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The Future of Waste

What would you expect from a talk about the future of waste hosted by a city that’s proud of its sustainability credentials, promotes zero waste, is working on a program to divert all organic waste from landfill, and is trying to push through a local ban on plastic bags? You’d expect a discussion on reducing waste at source, closed loops systems, community education programmes, better recycling facilities and the role of entrepreneurs in repurposing waste, surely?

You certainly wouldn’t expect to hear the case for building new incinerators as the solution to the waste problem, would you?!

Here’s the flyer:

Waste Forum Freo Event Poster

Looking at the poster, I certainly didn’t. I was expecting an interesting discussion. What I didn’t know beforehand was that both Phoenix Energy and New Energy have applications in Perth for constructing incinerators, in Kwinana and Rockingham respectively. Not only that, but the Major of Fremantle has just come back from a trip to Japan to visit these plants, and was clearly impressed by the technology.

So what was billed as a talk about the future of waste for Perth and Fremantle became a talk about the role and benefits of incinerators, and descended into a slanging match between the pro-incinerator PR guys and the anti-incinerator community members. One of the original speakers had cancelled at short notice, and was replaced with Lee Bell from the National Toxics Network, who made the discussion far more balanced than it otherwise might have been as he was able to talk credibly about the issues incinerators have caused (and continue to cause) globally.

Before I watched Trashed, I had some idea that incinerators were bad. After that, my views were very firm and clear.

Even so, it wasn’t meant to be a discussion about incinerators…it was meant to be a discussion about the future of waste, and how to make it more sustainable! I wasn’t there to be convinced of the need for incinerators, I was there to hear ideas and solutions, new ways of doing things, how to make this idea of zero waste a reality. How to educate the public and look at changing behaviours. Positive solutions that don’t encourage wasting resources by turning them into (toxic) dust, but return them into useful production.

The Kwinana waste-to-energy plant (the more politically preferable name for an incinerator) is going to cost $380 million to build. Imagine if all that money, that $380 million, was invested in real green energy technology such as solar and wind, sustainable cradle-to-cradle product design enterprises, community waste education programmes and imaginative waste entrepreneurs who repurpose waste?!

Instead, the plan for the future is to take all that material, and turn it into (toxic) ash.

That makes me sad.

Is this really the future of waste?

The Less is More Festival is (more or less) over…

I’ve been planning for it since May 2013 and it’s taken up almost every spare moment of my time since January this year, but yesterday was the day when all that planning became reality, when all the hard work paid off and people flocked to the Grove Library to take part in the Less is More Festival. And yes, they flocked! Read more

Mini-break in Margaret River

I just got back from a short two-night trip to Margaret River, a beautiful region 300 km south of Perth that takes my breath away every time I go there. For those of you (that’s you, dad!) who think that Australia is just one big red desert, you couldn’t be more wrong.

(Generally when people talk about Margaret River, they are referring to the region, although there is a small town of the same name in the centre of the region and, perhaps not surprisingly, a river. I found this name-sharing somewhat confusing when I first arrived in Perth.)

Rather than write a post today, I thought I’d share some of my holiday pics. Nature is amazing.

MR1 MR2mr3 mr4 mr5mr6 mr9 mr8 mr7 mr10 mr11mr12 mr13 mr14mr15 mr16 mr17 mr18 mr19 mr20 mr21 mr22In other exciting news, whilst we were away my boyfriend asked me to marry him, and I said yes.