Tuesday 28 August 2018


This year was the eighth year of Clarence Valley Council's Living Sustainably Awards.  These awards recognise outstanding contributions or achievements which enhance environmental, social and economic sustainability.

The awards have two important functions.  As well as  recognising achievements, they show others in the community how some individuals and groups are developing lifestyles or methods or skills that look to meeting challenges of today and of the future.

The winners of these Awards were announced on Thursday August 9 at a ceremony at Council's Environmental Learning Facility (ELF).

Nominations for Living  Sustainably Awards

There were a total of nine nominees in the five categories. 


Community Group
Mend and Make Do
J Notaras and Sons
Bob Kershaw
Dundurrabin Public School
Our Backyard
Stan and Magda Mussared

Sunday 19 August 2018


China’s decision to stop accepting foreign recycling waste unless it was almost completely uncontaminated has led to concern about the viability of recycling in Australia.  Governments, including local councils, have been forced to re-assess how they handle recyclables and whether materials such as plastics and glass can be economically recycled rather than being disposed of in  landfill.

While there is much to be concerned about in the current situation, there has been some positive news on the recycling front.

Adrian Fuller, a Gold Coast metal recycler, scraps 1,200 to 1,500 cars a month. Because scrapping the vehicles involved disposing of tyres at a cost of $3.30 to dump each tyre, he looked at ways of cutting this cost.  The alternative was to find ways of recycling the tyres which meant that the resource was being used and he could benefit financially from its re-use.

One method of doing this is to shred tyres and turn them into products such as playground equipment and gym matting.

Instead Mr Fuller will be using the technology of Canadian company Eco-Flex to convert finely crumbed rubber into fire retardant bricks, pavers, fence panels and sound barriers.  He plans to start production by the end of the year.

Waste Management Association of Australia CEO Gayle Sloan welcomed Mr Fuller’s decision.

“We recognise as the waste industry that what we’re actually dealing with is resources and these companies that are prepared to invest in technology to turn that back into other products is just terrific,” she said.

“We know that if we recycle we create 9.2 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes that we recycle, compared with 2.8 jobs if we simply landfill.”

If his new enterprise is successful Mr Fuller hopes to expand to recycle large quantities of end-of-life tyres.  He pointed out that disposing of or storing the many thousands of these tyres was a problem around the country.

Ms Sloan said that greater consumer awareness about the benefits of buying recycled rubber products would help the waste management industry.

Hopefully that will happen with the increasing public awareness about problems with recycling waste.

            - Leonie Blain

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on July 16, 2018.  
Adrian Fuller.

Friday 10 August 2018


Barcaldine’s Tree of Knowledge in western Queensland became famous as an important meeting place during the Great Shearers’ Strike of 1891. Because of its role in the formation of the union movement and the foundation of the Australian Labor Party, it was heritage listed in 2006.  Shortly afterwards it was poisoned and died.

In thinking about the Tree of Knowledge a friend who recently visited Barcaldine commented on attitudes towards knowledge and fact in today’s world.

On one level we see so-called “alternative facts” promoted as reality over actual facts. Factual news reports are dismissed as “fake news” not because they are false but because these reports do not suit a particular person or group. So we have a new version of political spin and propaganda.

While the “alternative facts” and “fake news” are largely associated with the US, there is concern that this labelling of inconvenient truth or knowledge in this dismissive fashion could become common here and elsewhere around the world. 

Currently much more worrying in Australia is a growing refusal to accept scientific knowledge in the formation of policy at a political level.  This is particularly disturbing for those concerned with protecting the natural world for current and future generations of humans and other life forms.  

There are numerous recent examples of how scientific knowledge about how best to protect the natural world is being ignored by government departments and politicians.   These bureaucrats and politicians are captive to short-term economic plans or vested interests.

Federal decisions which ignored scientific knowledge and advice have included the reduction in marine park protection to allow fishing over a much greater area and the plan to reduce the  environmental water recovery target  in the Murray-Darling Basin in the interests of irrigators. 

In NSW the changes to biodiversity laws and to management of native vegetation despite scientific advice, are already seeing increased land-clearing and habitat loss which is threatening the survival of vulnerable species such as the koala.

Our political leaders often claim they make decisions based on the best science but this seems to happen very rarely. It’s time this changed.

            - Leonie Blain

 This article was originally published in the VOICES FOR THE EARTH column in The Daily Examiner on August 6, 2018.