What a load of rubbish!

What a load of rubbish! by Kendrea Rhodesby Kendrea Rhodes

Have you ever got dressed up to go somewhere only to find your destination closed? Well, this happened to my family one rainy Sunday. We donned our gum boots, gloves, old clothes and cleaned up the property in preparation for summer.

The trailer was full and off we went to the Mt. Charles Landfill Facility in Woodside (the tip). We arrived to find the gates locked and a rustic tip-worthy sign saying “Dump Closed to Public”, well that’s clear and concise. However, it wasn’t enough for us hardy tip goers. We demanded to know more, and as luck would have it, there was an Adelaide Hills Council sign providing alternatives at Heathfield, Campbelltown and Strathalbyn, all too far for us! However closer to home was the Onkaparinga Waste and Recycling Depot, a private enterprise in Woodside.

This depot is the brainchild of Phil Harding who started his Hop Skip and Dump business in 1993; he saw profits in rubbish and lets face it, that’s a hard ask for most of us to visualise. The business grew and so did Phil’s plans, opening the Waste and Recycling Depot in 2005. He also answered the call when contacted by the Adelaide Hills Council to be ready to accept council tip goers as from 1st of July, 2008.

This new facility is well equipped and undercover. We didn’t need all that protective gear, the boots, raincoats and staunch composure, nor indeed our sharp fly swatting instincts refined over the years. You can dump your rubbish here in comfort and almost style, without getting wet or muddy. The floor is concrete with 3 large bays, containing two 25 cubic metre bins in each bay. You back your load up to these and sort as you dump into steel, garden, cardboard, paper and general waste bins. An extension is planned which will eventually house 13 bins in all.

This is basically a recycling transfer station, where they take anything and send it on its way to the relevant recycling companies. There is a use for almost all rubbish dumped here, very little goes to landfill. Its sorted by some dedicated employees who have an eye for “re-useables”. You will get paid for cans and bottles, and in future, possibly for copper, aluminium and steel too.

If you are wondering what’s happening to the old tip at Mt. Charles, well, it’s not being left alone; the council are following strict EPA guidelines and consulting advice on capping and management. I spoke to the Manager for Works and Services at the Adelaide Hills Council (AHC), Geoff Hood, who explained the process: Mt Charles has for many years been limited to hard rubbish – timber, building material, bricks etc.

The first step in closing the site was to grade and bulldoze the rubbish to an even surface and place a thin layer of soil to stop any movement of exposed rubbish after the grading.

Next a compacted clay layer will be installed to prevent rain from seeping down through the old waste to the water table and thereby contaminating it.

Then an 80cm layer of soil and 10 cm of top soil in which low shrubs and grasses are seeded.

Finally shallow catch drains to channel rain into holding ponds to further protect the natural water table.

The total thickness of the covering over the rubbish will be 1.5 metres. Currently Mt. Charles is at the initial stages where a thin layer is being placed over the bulldozed waste, prior to the clay layer placement.

Geoff tells me they are looking for more top soil to be sourced within the Adelaide Hills. If you have a dam that needs de-silting of over 5000 tonnes, then call the Adelaide Hills Council on 8408 0400.

AHC rate payers should have received a Free Tip Pass with their last rates notice and if you usually frequent Mt. Charles, then this same pass can be redeemed at the Onkaparinga Waste and Recycling Depot on Henry St, Woodside (phone 8389 7561).

** source: www.epa.sa.gov.au, www.zerowaste.sa.gov.au, www.ahc.sa.gov.au