Federal Election Merchandise to Reuse and Recycle

They were everywhere – taped to utility poles and tied to fences with cable ties in an effort to get your attention.

Most councils give candidates up to seven days to remove campaign posters from council property such as fences and posts after an election.

So what happens to the mountains of corflutes, T-shirts and other paraphernalia after Election Day?

Signs in the Fowler electorate that Dai Le won ahead of Kristina Keneally.(ABC News: Danielle Mahe)

Labor volunteer Greg Vaughan said the party’s striking red shirts were collected and washed at the end of the campaign.

“Generic Labor T-shirts can pass state and council elections,” he said.

“If you have a Labor corflute that is not state-specific or local, it can go between the two.”

Having non-specific signs urging people to “vote 1” for a particular party is also a common recycling tactic.

“It means we can reuse it,” said Greens volunteer coordinator Zoe McClure.

Kristina Keneally, Labor’s unsuccessful candidate for Fowler’s seat in Sydney’s south-west, told the ABC that some of the generic corflutes – as well as A-frames, some of which were made by the local men’s shed – would be collected and stored for the next election.

Labor volunteers said the shirts would again be reused across the country by Danielle Mahe 2
A Labor volunteer said the red T-shirts would once again be reused across the country.(ABC News: Danielle Mahe)

“We have a few storage locations. Some will be in my house and some will probably be in a storage location,” Ms Keneally said.

However, it gets a bit more complicated when a candidate’s face and name are presented.

A spokesman for former Wentworth MP Dave Sharma said his campaign had made good use of his material.

Mr Sharma has represented the Liberal Party in the Sydney East seat three times in the past four years.

A spokesman for Mr Sharma said they had used T-shirts from the 2018 by-election but their corflutes were new.

Mr Sharma was beaten by independent Allegra Spender over the weekend, and the spokesperson said any corflutes bearing his face or name would be donated to local schools and daycares, where the white back could be used to mount works of art.

Local councils are responsible for ensuring posters are removed in time.

Fairfield City Council in Sydney’s south-west wants all material to be gone no later than a week after polling day.

“If the signs are still displayed after this time, they are considered advertising without consent and fines may be applied by Council,” a spokesperson said.

Many corflutes, which are made of polypropylene plastic, can be transported to “appropriate collection sites” for recycling, a spokesperson for the NSW Environment Protection Authority said.

Stefan Lie, senior lecturer and co-director of the Material Ecologies Design Lab at Sydney University of Technology, said polypropylene was an “attractive material” because it is lightweight, cheap and waterproof.

Poster corflutes in the Watson electorate by Danielle Mahe
The remaining poster corflutes in the Ashfield remain in place after Election Day.(ABC News: Danielle Mahe )

He argued that it should not be the responsibility of customers to recycle products, and said manufacturers could also consider recycling the product.

“If you make something, a car or a cup of coffee – whatever – and you put it out into the world and you get money for it, that’s your responsibility,” Dr Lie said.

Corflutes can cost up to $8 each, and a Dai Le Independent volunteer, who beat Ms Keneally to Fowler, said they were going to collect and recycle as many as they could.

“We’re not a big party. We don’t have millions in the bank. We pay for our own business,” they said.

Greens volunteer Chris Maltby said he had already been approached by friends who work for the State Emergency Service (SES) to see if he had any corflutes left.

“The SES uses them to do things like fix skylights when there are hailstorms,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lynn Ralph, who volunteered for Ms Spender’s campaign, said around 700 corflutes were on display around the electorate.

“People can either bring them back to the office. We’ll also pick them up if you want us to pick them up,” she said.

When asked what she was going to do with her teal t-shirt, Ms Ralph took a different approach – she plans to frame it.

“It will be a collector’s item for years to come,” she said.

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