University of Melbourne’s Sustainability Plan 2017-2020

The University of Melbourne will be carbon neutral before 2030, achieve zero net emissions from electricity by 2021 and will report annually on the institution’s sustainability impact and performance.

The plans have been laid out in the University’s first institution-wide Sustainability Plan 2017-2020, a four-year strategy that will position Melbourne as a sector-leader in sustainability, according to Vice-Principal Administration and Finance and Chief Financial Officer, Allan Tait.

The Plan also pushes for sustainability to become a more prominent part of all undergraduate curriculum, as well as outlining the University’s response to calls to divest from fossil fuel-intensive companies.

“The University has a responsibility to lead strongly and act decisively in addressing global societal challenges, such as building a more sustainable world,” Mr Tait said.

“This Sustainability Plan clearly outlines the University’s commitment to this important task and highlights how Melbourne is acting on this front across all areas of the institution, with holistic actions and targets that will assist in tackling the impacts of climate change.”

The framework will cover factors such as a company’s emissions intensity, emissions reduction plans, alignment to the outcomes of global climate change agreements and investment in and transition to renewable energy.

“Within four years, the University will be divested from, or in the process of divesting from, any material holdings that don’t satisfy the requirements of this framework,” said Mr Tait.

“This approach, and that of all of the commitments in this Plan, reflects the consolidated efforts and collective will of the University community.”

The Plan is the result of a more than 12 months of public consultation process that commenced in late 2015 with the development of the University’s Sustainability Charter.

Other key aims for the Plan include:

  • Reduce emissions by 20,000 tonnes of carbon per year by 2020 through on-campus energy projects such as solar, wind and geothermal
  • Increase the number of University of Melbourne graduates who can demonstrate a specialization in environment and sustainability
  • Replace 10% of University car parking spaces with bicycle parking by 2018
  • Publish a university-wide Biodiversity Management Plan
  • Developing industry partnerships that emphasize our resources for sustainability research.

Envorinex recycles plastic waste into building products

Tasmanian company Envorinex is turning thousands of tonnes of plastic from the state’s farming and fishing industry into a range of building products.

Environix, based in the state’s north-east, is converting the plastic from salmon pens, silage wrap and irrigation from the mining sector, and is now looking to expand interstate, ABC News reported.

The company’s managing director Jenny Brown told ABC News they were spending millions of dollars upgrading their own plant, while there was demand elsewhere to establish more sites.

“We have been approached by New Zealand, but that’s a very small industry,” Ms Brown said.

“We’ve also been approached by Port Lincoln as well, for their tuna industry.

“Very similar to our salmon industry, they have the same sort of pens, they have the nets, so the same sort of waste issues, but they also have their oyster industry.

“So all of their oyster baskets, floats … We’re currently doing a feasibility study on that.”

ABC News reported Envorinex recently signed a contract with Tasmanian salmon producer Tassal to recycle its fish pens.

Plastic from the pens is turned into a range of products including square, sustainable drainage systems which can replace concrete or asphalt.

Other waste is moulded into septic systems exported to Papa New Guinea and Fiji, while excess recycled material is sold interstate for high density polyethylene – the most common plastic used in packaging.

The organisation has also developed matting shipped to Scotland for oil rigs, as well as being used locally on fishing boats and inside dairies.

“If someone comes to us and says ‘can we recycle’ we need to find a market for that product,” Ms Brown said.

Envorinex is also gathering bulk fertiliser bags and silage wrap from farmers for a $1.6 million processing line, to be

Byan Baxter from Pipers River told ABC News he would contribute to the stockpile.

“We don’t want to burn it and landfill is a waste,” he said.

“But in here, they’re doing such a wonderful job. Well, they’re going to when they get this line going; it’ll all be recycled.”

Perth company contracted to recycle rainwater

Technology developed by a Perth company that allows rainwater to be recycled has generated attention by the local government sector.

Business News reported that Urban Stormwater Technologies has invested almost $3 million in the development of a filter to reuse rainwater that would otherwise be lost to stormwater systems.

“The capacity to reuse that water could help local government sectors wanting to facilitate population growth, with many municipal authorities seeking alternative water sources after their groundwater usage had been capped,” Urban founder Craig Rothleitner told Business News.

“We’ve got our first local government contract. It’s with the City of Kalamunda.”

“It’s a drainage system that is feeding into the main drain, and from that main drain they have set up the first aquifer storage and recovery plant in Western Australia.”

“What they’re doing is drawing water from that (drain) in winter, filtering it down and then injecting it into the ground.”

The process is said to involve hanging a metal basket over storm drain entries, and filtering the water using a material found in boat carpets.

The Shire of Kalamunda contract has contracted Urban Stormwater Technologies to clean out the existing pipe system and then install nine baskets upstream from the recharge plant.

Annual water use across the Perth metropolitan region is about 395 gigalitres, with about 42 per cent of that usage self-supplied, mainly from groundwater bores, Business News reported, which is how councils and schools source water for irrigation of parks and gardens.



ACT Government explores liquid fuel facility

The ACT Government has prepared a draft terms of reference and appointed a panel for an independent inquiry into a proposed facility which would see waste plastic converted into liquid fuel.

According to the draft terms of reference, the proposed facility, located in the suburb of Hume, aims to convert landfill destined end of life plastics into road ready diesel, gasoline, and gas.

The terms of reference indicated that the proposed facility plans to process waste plastic by heating the plastic waste and separating the components through a series of chambers, extracting diesel, fuel and LPG.

The proponent plans to build the development in four stages, with the final stage intended to be completed in January 2018.

“Work has taken place over the last couple of weeks to prepare comprehensive draft terms of reference to guide the inquiry into the Hume proposal,” Dorte Ekelund, Director-General, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development said.

“These cover aspects such as reviewing the proposed technology, identifying and assessing risks, commenting on the suitability of the proposed site and assessing the methodologies of the reports commissioned by Foy Group in relation to public health matters.”

Ms Ekelund said the terms of reference will be finalised in conjunction with the appointed panel.

“The Hume facility proposes new technology so it’s critical a thorough assessment is undertaken of the proposal to see if there are any potential issues, particularly around public health and the environment.”

Ms Ekelund said the panel will start work next month with a report finalised by the end of April 2017 for the government to consider.


CMA Ecocycle Partners with Papua New Guinea recycling plant

Waste trucks transporting waste

Australian recycler of mercury-containing waste CMA Ecocycle has partnered with Papua New Guinean environmental services company Total Waste Management (TWM) to reduce a history of international transfers of toxic waste.

The Australian company plans to take mercury-containing waste collected by TWM, primarily fluorescent lighting, and process it in its Melbourne facilities.

CMA Ecocycle said the tendency in the past was for industrialised countries to ship waste to less developed nations where it is either dumped, often illegally or manually broken down for recycling with no regard given to the health and safety of workers.

They said their long-term plan was to install a lighting recycling plant in Port Moresby, PNG, and provide training at the TWM operated facility.

Daryl Moyle, Business Development Manager at CMA Ecocycle, said managing mercury waste was a growing priority in the Pacific Islands region, and PNG was just the first step in CMA Ecocycle’s plans for the region.

“With the support of TWM we hope to increase awareness of this toxic substance, its impact on the environment and how we can all protect these often small and vulnerable islands by implementing simple but important recycling solutions,” Mr Moyle said.

In 2015, a sub-regional workshop on the Minamata Convention, aimed at supporting Pacific Islands in the early ratification and implementation of the convention, was held in Samoa.

Topics discussed at the workshop included the levels of mercury in Pacific fish, and the need for adequate institutional and border controls to manage mercury.

The PNG government is also active in running awareness campaigns about mercury pollution and the Minamata Convention at home, and taking a leading role on the issue in the Pacific region.

Cleanaway sell tip sites in Melbourne

Vik Bansal, Clenaaway's CEO, talks about NWRIC

Melbourne-based waste management company Cleanaway has sold two landfill sites in Melbourne’s west for up to $22 million.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Cleanaway reported the sales were of their two dormant landfill sites in Brooklyn, sold to specialist developers Pelligra Group.

“These transactions are forecast to generate a pre-tax profit … of approximately $20 to $22 million,” it said.

Pelligra will assume responsibility for remediating and monitoring the sites in Market Road and Old Geelong Road, and has undertaken to cap the sites in line with environmental regulations.

“Based on forecasts, the sales of these closed landfills will reduce spending on landfill rectification and remediation by approximately $20 million over the next six years,” Cleanaway said.

The former tip sites have been dormant for years and had undergone initial remediation works, a spokesman for the company told Fairfax Media.

Pelligra is focused on developing industrial and contaminated sites, having previously redeveloped the heritage former ETA peanut butter factory in Braybrook.

Cleanaway said the sale is expected to be completed by early March.

Waste Management Association of Australia announces scholarship

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has announced JustWaste Consulting environment manager Isabel Axiö as the winner of its inaugural revamped Young Professionals Scholarship.

Beginning last year, the scholarship required a submission of an abstract to one of WMAA’s national conferences to be held in 2017.

The funding allows the winner to attend and present at a national conference, providing exposure to the industry and their peers.

WMAA said Ms Axiö’s submission was of a high calibre and relevant to current issues facing the waste and resource recovery industry.

Ms Axiö has been employed at JustWaste since 2015, they said, and engaged in auditing, site assessments and EPA approvals.

Her presentation, Innovative strategy for rural transfer stations: working towards increased diversion rates, revenue and employment, will run on day two of the conference on March 29, to be held from March 28 to 31 at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney.

They said her strategic approach results in a continuous drive to identify holistic solutions that take into account social behavioural norms as well as the political and financial landscapes of her role.

“Ms Axiö strives towards progressive innovation and is always seeking to find new solutions to old problems,” WMAA said.

“I feel appreciated and enthused to receive the scholarship,” Ms Axiö said.

WMAA said they will undergo a similar scholarship process for ENVIRO‘17, to be held in Melbourne in August 2017.

Banana waste has biofutures potential

A small-scale biogas, organic waste to energy plant

Commercialising banana waste for sustainable organics manufacturing will be challenging, but the project has a lot of potential in Queensland, says Peter Hannan, the CEO of Growcom.

In an opinion piece published in the North Queensland Register, Mr Hannan explained that banana waste could play a key role in the biofutures industry, which focuses on the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources, as opposed to fossil fuels.

He highlighted the Queensland Government’s allocation of $20 million in funding over three years for its sustainable biofutures industry plan.

Mr Hannan noted that Growcom, which represents the Queensland horticulture industry, had been involved in a project to produce and harvest methane gas from banana waste, which was funded by the Sustainable Industries Division of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Growcom’s project demonstrated the feasibility of constructing a low-cost on-farm anaerobic digester to convert banana waste to biogas. It also assessed the most productive use of the biogas fuel on-farm to power machinery and return power to the grid,” he wrote.

Mr Hannan wrote that the aim of biofutures was to utilise ‘waste steams’ as feedstocks in the future to generate a range of sustainable chemicals, fuels, synthetic rubber, cosmetics and textiles.

“While the most common potential feedstocks mentioned are sugar cane bagasse, sorghum stover, algae and recycled waste/used lube oil, Growcom hopes that other feedstocks such as banana waste from the horticulture industry will be utilised.

“More than 30 000 tonnes of bananas are grown in Australia each year, mainly in northern Queensland. About 20 per cent of the banana crop, some 60,000 tonnes a year, is damaged or bruised during harvesting and transport to packing sheds and cannot be sold.

“Damaged bananas and banana bunch stalks can be converted into a gaseous fuel by anaerobic digestion, a process in which bacteria break down carbohydrates in the absence of air, producing a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, all plant material can be processed in this way.”

Mr Hannan wrote that the challenge going forward was to find an investor to undertake industrial design, enabling the system to be commercialised and made available to growers.

E-Hub Mackay helps recycle 3D printers

E-waste recycling
A north Queensland recycling centre is providing employment for individuals on work for the dole by helping locals dispose of IT equipment such as printers and scanners.

ABC News reported that E-Hub Mackay and E-Hub Sarina opened a few weeks ago, which sees IT equipment pulled apart and sorted by work for the dole members for recycling.

Project supervisor Frank Mason told ABC News the centres allowed for high-tech skills training and prepared workers for stable employment – in addition to reducing waste.

“We are running this as a social enterprise, utilising some people that are on the work for the dole program, basically giving them a reason to get out of bed,” Mr Mason said.

“They’re pulling them apart into their components — the steel, the plastic, the electronic components — and sorting them out, to work out whether it’s possible to re-use these parts.

“Things like motors, things like rods, things like wiring boards, we’re looking at how we might use them. And one of the ideas we’ve got is to turn it into a 3D printer.”

Mr Mason said Mackay’s E-Hub collected more than three tonne of printers in its first two weeks alone that would usually end up in landfill.

“It actually costs you money to take it to the waste transfer station.”

Mr Mason said a 3D printer could be built from just a couple of office copiers and some bespoke parts, excluding the extruder and controller.

“You need the 3D printers to make some of the parts, so the plastic turns into filament, and then to make some of the components that hold the printer together.”

“The 3D printer will help make the next 3D printer.



Toward Zero Landfill Project moves closer to target

This year’s Towards Zero Landfill Project is aiming to reduce its waste to landfill from 10 per cent last year to 5 per cent, says Pedro Gallo, operations manager of the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo.

The project, which launched in 2015, sources contractors, suppliers and sponsors who work together to achieve the target, with the results presented at the two-day Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Mr Gallo said Agility Logistics and IMK Cleaning Services were just two companies on board this year.

“Last year we got Bottle Crusher, which crushed bottles on site creating less waste and making recycling easier,” Mr Gallo said.

“Everybody helps to reach that target and at the end of the show they wait to see what we sent out to recycling.”

Mr Gallo said another initiative this year included partnering with Launch Housing to donate used furniture that would ordinarily go to landfill.

“We also get a lot of metal wire from rigging we do on site, this year it won’t be going to landfill, we will collect it and send it to metal scrapping.”

He said he is aiming for one per cent diverted to landfill by 2018-19.

In order to achieve its goal, the project has applied a range of strategies, including separating waste on-site, sustainable plant-based packaging, compostable bin bags and using Fairtrade certified coffee.

The project’s launch in 2015 led to a 70 per cent increase in resource recovery, after 10.7 per cent of total waste was sent to landfill, compared to 80 per cent in 2014.

The Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo runs from August 23-24 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.