Anthony Pratt named Australia’s wealthiest person

Paper, packaging and recycling magnate Anthony Pratt has been named Australia’s wealthiest person with a $12.6 billion fortune.

Pratt took the top spot from real estate property developer Harry Triguboff, having moved from second to first over a one-year period.

He last made the list of Australia’s 200 wealthiest people eight years ago, months after the death of his father Richard Pratt.

Financial Review Rich List editor John Stensholt told News Corp Pratt was reaping the rewards of expanding his business in the rust belt states of the US and investing in American manufacturing, which people thought was dying five years ago.

“Making those counter-cyclical investments sometimes is what’s the hallmark of people on the rich list … they can certainly take advantage of it when things are down and probably see things as buying opportunities,” he said. “What he has done in America is probably one of Australia’s great business success stories.

“Not many Australian businesses make a success of it overseas and he definitely has.”

 

NT environmental groups claim plastic bag ban has failed

Northern Territory environmental groups have claimed the State Government’s legislation banning plastic bags has failed in its intent to reduce unwanted litter.

The Northern Territory Government introduced laws prohibiting single-use plastic bags less than 35 microns in thickness in September 2011.

Heimo Schober, chief executive of the Keep Australia Beautiful Council NT, told ABC Radio Darwin that litter surveys had revealed plastic bag litter had increased in the past five years.

He said while surveys showed most plastic bag litter was found on roadsides and in car parks, they were unable to determine who was ditching them.

“Whether the bags are just being thrown on the ground or they’re being removed from bins and landfill by animals or wind, we’re not sure.

“It’s education that we need; we need people to be aware that a 15-minute use of a plastic bag that then lasts 10 years above ground, maybe thousands of years below ground, is just unacceptable.”

Glen Evans, project manager at the NT Environment Centre, told ABC News he had no reason to doubt the findings of Keep Australia Beautiful’s litter surveys.

But he said a lack of independent data both before and after the ban was implemented made it difficult to assess its efficacy.

“Personally, when I go into supermarkets I’ve definitely noticed an increase in the trend of people using reusable plastic bags,” he said.

“Initially the impact was that people didn’t want to pay [for reusable bags], but over time their behaviour has changed.”

Mr Evans agreed with Mr Schober’s stance that it was society’s attitude towards plastic bags that needed to change, rather than legislation.

“It’s not just thinking about recycling a product but looking at other ways we can minimise the amount of plastic bags that are being used.”

Lauren Moss, the Minister for Environment and Natural Resources, told ABC News a 2014 review of the ban showed it had reduced the number of bags being sold or given away by more than 10 million units.

A statement from the NT Environment Protection Authority said the review also found shoppers more frequently reused plastic bags and were “generally supportive of the ban”.

While Ms Moss did not comment on any future reviews of the ban, she admitted Queensland’s scheduled ban on plastic bags in 2018 would be a good opportunity to reflect on how it was working in the NT.

“Legislation is only one part of this. I think the community education and making sure we are really encouraging people to use those [reusable] bags more is really important,” she said.

Organic waste to energy projects on show in Sydney

Visitors to Ozwater in Sydney last week had a chance to see CST Wastewater Solutions’ latest waste-to-energy technologies.

Environmentally advanced technologies transform waste organic materials and wastewaters from an environmental liability into a profit centre, says CST Wastewater Solutions Managing Director, Mike Bambridge.

One of the technologies, GWE’s Rapid Transformation of Organic Residues(RAPTOR), is a liquid-state anaerobic digestion process that consists of enhanced pre-treatment followed by multi-step biological fermentation.

RAPTOR is suited to both industrial and municipal applications in Australasia, with one of its most recent installations demonstrating its potential for similar applications here, says Bambridge, whose company distributes the technology throughout Australia and New Zealand.

RAPTOR has been used successfully in several projects around the world. One example is an organic-waste-to-energy project in Connecticut USA, which moved into production late last year. It converted up to 40,000 tons of organic waste annually into environmentally green energy and dry bio fertiliser.

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The plant also avoided the need to dump the waste into landfill, from where organic wastes can seep into water tables of surrounding urban and rural development.

The Quantum Biopower Plant serving the central Connecticut region incorporates its GWE RAPTOR rapid anaerobic digestion system at the heart of its process that harvests mixed organic wastes for conversion into enough biogas (primarily methane) to generate 1.2 MW of electricity and up to 5.6 tons a day of dry bio fertiliser.

Biogas extracted from the refuse replaces fossil and other fuels typically used to generate electricity for the nearby Town of Southington, CT, reducing its environmental footprint and helping the State meet its renewable energy goal of generating 27 per cent of the state’s electricity from renewable energy resources by 2020.

The Southington plant’s biogas production of more than 420,000Nft3 (about 12,000 Nm3 ) a day @62.5 per cent methane (CH4 ) is equivalent to 8000kg a day of fuel oil, or more than 3000 tons of the fossil fuel a year, projected to be worth  over $A10 million in the plant’s first decade of service.

The company responsible for the installation, GW&E (a subsidiary of Global Water Engineering Engineering) has also completed another waste-to-energy plant in Canada and is currently completing another in the Caribbean that converts food waste and a form of grass to energy.

As well as profit and environmental benefits, this technology provides consistent and reliable base load power, which is not always possible with alternative green energy technologies, such as wind and solar. Further expansion of the facility to 80,000 tonnes/yr is planned, with the additional biogas to be converted to renewable natural gas and injected into the local gas pipeline network.

GWE anaerobic technologies have been successfully deployed on diverse organic and agribusiness waste streams produced by industries including food and beverage processing, starch and fermentation industry, pulp & paper and many other type of agro-industry. GWE has successfully built and commissioned scores of biogas utilisation plants for clients worldwide over the past 15 years, while CST Wastewater Technology anaerobic digestion installations in in Australia and New Zealand include meat, dairy, fruit processing and brewery production.

The technologies are also suitable for processing biological waste produced by a wide range of specific user types, including universities, grocery chains, restaurants, food transporters, hospitals, sports arenas, large office complexes, commercial buildings and large residential complexes.

This article originally appeared on Food & Beverage news.

Two companies working to tackle plastic waste in Australia

Two Australian companies are working together to tackle the small amount of plastic waste that is processed in Australia.

The Guardian reported Replas and RED Group are collecting and processing soft plastic packaging.

In Australia, 300,000 tonnes of plastic waste is collected for recycling each year, according to the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association of Australia.

About 50 percent of the waste is sent overseas for processing and approximately 20 percent is reprocessed into pellets to be made into new products to also be sent overseas.

A recent report by the World Economic Forum estimated that the weight of plastics in the oceans will match that of fish by 2050.

Mark Jacobsen, director of marketing at recycling firm Replas told The Guardian technical challenges are not the main bottleneck for plastics recycling.

“Recycling in Australia is dead in the water,” he said.

“Unless people are willing to buy products made of their own waste.”

He said the whole economy has to change. Currently people still view plastic primarily as a waste product.

As a result, the company reportedly only accepts plastic waste from organisations willing to buy back the recycled products they make.

He said large supermarket chains, such as Coles and Woolworths, are some of those leading by example.

Some city councils are also incorporating recycled plastic into their operations, he said.

Replas partnered with RED Group some years ago, a Melbourne-based company that collect soft plastics for recycling through its REDcycle program.

The program collects and processes packaging separately, before sending it onto Replas for incorporation into their products.

 

 

Tassal to install ‘world-first’ waste collection system

A nationally renowned salmon producer will trial a world-first waste collection system.

ABC News reported in May the waste collection system would be trialled by Tasmania-based company Tassal at a cost of about $500,000, before being rolled out across all overstocked pens.

Tasmania’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) will as a result reduce fish stock numbers in Western Tasmania’s Macquarie Harbour, but will allow Tassal to exceed its limit.

The EPA will reduce the overall cap on production from 14,000 to 12,000 tonnes for the 12 months from June.

But companies can exceed the new limit if an approved waste collection system is installed under fish cages.

EPA director Wes Ford told ABC News if Tassal did not adopt the waste management system it would have to remove an extra 4,000 tonnes of fish, as it would exceed the limit.

“In economic terms that is more than $60 million of fish that is currently in the harbour that had I not allowed them to grow through it would obviously impact on the economy of the state, the economy of the west coast and the community,” he said.

“So Tassal has a choice, Tassal can either put fish waste collection systems in or they can remove fish from the harbour.

“The way the draft determination is written is the companies can’t grow more than 13 tonnes per hectare without collecting the fish waste.”

Mr Ford said the EPA would work with any of the companies that explore fish waste collection systems.

“This technique is not used anywhere else in the world, so it is novel, It has a risk associated with it but that’s what trials are about,” he said.

In a statement, Tassal said it respected the EPA’s decision which balanced “environmental, economic and social needs of the Strahan and wider Tasmanian community”.

ABC News reported it has agreed to install waste capture liners under pens to further minimise environmental impacts in the harbour.

Environment Tasmania’s Laura Kelly told ABC News there was no evidence that the fish waste collection system would work.

“This should not be allowed to progress as a so-called trial until there is an environmental impact assessment,” she said.

“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that faecal mounds on top of a tarp will be any less damaging to oxygen levels in the harbour than faecal mounds on the sea floor.

“This is not the time to be trialling capturing of thousands of tonnes of faeces using a tarp. This is time to implement the law.”

Regional town looks to waste industry for growth

A Western Australian town is lobbying the state government to become a hub for large-scale waste management developments.

ABC News reported the bid comes amid other towns in the state fighting against such projects, while the Shire of Dandaragan says it is open to such developments to raise money and create jobs in its community.

The town is planning to locate a regional refuse site at the Badgingarra Research Station, more than 200 kilometres north of Perth.

The shire leases the farm, about 162 hectares in size, which is used for local agricultural research projects and community cropping programs.

“Currently we have our partners the West Midlands Group doing local agricultural research here, we could establish a composting facility here,” Councillor Dahlia Richardson told ABC News.

“We could have more people living and working here, we have have lots of ideas, we just need the land.”

The scale of the development could also allow the community farm to process, store and recycle the household, commercial and industrial waste within the Wheatbelt region and Perth.

Shire of Dandaragan president Leslee Holmes told ABC News the community of Badgingarra is largely in favour of the plan that will create dozens during construct and ongoing local employment.

“The level of support is fantastic,” Ms Holmes said.

“Badgingarra like all small communities are looking for something to ensure the future of their town.

“They have a great deal of faith in this plan, they think it’s a wonderful idea and they trust us.

“They know that there will be jobs, and they know that we will turn part of this site into a best practice regional refuse site.”

Councillor Dahlia Richardson said the proposed regional refuse site would have great benefits to the community.

“We look at the proposal as an opportunity to expand our population and then local business and the school will benefit,” Councillor Richardson said.

“Badgingarra is a wonderful place to live, I want it to be wonderful well into the future… this plan will give us that future.”

The shire hopes to move ahead with the formal approval process as soon as possible if it proves successful.

“Like everyone, we are making new friends in the recently elected State Government, finding out who we can talk to, [and] hopefully impressing them with our ideas,” Ms Holmes said.

Ms Holmes said there have been some preliminary discussions with Labor parliamentary secretary Darren West and is hopeful of speaking with Minister MacTiernan soon.

“Personally I think the plan will appeal to government and our locals too.”

The shire is waiting for State Government to respond to their offer to buy the land.

Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) is encouraging businesses and government organisations active in environmental protection to enter the 2017 Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

EPA sponsors the Environmental Protection award which acknowledges leadership and excellence by an organisation in the conservation and protection of the environment.

EPA Chief Executive Officer Nial Finegan said the award category recognises projects that have delivered positive outcomes for conserving and protecting the environmental quality or health of a local Victorian environment.

“The Environment Protection category helps us to tell the story of Victorians who are doing something new, positive or creative for our environment,” Mr Finegan said.

“Protecting Victoria’s environment is a shared responsibility and we want to acknowledge and support businesses who are leading the way in environmental citizenship.”

Last year’s winner of the Environmental Protection category was the Geelong Cemeteries Trust. Their site, known as the Moonah Memorial Walk at Queenscliff Cemetery, has been developed into a natural habitat for endangered woodland that offers unique burial and cremation memorials following extensive community consultation, botanical assessment and environmental planning.

Chief Executive Officer, Darryl Thomas said the walk is the first of its kind internationally and shows how cemeteries can protect the environment while also providing their local communities with unique memorial and burial options.

“Developing the Moonah Memorial Walk was a great challenge, but saving the endangered coastal woodland and offering the residents of Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale with a treasured place was always our focus,” Mr Thomas said.

“We were honoured to be recognised for our work and encourage others who have taken steps to preserve or protect their local environment to enter the awards and share their success. A project doesn’t need to be a huge development, but needs to demonstrate how it’s provided a good outcome for the environment and the Victorian community.”

Entries are open for small to medium enterprises, large businesses and state and local government organisations and close at 5pm on Wednesday 21 June. Finalists will be announced in late August and invited to attend the awards event on Thursday 26 October.

Entrants have the opportunity to be profiled as a sustainability leader, enhance their reputation and share their achievements with the wider community.

EPA encourages prospective applicants to learn more about the selection criteria for the Environmental Protection award at an information session. To register your attendance, or for more information on the 2017 Premier’s Sustainability Awards, visit www.sustainabilityawards.vic.gov.au.

Paint recycling initiative looks to grow

An industry supported paint recycling program is aiming to divert more than 45 kilograms of paint and packaging from landfill within four years.

Paintback chief executive Karen Gomez told News Corp the world-first initiative has saved more than 1 million kilograms of unwanted paint, or the equivalent of 100,000 cans of paint, since commencing a year ago.

She said the aim is to boost this to 45 million kilograms by 2021 and to expand the number of recycling depots to more than 100 within a year.

“It’s estimated Australians throw away 7.3 million litres of unused paint every year — enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools,” she said.

“In our first year, we’ve been able to collect about 17 per cent of that amount for safe disposal.”

Ms Gomez said Paintback, which is supported via industry through a 15c-a-litre levy on paint products, has rolled out across 50 sites nationally with around 60 per cent of the population within 20 kilometres of a recycling depot.

“There’s been a very good response from councils we have talked to, we’ve targeted big population areas first because obviously we want to get as big as bang for the buck as possible, but we’re in stage two now, we’re rolling to more regional sites,” she said.

Ms Gomez said 97 per cent of the paint products deposited at Paintback sites are recycled, with solvent paint used as a fossil fuel replacement in the cement industry and water from water-based paint used in industrial processes.

“We want to get 100 per cent reuse, this year we will be initiating our R & D program, our aim is to find a new way of dealing with paint that will one day fund this whole scheme itself, create a new product, make a new paint from old or a completely new product,” she said.

News Corp reported Dulux Group, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes, Resene and Rust-Oleum support the scheme through an ACCC approved levy providing Paintback coverage to nearly 95 per cent of architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

Volvo tests autonomous garbage trucks

Volvo Trucks is testing and researching how automated vehicles can improve safety.

DPCcars reported the company is working with Swedish waste management organisation Renova using similar systems to those fitted in the Kristineberg Mine in northern Sweden since autumn 2016.

The devices uses a GPS and lidar-based system, which is said to allow for mapping, positioning and scanning of the area around the vehicle.

The automated refuse truck also features automatic control of steering, gear changing and speed and an automatic stop if an obstacle on the road appears suddenly.

“Driving a heavy commercial vehicle in an urban residential area with narrow streets and vulnerable road users naturally imposes major demands on safety, even when the vehicle’s speed doesn’t exceed a normal walking pace,” said Carl Johan Almqvist, Traffic & Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.

“The refuse truck we are now testing continuously monitors its surroundings and immediately stops if an obstacle suddenly appears on the road. At the same time, the automated system creates better prerequisites for the driver to keep a watchful eye on everything that happens near the truck.”

The automated refuse truck is driven manually the first time it is in a new area, while the on-board system constantly monitors and maps the route with the help of sensors and GPS technology. The truck knows which route to follow and at which bins it has to stop the next time it enters the area.

At the first stop, the driver climbs out of the cab, goes to the rear of the truck, brings out the wheelie-bin and empties it in a standard process.

Once completed, the truck automatically reverses to the next bin after receiving the driver’s command. The driver takes the same route as the truck to maintain full view in front of him.

“By reversing the truck, the driver can constantly remain close to the compactor unit instead of having to repeatedly walk between the rear and the cab every time the truck is on the move. And since the driver doesn’t have to climb in and out of the cab at every start and stop, there’s less risk of work related injuries such as strain on the knees and other joints,” said Hans Zachrisson, Strategic Development Manager at Renova.

Reversing is otherwise a risky manoeuvre since the driver may find it difficult to see who or what is moving behind the vehicle, even if it is fitted with a camera. In certain areas, it is not allowed to reverse with a heavy commercial vehicle for safety reasons, in others it is a requirement that a co-driver must stand behind the truck to ensure that the road is clear before the vehicle is allowed to reverse. DPCcars reported the solution being tested has been designed to eliminate these issues. Sensors monitor the area all around the refuse truck, ensuring driving is equally safe no matter the direction in which the vehicle is travelling. If the street is blocked by a parked car, the refuse truck can automatically drive around the obstruction provided there is sufficient space alongside.

DPCcars reported that although the technical scope already exists, a lot of research, testing and development remains before self-driving refuse trucks can become a reality. The current joint project will continue until the end of 2017 and will be followed by a thorough evaluation of functionality, safety and community and driver consultation. Vehicles with varying degrees of automation will be introduced earlier in other applications, where transport assignments take place within strictly confined areas such as mines and cargo terminals.

War on Waste focuses on scale of food waste

Chaser comedian Craig Reucassel has focused his new documentary War on Waste on the growing influx of waste generation in Australia.

Reucassel told News Corp Australia used to be a world-leading nation when it came to kerbside recycling, but has now fallen behind.

While politicians have to play a role in changing legislation, Reucassel said it was also up to supermarkets and consumers to create change.

The new documentary reveals up to 40 per cent of bananas are thrown away by farmers as they don’t meet standards set by supermarkets, including being too bent, straight, long or short.

“I was shocked by the waste,” Reucassel told News Corp.

“These bananas are highly edible but they don’t fit the cosmetic look. If they are too curved they are thrown out, if they are not curvy enough they are thrown out.

“It’s really hard being a banana these days.”

Reucassel said the thing that surprised him most was the sheer volume of fruit and vegetables that were simply tossed out, despite the months of work that goes into growing them.

“It’s very hard to make fruit or vegetables come out in a perfect way,” he said. “I saw a zucchini that was too big to be sold, because of one extra day’s rain, it’s crazy.

“I think it’s particularly sad when you think about how many people struggle to get food in Australia (and the world) that so much edible food is just chucked.”

Reucassel found that on average shoppers threw out the equivalent of one in five shopping bags worth of food at home, which is generally food that people buy but don’t get a chance to eat.

On the program he fills a Melbourne tram with disposable coffee cups (which generally cannot be recycled) to get people thinking about the staggering amount of rubbish that goes to landfill.

“I think a lot of people either don’t think about it or don’t know how to deal with it,” Reucassel said.

“We have a coffee culture in Australia built around takeaway coffee cups, but it’s not like that in all countries, this is a new waste stream that we are not dealing with.”