Opportunity for 500 jobs: ACOR/MRA Consulting report

Investment in the local Australian recycling industry could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from MRA Consulting.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said the report shows that remanufacturing half of the material domestically would lead to job creation and reduce as much greenhouse gases as taking 50,000 cars off the road. It comes as China clamps down on its exports of interstate waste with a contaminant level of more than 0.5 per cent.

ACOR recently joined the Waste Management Association of Australia in calling on state ministers to implement its Australian Circular Economy and Recycling Action plan at the Ministerial Council – supported by a $150 million injection.

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“To check the China challenge, we are ready to reboot recycling as a self-sufficient sector that enables employment and prevents pollution. Ministers can support this by agreeing to a National Circular Economy & Recycling Plan that makes a one-off investment in the three ‘i’s’ of recycling: infrastructure, improvement and innovation,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The promise of recycling is that what punters put in the bin becomes new products not lumps in landfill. Our political leaders, through the policy targets they have set, are part of delivering on that promise and should continue to do so on 27 April.”

“We need to make and buy more recycled content products here in Australia. Closing the loop is what’s needed for community confidence, job growth and environmental results,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said other industries are regularly supported in transition and crisis, and the recycling sector needs the same support, otherwise jobs could go including in country towns.

“While state governments have rightly focussed on the system’s short-term survival, it’s time for all governments to jointly act for recycling’s future success,” he said.

The report, titled The China National Sword: the role of Federal Government highlights:

  • New technology to support more Australian reprocessing of mixed paper, mixed plastics and glass cullet;
  • Enhanced methods and machinery at recyclate sorting centres;
  • Support for government and corporate purchasing of recycled content products;
  • A national centre for recycled content product development;
  • Education to ensure what’s collected is clean enough for recycled content product making.

Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre launches

A new national research effort is aiming to reduce food waste in all stages of the product, from production to final disposal.

The $133 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre program is a partnership between 57 industry and research participants from Australia and internationally.

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Food waste costs Australia $20 billion a year, with significant amounts of it being sent to landfill.

To reduce food waste throughout the value chain, the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre aims to transform unavoidable waste into high value products and engage with the industry and consumers to deliver behavioural change.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said $150,000 from SV’s Love Food Hate Waste program will be used to fund research on consumer behaviours concerning food waste and reducing food waste in the supply chain.

“As Victoria is one of the nation’s major food producers and processors, this is a particularly important issue,” Mr Kpran said.

“The CRC ticks boxes in terms of how we can do more to efficiently produce and process food and deal with waste,

“The University of Melbourne’s 2016 Melbourne Foodprint report found Melbournians wasted more than 200kg of food per person every year. It‘s not just a waste of resources along the food production and processing chain; it’s a major producer of greenhouses gas emissions as the food decomposes,” he said.

Mr Krpan said the project would help primary producers, food processors, retailers, food rescue agencies and technology and service providers.

“It will also help local government to contain the cost of operating landfills and long-term, that’s good for everyone. It will also reinforce Sustainability Victoria’s work to reduce the production of waste or all types.”

“There are many opportunities to develop and use products derived from primary production that is otherwise wasted.

“We already have a composting industry which uses some food waste, and there is the potential to feed it into digesters which breaks it down, creates gas to drive electricity and reduces what goes to landfill,” Mr Kpran said.

Nestlé aim for products to be completely recyclable by 2025

Nestlé has announced its goal to make 100 per cent of it packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

The news comes in response to the company’s opinion that there is an urgent need to minimise the impact of packaging that ends up in landfill or as litter.

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To achieve this goal, the company says it will focus on eliminating non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that allow for better recycling rates and eliminate or change complex combinations of packaging materials.

Nestlé said in a statement that it is committed to playing an active role in the development of collection, sorting and recycling schemes.

The company also said it would work with chain partners and industry associations to explore different packaging to reduce plastic usage and to facilitate recycling.

Labelling products with recycling information and promoting a market for recycled plastics were also steps mentioned to develop a circular economy.

Nestlé Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach. We are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, re-use and recycle. Our ambition is to achieve 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.”

Waste to Energy project at NSW abattoir

ReNu Energy has been provided with $2 million to design, construct, own and operate a waste to energy facility at a NSW abattoir.

The Federal Government and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has invested to assist the creation of the new biogas facility at Southern Meats’ abattoir in Goulburn.

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The $5.75 million project includes construction of a covered lagoon for anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from breaking down effluent.

It is estimated to produce 3800 megawatt hours of electricity per year by treating and transferring biogas to two 800-kilowatt dual fuel generators.

The lagoon can store biogas which can be used during peak times of electricity consumption during manufacturing, with the additional generators able to contribute to reduce the amount of energy from the grid when prices spike during times of peak demand.

The abattoir uses around 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a day.

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said the conversion of waste into energy is an innovative way to help combat the challenges associated with waste management and energy prices.

“Disposing abattoir waste is a major environmental challenge and processing and storing meat is an energy intensive business,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“That’s why this project is win-win, it helps reduce the need to dispose of waste from the abattoir and it provides Southern Meats with a more affordable source of energy,” he said.

VWMA call for VIC Gov to build resilient waste system

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called on the state government to develop an industry led initiative that tackles challenges facing the Victorian waste and recycling system.

The organisation’s position is to set up a VWMA initiative to make sure the Victorian waste and recycling is working in the same direction.

The VWMA said in a statement that the waste sector is facing higher insurance costs, recent import and trade restrictions, urban planning, increased regulations and a negative public perception of the industry.

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It also mentioned China’s National Sword policy and how the restrictions have impacted the entire sector as a whole.

More than 11 million tonnes of waste are generated in Victoria a year, and the waste industry generates over $2.2 billion in revenue for the economy.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said there is an opportunity to establish Victoria as Australia’s most resilient state with regard to waste and recycling management.

“The private sector owns and operates the bulk of waste and resource recovery infrastructure and services in Victoria and should be front and centre in proposing solutions,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government has had a closed door/invite only approach with regard to formulating responses to the current recycling issues. We’d like to make things more transparent.”

ACT container deposit scheme start date announced

The ACT Government has announced that Canberra’s container deposit scheme will start on 30 June.

Contract agreements have been signed with the scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Re.Turn-it.

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Residents will be able to return eligible beverage containers at registered collection points to receive a 10-cent refund.

The scheme is similar to the legislation in SA, NT and NSW, which use the refund to encourage consumers to dispose of drink containers properly to decrease litter.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT has always said it would introduce a scheme as quickly as possible to align with NSW but took time to make sure the scheme it was done right.

“I’m excited to announce that the ACT’s Container Deposit Scheme will start on 30 June 2018, which I’m sure will be good news for local sporting groups and kids who have already started stockpiling cans and bottles,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“The scheme will provide opportunities for container refunds to be donated to charities and offer increased economic and employment opportunities for participating collection points,” she said.

“We also want to make sure industry are supported through this process, and this week we will introduce legislation to allow beverage manufacturers up to two years before they have to introduce ACT specific refund marking on their containers.”

Examining similar schemes around Australia alongside community consultation, discussions with industry, social research and waste audits were performed to inform the scheme.

Re.Turn-It is responsible for establishing a series of collection points where people will be able to return their containers once the scheme begins.

Managing Director of Re.Group David Singh said the company’s approach will be to maximise customer convenience, which includes delivering a range of collection point formats across ACT, designed to suit the needs of different members of the community.

Collection points will include depots where containers are counted on the spot for immediate cash refunds, as well as express collection points where customers are able to drop off containers and have the refund automatically credited to their account within a few days. Reverse vending machines are also a possibility at some sites in the ACT.

“By working with charities and disability employers, our aim is to ensure that the ACT CDS provides real benefits to the wider community, as well as to individual customers,” he said.

“We are committed to ensuring that, from Day 1, the people of the ACT have options on where to take their containers. We’ll also work with the Territory to expand the collection network over time, taking account of customer feedback and demand,” said Mr Singh.

Recycling Industry Transition Support grants open: SV

Victoria’s recycling industry has been provided a $1 million funding package as part of the state Government’s response to China’s National Sword policy.

The move is part of the Victorian Government’s $13 million package towards councils and industry to support the ongoing collection of household recyclable waste.

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Funding will be available to companies that recover and reprocess plastics, paper and cardboard, with work needing to be completed within one year of signing with Sustainability Victoria.

Funding will be available for:

  • Infrastructure, equipment and process upgrades at Material Recovery Facilities to support greater sorting of paper and plastic
  • Infrastructure and equipment upgrades to process paper, cardboard and rigid plastic (wash, granulate, pelletise) to allow material to be used by domestic manufactures and allow for re-entry to export markets
  • Storage and consolidation infrastructure (sheds/shipping containers/temporary cover) to allow for the short-term safe storage of recovered paper, cardboard and plastic while processing capacity and/or end markets is developed.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 were available on a 1:1 funding ratio to Victorian-based projects that recover, handle and process plastics, paper and cardboard waste.

“The Recycling Industry Transition Support grants will help to fast-track development of new infrastructure that improves the quality of recovered plastics, paper and cardboard,” Mr Krpan said.

Mr Krpan said project proposals for work costing more than $1m would also be considered as Victoria had many opportunities to expand its recycling sector.

“If there are projects that exceed the million-dollar funding envelope, we also want to hear about them.”

“China’s policy change is serious, but it gives us an opportunity to more-quickly expand our reprocessing capacity and improve the quality of the end-product so it can be made into new products.

“In the 2015/16 financial year, councils collected 590,000 tonnes of recyclables and recycled 95 per cent of this was recycled, but with a growing population we need to look for ways to recycle a greater range of products, not just from households, but across the wider community.”

Mr Kpran said there are many opportunities to build on Victoria’s long-established recycling and re-processing sector which provides the raw material for paper and cardboard, many types of plastic, metal, and glass products.

“Board rooms and investors are also looking for commercial projects that demonstrate their sustainability credentials and reduce risks in their supply chains,” he said.

“Despite the current market volatility, smart, responsible investment and the ongoing maturation of our resource recovery sector and emerging markets for our waste, we should look forward with confidence.”

Applications for the first round of the of Recycling Industry Transition Support grants close on 8 May 2018.