Trevor Evans, the Federal Government’s Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management has officially opened the first meeting of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Collective Action Group (CAG).
The team of 12 leading representatives from across the supply chain and government will be tasked with overseeing the progress of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.
The 2025 targets were launched by government and industry in 2018. The CAG’s role is to work with APCO to oversee the development of a systemic model for how Australia can deliver the 2025 targets. The primary task for the CAG in 2019 is to develop a white paper setting out the roadmap for all stakeholders and identifying the critical interventions required to successfully transition Australia to a circular economy for packaging.
The CAG brings together representatives from the resource recovery, community, government, packaging, retail and manufacturing sectors to tackle Australia’s packaging waste challenges. It includes organisations such as Coles, David Jones and Country Road Group, Nestle, Coca Cola Amatil, EY, Planet Ark, the Australian Council of Recycling, SUEZ, Visy, Pact Group, the Department of Environment and Science (QLD) and the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy.
Mr Evans told the CAG the Federal Government had endorsed the National Packaging Targets.
“We’ve provided $1.1 million to APCO to help drive the consumer education and awareness that we need to see as we go on this journey in relation to recycled packaging.
“At this year’s election, we put a package of measures valued at over $160 million together to support waste reduction and recycling in this country. That included, very importantly, $20 million on the table for product stewardship so that is to support the development of new industry led recycling schemes and another $20 million for research,” Mr Evans said.
He said noted that last year’s meeting of environment ministers agreed to a National Waste Policy that would set a new unified direction on waste and recycling.
“We’re going through the process of developing a strong national action plan and importantly that has to include appropriate funding, robust targets and milestones along the way.”
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said that the formation of the CAG is an exciting milestone in APCO’s work towards delivering the targets.
“It’s fantastic to bring together such a prestigious group of leaders for the task. The 2025 National Packaging Targets are some of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia and their delivery requires collaboration from across industry,” Ms Donnelly said.
“We applaud all CAG participants and their leading organisations for stepping up as key players in the global movement to create sustainable packaging solutions that drive accountability, transparency and shared value for consumers, industry and government”.
Over the next 12 months, APCO will be delivering an extensive program of projects to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. These will be facilitated by a team of APCO Working Groups, comprising nearly 100 participants from industry and government across Australia which will in turn provide analysis and resources to the overarching CAG.
The projects include comprehensive infrastructure mapping of the current waste and recycling system and a series of models for alternatives; a range of research and trials to better understand compostability, remote and regional waste collection partnerships, phasing out of single-use plastics and consumer education initiatives to ensure a consistent approach to resource recovery in the packaging streams.
CAG Members include:
Jeff Maguire, Group Head of CDS Implementation and Packaging Sustainability, Coca-Cola Amatil
Margaret Stuart, Head of Corporate and External Relations, Nestlé Oceania
Raphael Geminder, Chairman at Pact Group Holdings
Richard Macchiesi, General Manager – Insights and Innovation – Visy
Fiona Baxter, Group Manager Responsible Sourcing, Coles
Lok-Man Shu, Regional Environment Manager, David Jones and Country Road Group
Louise Vickery, Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy
Kylie Hughes, Director Waste Policy and Legislation, Department of Environment and Science QLD
Terence Jeyretnam, Partner, Climate Change & Sustainability, EY
Paul Klymenko, CEO, Planet Ark
Peter Shmigel, CEO, Australian Council of Recycling
Justin Frank, Director, Marketing, Communications and Key Accounts, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand
Anne Astin, Independent Director, APCO – Chair of CAG
Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO – CAG Secretariat
Helen Lewis, Professor, Institute for Sustainable Futures – CAG Secretariat
The Victorian Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) program has received a further $3.4 million in state government funding.
The expanded funding will enable the recruitment of 4-6 extra OPLEs for 4-10 partner councils.
The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.
EPA has opened an expression of interest period and is encouraging all local councils to apply.
OPLEs are authorised officers who have powers under the Environment Protection Act to issue pollution abatement and clean up notices.
EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said in their first 14 months, OPLEs completed 857 inspections of 605 sites and served 81 notices.
“Local community issues, such as water pollution and management, noise and illegal dumping and odour were common areas the officers dealt with,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“The new OPLEs and council areas will also help EPA combat illegal industrial and chemical waste stockpiling.”
Dr Wilkinson said current participating councils had reported improved response times to pollution reports and increased collaboration, information sharing and expertise since the OPLEs began work in February 2018.
“OPLEs respond to issues relating to noise, dust and odour and waste management issues arising from small to medium size businesses,” Dr Wilkinson said.
“OPLEs also provide local industry, business and community members with the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent, identify and resolve environmental issues.”
All Victorian councils are eligible to apply and must submit applications by 10 July.
A further six local government authorities have received Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, after using tyre-derived raw materials in infrastructure projects.
The six new local governments are Burdekin Shire Council (QLD), Campbelltown City Council (SA), Launceston Shire Council (TAS), Paroo Shire Council (QLD), Prospect City Council (SA) and Upper Hunter Shire (NSW).
TSA CEO Lina Goodman said having local authorities on board was a vital step towards ensuring the sustainable management of old tyres.
Ms Goodman also noted having more councils on board would help drive the commercial viability of developing new and improved tyre-derived products.
“Along with transport companies, local governments deploy significant fleets of vehicles,” Ms Goodman said.
“Ensuring that the tyre needs of those fleets are catered for only by entities committed to responsible end-of-life tyre management can make a significant impact on sustainable outcomes for the over 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates every year.”
According to Ms Goodman, all newly TSA accredited councils will be closely watching crumbed-rubber asphalt trials in South Australia’s City of Mitcham, with a view off specifying the use of similar surfaces for their future road maintenance and enhancement projects.
“Crumbed-rubber asphalt has been in extensive use overseas, in climatic conditions similar to Australia, with long term use in California, Arizona and South Africa delivering excellent road performance results and highly desirable sustainability outcomes,” Ms Goodman said.
“The local road trial will be looking at a range of performance factors, such as cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability.”
Ms Goodman said all local authorities have the opportunity to use recycled tyre-derived materials in urban infrastructure, through both well-established applications and rapidly emerging new products.
“Existing uses of tyre derived material, for applications such as providing soft fall surfaces on playgrounds, are being added to by innovations such as erosion protection wall systems in waterways, noise barriers along roads and permeable pavements for carparks, footpaths and walking tracks,” Ms Goodman said.
“A major focus for the development of new materials is the continual improvement and tailoring of crumbed-rubber asphalt used in roads.”
Trains travelling through Melbourne’s Richmond station are now running on railway sleepers made from recycled plastic as part of an 18-month trial.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne were at Richmond train station on Monday to see the first of 200 sleepers being installed.
Produced in Mildura by Integrated Recycling, the Duratrack sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste, including cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers all sourced in Australia.
The recycled sleepers have a potential lifespan of up to 50 years, are half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and require far less maintenance.
The Victorian Government has invested $630,000 through grant programs delivered by Sustainability Victoria to make the project a reality.
For every kilometre of track installed, 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill will be recycled.
The product is the result of more than two years of research and product development led by Integrated Recycling and Monash University, with the sleepers already up and running at four Victorian tourist railways including the iconic Puffing Billy.
Introducing the new sleepers, approved for use on Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, are part of environmental requirements included in the Victorian Government’s current contract with Metro Trains.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the project is a great example of the circular economy created through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday.
Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne said it’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations.
When landscape supply company Corbet’s Group required a new trommel screen for its commercial compost yard, it enlisted the help of Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems.
The history of composting is difficult to track, but reports suggest humans have been engaging in the process for over 10,000 years. According to the Complete Book of Composting, the first ‘written’ account of composting can be traced back to the reign of King Sargon during the Akkadian Dynasty.
While composting is a natural process, the sale of organic matter on a commercial basis requires companies to meet strict standards and regulations. For this reason, Corbet’s Group General Manager Andrew Corbet places significant stock in the screening and separation process.
“An effective trommel screen is crucial to a business like ours given the potential for contamination. You can’t take any chances with the sale of organic material to the public,” Andrew says.
Corbet’s Group, a family-owned logistics and landscape supply business, has been in operation for more than 40 years.
“We produce compost and potting mix with a range of organic materials including topsoil, manure, bark, grass clippings and food waste,” Andrew says.
“Our Sunshine Coast compost yard produces upwards of 5000 yards of compost every month, which we sell to landscapers, bagging companies and large-scale national stores like Bunnings.”
Corbet’s Group produces more than five varieties of compost, meaning flexibility and quick drum change capability were primary concerns for Andrew when making his latest trommel purchase.
“Our products range from potting mix derived from composted bark and minerals, composted green waste for soil conditioning, slash bark for low density media bases and a whole range of other customisable compost products,” Andrew says.
According to Andrew, the Terex Environmental Equipment range, which includes shredders, trommels, recycling screens, waste handlers, grinders and window turners, helps Corbet’s Group effectively manage its processes.
“We’ve had a number of trommels over the years, quite a few different brands actually, but Terex certainly works more effectively and flexibly in my view,” Andrew says.
Finlay, a specialist supplier of screening and processing equipment for the waste recycling industry,
is the exclusive dealer of Terex Environmental Equipment.
Andrew has been a customer of the company for many years, having previously purchased crushing and screening equipment from Finlay Sales and Hire Manager Ronnie Bustard in 2015.
“Not long ago, when Andrew was speaking to me about maintenance for an old piece of crushing equipment, he mentioned the company would soon need a new trommel screen for their compost yard,” Ronnie says.
“I suggested the Terex TTS 620 tracked trommel and offered to bring it to the Sunshine Coast for a demonstration. It went really well so Andrew made the purchase. It was all very straightforward.”
Andrew says after acquiring the machine, Ronnie and other members of the Finlay staff trained his operators on how to operate, service and maintain the trommel.
“They went the extra mile by coming up here and making sure my staff knew how to operate the equipment,” Andrew says.
“I’m also sure Ronnie and the team would come to the site if we had any problems, but the trommel runs smoothly every day. We’ve had no issues.”
Andrew says he also purchased multiple aperture barrels, which Ronnie fitted to the new trommel before carrying out tonnage tests.
“The trommel drum has a really quick change out time – it only takes a few minutes before we’re up and running again to screen a new material load,” Andrew says.
“The feeder control system continually adjusts its speed, which means we can process compost at a higher efficiency rate than before.”
Ronnie says the TTS 620 trommel enables application flexibility and it can be utilised for any sort of organics screening.
“All the conveyors are built to a modular design which allows each one to be removed independently and easily configured to various applications. It also means the machine is easy to maintain,” Ronnie says.
“The TTS 620 Terex trommel uses less fuel than standard trommel screens because it has a highly efficient engine. It also has a combined hydraulic drive system enabling advanced material processing control.”
According to Ronnie, the trommel screen’s swing out engine cradle gives operators unrestricted ground level access to all service components, while hinged doors on both sides of the drum offer unobstructed access for maintenance and cleaning.
Andrew says another contributing factor to his decision to enlist Finlay was its spare parts servicing.
“They offer fast and efficient turnaround on aftermarket spare parts – whatever make or model, they have you covered,” Andrew says.
Biomix is investing heavily in innovative technologies and taking a bold approach to managing more than 100,000 tonnes of green organics per annum.
Measuring, monitoring and understanding soil properties is a nuanced undertaking, as biological, chemical and physical indicators all play a role in the success of what we put in the ground.
The ongoing business of providing high quality compost is another area conducive to the outcomes of soil health, and thus EPA guidelines and industry regulations govern a best-practice approach.
Soil nitrogen and appropriate levels of water improve soil longevity, in addition to providing valuable nutrients and organic carbon through high productivity farming practices.
It is within this burgeoning landscape that innovative organics recycling practices are bucking the trend.
Vanessa Lenihan has been at the coalface of industry progress, working with farms to identify ways to overcome the soil challenges they face. Her more than 15 years’ experience in the water industry, including sewerage quality management at South East Water, is laying the groundwork for innovation as she leads the composting business Biomix.
Vanessa has for the past few years performed consulting work for Enviromix – a parent company of Biomix. In 2016, Vanessa was asked to project manage the construction of Biomix’s Stanhope facility, managing the design, construction and approvals process over 14-months.
After successfully project managing the construction and commissioning of the new site, Vanessa in February this year joined the company as CEO – a natural transition given her past experiences. Biomix processes 100,000 tonnes per annum of garden and food organics, selling its compost to the broader amenity market, broadacre, viticulture and horticulture industries.
“Biomix is in the industry of organics resource recovery and so is the wastewater industry. Sewage is just a different form of organics so there’s actually a lot of synergies between the two and the lines between the two industries have become blurred,” Vanessa says.
Understanding the biological process of wastewater created synergies to administer this to the biological process of composting, including managing inputs and quality controls.
BREATHING LIFE INTO COMPOST
Biomix at the end of 2017 unveiled its premium compost facility at Stanhope. The company designed an EPA-approved in-vessel composting system, engineering its own vessels to better manage air flow and odour. Its compost is produced to AS4454-2012 specifications and regularly sent off for independent and accredited lab testing.
“The thing that is unique about Biomix is the composting vessels were designed by us. We worked with the mechanical engineering firm that designed them and we own the intellectual property around the vessels,” Vanessa says.
She says that one of the challenges Biomix had is that when it opened the vessels in late 2017, the business began to grow exponentially at a rate it had not anticipated. Likewise, low rainfall onsite and high evaporation presented a challenge to processing compost at the site.
To support its next transition, the company turned to integrated processing supplier FOCUS Enviro for support – a supplier of EDGE Innovate shredding, screening, separating, stacking and sizing equipment. From November last year through to January this year, Biomix acquired three unique new products from EDGE Innovate.
The EDGE MPS48 Picking Station, EDGE FTS Mulch Master (deep stacker) and EDGE TRT622 Trommel replaced a series of conventional machines traditionally used for composting.
“Because we grew so fast we had to manage parts of the business quite differently to what we’ve had previously,” Vanessa says.
“The EDGE Picking Station is really focused on removing contamination upfront and the Mulch Master has allowed us to process our windrows and get water to them in a way that is highly beneficial.”
The EDGE Picking Station was designed to improve safety for waste management sites by reducing the effects of dust, noise and climate conditions for workers. It helps eliminate contaminants such as organics, hard plastics, glass and other deleterious materials.
Vanessa says that Biomix has seen a significant reduction in water loss through windrows by using the Mulch Master, halving the number of times to turn a windrow.
“Every time you turn a windrow you lose at least 20 per cent moisture.
“The Mulch Master allows us to halve the number of turns during the process.”
She says that the Mulchmaster has increased volumes through deep stacking of compost, having previously used excavators and loading circles with a higher cost and slower processing time.
Vanessa says that the machine has allowed Biomix to increase the moisture content of its compost as the auger softens the materials and water jets allow the spread of moisture.
RE-THINKING THE PROCESS
The Mulch Master combines traditional flipping and rotation with constant material flow to overcome traditional challenges of compaction, contamination, material bridging and the risk of combustion.
Designed for low density, bulky materials such as mulch, compostand soils, the EDGE FTS Mulch Master boasts a large hopper capacity of 15 cubic metres.
A 25 per cent additional buffer capacity over the standard EDGE FTS units with a bespoke hopper design prevents material bridging. A variable high speed conveyor enables an even spread of material further regulated via a double screwed forward/reverse auger.
Biomix’s new EDGE trommel also allows it to produce a 14-millimetre-minus product. Vanessa saysthe screen has doubled throughput and comes with an on-board vacuum system attached that pulls out contaminants such as light plastics.
“We’re filling a front lift bin a day of light plastics and there’s no way we’d be able to specifically pick them out by hand – that’s how effective the vacuum system is.”
The TR622 Trommel screen is ideal for multiple applications such as topsoil, recycling, composting and construction and demolition waste. The TR622 comprises a 180-degree radial conveyor, a unique load sensing hydraulic drive system, eco-power saving functionality and a user-friendly HMI control panel to suit varying applications.
A hydraulic sliding feature allows for a speedy drum exchange and enables operators to easily lift out the existing drum to replace it with various drum types available.
Its 22-foot-long drum allows it to produce enhanced screening results and top quality fine materials such as compost, gravel, sand and topsoil easily.
Ronan McKenna, State Manager of FOCUS enviro, says the company last year trialled the machinery to ensure it met Biomix’s tonnage requirements.
He says that many of EDGE’s products have been tried and tested in other major markets such as North America.
“The Mulch Master is a brand new piece of technology that no-one else has used before, so once customers see it and get it round on their site it speaks for itself.
“The machines are fast becoming a popular replacement for traditional windrow turners for multiple reasons, including reduction in maturation pad areas and machinery capital outlay.”
Robbie McKernan, FOCUS enviro Director, says the company considers it an honour to be working with Biomix – a forward-thinking organisation open to a fresh approach to compost.
“There is a lot more evidence mounting to support new processes such as big stacking as opposed to traditional windrow methods,” he says.
“As a supplier, we value opportunities like this where businesses look at their processes as a whole and work out where savings can be achieved, as opposed to a ‘business as usual’ approach.”
Ronan says that FOCUS Enviro is continuing to see demand from organics recycling companies across Australia.
“We have been in a fortunate position to support the food and garden organics (FOGO) aspirations of customers across the country over the past two years. This has shaped our product knowledge to offer a purpose-built solution to meet processing challenges with safety and material quality front of mind.”
The new EDGE equipment is starting to pay dividends for Biomix, and the company is now looking at accelerating its output.
Biomix is currently working with farmers to incorporate compost into traditional fertiliser program. With funding from Sustainability Victoria, Biomix is working with SESL to determine a protocol that outlines an optimum blend of compost and fertilisers.
This will inform a three-year application program for farmers. The first round of trials on farms was completed earlier this year, with the second now underway. Vanessa says it demonstrated the need for a balanced approach to compost.
Biomix is also working with La Trobe University on the application of compost for pastures.
“We’re becoming a lot more scientific and precise in how we’re selling our compost. We’re moving away from just selling compost to incorporating it into the broader agribusiness sector,” Vanessa says.
“We see compost as being really important to the future of improving soil health and its structure and then being able to retain moisture in it and reducing the amount of watering farmers need to do.”
Vanessa says that moisture is so important for the composting process that Biomix designed its vessels to minimise water loss during processing.
Odour management and controlling the processing period to kill off any pathogens and weed seed is an important part of the Biomix process.
Vanessa says that one of the unique attributes Biomix has is its capability to process compostable packaging, films, coffee cups and pods.
“One of the biggest changes coming through the industry is the introduction of compostable materials into the waste streams and we’ve set ourselves up to be able to process that.”
As for the future, Vanessa predicts improving FOGO infrastructure, gaining a higher nitrogen compost, embracing compostable packaging and tackling contamination will be key to improving the uptake of compost.
“We have a step change in the Victorian Environment Protection Act coming in 2020.
“This will force us to focus on how our business is being managed and innovative further to embrace this change,” Vanessa says.
She says the changes to the Environment Protection Act will hopefully address some of the grey areas currently experienced in organic waste acceptance and management.
With a strong uptake of FOGO collections from councils, along with a changing regulatory environment, the need to embrace new technology and processes is more important than ever.
The Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) has halved the cost of gate fees and upgraded their domestic recycling program.
Depositing general, bulk and green waste at WMRC’s Perth resource recovery facility will now cost member councils significantly less, with the facility also offering free drop-offs for e-waste and tyres.
WMRC Chief Executive Officer Stefan Frodsham said the changes form part of a new strategy and fee structure, designed to attract more business to the West Metro Recycling Centre in Shenton Park.
“We surveyed all our member council households last year and it was clear from the results that the majority of people wanted to do more to minimise what goes to landfill,” Mr Fordsham said.
The facility aggregates, compacts and loads municipal solid waste into silos to be transferred to alternative sites for appropriate treatment and disposal.
“In part, the savings are due to our fixed costs now being met by members on a population share basis, but otherwise they result from us passing on the savings from the new lower waste processing and disposal costs we have been able to achieve,” Mr Fordsham said.
“Member councils will also receive tip passes for half the rate charged to non-member councils.”
Single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from 1 November, under new legislation introduced to parliament this week.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said all single-use plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less will be banned, including bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.
The ban applies to bags provided by retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores and service stations.
“These legislative changes follow an overwhelming number of responses during community consultation,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“The feedback on this one was clear. Victorians want to do more to protect the environment from the damage litter causes, and are overwhelmingly supportive of banning single-use plastic shopping bags.”
According to Ms D’Ambrosio, work is underway with the National Retailers Association to ensure Victorian businesses are prepared for the ban and have access to sustainable packaging alternatives.
A plastic pollution action plan is also under development to help reduce other types of plastic pollution.