The convenience model: TOMRA

Markus Fraval, TOMRA Collections Strategy Director, highlights competing Container deposit scheme models and Return and Earn’s success.

When the Tasmanian Government announced it would implement a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, it became the seventh state or territory to do so, leaving Victoria as the single holdout.

The CDS waste collection model is similarly growing overseas, with widespread uptake in North America and Europe. While all CDSs share a common goal, there are multiple implementation models including return to retail, convenience kiosks and large-scale drop-off depots.

Markus Fraval, TOMRA Collections Strategy Director, says most European CDSs operate under a return to retail system. He says this is generally supported by government regulated extended producer responsibility legislation.

“Businesses that sell drink containers are obligated to take the container back in some way, and because it’s so easy, those markets typically achieve 90-per-cent-plus return rates,” he says.

“We commonly employ South Australian style models in Australia, whereby people are required to go out of their way, generally to an industrial area, to return their containers.”

According to Markus, depot models require significant time and organisational commitment from consumers and, as such, are often ineffective. He adds that in lieu of return-to-retail legislation, conveniently positioned reverse vending machine kiosks are a more effective model for Australia.

Markus says despite New South Wales not having the benefit of a return to retail network, the Return and Earn system was designed to be as similar to the European model as possible.

He says this was achieved by positioning reverse vending machine kiosks in shopping centres and supermarket carparks throughout
the state.

“Accessible kiosks allow consumers to participate in the scheme as part of their normal routines and daily habits,” Markus says.

“This provides incentives for positive consumer behavioural change that are not too extreme or inconvenient.”

TOMRA, in a joint venture partnership with Cleanaway, was appointed Return and Earn network operators by the New South Wales Government in 2017.

The role incorporates network design, establishing new drop-off facilities and maintaining the
state’s more than 600 existing collection points.

“We know from our experience in over 40 global deposit markets that the big drivers for successful return rates are deposit value or financial incentive, and the level of returning convenience,” Markus says.

He suggests TOMRA’s focus on convenience and access is the reason that in just under two years, 55 per cent of New South Wales residents have participated in the scheme and return rates have been high.

Since commencing on 1 December 2017, Return and Earn has collected more than two billion containers through a combination of TOMRA kiosks and more traditional depot collection points.

“The first billion containers were collected in the first 12 months of the program, with the next billion collected in the following seven months. This suggests the scheme is still accelerating,” Markus says.

“Return and Earn is now averaging well above four million containers per day.”

While reverse vending machine kiosks represent only half of the total collection points in New South Wales, Markus says approximately 80 per cent of all returns come through TOMRA reverse vending machines.

“It is critical for a successful CDS to have a network of small footprint collection points capable of high capacity collections,” he says.

“It’s also important to facilitate an integrated supply chain that spans collections, logistics and processing.”

Markus says while collection quantity is key, CDSs need to operate as efficiently as possible to keep price impacts at a minimum.

“As network operators, TOMRA Cleanaway has processed well over 100,000 tonnes of material for commodity trading in domestic and international markets,” Markus says.

“For instance, we ship bales of aluminium cans overseas for smelting and remanufacturing into sheet metal, which can then be used to produce new beverage containers.”

Additionally, Markus says roughly half the plastic sold by TOMRA Cleanaway is used for domestic bottle-to-bottle manufacturing, with the remaining half exported oversees to make bottles, textiles and plastic films.

TOMRA’s optical sorting and reverse vending machine technology is available to all operators across the CDS spectrum.

“Our technology scans bottles from 360 degrees, taking one gigabyte of images per second,” Markus says.

“The speed and ease of use of our machines allow TOMRA to collect more than 40 billion containers through reverse vending machines around the world each year.”

According to a recent state government survey, over 85 per cent of New South Wales residents support Return and Earn.

“There are different models out there, and while I think it’s useful for people to understand the success of CDSs more broadly, there is something to be said for the New South Wales model,” Markus says.

“It is undoubtedly the most convenient scheme in Australia.”

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The state of waste: Dr Gillian Sparkes

Waste Management Review talks to Dr. Gillian Sparkes, Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, about the 2018 State of the Environment Report.

Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Act 2003 includes a statutory requirement that the Commissioner prepare and submit a periodical report measuring environmental indicators across the state, at intervals not exceeding five years.

According to Dr. Gillian Sparkes, Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, the report functions as an environmental score card with recommendations for improvement. She adds that the report’s legislative authority means government must formally respond to recommendations.

The State of the Environment 2018 Report (SoE) was released in March of this year and Waste Management Review spoke to Gillian in September.

Gillian has served as Victoria’s Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability since 2014, leading reforms in environmental monitoring, assessment and reporting.

“Science has played a pivotal role in my life. It is the foundation on which I built my career and pursued my passions; helping others, solving problems, delivering change in complex environments and resolving difficult issues,” Gillian says.

According to Gillian, the SoE provides community with access to previously unavailable baseline science. It is also the first time the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been comprehensively applied to state level environmental reporting
in Australia.

The SDGs function as a roadmap towards sustainable development by offering a consensus framework against which progress is measured.

Gillian says the framework allows her team to measure improvement and decline across a broader socio-economic suite of indicators than traditional biophysical SoE reports. She adds that this information can be used to compare Victoria’s performance with other jurisdictions.

“This allows us to understand the entire system and see the balance between environmental, social and economic considerations,” she says.

“My team and I are now preparing the framework for the SoE 2023. It will build on the scientific baseline and SDG alignment presented in the SoE 2018. The framework for the SoE 2023 report will be tabled in the Victorian parliament in 2020.”

According to Gillian, the SoE 2018 also introduces the UN System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA) into state-level environmental reporting for the first time, with a focus on the contribution and benefit of ecosystem services to Victoria’s $400 billion economy.

“SEEA will allow us to have broader conversations with government, business and industry,” Gillian says.

“A national waste account is a priority for the national set of Environmental-Economic accounts and is under development by the Meeting of Environment Ministers.”

DATA GAPS

The SoE highlights the significance of waste and resource recovery in the integrated environmental system, noting it has the power to deplete natural resources, create pollution, increase greenhouse gas emissions and affect human health.

As such, resource recovery must be a key element of any systematic response to environmental challenges and emerging global megatrends such as climate change, disruptive technologies and natural resource constraints.

Gillian says while waste and resource recovery data is more substantive than in some sectors, public reporting that matches her office’s aspirations for monitoring and understanding the circularity of Victoria’s economy, or the health of the waste and resource recovery system as a whole, is limited.

“The SoE identifies a need to develop indicators that track the overall health of the resource recovery system including markets, not just to rely on current metrics such as tonnes of waste generated, tonnes sent to landfill, or tonnes recycled,” she says.

“We have good data on total waste generation and municipal waste per capita, but the data on litter and illegal dumping is poor and on hazardous waste is only fair.”

Additionally, Victoria has not yet agreed on indicators to track the circular economy transition, according to the report.

“We need to strive for more real-time data for regulators and managers, and the participation of citizen scientists in the data acquisition processes of government,” Gillian says.

“A circular economy will challenge our assumptions and we must ensure that we have the right data. It’s about knowing what we need to know, when we need to know it.”

TRANSITION

Earlier this year, the Victorian Government opened its draft Victorian Circular Economy Policy for public comment.

According to the official document, the policy aims to redefine growth by decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources and design waste out of the system.

The document also highlights durable product design to incentivise reuse and repair and share economy business models. An action plan and official policy document are set for release in 2020.

“This shift reflects the pathway Victoria has already identified to improve outcomes from this sector, and the metrics and recommendations of the 2018 SoE support this decision,” Gillian says.

“Circular economy indicators will be developed in line with the policy to enable expanded reporting beyond the linear system, monitor the operation and circularity of Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system and track progress of the transition. Good data enables good decision making.”

The SoE recommends a transition pathway through community and business engagement with whole-of-government buy-in.

“A circular economy cannot focus only on waste and recycling if it is to drive change in the way people consume resources,” the report states.

“It needs to encompass all aspects of the resources cycle, including resource extraction, imports, consumer behaviour, markets development and enabling procurement policies across the private and public sectors.”

Gillian advises that the state government align its instructional planning and procurement processes, to support the delivery of the proposed policy.

“The size of the task ahead can’t be underestimated, and will require continued and diverse investment in the sector including research and development, technology, infrastructure, plant and equipment, consumer education, new markets for recycled products and the development and enforcement of appropriate regulatory regimes,” she explains.

Gillian says continuing to advocate for a national approach to waste and resource recovery is fundamental to the transition.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The SoE also recommends that Sustainability Victoria (SV) develop indicators for the Statewide
Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan and Regional Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan.

“From July 2020, I have recommended that SV expand its monitoring and reporting framework to track the progress of strategy implementation and publicly report, at least annually, on Victoria’s transition to a circular economy – plus investment in long-term, state-wide community education to improve outcomes for this sector,” Gillian says.

“The government will formally respond to these recommendations by March 2020, and SV will be represented in that response.”

Additionally, the SoE recommends the Victorian Government, commencing in the metropolitan region as a minimum, align institutional planning and procurement processes, including leveraging Victorian Government Procurement.

Gillian says the model could be extended to environmental outcomes, such as specifying a recycled material content requirement for government projects.

“This alignment would be adopted state-wide and enable an orderly transition to a circular economy by 2030,” she says.

The SoE also notes that when developing the policy action plan, the roles of all agencies should be clarified, with responsibilities for delivery, procurement, reporting and regulatory roles nominated.

Gillian adds that government procurement could be used as an activator for circular outcomes.

“For example, the former Victorian Industry Participation Policy, now known as the Local Jobs First Policy, requires companies to use a specified amount of local content to participate in Victorian government tenders,” Gillian says.

“To achieve our ambition to move away from 20th century take, make, waste business models, innovation and leadership from the private sector is key.”

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Pelletising polypropylene: Applied Machinery

Daniel Fisher, Applied Machinery Project Manager, wants to revive domestic plastic recycling through sustainable Polystar pellets. 

The recycling conversation is becoming more layered and complex by the day, with notoriously problematic plastic often taking centre stage. While the problem of plastic waste is widely understood, manufacturing processes still heavily rely on the material.

Daniel Fisher, Applied Machinery Project Manager, says responsibly processing plastic while keeping up with demand requires straightforward remanufacturing options. He adds that one such option is recycled plastic pellet production.

Daniel says to implement a wider uptake of recycled pellets in the manufacturing industry, resource recovery operators need simple-to-use equipment.

“When dealing with a difficult waste stream such as plastic, it’s common for operators to think that a more complex system will perform better,” Daniel says.

“But as the exclusive Australian distributor of Polystar Machinery, Applied Machinery is committed to supplying customers with straight forward and cost-effective solutions.”

Applied Machinery has worked with the Taiwan-based recycling equipment manufacturer for four years.

Polystar manufactures a range of one-step machines designed to reprocess multiple waste streams, notably polyethylene and polypropylene flexible packaging material.

Polystar technology is designed to be simple to operate and easy to maintain.

“The recycled output result is high-quality plastic pellets that can be repurposed back into manufacturing straight away,” Daniel explains.

“The pellets save waste disposal costs by producing a saleable product, while also offering an alternative to raw material extraction.”

Applied Machinery can offer customers the full suite of Polystar products, including the Polystar HNT and the Polystar Repro-Flex.

“HNT machines are typically suited for flexible, post-industrial film and have the added benefit of being able to produce quality pellets from even the most heavily printed packaging material.”

Daniel says the Polystar Repro-Flex is suited to multiple recycling applications including plastic bags, film scraps, bubble wrap, shrink film and laminated film.

“Repro-Flex machines also work well for post-industrial film waste, as the system can process washed flakes, scraps and pre-crushed rigid plastic waste from injection and extrusion,” he adds.   

Both the HNT and Repro-Flex feature an integrated cutter compactor, which removes the need for pre-cutting.

“The cutter compactor, which generates frictional heat during the compacting process, also helps remove moisture from the material.”

According to Daniel, eliminating moisture is a particularly significant feature when generating recycled plastic pellets, as even minimal water can render a whole batch unusable.

Daniel says the integrated Polystar system also eliminates the need for separate crushers and the common problem of inconsistent feeding.

“The integration of the cutter compactor and extruder ensures extremely fast and stable feeding, as the tangentially connected extruder is continuously filled with pre-compacted material.”

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Ejecting for efficiency: Wastech Engineering

After Citywide developed an operational efficiency plan to boost productivity and payloads, It engaged Wastech Engineering for a new fleet fleet of Clearline Waste Transfer Trailers.

When the City of Melbourne announced it would fast-track the delivery of its Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy in early August, it illustrated a commitment to growing the state’s resource recovery capacity.

Similarly, the Victorian Government allocated $35 million to waste and resource recovery via the state budget in May. Both initiatives highlight a pledge to develop more efficient waste processing capabilities across the state.

Increasing productivity via efficient processes is a motivation shared by Melbourne City Council subsidiary Citywide, which recently revised its operational efficiency plan.   

Travis Martin, Citywide Commercial Waste Division Manager, says while investment in resource recovery facilities is critical, so too is streamlining operations at less glamorous but equally important waste transfer stations.

Being entrusted with the waste management of Victoria’s capital city, and the second largest in the country, highlights the scope and scale of Citywide’s operations. It similarly underscores the importance of finding the right equipment supplier.

Travis says to manage this scale, Citywide and Wastech Engineering developed a symbiotic relationship.

“Citywide and Wastech have worked together in many capacities over the years, with Wastech providing ongoing equipment maintenance and support at our transfer station and working with us in waste and recycling process innovation,” Travis says.

“In the most recent instance, we informed Wastech that we needed new waste transfer trailers to boost operations, and were directed to its Clearline range.”

Travis, who has worked in the waste industry for more than 30 years, says the Citywide Transfer Station and Resource Recovery Centre is the largest of its kind in Victoria, and one of the five largest in Australia.

“Located in West Melbourne, the centre provides waste management services to various local government and commercial clients, meaning effective transport arrangements are key,” Travis says.

“We process multiple waste streams at the facility, largely consisting of municipal waste, residential, commercial and industrial waste and multiple recycling streams such as paper, cardboard, steel and organics.”

According to Sustainability Victoria, over 12.8 million tonnes of waste was managed by the state’s waste and resource recovery system in 2017. In the same year, City of Melbourne residents generated 40,000 tonnes.

To keep up with accelerating service demands, Travis says Citywide recently developed and implemented an operational efficiency plan in order to lift productivity and payloads.

“With ever-increasing volumes of waste generated in and around Melbourne’s CBD – that needs to be processed through the Citywide transfer station – we needed to boost efficiency and invest in new operational and transport equipment,” Travis says.

“One facet of the plan was engaging Wastech for a new range of Clearline Waste Transfer Trailers, with an operational model of owner drivers and a drop and go system for productivity.”

Citywide already owned a number of Clearline trailers, but wanted to upgrade to the newer model. Travis says his previous experiences with Wastech made him confident the new trailer model would meet expectations and application requirements.

The Clearline Waste Transfer Trailer’s rolled wall body design provides durability and integral strength, which Travis says is critical to withstanding the high piercing forces present during compaction of industrial and commercial waste.

The trailer also incorporates the use of high-tensile steel plate in the body to reduce tare weight and increase payloads.

Citywide uses the Clearline trailers to transport waste from its central transfer station in West Melbourne to various landfill sites across the city.

“The Clearline’s smooth internal design, and hydraulic eject blade, safely and efficiently push the waste load out of the body at landfill,” Travis says.

“The full eject feature reduces each load by 20 minutes, equating to one extra load per shift.”

According to Travis, the Clearline trailers are fitted with Elphinstone weighing systems that provide 99 per cent weight accuracy. He adds that as the trailers are mass managed, the weighing systems can be used to full effect.

“The trailers have also reduced volumes at the transfer station, which makes the customer onsite experience quick and easy,” he says.

Wastech’s transfer trailers feature full cab controls to facilitate operator friendly conditions and heightened safety, as operators aren’t required to exit the vehicle when unloading.

“The previous Clearline Waste Transfer Trailer design was great, and worked well under harsh conditions, but the rear doors and hydraulic ejection of the new model really lifts ease of operations,” Travis says.

“As the last piece of Citywide’s operational efficiency plan, the delivery of Wastech’s trailers significantly increased our transfer station operations.”

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Levy reform urgently needed

A national approach to levy pricing, adoption of the levy portability principle by all jurisdictions, and more transparent management of levy funds are urgently required, writes Rose Read, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. 

Waste or landfill levies are a key regulatory tool used to improve recycling and fund environmental liabilities from waste generation. They have a significant effect on both the commercial environment of nearly every waste and recycling business and community behaviour. They also generate significant amounts of funds for each jurisdiction. Therefore, carefully considered levy regulations nationwide are essential to advancing Australia towards a circular economy.

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has recently undertaken a review of the current status of waste and landfill levies across Australia (see www.nwric.com.au). It examines by jurisdiction, how much the levies are, what waste types are levied, where and when they apply, how they are administered, the amount of funds raised each year and how these funds are spent.

It also analysed the impacts and benefits of these levies on waste and recycling outcomes across Australia and identified a number of issues that need to be addressed urgently to ensure the levies achieve what they were set out to do and not drive waste down the hierarchy.

Waste/landfill levies were first introduced in 1971 by NSW at a $0.56 per tonne. Since then South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland have introduced levies. In 2018-19 rates ranged in price from $0 to $250 with an estimated $1.13 billion raised. In 2019-20 this is expected to increase to $1.54 billion with the introduction of the waste levy in Queensland. This will equate to approximately $58 per capita per year, up from $39 per capita per year in 2018-19.

Of the $1.13 billion funds raised in 2018-19, an estimated $282 million or 25 per cent nationally was reinvested into activities relating to waste and recycling, state EPA’s or climate change (in the case of Victoria). At a state level the reinvestment rate of the levy ranged from 10.9 per cent in NSW, 25 per cent in WA, 66 per cent in Victoria to 73 per cent in South Australia. Funds not reinvested were either retained in consolidated revenue (as in the case of NSW and WA) or retained in nominated funds such as Victoria’s Sustainability Fund, SA’s Green Industries Fund or SA’s Environment Protection Fund where some of the funds may be invested in various non-waste or recycling related environmental activities.

In 2019-20 it is estimated that of the $1.54 billion in funds raised, around $569 million or 37 per cent will be reinvested into waste and recycling activities. This increase can largely be attributed to the Queensland government’s commitment to reinvest over 70 per cent of the levy, with local councils receiving 105 per cent of their levy contribution

On the positive side, the levies have increased resource recovery over time and enabled the commercial development of local resource recovery businesses including material recovery facilities, processing facilities for plastics, paper, cardboard, glass, timber, organics, alternate waste treatment plants and waste-to-energy facilities for fuel manufacture, thermal and electricity generation.

The levies have also funded various waste and recycling initiatives. These range from state EPA and local government environmental compliance activities, community and business waste and recycling education campaigns, research and development, data collection, construction of new infrastructure by local government and private enterprise, to cleaning up waste and pollution generated from illegal actions.

On the negative side however, differentials in levies across regions and between states has created a levy avoidance industry, both legal and illegal, resulting in potentially recyclable material ending up in landfill, and hazardous material being disposed of inappropriately. This has become big business particularly in NSW and WA due to the significant variability of levy rates for solid, hazardous and liquid wastes. It is estimated that between 1.5 million to three million tonnes of waste has been transported per annum either significant distances to landfills where levies do not apply, dumped into the environment, stockpiled or in the case of hazardous wastes hidden or mislabelled to reduce or avoid state levies.

Key learnings from this analysis are the vastly different approaches states and territories take to levies. This ranges from how much is charged between regions and states, what wastes are levied (e.g. solid, liquid, hazardous or prescribed) and how they are defined, where liability for the levy is charged, how the levy is administered and how levy funds are managed and reinvested into activities to improve waste and recycling practices and reported on.

Of major concern is the lack of transparency in most jurisdictions of how many funds are collected per year, how and where they are invested in waste and recycling activities and assessment of the effectiveness of the investment in achieving waste and recycling strategies and targets.

The NWRIC believes there is an urgent need to reform the current state levy structures, pricing, administration and investment management. It is critical this reform is done in a coordinated manner between all state and territories to remove interstate inconsistencies that are clearly driving poor waste disposal behaviours contrary to the objects of the levy to increase resource recovery and environmental protection.

This will be the only way to ensure the best return on investment of levy funds in delivering better waste management and resource outcomes expected by the community.

This article appeared in the October edition of Waste Management Review, some figures have been changed. 

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Veolia sets WtE benchmark

Veolia Australia and New Zealand is drawing on local and international experts in the lead up to its 25-year operations and maintenance contract on Australia’s first thermal waste-to-energy facility. 

Waste-to-energy (WtE) in Australia has historically been slow to progress, but Veolia recently set a new precedent for the sector.

Earlier this year, construction began on Australia’s first thermal WtE facility. Based in Kwinana, WA, the site will be operated and maintained (O&M) by Veolia Australia and New Zealand post-construction for 25 years.

Leveraging its experience in operating more than 65 WtE plants across the globe, Veolia stands ready to spearhead efficient, effective and economically viable renewable energy solutions.

Avertas Energy was named the supplier and will process 400,000 tonnes of waste, equivalent to a quarter of Perth’s post-recycling residuals. In addition, Avertas Energy will generate and export 36 megawatts of green electricity to the local grid per year, enough to power more than 50,000 households.

As the preferred supplier of baseload renewable energy, Avertas Energy will also support the green energy needs of the Western Australia Local Government Association (WALGA) and its members.

Macquarie Capital and the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF) are co-developing the Kwinana plant, now known as Avertas Energy. Infrastructure company Acciona was appointed to design and construct the facility.

Veolia’s global experience will see it leverage the expertise of international engineers, project and site managers.

Veolia’s Toby Terlet in front of a 25 megawatt generator at its WtE plant in Birmingham, UK.

As the company operates 10 facilities in the UK, these sites served as the perfect methodology to replicate to local conditions.

One of Veolia’s oldest WtE facilities is its Birmingham plant in the UK and it was there that Veolia’s Project Director for Kwinana, Toby Terlet, gained significant experience.

Drawing on previous experience in Australia with Veolia, Toby moved to the UK in 2014.

Toby tells Waste Management Review that around five years ago, thermal treatment was still being discussed in Australia as an emerging technology.

“At the time, I didn’t know much about converting municipal waste into electricity, although I did have some experience with manufacturing waste-derived fuels for cement kilns and clinical incineration,” Toby explains.

Toby saw the UK experience as an eye-opener, with Britain up to 25 years ahead of Australia in WtE.

After Veolia won the O&M contract on the Kwinana project, Toby returned to Australia to a project director role based in the site’s heartland in Perth.

In the lead up to 2021 and over the life of the contract, Veolia’s network of on-call local and international expertise will help anticipate and prevent issues ahead of time.

Toby says that having a general understanding of how WtE facilities operate and the effort needed to maintain a facility will help achieve more than 90 per cent availability.

“The technology works well. However, it’s just as important to have skilled and experienced operations and maintenance teams to run the facilities,” Toby says.

“Education about the treatment of waste can always be improved.  Birmingham is a positive example of how recycling, reuse and WtE can coexist. We need to better educate people on where WtE fits and how it provides an alternative to landfill.”

While WtE will continue to be a better option to utilise stored energy than landfilling, Toby says this needs to be complemented with a strong education program.

“I believe the process will slowly shift towards waste being converted to electricity through WtE rather than sitting in a landfill for the next 100 years,” Toby says.

“Segregating waste at the front end will always be the best option, complemented with the most economically viable technology to pull out things which may have been missed. This is the ongoing challenge for Australia.”

His passion for WtE as a viable solution within a waste hierarchy inspires him to break the stigma surrounding it.

“One of the biggest misconceptions around WtE is that it will burn anything. This is what I thought prior to leaving Australia. It didn’t take long to understand that waste is a fuel and needs to be blended to provide the right consistency based on the calorific value (CV).”

Toby says that obtaining the optimum CV will also be an ongoing challenge to work through. Wastes such as MRF residue have a high CV and this can create spikes in the heat transfer lowering throughput, so it’s about finding the right balance.

To make the project economically viable and provide financial close, supply agreements will start at the minimum amount of waste needed.

“The majority of volumes are contracted for a long period of time and some projects opt for smaller agreements to cover any shortage. I think based on a large number of states currently having issues with a reliable source of electricity, green energy production will be high on the agenda.”

While it’s still early days for the project’s construction and planning, piling recently finished with the civil works with concreting now well under way.

Looking to the future, Toby says stakeholders will identify all design improvements throughout the next 12 months to ensure the Kwinana project is the most efficient not only in Australia, but around the globe when handed over in late 2021.

“I’ll be proud to recruit the best O&M team for the project who will have the utmost dedication to safety and a passion to make a difference and spread the positive energy needed to make more of these facilities possible,” Toby says.

“This is just the start of Veolia’s determination to drive the circular economy approach and resource the world by identifying and developing complementary projects to better utilise resources which are currently going to landfill.”

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VWMA to host forum on EPA changes

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an industry forum to grow the waste sector’s understanding of new environmental protection legislation.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said new environmental regulations, starting 1 July 2020, will greatly impact industry sectors throughout Victoria.

“July 2020 will see the biggest overhaul of Victoria’s environmental laws and regulations, which will have substantive impacts to the waste and recycling sector including logistics, reprocessors and the organics and composting industry,” Mr Smith said.

“The new regime adopts a preventive and duties-based approach to environmental protection, and imposes new frameworks and principles that will change the way waste management companies are regulated.”

The EPA’s new Environment Protection Amendment Act is focused on preventing waste and pollution risk, rather than managing harm after it has occurred and is modelled on occupational health and safety legislation.

Some of the most significant changes include a general environmental duty, which requires all Victorians undertaking an activity with risks of harm to the environment and human health to identify and implement reasonably practical means to eliminate or minimise these risks.

This covers risks from waste management activities from generation through to disposal.

Under the new legislation, licences will also be subject to regular reviews and a risk-based environmental audit regime introduced.

According to Mr Smith, it’s important businesses make themselves aware of these changes, and aligning with an association is a great way to stay on top of what is going on.

“The VWMA participates in a number of references groups related to the new act and has been communicating for the last 12 months to our members about some of the incoming changes,” Mr Smith said.

“Now it’s the people on the ground, the people that deliver waste and recycling services daily to make sure they understand what’s coming and prepare accordingly or voice their concerns now. ”

Mr Smith said the VWMA, in partnership with Russell Kennedy Lawyers and Equilibrium Consulting, is inviting anyone working in the waste and recycling industry to take part in the forum, which will also include opportunities to engage with experts across the sectors.

“Substantial changes are ahead for Victoria and we have crafted a program that will unpack the essential elements of the new Environment Protection Act and the areas of regulation,” Mr Smith said.

“We encourage everyone to come along to these sessions with laptops and other relevant devices, as sessions will include opportunities to summarise and submit feedback via government’s engage platform website.”

Mr Smith said attendees will receive all relevant information in one place and also also hear from legal firms and consultants, who will present multiple perspectives on how the new changes will impact businesses.

Russell Kennedy Lawyers Principal Stefan Fiedler said the state government’s legislative reform mandate originates from protecting human health from pollution and waste.

“The reform must facilitate, support and protect investment, by industry, state government and local government by creating certainty to achieve this objective,” Mr Fiedler said.

“A balanced and proportionate regulatory response is required recognising the contribution by legitimate operators forming the foundation of Victoria’s waste and resource recovery sector.”

According to Mr Smith, the VWMA will capture and consolidate industry concerns and feedback, which it will incorporate into an industry submission on the upcoming changes.

The forum will run 23 October at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, as part of Waste Expo Australia.

For information click here.

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Handling gold: Kerfab

Ryan Hoban, Kerfab Marketing Manager, talks to Waste Management Review about the company’s new range of waste industry-specific-wheel loader attachments.

Green waste is regularly called black gold – black because it turns dark when fully decomposed, and gold because of its untapped reuse potential.

Green waste presents a number of handling challenges and as such, is often perceived as too difficult to work with, according Ryan Hoban, Kerfab Marketing Manager.

Ryan adds that green waste’s perceived unviability is one reason the material’s potential remains untapped.

“Green waste is biodegradable, and often comes in the form of garden or park waste like grass, tree cuttings, branches and hedge trimmings, as well as domestic and commercial timber waste,” Ryan says.

“It is wet and heavy, arrives as a mass of varied particle sizes and is ultimately very cumbersome to shift.”

According to Ryan, all waste streams present a unique set of challenges, which highlights the need for specialised equipment.

After years building custom bespoke attachments for the waste industry, materials handling equipment manufacturer Kerfab has noticed a gap in the market.

“We’ve conducted countless site visits across Australia and found most facilities were using ill-suited attachments originally designed for other industries,” Ryan says.

“Most industries aren’t as harsh as the waste sector, and therefore don’t require their attachments to work at the same capacity.”

To correctly handle waste, Ryan says operators require wheel loader attachments designed specifically for their material stream.    

“To tame glass waste for example, high dump buckets are useful as they streamline loading into high-sided trailers,” he says.

“But even then, when buckets are designed simply for general use applications, waste operators are likely to run into challenges.”

Ryan says that after extensive research, it became clear the waste industry needed its own range of prefabricated, purpose-built attachments.

“We developed the WastePro range in response to an evergrowing but demanding industry, where productivity is critical and downtime must be prevented at all costs,”  Ryan says.

“The WastePro range is the only set of attachments in Australia designed solely for the unique demands of waste management companies.”

Ryan says the WastePro range enables efficient procurement and removes the necessity of custom builds. He adds that in addition to green waste, the WastePro range features attachments suitable for all waste stream including glass, cardboard and construction and demolition.

“Kerfab is committed to customer service and working in collaboration with our clients. However, it is not uncommon for an operator to require quick and easy access to attachments,” he explains.

“We hope to facilitate this through our new WastePro range.”

Ryan says because general use attachments aren’t designed to handle waste conditions, they can decrease the effectiveness of wheel loaders and the lifecycle of buckets, which leads to premature wear and increased downtime.

“From green and general waste to plastic recyclables, Kerfab has designed multiple variants of our attachments to help maximise uptime and increase equipment life,” he says.

The new range consists of eight separate bucket and grapple attachments, with different models available depending on an operator’s specific material stream.   

“A bucket used to move large amounts of paper needs different functionality design to one working with abrasive material such as crushed glass, and Kerfab has designed the WastePro Range around that fact,”  Ryan says.

According to Ryan, Kerfab paid specific attention to durability during the WastePro design phase.

“More moving parts means there is a greater chance for breakdowns, which is why it’s so important for grapples and high dump buckets be built for purpose,” Ryan says.

“We have also developed heavier duty cylinders to cope with the immense pressure required to repeatedly operate a fully loaded high dump bucket.”

Unlike Kerfab’s standard line, the WastePro Range is manufactured using Hardox, a wear-and-abrasion resistant steel.

“These attachments are designed to increase efficiency, longevity and maximise return on investment,” Ryan says.

“We know how important it is for companies to have minimal downtime, so our attachments are designed to limit this, and subsequently drive productivity.”

Ryan says Kerfab’s after-sales service BackUp+ offers another line of defence for the range. He adds that Kerfab has a network of engineers and fabricators in every major city in Australia.

“They are in place and ready to assist in routine maintenance, such as replacing cutting edges and wear plates, complex fixes and warranty claims.

“This ensures that any attachment related issue will be dealt with quickly to minimise downtime. However, since Kerfab attachments have a less than one per cent failure rate, this scenario is unlikely,” Ryan says.

The WastePro range has recently undergone final testing, with buckets and grapples already in use at waste companies and councils across the country.

“Kerfab will officially launch the range at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo in October,” Ryan says.

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Tightening standards to build markets for recycled organics

The drive to divert organic waste from landfill around Australia has created a supply of recycled organics that remains largely underutilised and undervalued, writes Angus Johnston, Principal Consultant at Jackson Environment and Planning.

Too much organic material is released as low-quality pasteurised products, containing too much contamination. Due to the policies and regulations of state and federal governments, a lot more supply will come on-line in the next five years. There remains an urgent need to tighten standards for compost use and build markets that will absorb this supply.

Urban markets for compost (e.g. landscape supplies) are well developed but highly competitive, because supply often exceeds demand. These markets cannot consistently use all the organic matter available for recycling. Using compost for gardens and landscaping also squanders the opportunity to return carbon and nutrients to the soils they were extracted from — the farms where our food and fibre are grown.

Fortunately, there is enormous potential demand for use of compost in agriculture. At an average annual application rate of 10 tonnes per hectare, we only need 100,000 hectares to absorb one million tonnes of compost.

There is roughly 65 million hectares of farmland in NSW alone. However, this demand can only be accessed at the right price, quality and specification. That price doesn’t have to be low, but quality and performance absolutely must be high.

The highly regulated nature of the organic recycling sector means that state and local government can strongly influence whether compost price and quality conditions are met by industry. Industry can also play a role by agreeing on and adopting higher product standards.

Organics recycling is suffering from the same issues that caused the China National Sword packaging crisis.

Local government procurement of recycling services often has a much greater focus on transfer of risk and price than on recycled product quality, beneficial use and value adding. This approach creates an incentive for contractors to do the minimum processing necessary to divert waste from landfill and comply with state government regulations. They then release these low-quality outputs into the market as ‘compost’.

Low quality products that cost less to manufacture can then be sold at a lower price point. Such products undermine the market for higher quality products that cost more to produce. If a farmer can purchase a product claiming to be ‘compost’ for $10 per tonne (delivered), why would they pay $100 per tonne?

If that low-cost compost does not deliver enough tangible result, or is clearly full of rubbish, farmers often apply their negative experience to every product claiming to be a compost. Only a few farmers take the time to understand the difference in value between the $10 and $100 product.

This scenario has played out repeatedly in agricultural and other compost end markets, and is still happening right now around the country.

Every time contaminated immature products are sold as “compost” we undermine the credibility of compost and organic recycling. There are producers that make quality fit-for-purpose composts and have built up trust for their brand in certain markets. They can command high prices for their products, however, they are the exception rather than the rule.

There needs to be tighter standards and improved quality assurance and quality control. For example:

  1. Mandatory requirement for independently audited quality assurance programs at each processing facility
  2. Regular auditing of batch test results to requirements of the relevant Resource Recovery Orders and Exemptions (in NSW) or equivalent standards in other states
  3. Physical contamination requirements reduced to 0.2 per cent (plastic, glass and metal) and 0.02 per cent (film plastic) by weight for all soil conditioners
  4. Soil conditioners to meet the AS4454 definition of compost or mature compost (not just pasteurisation)
  5. Define compost using selected test results (such as respirometry) rather than a minimum six weeks process duration

Some established commercial composters may see the tighter standards above as a threat because their current operations have been set up to meet lower standards. Many are locked into long-term contracts at set gate fees. This is where state and local governments have a role in supporting industry to make a transition to higher standards by helping to fund facility upgrades, allowing variations to contracts, and regulating free riders who don’t adopt tighter voluntary standards.

There is a cost to implementing higher standards, but there are also rewards:

  • Access to much greater demand from agricultural markets
  • Fewer complaints from the public and customers
  • Fewer fines and less negative attention from the regulators
  • Reduced product related risk
  • Higher barriers to entry for new competitors
  • A more ‘level playing field’ during tendering

The packaging recyclers did not seek to tighten their own standards and neither did the processors of mixed waste in NSW. Both groups could have agreed to produce cleaner products to a higher standard but chose not to. For these recyclers either their customers or their regulators decided to tighten their standards for them, at great financial and reputational cost to the recyclers involved. Some businesses didn’t survive the change.

Tighter standards need to be introduced in consultation with all stakeholders, and with time allowed for the industry and their customers to adapt.

The Australian Organics Recycling Association provides an ideal forum for industry led tightening and enforcement of standards.

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Tracing every last drop: Cookers Bulk Oil

Cookers Bulk Oil is helping the food services sector transition to a circular economy through a business model centred on managing the entire life of oil and traceability.

Traceability is a prominent concept across the waste and resource recovery sector as multiple players in the supply chain are tasked with looking after the movement of waste.

The same concept is just as important in Australia’s food sector with certifications that ensure products and services gain a tick of approval for best practice. Minimising environmental risks is central to providing customers with such a service.

With tens of thousands of eating establishments throughout Australia – all of which use cooking oil of one form or another – it is an issue that bulk oil specialist Cookers Bulk knows all too well.

When it comes to sustainability, traceability and how vegetable oil can affect its surrounds, the company has processes in place aimed at keeping the environment free from any negative outcomes caused by vegetable oils.

National quality and safety manager for the company Hari Srinivas says product traceability is a universally applicable concept.

He says this is why Cookers has rigid standards when it comes to sourcing its vegetable oil supplies.

“To deal with Cookers you need to be an approved supplier, which means we look and see what sort of practices and standards you are following,” Hari explains.

“Suppliers need to meet minimum standards and it means we don’t go to any supplier who hasn’t got a certification/traceability system in place that is not internationally recognised.”

He cites the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) a private organisation established and managed by the Consumer Goods Forum in Belgium. It maintains a scheme to benchmark food safety standards for manufacturers.

Certification can be achieved through a successful third-party audit by schemes recognised by the GFSI including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Global Standard for Food Safety Issue 8, IFS Food Version 6 and SQF Safe Quality Food Code 8th Edition, to name a few.

“Without those types of certification we don’t even entertain any supplier,” Hari says.

“We are stringent with our suppliers. If you look into the way the industry is going now, the majority of the supply chains are going through some sort of certification system, including HACCP. These sorts of certifications are one of the core fundamentals of traceability.”

Hari says he is proud that the company has yet to have any of its products recalled. He puts it down to not only the standards it sets, but also compliant suppliers, and their own end-users as well.

Every year, Cookers performs an exercise where they have a mock recall, which involves checking its suppliers’ traceability to make sure they have the correct systems in place and that they are working. This is because he knows that if there ever is a recall, they need to know where every drop of oil they have distributed has ended up.

The good news for end-users is that if that does happen, Cookers will be able to trace the batch number and know where the offending product
is very quickly through its centralised system.

Traceability is also key when it comes to dealing with customers in case things go wrong once the oil has been distributed. Cookers make sure its customers also comply with standards and regulations, too as it’s important the company ensures its customers are getting the product they paid for, according to specifications.

“We are audited every year, and our auditor reviews how long it takes to check something and what is the level of accuracy of our traceability,” Hari says.

“If we have an issue, we can compare it with the same batch delivered nationally to different customers. We can get a sample and test it with the same batches from other customers.”

Cookers’ circular economy solution ensures that the customers who procure its fresh oil are also its used oil collection customers.

Within this setup, Cookers also run a fleet of vehicles, including stainless steel trucks delivering fresh cooking oil and blue vehicles picking up the used product.

Not only do they pick it up, but the company provides storage equipment used on-site by the customer and facilitates the management of the entire life of the oil.   

“Once they use the oil, we provide the equipment to transfer the used oil product into our blue tankers, which collect it at regular intervals,” Hari says.

“We get the oil back and we have got mechanisms to handle the oil in such a way it can go into biodiesel production.

“It means that with every drop of oil we sell, we make sure not a single drop goes into the drain.”

Taking this a step further, Cookers can measure the amount of oil collected and ensure it is the same as that delivered.

“We do all the calculations, so if there are any big variations we will go and speak to the customer to see if there is anything wrong and find out whether we can help with oil management.”

He says another reason to use a company like Cookers Bulk Oil is that due to its tanker delivery method, no empty oil tins head to local landfill. If a customer needed 100 litres of oil per week, that would usually consist of five 20-litre drums which may end up in landfill. With Cookers’ tankers, the drums are redundant.

Importantly, Hari says most of the oil is Australian sourced and more than 90 per cent refined locally.

“For example, the canola oil we sell is 100 per cent Australian.

“Other oils, depending on the cropping situation, are imported in crude form from reputable suppliers who have proper certifications in place – usually from Argentina and European countries.”

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