"The MRC’s Face Your Waste campaign is helping people to face up to the amount of waste they are generating – and encouraging them to do something about it."
Geoff Atkinson – MRC’s Education Manager
What inspired the Face Your Waste campaign?
With a rapidly-growing population and a proliferation of ‘stuff’ in our ‘throw way’ society, WA has a waste problem – and it’s growing.
Add to that the fact that most people aren’t engaged with their waste – they put things in the bin and their council takes it away. Few take the time to assess what they are actually throwing away and if they could reduce that volume.
Mindarie Regional Council (MRC) is responsible for waste management for its member councils (the cities of Joondalup, Perth, Stirling, Vincent and Wanneroo, and towns of Cambridge and Victoria Park) which puts them in a unique position – they see the community’s waste habits first hand and are in a position to encourage people to make some serious changes.
Did you know?
On average, each Australian produces 541kg of waste every year – and more than 20 million tonnes of waste is sent to landfill every year
What is Face Your Waste doing?
Showing people exactly what they throw away. Using clear wheelie bins draws attention to just what people are throwing out each week or fortnight – and whether they could divert some of it from landfill simply by recycling better, composting or reducing what they purchase.
Providing practical tips to help people reduce/avoid waste. People are called to action to make positive impacts on their waste management. The MRC provides a range of tips and practical ways for people to reduce their waste and live more sustainably. The focus is on the top half of the waste hierarchy – avoid, reduce, reuse, recycle.
Being relatable. With “Famous Sharron” as the face of the campaign, people can relate to her practical tips for everyday life (like taking reusable bags to the shop, favouring quality over quantity).
Shifting the focus from how we deal with waste to creating less in the first place. Historically, most talk around waste management had focussed on how to deal with the waste produced better. Face Your Waste encourages people living in the Mindarie Regional Council catchment area to produce less waste instead.
What impact is Face Your Waste making?
People are talking, and acting thanks to the campaign’s clear bins – actually seeing all of the waste and recycling that accumulates over a week or fortnight is confronting. People taking part in the trial have actually said they are making conscious decisions to purchase differently.
350+ bin ambassadors registered for the program in its first six months.
It’s encouraged more discussion and understanding about what’s recyclable and what’s not through WA’s bin system.
A move towards transparency – other WA local and regional councils are borrowing the clear wheelie bins and working with interested householders to face their waste across WA’s suburbs and towns.
What does the future hold for Face Your Waste?
The long-term goals of Face Your Waste are aimed at behavioural change (sorting waste into correct bins and reducing contamination) to reduce total waste produced and to drive a circular economy with the focus on avoidance, reducing, reusing and recycling.
How can YOU get on board?
Just because your waste isn’t on display for the world to see, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about it – it’s time to challenge yourself to reduce your waste. You don’t have to completely change the way you live, little changes can lead to less waste. Start by following the waste hierarchy:
- Avoid: prevention is better than a cure! Prevent waste in the first place by considering what you're buying and use alternatives that don't create waste.
- Reduce: there may be some value in bulk buying or ‘buy one get one’ offers, but only if you’ll actually use all of the items. Consider only purchasing what you need in the quantity you actually need.
- Reuse: remember that wartime slogan “make do and mend!” Rather than throwing things away, check to see if it can be used again, repaired or repurposed.
- Recycle: what goes around… Check to see if the item can be recycled, this way it is converted back into its raw material and used again, think glass or aluminium cans.
- Recover: got the power! Some waste can be converted into energy, though you probably won’t have the technology at home to actually generate power – but you could turn food scraps into a power elixir for your garden by feeding a worm farm!
- Dispose: last resort. Waste that isn’t reused, recycled or recovered will end up in landfill. Do your bit by making sure hazardous waste (like batteries, paint, globes etc.) doesn’t contaminate the landfill and release toxins.