The happy benefits of reducing waste

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MOST people know recycling has environmental benefits but fewer understand its economic benefits, according to Planet Ark, founder of National Recycling Week, held this year from November 11-17. 

A spokesperson from Planet Ark says recycling creates 9.2 jobs for every 2.8 jobs in landfilling and it makes people happy, too.

“A study across 27 countries found that people who recycle have higher life satisfaction levels and are overall happier people,” Planet Ark says. 

As for the environmental benefits, Planet Ark says manufacturing products from recycled materials uses less energy compared to the use of virgin materials. 

“Recycling one tonne of plastic saves enough energy to power 31 homes for a month,” says Planet Ark. 

According to the Australian Plastics Recycling Survey for 2016-17, a total of 3,513,100 tonnes of plastics were consumed in Australia.

Of the plastic consumed, a total of 293,900 tonnes of plastics were recycled (excluding tyre recovery), which is a fall of 10 per cent from 2015-16. 

Including tyres, total plastics recovery was 415,200 tonnes. 

Ex-Government Furniture co-owners Taylor Radnell, left, and James Fullerton with the director of operations, Lady.

Furniture’s second life

EX-GOVERNMENT Furniture, a leading dealer of surplus office furniture, saves a huge amount of stuff from landfill by fixing it for resale, says co-owner and manager James Fullerton. 

“Recycling is one thing – but reusing an item in the first place is an even more environmentally friendly option,” he says. 

A new item doesn’t always mean it’s better, says James, who believes it is often the easiest thing to do.

“We do a lot of reuse at Ex-Government Furniture and are conscious of what we do to keep items away from landfill,” he says.

“Even if a piece of furniture comes to us and it is broken, we break it down to the component parts – separating the different pieces of metal to take to recycling.”

Ex-Government Furniture stocks office and home furniture such as high-quality office chairs, desks, workstations, boardroom tables and shelving.

Rather than creating more waste, Ex-Government Furniture gets in second-hand items weekly and repurposes them so they’re in an “almost new condition”.

“We have a lot of high-quality furniture in great condition, ready to go,” James says.

“If something needs a clean or fixing, we do that so our customers get a high-quality, clean, reused piece of furniture.”

James says they have many adjustable office chairs and workstations in stock, all made by well-regarded Australian manufacturers. 

Ex-Government Furniture, 6 Yallourn Street, Fyshwick. Call 6280 6490 or visit or

Metal leads to solid path

SIMS Metal Management says it’s grown to be the leading collector, processor and supplier of recycled metal in Australia.

The company says this has been made possible through a network of 30 locations servicing all states and territories. 

Sims Metal Management also operates in more than 20 countries. 

“Our processing capacity, which includes five fragmentisers, shears, balers and granulating plants, operates to the highest environmental and quality standards to produce products that are recognised and sought after throughout the world,” the company says. 

Sims Metal Management buys ferrous metal from metal dealers, peddlers, auto wreckers, demolition firms and others who generate obsolete metal, and from manufacturers who generate industrial metal.

“We source non-ferrous metals from manufacturers, known as production offcuts, and from generators of electricity, telecommunication service providers, as well as others, who generate obsolete metal,” the company says. 

“Our focus on optimisation and continuous improvement, with internal investments in our operations, functions and people is setting us on a solid path for many years to come.”

Sims Metal Management, 47 Alderson Place, Hume. Call 6129 8800 or visit

Family keeps waste from landfill 

“NO one can work in the waste industry and remain ignorant of the problems we are facing locally and globally, regarding waste,” says ACT Skip Hire owner Tony Barron. 

“Australia is generating around 70 million tonnes of waste per year.”

Disheartened by the amount of material they saw going to landfill from their skips, Tony and wife Robyn set out to do something about it. 

“We dramatically changed our business operation model from waste transport to waste reduction and education, through establishing the ACT Resource Recovery Centre,” he says. 

“There were many hiccups, but we knew we were on the right track and persevered.”

In 2017 they opened their new facility at Hume which sees all waste collected in the skips brought back to the purpose-built shed where it is hand-sorted for resource recovery, recycling and reuse. 

“It is intensive, hard and dirty work, but it is having a direct, tangible impact on the level of waste going to landfill in our community,” Tony says.

“We are diverting over 60 per cent of our materials from going to landfill and working on increasing this to at least 90 per cent.”

To help divert waste from landfill, Tony and Robyn’s son Daniel is running an op shop, Let’s Recycle Canberra, out of the ACT Resource Recovery Centre in Hume. 

Anything that can be resold is salvaged for the shop which offers toys, tools, furniture, bric-a-brac, craft items, clothes, books, collectables, jewellery, camping gear, old bath tubs, pet items, timber and garden supplies. 

Daniel says: “We are friendly, happy to negotiate on price and proud to be doing a good thing for the planet by reusing these items rather than sending them to landfill. 

“You will be surprised with the variety. Come and find the treasures within.” 

Let’s Recycle Canberra is open 10am-4pm, on Thursday to Saturday. 

ACT Skip Hire and Let’s Recycle Canberra Op Shop, 11 John Cory Road, Hume. Call 6292 8187 or visit

Keep the heat in-house

WITH winter in full swing, the co-owner of Alexanders Furnishings, Rosslyn Rebbeck, says the most energy efficient method, when it comes to decorating and insulating a home, is to install well-lined curtains with a pelmet covering at the top. 

“Double glazing is not the answer,” says Rossyln.

Instead, she says Alexanders Furnishings has a curtain heading system called EVO, which is a lot more effective and is well regarded by the energy rating people.

“This heading system allows the curtains to stack back far more efficiently than previously available heading types, allowing more valuable winter sunlight in,” she says. 

“Together with the EVO heading system we have developed new track sections that incorporate a sleek and slim-lined pelmet system which does not require the traditional bulky timber pelmet over the top of your curtains.”

Alexanders Furnishings has been servicing Canberra and surrounds for about 50 years and Rosslyn says they look forward to welcoming new and old customers to the Hindmarsh Drive showroom. 

“We have friendly staff who know what they’re talking about,” she says. 

“And we can also custom-make roller blinds, roman blinds, bonded fabric blinds, honeycomb blinds, venetian blinds and sunscreen roller blinds.”

Alexanders Furnishings, Shop 5, Paul’s Centre, Hindmarsh Drive, Phillip. Call 6281 1611.


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