Applications open for $20M CRC grants

The Federal Government has committed $20 million to innovative projects designed to grow Australia’s domestic recycling industry.

Funds are available through round eight of the Cooperative Research Centre grants program, which opened 13 August.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding was part of government’s commitment to work with the states and establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

“We are committed to protecting our nation’s environment while also building our capacity to turn recycling into products that people want and need,” Mr Morrison said.

“By engaging industry and researchers, we can make sure we’re seeing these changes introduced in a way that cuts costs for businesses and ultimately even creates jobs.”

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the funding would help create Australian jobs, while also reducing global plastic pollution.

According to Ms Andrews, recent figures suggest only 12 per cent of the 103 kilograms of plastic waste generated per person in Australia is recycled each year.

“This funding will strengthen Australia’s recycling industry and help us achieve higher recycling rates,” Ms Andrews said.

“Boosting our onshore plastic recycling industry has the potential to create over three times as many jobs as exporting our plastic waste, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

Applications close 24 September 2019.

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Nominations open for VTA’s Freight Industry Awards 2019

Nominations are now open for the Sustainable Environment Award, as part of the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) Freight Industry Awards.

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

Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) Executive Officer Mark Smith said there are six awards available including the Sustainable Environment Award, Investment in People Award, Best Practice Safety Award, Application of Technology Award, Female Leadership Award and Young Achiever Award.

“Reflecting on the last 12 months we’ve seen some amazing projects realised by big and small operators,” Mr Smith said.

“I encourage those businesses to apply and share their good news stories. We need to hear them, especially now.”

According to Mr Smith, the Sustainable Environment Award acknowledges the close relationship between the VTA and the VWMA, and recognises implementation of a policy or program and or technological innovation that improves sustainability.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said the company was honoured to be recognised at last year’s awards for its work with problematic glass waste.

“It was wonderful for our people to be recognised for their innovation, hard work and commitment to getting better outcomes for the planet,” Mr Murphy said.

Alex Fraser won the Waste and Recycling Award, now named the Sustainable Environment Award, for its efforts turning waste into valuable infrastructure building material.

Nominations are open until 28 August.

The event, themed Queen, will be held Saturday 7 September at Crown’s Palladium Ballroom in Melbourne.

Tickets to the event cost $320 (excluding GST), with a table of 10 costing $3000 (excluding GST).

For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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Australian Infrastructure Audit examines waste

The 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit has examined some of the challenges faced by Australia’s waste sector, including growing pressure due to population growth, export bans and heightened environmental awareness.

The audit, released 13 August, also considers the energy, transport, telecommunications, water and social infrastructure sectors and outlines Australia’s challenges and growth opportunities over the next 15 years.

According to the audit report, Australia is one of the world’s largest waste generators, producing 9 per cent more waste per person than comparable countries.

“We have achieved limited progress on waste reduction or on recycling more waste material back into useful products,” the report reads.

“Our waste management is often poorly planned, and the sector is under increased pressure as waste generation increases and the capacity of infrastructure declines.”

The report highlights a lack of mature markets for private investment in recycling and waste disposal.

“There is a chance to capitalise on increased demand for recycled products and larger economies of scale as waste generation increases,” the report reads.

“Developing a domestic market could improve recycling rates and the sustainability of Australia’s waste disposal.”

The report also explores the limited number of new waste facilities, waste transportation challenges and patchwork government regulation.

“New solutions are needed, yet the market settings required to achieve the best outcomes have been slow to crystallise,” the report reads.

“More will need to be done to ensure the right mix of waste management and infrastructure assets is deployed.”

To meet Australia’s long-term needs, the report argues significant investment is needed in waste recovery and reprocessing infrastructure.

“Such investment could also stimulate local economic activity through the creation of jobs, new products and tax revenue, while retaining valuable resources within the local economy and reducing reliance on virgin materials,” the report reads.

“Greater commercial focus on the development of waste markets could encourage greater innovation in the sector, complementing existing priorities of pollution control.”

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Industry welcomes COAG recycling pledge

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s pledge to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

The decision was made at the 9 August Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, with the intention of developing Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the decision would help create market certainty among the private sector, which is the biggest investor in Victoria’s waste management system.

“For too long there’s been an air of uncertainty around Victoria’s recycling challenge, fuelled by finger pointing and short-sighted solutions, so it’s promising to see COAG agree on the urgent need for a new approach,” Mr Smith said.

“In order to successfully manage our waste needs, now and into the future, we need appropriate investment in the people, system, processes, education and engagement to drive sustainable change.”

According to Mr Smith, as the primary employer, purchasers and manager of waste and recycling assets across Victoria and Australia, business has an integral role to play in developing the sector.

Mr Smith said VWMA has long called for all levels of government to work together with the private sector and other key stakeholders on a sustainable solution to the state’s ongoing recycling challenge.

“The private sector supports more than 23,000 Victorian jobs and invests over $800 million into waste and recycling services and infrastructure annually,” Mr Smith said.

“COAG’s agreement to build the sector’s capacity to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste will be very welcome and serve as a catalyst for investment and innovation.”

Mr Smith said while it’s still early days, the COAG’s announcement is a step in the right direction.

“VWMA looks forward to continuing to work with local and state government, as well as councils and other expert bodies, to arrive at a solution that benefits all Australians,” Mr Smith said.

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Sydney Metro reuses sandstone

Excavated sandstone from Sydney Metro tunnels will be reused to build the new Western Sydney International Airport, as both infrastructure projects begin to take shape.

More than 500,000 tonnes of sandstone will be transported from Metro tunnelling sites to the Western Sydney International Airport site.

Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Graham Millett said more than 148,000 tonnes of sandstone had already been transported.

“This high-quality sandstone will be used as a high-strength foundation to support the construction of the runway, taxiways and roads on site,” Mr Millett said.

“This is a great example of how we can make the most of Sydney’s infrastructure boom, to not only save taxpayer funds but also cut down on waste.”

Mr Millett said Western Sydney International Airport was committed to sustainability, efficiency, reusing resources and reducing carbon emissions.

“Building the airport is one of the biggest earthmoving challenges in Australian history, but we’ve already moved more than 1 million cubic metres of earth across the 1780-hectare site,” Mr Millett said.

Sydney Metro aims to reuse 100 per cent of the crushed rock produced during the excavation of the 15.5-kilometre twin tunnels between Chatswood and Marrickville.

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COAG proposes export ban

Federal, state and local government ministers have agreed to work on a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, to improve Australia’s recycling capacity.

The agreement was made at the 9 August Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison arguing more needed to be done to deal with rising amounts of recyclable waste.

Environment Ministers will advise a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders.

COAG agreed the strategy should draw on the best science, research and commercial experience, including that of agencies like the CSIRO and the work of Cooperative Research Centres.

Australia exported roughly 4.5 million tonnes of waste last year, with the majority sent to Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Malaysia and Thailand.

Indonesia, India and Malaysia have since begun to review their waste import policies.

“It’s our waste, and it’s our responsibility,” Mr Morrison said in a post-meeting press conference, according to an ABC report.

“That’s why I think setting a clear path forward as leaders — that we don’t want to see this going into the ocean, that we don’t want to see this go into waterways, and we’ll do everything in our remit to achieve that goal — is a very important outcome.”

Australian Council of Recycling CEO Pete Shmigel said the COAG announcement aligned with domestic sustainability goals.

“The best route to COAG’s vision of recycling sovereignty and security is for governments to now match very big deeds and dollars to their discussions. This great leadership by COAG must be followed by great investment that matches industries own,” Mr Shmigel said.

“As part of the Environment Ministers’ upcoming plan, that means: major scale support for reprocessing and remanufacturing infrastructure; unprecedented public sector purchasing of recycled content products and other bold incentives for domestic use of recyclate, such as tax credits for manufacturers, removal of ridiculous regulatory barriers and indeed proposed bans for recycled content products in some states.”

Mr Shmigel said material export bans needed to be implemented over a clear timetable with consultation and care to avoid unintended consequences.

“If there are no new and sustainable markets established for the 4.5m tonnes of currently exported material, there will only be the option of domestic disposal – which is highly undesirable,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Ministers must also remain open to alternative waste treatment and waste to energy where Australia only uses some 2 per cent of its waste, which is massively below European countries, who also have much higher recycling rates.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the meeting represents a step in the right direction towards building a sustainable domestic remanufacturing industry.

“Waste management and resource recovery were firmly on the table at the COAG meeting in Cairns, and leaders agreed to develop a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass, and tyres, while building Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities and associated demand,” Ms Sloan said.

“This is a significant and positive commitment – industry has always advocated that Australia should be processing our own waste and recyclables. Industry can, and is keen, to build capacity and the fact that we’re on the agenda and we have the Prime Minister’s and Premiers’ attention means we can finally move forward.”

Ms Sloan said WMRR support the task given to environment ministers to advise on a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders.

“As part of this exercise, leaders agreed the strategy must seek to reduce waste, especially plastics, decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximise the capability of our waste management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste,” Ms Sloan said.

“We also look forward to Meeting of Environment Ministers convening sooner rather than later to progress what we all know we need – and what is now clearly in everyone’s sights – market signals that will enable industry to invest and all stakeholders to support onshore remanufacturing and markets for domestic recycled products.”

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NWRIC meets with ministers

Ministers met with the waste and recycling industry in Melbourne to discuss recycling challenges, developing markets for recycled materials, new infrastructure capacity and how waste levies should be managed and reinvested into the sector.

Federal Waste Reduction Assistant Minister Trevor Evans and Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio meet with National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) members and affiliated representatives on 6 August.

NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards said active collaboration between government and the waste and recycling industry was crucial to an effective sector.

“With recycling services under threat in Victoria, growing stockpiles across the country, exemptions revoked for the recovery of organics from mixed waste in NSW, now has never been a more important time for industry and government to work closely together,” Mr Richards said.

“Topics of discussion included the critical importance of long term infrastructure planning coordinated across all levels of government, as well as consistent, regular community education campaigns to rebuild community confidence in recycling.”

NWRIC Secretary Alex Serpo said NWRIC members suggested local procurement of recycled materials, and setting appropriate recycled content levels for packaging and civil construction, could revitalise domestic recycling.

Fuel manufacture and energy recovery projects were also discussed, with industry ready to deliver projects that recover embodied energy from unrecyclable materials, reduce greenhouse emissions and extend the life of landfills.

The role of waste levies in addressing current challenges was another topic of conversation.

“This included the need for states, territories and the Federal Government to develop a national levy pricing strategy through the Council of Australian Governments,” Mr Serpo said.

“This pricing strategy could prevent the inappropriate disposal and movement of waste, stop levy avoidance activities, and ensure the resource recovery industry is viable and competitive.”

NWRIC is calling on all state governments to be more transparent and accountable for the total amount of levies collected annually, what proportion of the levies are invested back into the waste and recycling sector and what outcomes are achieved.

FOCUS Enviro supplies Australia’s first UNTHA XR shredder

Australia’s first UNTHA XR shredder is now operational in Melbourne, after a 15,000 kilometre journey from an engineering facility in Austria.

Exclusive Australian UNTHA shredding equipment distributor FOCUS Enviro supplied the 37-tonne mobile machine to Knox Recycling (KTS).

The UNTHA XR3000C mobil-e will handle up to 30 tonnes of commercial, industrial and wood waste per hour to manufacture process engineered fuel (PEF).

FOCUS Enviro director Robbie McKernan said KTS were previously unable to produce high-specification fuel with only one machine.

Mr McKernan said KTS accompanied FOCUS Enviro on several site visits across Europe to see the UNTHA shredder in action.

“Impressed by the single pass shredding capabilities of this robust technology, FOCUS Enviro then set about configuring a solution that could achieve Knox’s refined less than 50 millimetre output particle requirements,” Mr McKernan said.

“We have seen what the XR mobil-e is capable of, as it has continued to transform the throughputs, fuel quality and energy efficiency of facilities worldwide.”

Mr McKernan said FOCUS Enviro had worked hard to bring UNTHA’s innovation to Australia.

“No other single machine can produce such a homogenous fuel in a single pass, so I think the Knox operation is going to be a leading light in this complex arena,” Mr McKernan said.

According to KTS owner Mark Jeffs, alternative fuel production is becoming more important in Australia.

“As a progressive environmental company we want to be ahead of the curve,” Mr Jeffs said.

“We acknowledged that by investing in world class PEF production technology we could produce a high-quality resource, efficiently, and hopefully really drive the market for this crucial energy source.”

UNTHA Global Business Development Director Gary Moore said the company’s machinery could process a range of waste materials effectively.

“Whether the resulting fuel is going to a local cement kiln or the export market, we always work with the client to optimise throughputs, minimise impurities and maximise margins,” Mr Moore said.

“Australia is one of the world’s most exciting countries when it comes to energy from waste potential, and it’s great to now be a part of it.”

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Liebherr’s customised material handlers

The recycling industry is growing rapidly and changing at the same pace.

According to Liebherr, many waste disposal companies have developed from generalists to highly specialised recycling operations.

This has brought with it a whole new set of challenges to be met by the machines used in the recycling industry.

Liebherr acknowledges this and develops machines and equipment options for every need and application. The company manufactures many different components, including but not limited to engines, fuel injection systems and hydraulic cylinders, which have to be optimally configured for each other. Liebherr believes this diverse componentry experience allows it to offer extremely capable yet efficient machines.

Even when developing these components, the requirements of future applications are taken into account to ensure that Liebherr specialised machines are optimally prepared for every feasible working situation.

Liebherr material-handling machines are used for a wide variety of tasks in the recycling and waste management sector. Mobile material-handling machines, crawler material handlers, wheel loaders, dozers and crawler loaders all aim to sort, separate and load recyclables and solid waste quickly, reliably and efficiently. These materials include glass, metal, wood, paper and agricultural waste.

The new generation of Liebherr material handlers are adept at a wide range of tasks: feeding a conditioner or crusher, loading and unloading trucks and containers, sorting materials and waste products and piling up and moving materials of any kind.

Stockpiles drive action: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Volkswagen has become the first automobile company to receive accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia, with Australia now set to see a further 400,000 tyres disposed of responsibly.

A 2019 Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) audit of export markets showed some Australian recyclers were sending tyres overseas and failing to meet accredited recycling processes.

Tyres were reportedly being sold to businesses with poor health and safety practices, including those that engaged in stockpile burning.

According to the 2017 National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres, Australia generated 447,000 tonnes of tyre waste in 2015-16. This represents the equivalent of 56.3 million end-of-life tyres and of those, only 10 per cent where recycled.

The strategy suggests tyre waste generation will continue to grow over the next 10 years, with new tyre sales expected to exceed 63.3 million by 2024-25.

TSA seeks to tackle this problem by signing up more tyre manufacturers, importers and retailers to its nationally accredited product stewardship scheme.

While a core function of TSA’s business is ensuring members commit to the responsible disposal of tyres, in recent years the scheme has shifted focus. Much of TSA’s recent activity centres on driving the commercial viability of the developing tyre-derived product market.

In June, for example, TSA accredited six new local councils after they used tyre-derived raw material in infrastructure projects.

To further incentivise the use of tyre-derived products, TSA seeks widespread industry participation at all levels of the supply chain.

\Volkswagen Australia General Manager Corporate Communications Paul Pottinger holds a similar view, arguing sustainable tyre recycling is the responsibility of all individuals and organisations working in the car industry.

This year, Volkswagen became the first auto company to co-sign the TSA accreditation scheme.

Presently TSA has 11 members, most of which are tyre manufacturers and retailers.

“I think most people in the industry are well aware of the worst-case practices, none of which are environmentally agreeable,” Paul says.

“For us, tyres are a by-product of the simple act of doing business, so it’s our obligation to ensure dealers engage in best practice and dispose of tyres sustainably.”

According to Paul, news that Australia’s biggest European car importer has joined TSA will hold significant weight and push similar action across the industry. He adds that Volkswagen sits on the board of the Chamber of Automotive industries – Australia’s peak industry body for car companies.

“The industry is changing in every respect, with increasing emphasis on developing business practices that are as environmentally conscious and sustainable as possible,” Paul says.

“It’s not up to Volkswagen to wag an admonitory finger at people, but we are very happy to lead the way for our colleagues.”

As part of Volkswagen’s TSA membership, 100-plus Australia Volkswagen dealerships are now committed to TSA’s accreditation requirements.

TSA commitments include increasing tyre resource recovery and recycling, growing Australia’s tyre recycling industry though scheme promotion and assisting the development of end-markets for tyre-derived products.

TSA also requires members to contribute to the elimination of inappropriate exporting and illegal dumping of end-of-life tyres through transparent collection reporting.

Paul says becoming aware that one of Volkswagen’s tyre suppliers was not a scheme signatory was a key prompt for Managing Director Michael Bartsch to get involved with TSA.

“When it was brought to our attention that one of our suppliers wasn’t working with the objectives of TSA, we decided it was important to get involved and take action,” Paul says.

“Looking forward, it is our intention to deal only with tyre manufactures who are TSA co-signatories, at the exclusion of those who are not.”

The TSA program is funded by a levy imposed on tyre importers, and now Volkswagen as a vehicle manufacturer. The levy is calculated at a rate proportional to the number of tyres the member imports or sells into Australia.

The levy is used to support market development and research, organisational management costs and implementation of TSA’s end-of-life tyre strategy.

According to Paul, Volkswagen’s levy will annually apply to almost half a million tyres.

“Volkswagen will pay a levy based on an annual figure of 400,000-plus tyres, which represents roughly five tyres per vehicle sold based on 2018 sales figures,” he says.

Prior to becoming TSA member, Volkswagen did not have a centralised tyre disposal policy in place.

“I don’t believe any car company has a centralised system. The management of disposal is often left to individual dealers,” he says.

“I’m sure disposal been done as responsibly as possible, but ensuring a TSA-accredited service is collecting Volkswagen tyres is unquestionably the best way forward.”

Paul says the simple act of recognising tyres as a waste stream is crucial to achieving TSA objectives.

“Tyre waste is not something a lot of people in the auto industry are thinking about,” he says.

“Volkswagen playing an active role in responsibly disposing of, and recycling, what would otherwise be a waste product is a huge step forward.”

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