Since I started to Follow the Trail of my Recycle Garbage, the content of my yellow bin, it has taken me to many unexpected places! I did not know what was in store for me, but I am very thankful for I have learned tonness from this experience. I feel like now I am starting to grasp the bigger picture of Waste Management. Waste management is the collection, transport, processing and recycling of waste. We all produce it but then face the problem of its disposal. A lot of people only acknowledge their waste until it gets to a bin, after that it seems like it just disappears into thin air.
After returning from the Recycling Centre in Balcatta, I called and booked a tour to the Tamala landfill and Resource Recovery Facility, thinking it would be great to actually see with my own eyes the landfill where my garbage ends up, and I thought that the RRF was where my recycling garbage got separated. I was in for a great surprise!
The Mindarie Regional Council is a waste management authority that handles the disposal of waste produced by the 590,000 residents of Perth’s northern metropolitan region; the cities of Joondalup, Perth, Stirling, Wanneroo, and the towns of Cambridge, Victoria park and Vincent. It owns and operates the Tamala Park Waste management facility composed of The Tamala Park Landfill, The Recycling Centers at Tamala Park, Balcatta and the Neerabub Resource Recovery Facility
Since the amount of information I received during my tour is so large I will break it up into two Posts. One dedicated to the Waste Recovery Facility and another to the Tamala Park Landfill.
These tours are open to anyone out there who wishes to learn more about waste. For me it was a great experience and I would highly recommend it! I would actually make it mandatory that everyone visit their landfill, just to see the proportions of waste their city makes. It can really makes you think about the importance of Reducing and Reusing!
I also need to thank my tour guide, Yew Li. I was fortunate enough to have her all for my self, and she patiently, with much humor and love answered all my questions and helped me shed light on the dimensions of the waste that the city of Perth Produces.
I have no idea how many cities around the world have a Resource Recovery Facility like this one, but I was so impressed with this initiative that I want to share this information, because if all cities around the world, converted all their compostable green waste, instead of dumping it into large holes in the ground it would make a huge difference!
At the moment The Facility receives 50 garbage trucks a day. The other 150 garbage trucks that the northern suburbs of Perth produce daily just go directly to the landfill. The Resource Recovey Facility receives 100,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Turning household waste into Compost… from your bin… to the truck and then…
The truck arrives at the RRF enters a platform where it gets weighed, this way they can track the amount of trash the facility is receiving. After weighing in the truck drives in and out of the facility through fast opening and closing shutter doors which help keep the odors contained within the building.
Now the truck enter the receiving hall. The pit is about the volume of an olympic sized swimming pool. It holds about 200 truckloads or 4 days supply.
The next step is the Giant Grapple. This large mechanical claw takes its load of waste into 2 chutes that feed the waste into the composters. The Grapple is about the size of a small car and weighs 5 Tonnes, and is controlled by an operator, who can move it down and up along the entire pit. In each grab it takes 6 tonnes, about 350 trash bins. Its main role is to feed the chutes, but it can also sort and reject material.
Composting is the breakdown of Organic Material. The Composter consists of two tubes, 65m long and 4.5 in diameter. They rotate 1 revolution per minute 24 hours a day. They hold about 400 tonnes of waste which takes 3 days to move through the lenght. It is constantly tumbling, bashing the materials against each other and the rough surface of its interior, and breaks up the waste, while receiving water at a very high temperature (65 degrees) to please the bacteria.
The composting process requires a lot of water, about 40,000 kiloliters per year. Rain waters is collected and stored in these huge tanks for the process.
For 10 hours a day and about 30 tonnes per hour of raw composted material is discharged from the composters. The product is screened through a large trommel,- a rotating barrel with holes the size of 50 cents coins. The material that falls through the screen is sent to the Maturation hall. The mainly non organic material that is left behind is passed by electro magnets to pick up metals that can get recycled and the rest goes back to the landfill.
The Maturation Hall
Here the composting process continues 28 day, the compost is turned 10 times and later goes on for the secondary refinement:
Secondary Refining: The Ballistic Separator
The composted material is fed onto a inclined high speed conveyor. Here all the glass and PLASTIC and other contaminants are separated and sent back to the landfill. The remaining compost drops into a vibrating screen with 6mm holes. Oversizaed particles are removed and everything gets reduced to particles smaller than a grain of sand, ending up with quality compost!
The Bio Filter
This Resource Recovery Facility is located in a industrial area with very little population near by, though they still build a Bio Filter, a living odor eater. All the odors from the maturation hall are pumped through a WOOD Chip filtering medium. Living in the wood chips are plants, bacteria and fungi. Drip irrigation over the surface keeps it moist. Yew li, my guide, beautifully compared it to the effects of a Forest. In the Forest many things are decomposing organically but it smells like wood!
This Natural Biological process working non stop is creating about 25,000 tonnes of compost each year. It reduces about 70, 000 tonnes of waste that would have been buried in the landfill! And look at the wonders it does to the plants.
You can Help produce better compost by following these steps:
1. REDUCE- Minimise the waste you produce!
2. Only put house hold waste into your green bin. you can even spare the plastic bag! Did you know that 90% of household rap their garbage in Plastic Bags? It is not necessary! You can just throw it directly in the bin, or if that just seems too strange, just wrap it up in newspapers! It requieres more work on your part because you would have to wash the bin, but just imagine what a difference that would make to the planet!
3. Use your Recycling bin wisely. (All glass, metals , and plastic should go here!!!) In the tour when the truck is dropping the garbage into the receiving hall, you can HEAR the amount of broken glass… Glass should not be in the green bin It is Recycleble!
4. Keep Househols hazardous waste products out of your green bin ! ( Batteries, quemicals, etc)
I hope that this information sparks ideas of how to achieve zero waste cities, in other words a glimpse or vision into the cities of the future! I have been told that Taiwan has accomplished this Zero waste, but I haven’t confirmed this info so when I do I will share it. I would really like to see that!