University of Tasmania
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Resource recovery of domestic solid waste using source separation recycling : case study, Glenorchy, Tasmania

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posted on 2023-05-27, 01:06 authored by Clouser, D L(David Leroy), 1944-
The industrialized world is facing an increasing problem of solid waste management. Voluntary household source separation recycling of domestic waste items has not had the publicity that centralized, large-scale, capital-intensive systems have had. Rather, source separation recycling projects have been dependent on the efforts and goodwill of individuals, council officers, industries, charitable groups and other environmentally-conscious people in the community. This research examines the various reasons for the mounting waste problems and the historical attitudes to and practices of waste management. The historical overview provides a perspective of how early mankind viewed domestic waste. In the Middle Ages, waste was either ignored or very casually dealt with on an individual basis until the connection between waste and disease was made in Britain in the early 1800s. The American experience of waste management is contrasted with the Australian experience. The less dense settlements in most Australian cities and towns in the 1800s allowed a freer and more cavalier attitude towards waste disposal, as domestic animals were used to 'recycle' the food scraps. It was not until the local councils in the middle of the 1800s at the insistence of the cities' health officers emphasized the disease and waste connection, that public 'tips' were opened usually at the edge of the towns for public waste disposal. The historical backcloth provides the context for the discussion of the rise of environmentalism and the more recent concern for the natural environment. The recycling ethos arose out of the environmental movement of the 1960s. The Glenorchy Case Study sought to establish whether or not a weekly, source separation, multi-material (glass, paper, and aluminum cans) recycling project could be viable in the Glenorchy Municipality, on the northern edge of Hobart, Tasmania. The Study measured three neighborhoods' weekly participation rates over 8 quarters or 2 years. The neighborhoods selected were of high, medium and low socioeconomic level. The detailed participation rates over 2 years of weekly data and the $ amounts of recyclables collected were tabulated. A comparison between the 3 test neighborhoods showed that Neighborhood A, the highest socioeconomic neighborhood, had a higher rate of participation and generated a higher $ value of recyclables. The use of the questionnaire survey as both a data-gathering method and as a publicity technique proved to be a successful tool in maximizing the use of limited financial resources for the start-up of the recycling project. The results of the Glenorchy Study showed that 6 out of 10 householders sampled said they attempted to recycle their refillable glass bottles. Only 53% of householders surveyed said they either returned their deposit bottles for redemption or gave them to a collector. Only 8% of the surveyed households said they discarded their deposit bottles in the normal garbage collection. Overall, almost 8 out of 10 householders said they either recycled or reused their refillable deposit bottles. Deposit legislation was supported by about 80% of the surveyed households. This suggested that 4 out 5 householders would be willing to pay more if the option of returning their bottles to a store or collection centre and getting a deposit refund were a possibility. Only 5% of the sampled householders said they attempted to recycle their aluminum cans. Aluminum cans represented a small percentage of the beverage can market in Tasmania. The Study represents the first waste compositional analysis in Tasmania. A key finding in the waste compositional analysis was that food wastes accounted for over 50% by weight of ‚Äöthe waste generated in the test neighborhoods. The implication is that a potentially useful waste material is not being composted, but is ending up at the landfill. The economic analysis suggests that recycling is not viable. Economic viability, even in the highest neighborhood, was not achieved. The shortfall was about $16.00 per week over the life of the Project. The social and environmental benefits, while less able to be quantified, were significant. The Project employed handicapped workers from the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to collect, sort and transfer the recyclables. This benefited the community directly by providing employment for the handicapped workers. The other social benefit was the idea of bringing neighborhoods together with the goal of helping a charitable organization. The short term environmental benefit was that the quantity of waste diverted from the landfill was significant. The longer term environmental benefit was that the residents' awareness of recycling was awakened and sustained as the non-contacted (those residents who were not personally contacted during the questionnaire survey) joined in the Recycling Project. The Study showed that by focusing on the bulkiest and most lucrative elements in the waste stream, a significant reduction in the volume and weight of the householders' waste could be achieved. At the same time, waste items could be brought back into the reuse/recycle loop. Recommendations are contained in the final chapter of the Study. One of the major recommendations was a unique grants programme designed to help charitable organizations. Another recommendation was to hire a State Recycling Coordinator to help market recyclables and to set up recycling projects in Tasmania. Source separation recycling is not the total answer to the environmental issue of increased waste generation, but it offers one way to attack an ever increasing problem in today's global community.


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Copyright 1989 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 1990. Includes bibliographical references (p.213-229)

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