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ACT MRF temporarily storing materials amid bushfire crisis

The ACT Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) is temporarily storing paper and cardboard to manage the impacts of the bushfire crisis in NSW.

The MRF at Hume is not directly impacted by the fires, however, the operator Re.Group has advised the ACT government of the change to operations to the MRF and Visy’s mill at Tumut.

ACT Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel said that although the Visy mill at Tumut has not been directly impacted by the fires, the government has been informed that a number of plantations and stored wood chips were burnt around the Eden area.

The MRF usually processes about 470 tonnes of paper and cardboard each week, from a range of sources including from yellow recycling bins, from surrounding local council areas and commercial entities. This material is then packaged and sent to the Visy pulp and paper mill in Tumut for recycling into paper and cardboard products.

Visy’s products are manufactured using a combination of recycled content and wood chips, and the impact of the fire on the plantations means that Visy temporarily needs to slow production of recycled paper and cardboard.

As Visy is currently unable to accept all of the ACT’s paper recycling, the Hume MRF has reached capacity for storing baled material on site.

“While about half the volume of paper and cardboard will continue to be sent to Visy each week, the ACT government has taken the decision to temporarily store the remaining material at Mugga Lane and West Belconnen resource management facilities over the coming weeks,” Steel said.

“The additional storage locations have been determined in consultation with ACT Fire and Rescue to minimise fire safety risks, and ACT Fire and Rescue has also been involved in assessing the stockpiles at the Hume MRF.

“Temporary storage of the baled paper will help to prevent land filling in the short term while we wait for the recycling industry to recover from the fires and process the material.”

Steel explained that landfilling is the last resort, and will only be considered if the recycling industry is unable to recover and increase production levels, and stored material can no longer be safely managed.

The ACT government is working closely with Re.Group to review arrangements and explore all options to avoid landfilling paper and cardboard.

Re.Group is looking for other markets to sell the recycled paper and cardboard to and the company has been advised that Visy is working to resume full operations as soon as possible.