EPA VIC to extend $6.5M program to tackle local waste issues

The Victorian EPA has extended its more than $6.4 million Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) pilot project for 13 council areas.

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.

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It will now run for an additional seven months until 31 July 2019 to address issues such as dust, odour, waste dumping and stockpiling, littering and noise pollution.

OPLEs began training in September 2017 and have responded to 355 incident reports and completed 299 inspections as of 30 June 2018.

The councils selected include Port Philip, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Wyndham, Surf Coast, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wodonga, Loddon, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay.

Waste dumping and stockpiling was a concern in Mildura while sediment run-off and littering at new residential housing developments was a focus for OPLES in Surf Coast, Wyndham, Shepparton and Wodonga.

EPA CEO Nial Finegan said the program allowed expertise to be shared between EPA and councils to make a difference to issues that affected local amenity and liveability the most.

“We’ve received great feedback from councils and residents about the impact the OPLEs are having,” he said.

“At its core, the project is about creating meaningful change on a local level and using education to drive compliance.

“We will not shy away, however, from imposing sanctions when proactive measures are not effective and environmental and public health is put at risk. And by partnering with councils, a greater range of sanctions are available to address all aspects of an issue.

Mr Finegan said the program was identified through the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

“By addressing smaller problems, we can stop them becoming bigger problems,” he said.

“Protecting Victoria’s environmental and public health is everyone’s responsibility.

“We’re committed to empowering Victorians to become environmental leaders, in their homes, communities and businesses, and the OPLE project is a key part of that.”

Nominations open for VTA’s Freight Industry Awards 2018

Nominations are now open for the Waste and Recycling Award as part of the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) Freight Industry Awards 2018.

The Awards recognise achievements across a range of categories, with the winners to be announces on the evening of the event.

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Seven awards are available, which include the Waste and recycling Award, Investment in People Award, Best Practice Safety Award, Application of Technology Award, Female Leadership in Transport, Young Achiever of the Year Award and the Personality of the Year Award.

Tickets to the event cost $300 (excluding GST), with a table of 10 costing $2800 (excluding GST).

Victorian Waste Management Association Executive Officer Mark Smith said the awards recognise the essential and great work of the sector.

“This award acknowledges the close relationship between the VTA and the VWMA and recognises implementation of a policy or program and / or technology innovation that improves sustainability,” Mr Smith said.

The event will be held on 1 September at the Palladium Ballroom at Crown in Melbourne.

The deadline for entries is Friday 17 August.

For more information and to book tickets, click here.

Turning waste into water in the City of Melbourne

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water.

Over the last year, the ORCA aerobic digestion system has used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the busy Degraves street face precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in Australia.

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ORCA Enviro Systems Executive General Manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digest the waste, creating wastewater that goes straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

The ORCA is basically a mechanical “stomach” that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” Mr Papas said.

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road.”

Because space is a premium in the city centre, ORCA was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste being generated from the busy café district.

“The ORCA has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” Mr Papas said.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling Facility in May 2017. The ORCA is rolling out across Australia in pubs, shopping centres, food courts and hotels.

Victorian e-waste ban to landfill breakdown

The Victorian Government has announced it will ban e-waste to landfill on 1 July, 2019. William Arnott investigates how the ban will affect the state and what it means for the industry and local government.

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NSW litter reduced by a third with help from Return and Earn

Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.

A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.

“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.

“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.

“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.

“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”

Vinyl Council awards 17 companies for stewardship excellence

The Vinyl Council of Australia has awarded 17 companies that achieved PVC Stewardship Excellence this year.

Companies who have achieved perfect scores in compliance with a set of stringent criteria related to the production and supply of vinyl related products are eligible for the award.

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The Australian PVC Stewardship Program began in 2002 to educate and guide the local vinyl industry to become stewards of their products throughout the entire life cycle of their products.

It binds signatories to continuous improvement in the environmental footprint of their products, whether they manufacture locally or overseas.

Importers and distributors of finished products are required to engage with their entire supply chain overseas to ensure they are compliant to the program.

Signatories are required to report annually against the criteria and each company’s performance is measured and benchmarked against the industry.

The stewardship commitments and targets related to best practice manufacturing, including raw material sourcing, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy and greenhouse gas emissions of PVC product manufacturers, resource efficiency, and transparency and engagement.

The winners of the 2017 Excellence in PVC Stewardship Awards include:

  • Australian Plastic Profiles
  • Australian Vinyls Corporation
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Chemiplas Australia
  • Chemson Pacific
  • Formosa Plastics Corporation, Taiwan
  • Iplex Pipelines Australia
  • Pipemakers
  • Primaplas Australia
  • PT Asahimas Chemical, Indonesia
  • RBM Plastics Extrusions (new signatory in 2017)
  • Serge Ferrari (new signatory in 2017)
  • Sun Ace Australia
  • Speciality Polymers and Chemicals
  • Tarkett Australia
  • Techplas Extrusions
  • Vinidex

The Vinyl Council’s PVC Stewardship Manager Laveen Dhillon said all 17 companies have excelled, with 10 of this year’s award recipients receiving the award for the award for the first time, including two signatories that had joined the program in 2017.

“These signatories worked with the Vinyl Council to map out their entire supply chain so as to address relevant program commitments. All the Award recipients should be recognised as industry leaders who have worked in collaboration with their supply chains to meet and exceed program goals” Ms Dhillon said.

“Transparency through the supply chain is essential to improve efficiency, reduce impact and track the practices of suppliers. One signatory reported finding that communication and credibility among its suppliers has improved each year, as it has repeatedly requested stewardship information. We hope transparency and engagement continues to improve in this way.”

VWMA 2018 State Conference wrap-up

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

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EPA VIC consider application for $12M waste to energy facility

Resource Resolution Pty Ltd has applied to establish a $12 million commercial food waste processing facility which has the capability of producing biogas for energy.

The proposed facility would process 30,000 tonnes of liquid food waste a year and produce 2.4 megawatts of power.

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Resource Resolution also aims to recover organic matter for use as animal feed or to generate renewable energy with an anaerobic digestion facility.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria received the works approval for the site, planned to be located at 19 Winter Road, Girgarre.

Resource Resolution has proposed to use the Biogass Renewables AD system, which is currently used in Perth, WA. It is estimated that the bioenergy operation will process 23,382 tonnes of dairy, 3,475 tonnes of food products, 2,421 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 722 tonnes of supermarket and grocery waste.

EPA Victoria’s assessment of the application will consider best practice technology, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste composition. It will also assess any potential risk to human health and the environment, including from emissions to air, noise, disposal of digestate, the waste water treatment system and operation contingencies.

An application for an amendment to the current planning permit is currently under assessment by Campaspe Shire Council.

Works approvals are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

Dubbo Regional Council opens new organics processing plant

A new organics processing facility has been opened at the Whylandra Waste and Recycling Facility to recycle food and organic waste from the surrounding councils.

The Dubbo Regional Organics Processing Plant (DROPP) commenced operations in early July and has begun receiving food and garden waste from Dubbo Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Narromine Shire Council.

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It aims to divert a significant amount of organic waste from landfill and turn it into compost, reducing environmental pollution caused by leachate and methane gas production.

The facility received more than $7 million of funding from the NSW EPA, Dubbo Regional Council and JR Richards & Sons. The project was supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure initiative, funded by the waste levy.

Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Ben Shields said the high-tech composting facility was built to handle organic material collected by three council as part of the new Food and Garden Waste Management service.

“It is great to see neighbouring Councils working collaboratively and sharing resources to achieve a common goal,” Cr Shields said.

NSW Member for Dubbo Tony Grant said the regional organics recycling will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.

“The carbon footprint of trucking the waste is minor compared to methane that would otherwise be produced by food and garden waste buried in landfill,” Mr Grant said.

“This is a fantastic local initiative where organic waste from the region will be processed locally and reused locally,” he said.

Image: Mayor of Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields, Member for Dubbo the Hon Troy Grant and Mayor of Narromine Shire Councillor Craig Davies officially opened the DROPP.