Rubbish is a relatively new problem on remote Indigenous communities. Waste products from food, clothing, tools and other items have traditionally come from the land and been recycled back into the land e.g. seeds from fruits, animal bones, timber offcuts. In contemporary communities there is a huge amount of packaging and waste products that cannot be recycled back into the land e.g. plastics, metals. This creates a new problem of managing this waste in a remote area where “rubbish” is unfamiliar and its impacts on the environment have not been well considered.
Starting a recycling project. In late 2015 our women’s ranger team discussed ideas on how to develop recycling in the Community and contacted many local and external organisations to discuss some of the possibilities. The Rangers decided to start with the items that were covered by the container deposit scheme (plastic bottles, aluminium cans and tetra packs), as it is an existing scheme in Darwin they can feed into and get a return from, as well as these items being the main form of rubbish at Wadeye (~70% of rubbish collected by Rangers and Shire). Numerous Community organisations were eager to assist with getting the project started. The local CDP (Community Development Project) made steel frames for the recycling bags through welding training for job participants, the West Daly Shire agreed to supplement their existing rubbish collection with separating recyclables and delivering to Ranger Base, and the local shop, takeaway, crèche, school, aged care, airport and other organisations volunteered to use the recycling frames and bags to collect items. The Rangers then sort the recycling into the 3 categories and arrange shipment to Darwin.
We supported the initiative via our Freight Services. The project was able to ship recyclables back to Darwin and bring back empty bulkier bags at no charge. The Rangers and Shire have an agreement with Bevcon Recycling in Darwin to collect recyclables from the barge at no charge and provide the refund. Proceeds are placed into a joint account and will be used to further the project.
Contents of this post have been summarised from Country Needs People's website. Images from tangaroablue.org