Is your bin healthy?

The City of Swans latest waste education initiative, which involves auditing the contamination levels of household bins, has led to a 53 per cent decrease in recycling bin contamination.

From kerbside collection to education and training, the City of Swan in Western Australia manages all its own waste services.

The city covers a large and diverse area across Perth’s eastern metropolitan region and has a population of 149,195.

Colin Pumphrey, Fleet and Waste Manager, says while some areas of the city are historically efficient in recycling, others with high density populations need further assistance.

Since April, the City of Swan has been conducting ‘health checks’ on residential kerbside bins to help the community improve recycling habits and reduce waste contamination.

“We need to understand what areas of the city needed our attention in terms of recycling education, and what areas are already doing well,” Colin says.

“We have worked closely with the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA), which had already developed a successful process for bin tagging.”

According to WALGA, similar programs in South Australia have reduced waste contamination by up to 60 per cent and increased the amount of recycling by 25 per cent.

Colin says bin auditing involves city staff visually checking the contents of general waste and recycling bins in randomly selected areas.

The checks are then followed by constructive individual feedback on how each household can waste less and recycle more.

“Feedback is first provided in the form of a tag on bin handles, which highlights if there are any contaminated items in the recycling bin or items in the general waste bin that could be recycled,” Colin explains.

As a result of the program, Colin says contamination rates in some areas have reduced by 53 per cent.

“In some areas the contamination levels were very high, so it’s a good outcome so far,” he says.

According to Colin, the auditing program is consistent with the city’s wider approach to waste and recycling education.

“As we don’t contract any of our waste collections, we can interact closely with the community to ensure the bins are healthy and uncontaminated,” Colin says.

“It’s not only beneficial in the wider environmental sense, but also helps the city streamline our education processes.”

Colin says while in some areas the issue of waste separation and contamination is well understood, the real challenge is keeping residents up to date with ongoing changes to the waste and recycling industry.

“It’s important for residents to understand the city isn’t just imposing random changes for no good reason, we want them to understand specifically what changes have been made and why?” Colin says.

“As Swan has a fairly transient and changing population, we have to keep the education process going – it’s not something you can do once and forget about.”

Changes to the city’s collection services include future food and organics collection trials, a pre-booked year-round bulk and green waste collection and stricter enforcement of contamination regulations.

Colin says changes are in line with the state’s requirements to increase domestic processing and end markets. So far, the City of Swan has audited 2000 properties.

“We had a couple of households that resisted quite strongly, but the public response has been really positive,” Colin says.

“After people understand the logic behind the program, they don’t seem to have a problem.”

Colin says city officials tag bins based on their level of contamination: good, intermediate or bad.

“If a bin is tagged negatively, residents are given two weeks to remove the contamination, then if needed, another two weeks to improve,” Colin says.

“During that time, city officials will speak with specific residents about how they can lower their contamination levels, and if changes aren’t made, we tape up their bin.”

Colin says 30 bins have been tapped up by the city so far.

“If people don’t comply after their bin has been tapped, the last resort is for council to take the bin away,” Colin explains.

“We have removed six bins in total, with one given back after discussions with the residents.”

Colin says he is currently writing the program’s final report, which he will then put to council.

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Finlay: separating the grime

Phoenix Environment Group is sorting problematic C&D waste from all over Melbourne into saleable streams, with the assistance of Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems.

Mixed waste from construction and demolition sites is regularly left out in the rain or intense heat for long periods of time by some contractors and site managers. As a result, construction and demolition waste (C&D) often arrives at processing and recycling facilities as a wet, sticky mass, loaded with heavy and bulky debris.

Phoenix Environment Group, a recycling company based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, receives waste from all over the city and deals primarily in C&D. Phoenix operates largely as a sorting facility, separating C&D into seven different streams before sending it to alternate facilities for remanufacturing.    

Company Director Ash Walker says given the nature of C&D, the material Phoenix receives is often quite contaminated, with multiple mixed materials needing to be screened and separated simultaneously.

To facilitate the cleaning of grimy material, Phoenix purchased a Terex TRS 500 from specialist equipment suppliers Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems last year.

“We needed a recycling screen capable of separating heavy weight material from recyclable waste before we send it to separate picking stations for further separation,” Ash says.

“Our previous screen worked well. However, as the company grew and began to work with larger, more commercial clients, we required a new recycling screen to keep up with processing demands.”

The TRS 500 recycling screen is a versatile mobile screen that operates with a specialist screen box designed by German manufacturer Spaleck.

Ash says he spent a number of months researching recycling screens online before coming across the TRS 500.

After contacting Finlay about the machine, Ash was flown to Queensland to view the screen in operation.

“Once I had watched the TRS 500 in action at Finlay’s facility in Burpengary, I became confident in its ability to fulfil Phoenix’s business requirements,” Ash says.

“The Terex machine is much bigger than our previous screen, so we are able to put significantly more material through each hour – it ticked all the boxes for me.”

Phoenix has been using the TRS 500 for just under 12 months, and Ash says it hasn’t missed a beat.

“We use the screen to reclaim a lot of mixed soil and it works 100 per cent of the time,” Ash says.

“Every inch of soil is screened and cleaned effectively and quickly, which means we can remove all the contaminants at a cheap price.”

According to Ash, the machine was specifically designed for difficult applications, with the combination of a three-way split system and Spaleck 3D Combi screen box allowing operators to process material previously classed as problematic.

Phoenix uses the TRS 500 to process a minimum of 2000 tonnes of C&D waste at its Coolaroo recycling centre each month.

“Most of our material comes from Campbellfield Bins, Ben’s Bins Hire, Cleanaway and a handful of smaller waste removal companies,” Ash says.

Spaleck screen boxes are designed for efficient screening of wet inhomogeneous material, with separation cuts between 0.2 and 50 millimetres.

The TRS 500 incorporates the Spaleck screen box into a standard Terex platform and frame, with features including a steel apron feeder for feeding heavy bulk material, a 3D top deck screening panel and an aggressive flip-flow bottom deck.

The base frame is agitated by a shaft and unbalanced motor drive, with the vibration passed to the frame via thrust rubbers.

Ash says the tracked heavy duty screen can be operated in a wide range of primary and secondary screening applications.

“The 3D flip flow bottom deck mats can handle high-moisture material, even when screening as small as two millimetres without blinding,” Ash says.

“This ability is critical given the nature of the material we’re processing, as it reduces downtime and maximises our production capabilities.”

Additionally, Ash says the TRS’s 3D screening segments facilitate correct grain size and eliminate long and extraneous material for the tension shaft screen on the lower deck.

“The screwless mounted screening mats create less contamination than regular mats and the high acceleration has a self-cleaning effect,” he says.

Ash says Finlay has a services and parts division in Melbourne, meaning it is just around the corner when the machine needs servicing.

“They respond straight away when I make a booking and are always on call. I’ve been really happy with the service,” Ash says.

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NSW EPA: let’s chat compost

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has developed an engaging conversational learning program to support professional development in the organics sector.

Simulated conversational experiences, or chatbots, have been gaining traction across numerous industries.

Conversational learning is a unique concept that delivers knowledge in focused, micro-learning chunks, requiring only three to five minutes of a learner’s time. It aims to put learners in control, use conversation and story-telling to stimulate engagement, build knowledge and allow for active discovery and decision making.

With an increase in chatbot messenger apps offering instantaneous customer service, news and other relevant notifications, chatbot experiences are even making inroads in the waste sector.

To support the compost industry, e-learning provider IMC has been working with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) via its organics program. IMC and the EPA have developed four-five minute chatbot modules dubbed “Let’s Chat Compost” on the topics of assessing odour, pasteurisation, composting and managing contamination.

The learning sessions aim to simulate ordinary conversations, akin to those you’d have with a friend or colleague – personal, fun and to the point. They embed personality into the learning content and create a dynamic interaction like one-on-one teaching, making social and interactive e-learning “in dialogue” possible.

The Let’s Chat Compost modules allow users to continue or refresh their learning through the EPA’s existing Compost Facility Management eLearning program, released at the end of last year.

Presented in social media messenger style, the app uses conversation and memes to engage learners to expand on their composting knowledge.

The Compost Facility Management course comprises seven modules and has been designed for regulators and people in all roles working in organics facilities. It uses interactive content, animation and video to engage learners, with the aim of embedding high-level skills and knowledge for best practice facility management.   

IMC has leveraged its expertise from working with clients such as National Rugby League, the Department of Health and Human Services, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi to craft unique and conversational learning experiences.

Amanda Kane, Organics Manager at the NSW EPA, says Let’s Chat Compost aims to draw attention to the key processes most relevant to processors, regulators, local government, consultants and waste collection operators.

“Let’s Chat Compost will be a tool to reinforce learning and act as a reminder for what’s happening inside a compost pile that might be causing an odour, or why it’s important to manage contamination and the importance of pasteurisation,” Amanda says.

“IMC’s concept was developed in Germany and designed to look as much like a phone chat as possible. It was in recognition of the platforms we use in everyday life.”

She says that developing smartphone nuggets is an exercise in communicating the most important content in an engaging way.

“The main goal of the nuggets is to get people to take up the course, but also as a reminder for those that have completed the course,” Amanda says.

The app can send notifications to those who have completed the course, encouraging them to share the modules with their colleagues or revisit aspects of their learning.

Amanda adds that companies could adapt the program to suit their organisational tone and include additional relevant occupational health and safety and company information.

“The result is not only contributing to the production of a quality product, but upskilling the industry and minimising the environmental impact of one’s operations.

“It’s critical that processors are operating within the conditions of their license, and that if any issues do arise, they know how to respond and communicate with the EPA and advise us what’s happening.”

She says that the smartphone nuggets are aimed to be accessible on multiple devices and link back to course content.

The modules also include expert tips from industry leaders such as SOILCO and Australian Native Landscapes (ANL).

“We wanted to have industry voices to communicate those messages. All of the course content was filmed at sites around NSW using various technologies,” Amanda says.

“These include ANL’s open windrow or the in-tunnel systems that JR Richards & Sons have up at Grafton and then using team members at all levels to communicate the message, including EPA regulatory staff as well.

“We have had 300 people sign up, and the overall feedback is that people are finding it to be a rewarding learning experience.”

EVA Environmental Director Geraldine Busby, who also worked on the initial training course, oversaw the development of smartphone nuggets.

Carmen Locke, Instructional Designer, IMC AG, says conversational learning allows learners to make decisions while being actively immersed in a one-on-one learning scenario. This increases their ability to retain content, understand concepts and develop new skills and behaviours.

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Reviewing the PSA

Waste Management Review explores the Product Stewardship Act review and industry expectations for the final report. 

Since the Federal Government Product Stewardship Act (PSA) was introduced in 2011, the dynamics of the waste and recycling sector have changed dramatically locally and overseas.

Waste management and resource recovery businesses have been forced to adapt and so has legislation and state and territory policy.

Product stewardship is a waste management strategy designed to ensure shared responsibility for the health and environmental impacts of a product through all stages of its lifecycle.

The PSA outlines three levels of regulation: mandatory, co-regulatory – joint industry and government delivery and voluntary.

There are currently no mandatory schemes under the PSA and just one co-regulatory scheme, the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS).

When the act commenced, two voluntary schemes were accredited, MobileMuster and Flurocycle. MobileMuster has recently renewed its accreditation for a further five years.

Outside of the act there are a number of industry-run national product stewardship schemes with Australian Competition and Consumer Commission approval including Paintback, Tyre Stewardship Australia and DrumMUSTER.

The act was required to be reviewed by the Department of the Environment and Energy five years after commencement and in 2017 that time came. Waste Management Review talks to industry stakeholders about gaps in the present scheme and the potential for improvement.

THE REVIEW

Following submissions from interested parties, the Department of Environment and Energy’s official consultation paper, released in March 2018, outlined five areas of reference.

First, the review would attempt to assess the extent to which the PSA’s objectives were being met and whether they remained relevant. Second, it would address the effectiveness of voluntary scheme accreditation and the minister’s annual product list, followed by an evaluation of the operation and scope of the NTCRS.

Additionally, the paper highlights an assessment of how the PSA interacts with other federal, state and territory policies and how international and domestic experiences of product stewardship could inform more effective legislation.

“If the review finds legislative changes are warranted, work to implement the changes, including refinement of options, regulatory impact analysis and development of regulatory amendments would be undertaken in 2018-19, subject to the minister’s agreement,” the paper reads.

According to National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read, problems stem not from the legislation, but from a lack of federal and departmental leadership.

“The lack of leadership in implementing the act has resulted in five, and soon to be seven, different container deposit schemes rather than a single national policy – plus inconsistent state bans on plastic shopping bags,” Rose says.

“The failure to address these two product groups at a national level under the PSA has increased implementation and compliance costs for all involved governments, producers, retailers and service providers.”

Additionally, Rose says government has provided little encouragement to companies seeking accreditation or promotion of existing schemes.

“The continued belief by the previous Federal Government that schemes should be voluntary reflects a lack of commitment or understanding of what is required to deliver an effective product stewardship scheme,” Rose says.

“Very few industries can implement these schemes without some basic regulation to ensure a level playing field for these companies.”

Rose says following the review, the NWRIC would like to see amendments to voluntary clauses, to enable a clearer pathway to accreditation. She adds the NWRIC would also like to see more government support and promotion for participating organisations. Rose hopes the Federal Government’s $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund will be adequately resourced to put appropriate regulatory frameworks in place.

TELEVISION AND COMPUTERS

The NTCRS was established alongside the PSA in 2011, with the aim of granting households and small businesses access to free industry-funded collection and recycling services.

According to Rose, over 94 per cent of importers contribute to the program, which covers more than 140 companies. She adds the collection rate for televisions and computers has jumped from 18 per cent in 2011 to over 62 per cent in 2018 as a result of the scheme.

“The companies involved in the program are investing an estimated $25 million a year to provide this service,” Rose says.

“On average, around 35 million products within the scope of the scheme are imported each year. That translates to an estimated average cost of $0.70 per unit imported.”

In 2017, the government engaged the Australian Continuous Improvement Group to undertake an evaluation of the NTCRS. It was designed to inform the official statutory review, and at the time of print, is the only published outcome.

The evaluation deemed the scheme largely efficient, but raised concerns over industry pricing and scaling factors.

“NTCRS was designed to allow multiple co-regulatory arrangements, so liable parties and recyclers are able to shop around for the best commercial deal,” the evaluation reads.

“In the opinion of stakeholders, prices have dropped, at least partially, as a result – raising concerns that services and standards are being compromised, particularly when it comes to downstream services.”

Ewaste Watch director and co-founder John Gertsakis says the NTCRS, which has recycled approximately 230,000 tonnes of electronic waste since it began, is one of the more successful elements of the PSA.

John says while the scheme is successful, there is still significant scope for improvement in the areas of community awareness and education, improved access in regional areas, and better collaboration between the co-regulatory arrangements.

According to John, several stakeholders have asked for the NTCRS to be expanded to include batteries and a range of additional electronic products.

“The community is absolutely ready for effective regulation where there are no industry funded schemes,” he says.

“The solution for batteries, in my opinion, is a regulated scheme under the PSA.”

Rose and the NWRIC agree and have called for a regulated scheme for batteries by 2020.

“The NWRIC would like to see the scope of the NTCRS broadened to include all products with a cord or battery, consistent with the recent Victorian e-waste ban and a separate regulation for batteries,” Rose says.

John suggests the NTCRS could be also be useful mechanism for sustainable solar photovoltaic panel (PV) management.

In 2016 PV systems were added to the PSA’s priority list, meaning they were being considered for scheme design. Sustainability Victoria is conducting research into the viability of a system of shared responsibility.

Sustainability Victoria’s Director of Resource Recovery Matt Genever says work on assessing stewardship options for PV systems is well underway.

“We’ve consulted broadly across industry and government and there is genuine support for a stewardship approach that will build a sustainable PV recycling market in Australia,” Matt says.

Matt says that the delays in reviewing the PSA by the Federal Government have caused some issues.

“This is an area of waste policy that absolutely needs strong leadership from the Commonwealth, as it can’t just work on a state-by-state basis. Product stewardship is one of the few areas that has national legislation and it’s clear that in its current state, the act isn’t delivering to its full potential.”

BATTERIES

Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) CEO Libby Chaplin highlights independent research that shows a voluntary scheme with light regulation to address free riders would be the most effective and viable option for batteries.

According to Libby, a proposed battery stewardship scheme is currently out for public consultation. She adds that in December 2018 all state, territory and federal ministers agreed all batteries must be included in the proposed scheme.

“We are keen to see a rapid improvement of this unacceptably low battery collection rate and have proposed a different approach to other schemes,” Libby says.

Libby says BSC’s proposal would run on an importer levy of four cents per equivalent battery (24 grams) and leverage existing collection channels.

“We are working on a rebate model, whereby members commit to a number of quality, environmental and safety requirements and then eligible for scheme funded rebates,” she says.

“This approach will now be the focus of consultation beyond BSC members, with an application for Australian Competition and Consumer Commission authorisation scheduled later this year.”

Libby says that establishing a battery stewardship scheme is essential, whether voluntary or regulated.

PRIORITY PRODUCTS

One of the PSA’s key devices is the annual product list, which outlines goods that might come up for scheme consideration the following year.

According to the PSA review consultation paper, publishing the list serves two purposes. First, it provides certainty to community and the business sector about what is being considered for coverage. Second, the act requires a 12-month notification for a class of products to be considered for accreditation or regulation.

Despite this, the list provides no promise of action and while the PSA requires an explanation of why a product has been added, it does not require an explanation for why a product has been removed.

Soft Landing Mattress Product Stewardship General Manager Janelle Wallace says the accreditation process is a good concept. However, she doesn’t believe it has been well marketed.

Janelle says the act doesn’t acknowledge the costs to local government of managing more complex and often hazardous waste streams, including mattresses, at landfill.

Soft Landing’s submission to the review made multiple recommendations, including a greater focus on durability during product design and wider consideration for the extended supply chain, from raw materials to consumers.

According to Janelle, Soft Landing would also like to see more consideration of bulky and inconvenient waste.

As a voluntary scheme, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has committed $4 million towards market development initiatives. It performs an accreditation and compliance program which focuses on the verification of the scheme across its 1700 participants. However TSA CEO Lina Goodman believes there needs to be more intervention from government.

“Whilst TSA has made significant in-roads within its verification, accreditation and market development programs, the heavy lifting associated with waste tyres remains in the hands of eight tyre importers,” Lina says.

She says the scheme can go only so far without government support or intervention, encouraging government to consider addressing the issue of free riders.

“The time is now for regulatory intervention that will address free riders. Some tyre importers are enjoying the benefits of the scheme without taking responsibility for the product they distribute to market.”

She says that this will have a positive impact and assist in switching the focus on local innovation that will drive greater consumption of material for domestically engineered products.

When speaking with Waste Management Review, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia CEO Gayle Sloan called the current PSA a “toothless tiger”.

“There are not enough schemes in operation and developing models for products such as batteries takes far too long,” Gayle says.

“The Federal Government needs to step up, lean in and drive change – there is a lot of opportunity to improve.”

Gayle says an issue with the current PSA is a lack of extended producer responsibility. She adds the system places problematic waste accountability squarely on the resource recovery industry.

“When a product enters the market, it needs to be recyclable, repairable or reusable,” Gayle says.

“Anything that doesn’t fall within those definitions via readily available structures needs its own source separation system, which needs to be funded by those who brought it to market.”

Additionally, Gayle says there needs to be a complete paradigm shift on voluntary schemes.

“The industry needs to be really honest with itself about what is working and what isn’t. Structural change will not occur by funding individual organisations.”

Equilibrium conducted an analysis of the cost of mandatory product stewardship schemes on consumers for the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).

The analysis made approximations based on standard product unit types and estimated that mandatory schemes would cost consumers up to $1.85 for e-waste, $16.50 for mattresses and $4.00 for tyres.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel says the new data shows consumers can recycle products and items affordably.

“In all cases, the cost of recycling these items is likely to be lower than two per cent of their consumer price. Therefore, cost concerns should not be a key barrier to action by our policy-makers,” he says.

Brooke Donnelly, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO, says the Product Stewardship Act review is an important and timely piece of work, and APCO supports the Federal Government’s efforts. Brooke says APCO believes all organisations must ultimately take responsibility for the products they create. However, there are a range of ways these systems can be delivered.

“To move forward, we need to take an agile approach that explores a range of alternative models that are best suited to fix specific material/product challenges and the external environment in which they operate,” Brooke says.

“We must look beyond the populist rhetoric and really test the value and impact various approaches can provide in a systemic and considered way. Fundamental to effective product stewardship is to ensure equality, accountability and transparency across the various approaches.”

THE MINISTER’S PERSPECTIVE

Drawing on his experience as President of the National Retail Association, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans says industry is best placed to understand the complexities of product stewardship.

When asked by Waste Management Review whether government was in a position to reveal whether it was looking into developing more mandatory schemes, Trevor said not yet.

“There is always a debate around the nature of the scheme, in terms of whether they are industry-led, voluntary or mandatory. It is very much a ‘horses for courses’ approach,” Trevor says.

“Mandatory schemes are one option, but they are not the only policy tool that government has in its arsenal.”

Trevor says the final report with recommendations is expected to be presented to the meeting of environment ministers towards the end of the year.

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Position Partners: maximising landfill airspace

Position Partners’ Elizabeth Latham talks to Waste Management Review about machine guidance and maximising landfill productivity

When looking to expand the efficiency and productivity of a landfill site, one option is maximising airspace.

Position Partners’ Elizabeth Latham says to maximise airspace, landfill operators need to expand the amount of soil used for daily cover, along with the introduction of an alternate daily cover system.

Additionally, in order to get the best value from each cubic metre of airspace, she says operators need to optimise the compaction of waste.

“With the capability to be installed on a wide range of landfill plants, and a demonstrated track record, Carlson LandfillGrade — distributed in Australia by Position Partners — is the ideal system to implement at your landfill site to monitor waste compaction rates,” Elizabeth says.

“The two main benefits of Carlson LandillGrade, as identified at a specific Victorian landfill site, are instant operator feedback and the devices ability to extract airspace utilisation reports.”

According to Elizabeth, the site previously relied on periodic aerial surveys to provide data on airspace utilisation, before working with Position Partners to implement the Carlson management tool.

“Relying on periodic surveys meant more manual data manipulation was required, and resulted in significant time lags between data points, meaning it was more difficult to implement corrective actions,” she says.

“The ability to get real time data on waste compaction and airspace utilisation was one of the main features that drew this landfill site manager’s attention to the Carlson system.”

Elizabeth says the landfill manager also wanted a system that provided instant feedback to the compactor operators, so they could both operate to design, and know when optimal waste compaction had been achieved.

“The manager of the landfill site noted that prior to implementing the Carlson Landfill Grade, they had relied on the operator doing a certain number of passes to ensure the waste was compacted optimally, which is not a truly reliable way of managing compaction,” she adds.

 The Carlson system, implemented by Position Partners, is currently installed on two landfill compactors at the site, with plans to install a third unit on the dozer used for daily cover application further down the track.

“The manager at this landfill site has found that the Carlson system has been a seamless addition to the machines at the landfill,” Elizabeth says.

“The software tools have been integrated with the landfill site’s other systems without any issues or problems.”

Elizabeth says implementing LandfillGrade allows site managers to have access to better data, and deliver instant feedback to operators.

“This has resulted in some landfill site managers reporting an improvement in airspace utilisation efficiency of up to 10 per cent,” she says.

“Another benefit provided by the Carlson machine technology is that operators are able to get continuous feedback on where they are operating compared to the lift design, which reduces the need for rework and re-profiling, especially of the cell batters.”

Elizabeth says service and support are integral to any technology solution, along with capability and price.

“Having access to the local team of product experts is important to many of Position Partners’ customers during the decision-making process,” she says.

“The team at Position Partners is able to discuss how the system would benefit you on your site and assist you in understanding all the features of the Carlson system compared to other products that are available.”

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Tennant Company’s sustainability strategy

Tennant Company marketing specialist Rebecca Wall explains the benefits of sound environmental practice and innovative cleaning solutions. 

Has your organisation developed and implemented a sustainability strategy? When choosing suppliers, is your decision based on whether they have one?

In the past, behaving in a sustainable manner was considered something of a novelty. Now, it increasingly illustrates credibility and a genuine care about how your business conducts itself as member of the global community.

As more companies, large and small, turn towards sustainability initiatives, a kind of corporate fellowship has emerged. Businesses are now working together to create a link in the longer chain of environmentally conscientious organisations.

Being seen as a sustainable business is a positive thing, as countless products and services are introduced to make sustainability practices easier to implement.

Tennant company

Since 1870, Tennant Company has worked to empower its customers to reduce their environmental impact and create a cleaner, safer and healthier world. We have a definite vision to lead the way in sustainable practices.

Tennant Company continually gauge our own efforts to determine the benefits they deliver, not just for the environment but also for our bottom line. What we’ve found is that one doesn’t have to disadvantage the other, in fact, choosing a more sustainable solution can be more cost-effective.

Tennant Company research and development teams are constantly coming up with innovative and environmentally responsible cleaning solutions for customers that are increasingly seeking them.

When a potential customer asks us for a proposal, they frequently request that we summarise our sustainability strategies to determine if they match with their own. Putting sustainability policies and practices in place can very literally mean the difference between landing a new contract or not.​

Tennant Company is known for evolving to meet external influences. Early on in our history, we developed eco-advantaged products for our own business and for our customers. It began with vacuum-equipped sweepers that featured enhanced dust control. Next, we developed high-performance, low-VOC floor coatings, followed by highly concentrated detergents.

In more recent times, we introduced our game-changing ec-H2O technology, which took out the Business Innovation of the Year award at the 2009 European Business Awards. The ec-H2O delivers significant reductions in water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generated — all key elements in a hardware’s lifecycle environmental footprint.

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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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Oil procured sustainability: Cookers Bulk Oil

Cookers Bulk Oil System explains how a push towards sustainability in the food services sector is seeing more organisations turn to its full lifecycle solution.

It’s critical that quality assurance systems are applied in the food services industry to ensure products are food grade.

While food safety is first and foremost a priority, conscientious consumers are increasingly calling for products that also meet rigorous environmental standards.

For nearly 20 years, Cookers Bulk Oil has placed sustainability at the core of its operations.

With this in mind, the company provides a complete oil management solution across the broader food services industry. Its diverse customer base ensures it is able to service small to medium businesses, right through to major corporations, with high-quality cooking oils meeting industry standards. This comprises, but is not limited to, restaurants, casual dining, cafes, takeaway, hotels and fast food establishments.

The two major products sold by Cookers are canola oil and a premium frying oil branded XLFRY Oil. In addition to a suite of other products, the company is able to manufacture blends according to its customers’ needs.

Cookers’ lifecycle solution sees it source fresh Australian oil that meets industry standards and delivering it to the sector through dedicated trucks. It then picks up regular used oil which is converted into valuable commodities such as biodiesel.

Garry Nash, General Manager of Sales at Cookers Bulk Oil System, says the business initially started out with a focus on kitchen efficiencies. Over time, Cookers increased its scope towards recyclable solutions for oil management as sustainability became a considerable focus for procurement.

“It’s really important for our customer base that they not only know where their oil has come from, but also where it’s going,” Garry explains.

“When we pick up customers’ oil, they know that it’s coming back to our depots to be refined and given a second life in the biodiesel industry, so that full circle approach helps a business understand and implement best practice.”

The company works with Australian oil manufacturers to refine products locally.

One of Cookers’ key offerings is the use of storage units instead of tins, preventing 300 tins from ending up in landfill for each truck of oil delivered. Garry says that this not only has an environmental benefit, but avoids the cost of disposal through gate fees.

Each delivery is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to support traceability for customers. Food service organisations are supplied with purpose-built storage units and a dedicated business development manager to meet their requirements.

“We batch track every drop of oil that we deliver knowing the date we delivered it, what the product was and what the batch was all the way back to when we received it.”

Cookers’ key point of differentiation in the food market is that it holds Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation for oil supply in Australia. SQF is a globally recognised food safety program that reinforces its commitment to rigorous safety standards in the industry.

Garry says SQF holds Cookers to a high account for its product traceability – an issue that has increasingly become topical with product recalls for consumer products such as strawberries and honey. He says product dilution is also another food industry issue that Cookers seeks to alleviate with transparent processes, with the company allowing unannounced audits.

“Our business policy is our doors are always open to our customers and that means if they were to knock on the door unannounced, our warehouses can be walked through and viewed by anyone at any time, and that is a requirement of SQF.”

“It’s one thing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, but we feel that SQF is one step above that.”

Cookers also holds an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), which covers comprehensive sustainability requirements to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and ensure products are traceable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The used oil that returns to the depots is decrumbed, dewatered and heat treated to create a finished product sold off into biodiesel.

The company ensures its own operations are sustainable by harvesting and reusing rainwater at its sites, measuring and analysing its greenhouse emissions and using a wind turbine at its head office to supply 30 per cent of its factory power needs.

Garry says Cookers offers a national footprint with nine depots across Australia and the same service model and offering available around the country. He says that Cookers will continue to evolve its business to ensure it keeps pace with changing industry practices and expectations.

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Waste of the nation

Waste Management Review speaks to Australia’s first Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans about his future priorities.

The Liberal Government’s May re-election saw a shakeup of the Department of Environment and Energy. While Energy Minister Angus Taylor retained his position, Melissa Price, who served as Environment Minister from August 2018, was replaced with Sussan Ley.

Cabinet shakeups aren’t uncommon following an election, and as such, the appointment of a new Environment Minister was not particularly noteworthy on its own. What was significant, however, was the introduction of an entirely new parliamentary portfolio, the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management.

The role was awarded to Queensland Member of Parliament Trevor Evans, who has held the seat of Brisbane since 2016. He is one of the youngest MPs elected to the House of Representatives.

Waste Management Review spoke to Trevor in June.

According to Trevor, Minister Ley will still hold final responsibility for all matters inside the portfolio. His role as assistant minister will be to assist in the fulfilment of waste targets and policy drafting.

“As my title suggests, I have a particular focus on the government’s initiatives and funding around waste reduction and recycling, and some of our environmental management,” Trevor explains.

“This new role is a really exciting one for me personally, as I’ve always been an incredibly passionate advocate for Australia’s unique environment.”

As a child, Trevor says he wanted to be a zookeeper because of his love of Australian animals.

“Instead, I find myself in the house of animals that is Parliament House,” he jokes.

“I’m taking the passion that I’ve always had for our local environment, building on a lot of local work I’ve done in my Brisbane electorate on conservation and bringing those passions to this role.”

Highlighting the importance of industry led initiatives was a common thread throughout Waste Management Review’s conversation with Trevor, who before entering politics served as National Retail Association President.

“I’ve done a lot of work at the coalface when industry meets consumer demand,” Trevor says.

“I was there at quite an interesting time, where industry and the retail sector were starting to react and plan for the first product stewardship schemes.”

Trevor says it’s this background that informs his belief that private sector is best placed to deal with the complexities of individual product areas and international supply chains.

Trevor plans to use his new position to grow conversations around waste reduction and recycling.

“I believe there is a huge information and awareness gap at present, where many members of the public are incredibly passionate and want to be as involved as they possibly can,” he says.

“I think one of the key aspects of the role will be helping to bridge that gap. I’ll be doing everything I can to help everyone have the best information at their fingertips.”

In the lead-up to the federal election, the waste industry saw unprecedented bi-partisan support.

An ‘election score card’ created by multiple industry associations showed that both major parties had outlined substantive commitments to recycling infrastructure, establishing local markets for recycled content and developing solutions for plastic waste.

So after the election, the waste industry was not asking, ‘what policies will the Liberal Party propose?’ but rather, ‘will they make good on their promises?’

Trevor says the central responsibility of the assistant minister portfolio will be the rollout of the government’s $167 million package of initiatives and funding programs.

Programs include the $100 million Australian Recycling Investment Fund, $20 million Product Stewardship Investment Fund and $20 million for plastic recycling through Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) grants.

“On top of that, I have responsibility for the Federal Government’s role in the new National Waste Policy,” Trevor says.

“The first priority in that space is to work with the states and territories on the action plan.”

The National Waste Policy, which provides a framework for collective action on waste by industry, government and communities, was updated in 2018 after the failure of the 2009 policy.

The policy highlights the importance of interjurisdictional collaboration and proposes targets such as reducing total waste generation by 10 per cent by 2030. Other targets include an 80 per cent average recovery rate from all resource recovery streams by 2030, 30 per cent recycled content across all goods and infrastructure procurement by 2030 and phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2030.

During the election cycle, the Labor Party proposed mandatory targets for all government departments to purchase products made from recyclable material.

When asked by Waste Management Review whether the Liberal Party has plans to implement similar measures, Trevor says the biggest opportunity for government to pursue that idea would be through the National Waste Policy.

“Different states and territories and different levels of government will bring different things to the table there,” he says.

“You can expect that governments’ own procurement processes will be a big part of the negotiations in terms of how all levels of government come to the table to achieve the National Waste Policy.”

While Trevor didn’t confirm specific procurement figures, government has committed to working with state, territory and local government on getting more recycling content in road construction – building on the $2.6 million 2019 budget allocation to the Australian Road Research Board.

Trevor says developing the National Waste Policy implementation plan, securing appropriate funding and setting robust targets will be his core concerns over the coming year. He adds that the policy is still in the planning stage.

“The most important priority in that space is to work with the states and territories on the action plan to underpin the strategy.”

LOCAL INDUSTRY

According to Trevor, the Federal Government is heavily invested in improving recycling rates and growing the local recycling industry.

“For us, the centrepiece for our efforts to grow a local recycling industry is the $100 million in funding we are proving to support proposals and more local industry in the recycling chain,” he says.   

The Australian Recycling Investment Fund is a new initiative, which Trevor says is designed to support the manufacturing of low-emission and energy-efficient recycled content products, including recycled content plastics, paper and pulp.

The fund will be administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which according to Trevor, will receive guidelines from government about the mandate and how to best invest in new industry.

Whether there were any specific projects in the investment fund pipeline, Trevor says not yet.

“There will be a period of time where we will ensure that scheme is set up and properly instructed with key criteria from government. Then there will no doubt be invitations put to industry to participate in that process,” he says.

Trevor says government have also provided a further $20 million to the pre-existing CRC grants program, to support plastics innovation and research.

“CRCs are a place where the tertiary education and research sector come together with government and business to look at challenges in a shared way, and collaborate when it comes to ideas and innovation,” Trevor says.

“The grants are already delivering great results in many key industries to Australia’s future, so funding CRC work specifically to encourage research, in and around plastics, will lead to some really world-leading solutions here in Australia.”

Trevor says growing industry will be a central priority for his government, particularly given stresses caused by changes to international import regulations.

China’s National Sword policy is the obvious cornerstone. Other restrictions have taken place in India, which banned solid plastic imports in March, and Malaysia, which launched an investigation into international plastic imports in June.

“It is important to note that Australians want, and should expect, that our country supports international recycling supply chains,” he says.

According to Trevor, it is beneficial for Australia to be involved in international recycling chains, both on an economic and environmental level.

“What we have to be conscious of is that there are strict rules around the quality of waste streams being traded around the world,” he says.

“Where companies do the wrong thing, it’s very reasonable for us to expect there to be appropriate compliance and enforcement efforts. Companies that do the wrong thing let down not just their industry, but all Australians that want to see those recycling chains succeed.”

HARMONISATION

Talking about challenges that arise from a lack of centralised policy, specifically around waste levies and interstate transport, Trevor says harmonisation was one of many competing policy goals.

Additionally, Trevor says he will address considerations of the proximity principle at the meeting of environment ministers later this year.

“I can say – at this stage – I do see a case for harmonisation, or increased harmonisation, in many aspects of the waste and recycling industries,” Trevor says.

“There is a case to be made there, however, at this stage, while we are negotiating with the states and territories on the action plan, I’m not going to get too prescriptive about where that needs to be.”

In reference to the effectiveness of banning problematic waste streams, Trevor says state level initiatives have seen positive benefits.

He adds that changing consumer behaviours requires cooperation between government and industry, along with awareness at the small business level.

“I think blanket bans are a clunky policy tool. What’s better is to look at proactive ideas around true cost and substitution,” he says.

“There is certainly some scope for harmonisation between the different approaches between states and territories, and that’s something I hope to influence.”

Trevor makes notes of early state actions around single-use plastics. He adds rather than straight out banning plastic bags, which would come up against genuine questions of consumer convenience, commercial industry worked closely with consumers and government to move towards substitutes.    

“Now the attention, rightly, focuses on some of the heavyweight plastic bag substitutes that have come in, along with some of the definitions of compostability and biodegradability.”

In reference to the Product Stewardship Act review, Trevor says the act is very important piece of work.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity for government to work more closely with industry and look forward to finding ways to achieve real tangible outcomes for something that is very complex and serious,” he says.

Trevor says that while government is not in a position to reveal whether it is looking to introduce more mandatory schemes, it has put $20 million on the table to support the creation of new schemes via the Product Stewardship Investment Fund.

“There is always a debate around the nature of a scheme, in terms of whether they are industry-led, voluntary or mandatory. It is very much a ‘horses for courses’ approach,” Trevor says.

This article was published in the August edition of Waste Management Review. 

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