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This man recycles used aluminum foil from hair salons


AUSTRALIA (AP)--For anyone who gets their hair coloured, sitting with your head covered in pieces of aluminium foil is a familiar experience.

But have you ever wondered what happens to all that foil once it's washed out of your hair?

"I think we go through around 300 metres a week of foil. Yeah, so it is a lot of foil," says hairdresser Sarah Southwell.

Those hundreds of metres of foil may help brighten up people's hair - however since most of it ends up in landfill they are taking their toll on the environment.

For Gerard McClafferty landfill wasn't a suitable destination, so he decided to do something about it.

McClafferty is the general manager of the Salamader Bay Recycling Centre, a not-for-profit community-run inititative in Port Stephens.

He started collecting scraps of aluminium foil from six hairdressers in Port Stephens. The project inititially started as a way of quantifying how much foil ends up in landfill.

"We literally want to try and show the community and the country at large that there is other ways to do things," he explains.

In just eight months he's collected one tonne of foil scraps for recycling.

McClafferty says foil scraps are a main concern because of the volume they create.

"When you look at a tonne which is like five large bags, that takes up a lot of space. So you imagine, you extrapolate that across the state or the country or the world indeed that's a lot of volume filling up land fill that could be used in a better way," he says.

Around 500 Australian hairdressers called 'sustainable salons' are already recycling. One of those is Newcastle-based Suki Hairdressing salon.

"95 per cent of what leaves our salon is recycled or re-used. So everything from the hair to the plastic to cardboard. Everything," says owner Sandy Chong.

But while McClafferty and the 500 sustainable salons are doing their bit there are still around 12,000 more salons across Australia that aren't.

Unless they join the recycling drive around another 3 million kilogrammes of foil could end up in landfill.

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