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AUSTRALIA NT REPORT: Katherine’s Junk Festival encourages community artists as council prepares to trial kerbside recycling

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Ace Press News From Cutting Room Floor: Published: June.04: 2023:

#AceNewsDesk – Junk Festival is the one time of the year in Katherine when saying “your outfit’s rubbish” is a welcome compliment.

a blonde woman wearing a dress made from bottle caps and wire
Junk Festival artist Annalisa Bowden wants fewer products ending up in landfill.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

Celebrating its 11th year, about 2,300 residents came together in the Northern Territory town on Saturday to show off their costumes and sculptures made out of recycled materials.

In a region without kerbside recycling, the sustainable arts show encourages residents to reflect on their shopping habits and reduce the amount of rubbish going to landfill.

Annalisa Bowden has been attending Junk Festival since 2020.

This year, she made a dress and fascinator out of recycled wire, garbage bags and bottle caps. 

“Get rid of the plastic,” she said. 

“That’s probably the biggest message of Junk Fest.”

two aboriginal women at junk fest, with one wearing a colourful dress
Susan Davey (right) says her outfit caught the attention of festivalgoers.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

The dry community event included live music, dance performances, food stalls, a junk fashion parade, raffles and award presentations.

Regular Junk Fest sculptor Lauren Kaiserman made a “lawnmower monster” out of pallet wrapping that she found in bins.

“There is so much of it — it was so easy to get,” she said.

“Junk Fest means that people really do care about our environment, and they do care about not creating any more fossil fuels.”Lauren Kaiserman says residents care deeply about protecting the environment.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

Recycling trial to begin in Katherine East

Katherine’s population of nearly 10,000 has long wanted more options for managing waste to reduce harm to animals and the environment.

Mayor Lis Clarke said kerbside recycling was not available due to the “substantial cost” of transporting the material to processing facilities outside the NT. 

“We do want to do a lot more,” she said.Lis Clarke says she recognises residents want recycling options.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

From June 21, Katherine Town Council will run a six-month kerbside recycling trial involving about 250 homes in Katherine East. 

Residents on Gregory Court, Patterson Court, Cyprus Street, Casuarina Street, Cormack Street, Bradshaw Crescent, Hamdorf Street, Inskip Crescent and Stacey Road will be part of the trial. 

The bins will be emptied fortnightly, costing council $30,000.

“We’re trying to encourage people to recycle more,” Cr Clarke said. 

“If it’s successful, we’ll look at bringing it in in the future.”

Katherine’s landfill has about 10 years left before it reaches capacity and a new location will need to be developed, she said. Cecilia Johns says cutting back on waste is even better than recycling.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

Donning a dress made of “garbage” gifted by Katherine Regional Arts Centre, Cecilia Johns co-hosted Junk Fest and encouraged residents to reduce waste altogether. 

“Recycle when you can,” Ms Johns said.

“But our messaging here tonight is to reduce the use of non-biodegradable products.”A depiction of famous NT crocodile, Sweetheart, made out of old kitchen utensils.(ABC News: Samantha Dick)none

NT government considers building a sorting centre

Last year, the previous Coalition government announced $7.2 million to fund a materials recovery facility in Katherine to help residents recycle glass, tyres, plastics and paper. 

In a statement, Environment Minister Lauren Moss said a scoping study has been conducted to assess the feasibility of building such a facility in the Big Rivers region. 

She said the NT government released its Circular Economy Strategy last year, supported by $11 million of joint federal investment in recycling infrastructure.

The strategy outlines a plan to transition the NT to a circular economy, which aims to keep materials and products in circulation for as long as possible before they end up in landfill.

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