. Fifty full sheets of yellow tongue flooring were de-nailed and stacked. They still ended up in the bin because no one had anyway to take or store them. I tell you this, it was a real crying shame. How can we do it better? There is money in this rubbish.

Collect it, sort it, store it, and distribute it

A lot of the rubbish removal firms say they are into recycling and taking the rubbish to a transfer station for processing…. Well I am pretty sure the transfer station they are referring to is the local tip and they couldn't care less about recycling and sorting the load. I'm sure they wouldn't have the time anyway.

It is simply not profitable, it cost money to do these things and the economic benefits are not there unless we find new ways of doing it. I may be picking on other compainies, but is it really their fault, and can you blame them?

The law and liability, the economy and you

Being good with computers, I am able to fix them up and get them working. It would be great if I could pass them on to families that need them. The reality is that I can't for two important reasons. The first is the liability issue, what if the computer is faulty or dangerous. The second is the time, cost factor…its plain not economical for me to spend a day fixing up a computer to give away when I have bills to pay and my own family to support.

With computer recycling being largely ignored throughout the world, the outcome is a lot of waste going into landfill. Unfortunately computer technology waste is a booming growth industry. You do is the math ... There are 20 million people in Australia, if half of these people own a computer and update to a new one every 3 years. That means there are approximately 9100 computers a day being thrown out in Australia. Just over 9000 computers dumped in one pile would be tall enough to block out sun. Now apply that to the population of the world including USA, China and India.

We need to think about our actions, every item we disposed does count.

City council and the hard rubbish police. Should it be called a nature strip or natures tip.

We are lucky in our area because our council is based in an area that is both suburban and semi-rural. The waste collection and management services are quite good. They collect general rubbish, green waste and recycle packaging in three bins. There are also two hard rubbish collections a year! Hard waste is a thorny issue for the councils. They provide the service for the residents. It is illegal to take items from other nature strips because it is council property and they say is causes hazards. The council also want to recoup money from the sale of scrap materials.

I know for a fact that a lot of people drive around picking up hard rubbish illegally, but what is the big crime here? What if we take the opposite approach? What would happen if the council actively encouraged people to scavenge through the hard rubbish? What if they had a scavenger day one Sunday and the whole community was encouraged to go treasure hunting. What would happen?

Why Rubbish is going to cost you more?

Did you know that some countries are dumping their refuse into the sea because there is no land left to fill? They are reclaiming land from the sea. The environment impact could be terrible. Well, we here in Australia are also running out of tips and landfill space. Especially in our cities. They are fast filling up and being closed forever more. There will come a time when the only available place to dump rubbish will be in the country areas. The transport cost alone will skyrocket, and our council rates will go through the roof just to take our household general waste each week. I believe that in the future rubbish will be looked at quite differently.

We need to think of creative things to do with waste

So I ask you, where is the money?

9000 waste computers a day - There must be money there!
Hard rubbish in landfill - There must be money there!
Demolition materials to landfill - There must be money there!

Unfortunately refuse is just waste, until it becomes valuable.

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Andrew Sheehan and Sons (Dan and Matt)

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Got Rubbish!

A flower in the rubbish tip We do the work and clean up for you. (Photo by: Willis Monroe ref: 167212849 Creative commons: Attribute share-alike 2.0 2007 Removing rubbish across Melbourne.