Waste not, want not

With ever-increasing amounts of waste and decreasing resources, escalating environmental concerns and rising input costs, the waste management industry is expected to face some tough challenges in 2017.

As such, key industry players increasingly question whether or not they are operating as economically and efficiently as possible, knowing that an integrated approach to waste management could be the key to unlocking a myriad of benefits and achieving more sustainable success over the long-term.

With a growing number of stakeholders involved in the process of waste management – each looking to manage their resources as efficiently as possible – integration and knowledge sharing are thus becoming more important than ever before, says Bill Ambrose, Regional General Manager for WA and SA at AccuWeigh, Australia’s biggest supplier of weighbridges, weighing equipment and product inspection equipment.

“Business-to-business communication can lead to better economies of scale, more streamlined reporting and savings in terms of both money and time,” says Ambrose.

“What’s important to note here is that collaboration among partner companies doesn’t mean giving away trade secrets or opening up vulnerabilities for others to exploit. It’s merely a tool to facilitate lean systems and lasting success.”

According to Ambrose, advanced software and technological developments enable operations to do business in a dramatically different way nowadays.

“Digital communication makes it possible for data to be captured and shared wirelessly and remotely – for example from an unmanned weighbridge to a central processing system or between truck drivers in the eld and their home base – and waste companies should be actively pursuing ways of exploiting technology for both financial and operational gains.”

He adds that weighbridge integration is a case in point: “An integrated weighbridge software solution makes
it possible to centrally manage all your weighing operations, whether you operate a single weighbridge or have installations at several different sites,” he explains. “It can also be used as a comprehensive vehicle management system, a traffic management system capable of reducing bottlenecks and streamlining the flow of vehicles and an on-site security system capable of controlling security cameras, entry and exit barriers and checking number plates automatically.

“Systems can be fully configurable for each application, producing digital records of each and every vehicle entering and leaving the sites and providing operators with comprehensive data that can be used for a range of functions.”

Weighing systems expert Ambrose says integration takes much of the paperwork – and, consequently, the likelihood of human error – out of the equation and can provide operators with a wealth of information that can be used to optimise the business. From data on the number of vehicles entering the site each day, volumes (on an hourly, daily or weekly basis), vehicle turnaround time and revenues (by customer and sector) to profitability and resourcing, there are many areas where businesses can turn knowledge into operational and resourcing – and possibly revenue – improvements, he says.

“The waste industry has historically been characterised by multiple operators along the supply chain, but a worldwide trend is for larger operations to achieve economies of scale through mergers or by acquiring smaller players. The response has to be a renewed focus on integration and collaboration.

“Advancements in weighbridge integration enable much more productive outcomes among the partners in the waste process – even among competitors – and allow larger, merged operations to marry the systems of their multiple divisions together to achieve substantial savings in time and costs.”

This article has been produced in collaboration with AccuWeigh. With a portfolio of over 1,000 weighbridge installations throughout Australia and New Zealand, AccuWeigh has the experience to identify individual weighbridge needs and provide businesses with the best integrated weighbridge solution.

More information head to AccuWeigh.

Closing the loop

When Gayle Sloan assumed the role of Chief Executive of the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) in November 2016, she did so with the promise of finding a balance between the organisation’s role as a lobbyist on behalf of the industry and as a body that serves its members.

Since her appointment, Sloan has been seeking to make good on that promise by getting around to as many WMAA branch meetings as possible, while also getting familiar with the relevant government and institutional bodies that she will work with in her new role.

“I think we need to better at lobbying, advocacy and policy development and ensure that we include the membership in this process,” Sloan tells Waste Management Review.

“Through our branches and meetings with government agencies, I’m hearing very clearly that they want to deal directly with one body as a national peak body, so we can get the best policy outcomes for the industry.”

WMAA is well placed to do so, Sloan says, given it is a ‘broad church’ that represents all areas and sectors of the industry. In fact, its unique Division Structure enables it to provide very specific and technical policy input that has been well tested due to WMAA’s diversity.

While the new Chief Executive has come to the WMAA role after three years in contract management and government relations at Visy Recycling, her passion for the industry stems from more than a decade of experience working in government and policy: It was while working for the City of Sydney in 2002 under the administration of Frank Sartor and then-Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull that Sloan first came into contact with the waste industry, working on the city’s cleaning and domestic waste functions, while also doing tenders and procurement in the field.

As such, an area Sloan is keen to see significant development in is the field of legislation: “One of the industry’s biggest challenges is getting consistent legislation across Australia,” she says. “We need a common approach to issues such as levies and getting that unified approach of understanding and issues.”

Sloan points to one specific example of this as being the Container Deposit Scheme, which is being enacted in New South Wales this year, and then starting up in Queensland in 2018. Under the scheme, anyone who returns an empty eligible beverage container
to an approved NSW collection depot or reverse vending machine will be eligible for a 10-cent refund. A network of depots and reverse vending machines will open across NSW to receive the empty containers.

However, for companies with operations across both states, this staggering of the timeline will present a number of practical challenges as they try to manage their business operations across both legislative regions, Sloan explains.

To read more, see page 34 of Issue 10.

A new dimension of plastics recycling

Deakin University researchers have run a successful trial in using waste plastics for the raw material in 3D printing, known as EcoPrint – a technology that has exciting potential for communities impacted by poverty or natural disasters.

Global plastic production is increasing rapidly, building on a steady 50-year growth trajectory. In 2013, some 299 million tonnes of plastics were produced, the popularity of it stemming from its qualities of being lightweight, durable and suitable for diverse applications.

However, this has inherent impacts for the environment, as disposal and recycling of this complex material has become one of the biggest challenges of the modern age. Australian recycling organisations highlight that plastic is the most abundant item of rubbish found during ‘Clean Up Australia’ days, representing 30 per cent of all rubbish collected over the last 10 years.

Against this backdrop, Professor Mazher Mohammed and a group of his students have worked on a project to reconstitute plastic waste as printer filament, the feedstock for 3D printing.

Mazher joined Deakin University’s School of Engineering in January 2015, taking on the lecturing role as Research Fellow for Engineering Sustainability.

“We teach students about matters relating to sustainability in the world around us with an emphasis on engineering solutions,” he says.

Through the course of doing his job, and with his background in 3D printing, Mazher starting thinking about the main commercial products in 3D printing being plastic based. Plastic is made from oil, which is a finite resource and potentially going to be depleted in the future.

In addition, Mazher says that as plastic is so prevalent in everyday items from devices to packaging, it’s an important material for engineering, as well being a resource that the world needs to manage wisely.

“I wondered if we could come up with a system to take spent plastic materials, reconstitute those to use in 3D printing to manufacture new end-products,” explains Mazher.

In short, the study was built on a desire to produce usable plastic filament as a viable means of consuming waste plastics and reduce the amount sent to landfill.

From there, Mazher said he was keen to get material for the project as cheaply as possible or for free.

In 3D printing, the prints can fail and those failed prints normally end up in the bin, which can generate substantial volumes of waste plastic. Moreover, when students work on 3D printing projects to make parts, when the project is over, they end up redundant and, again, ended up as waste.

“The logical thought followed of could we take those waste streams as a feedstock to explore the idea of recycling ABS plastic in our project, and converting that into plastic filament for printing,” Mazher says.

Another material source Mazher identified was all the HDPE milk cartons the School uses for its coffees.

“That led to me thinking that this is another free resource, so could we take these HDPE cartons and do the same thing as we were planning with scrap ABS plastics,” he says. “That became the premise for the project for two of our students.”

Around the same time, Mazher’s team became aware of local business GT Recycling. They wanted to go beyond a grassroots research-based project.

“We wanted to develop a viable commercial venture in itself, where we could look to reinvigorate the local manufacturing scene in Geelong, which has suffered a huge decline due to the closure of the Ford plant,” Mazher adds.

As a result, they thought with the local infrastructure available through GT Recycling, which processes large volumes of plastics waste and granulate it into a feedstock they could use, this could be the start of such a venture.

To read more, see page 22 of Issue 10.

Bold and effective

Perth’s City of Nedlands has set itself an ambitious target:

By 2020, the Council plans to divert 65 per cent of its waste from landfill, up from 49 per cent in 2016, without redirecting the cost back to ratepayers. To help it get there, it has developed a new Waste Minimisation Strategy that will see it become the first local government to adopt new technologies to recycle compacted verge-hard waste, in addition to increased community education.

Mayor Max Hipkins says recycling group, West Tip Waste Control, has been appointed to the task after a competitive tender process.

“The [tender] for the bulk collection and disposal services has managed to achieve projected savings of approximately $65,000* annually,” he explains.

At the core of the winning tender is West Tip Waste Control’s new Resource Recovery Plant, which will enable the City to recover household furniture, white goods and metal products with minimal contamination. At the plant, he says, all waste brought in from collection vehicles will undergo an initial inspection for non-conforming items, which will be followed by an extraction of oversized items. Recyclables will then undergo a multi-stage segregation process.

The Mayor expects that with the help of West Tip Waste Control, about 765 tonnes of hard waste will be diverted from landfill and recycled each year, putting the City closer to achieving its target. To make full use of the new Plant, he adds the Council will focus on reducing illegal dumping by offering two bulk verge collection services per year, delivered directly to West Tip Waste Control’s site.

It also allows commercial and business precincts to receive kerbside waste and recycling collection on request. Knowing a successful resource recovery strategy must be holistic in nature, Mayor Hipkins says the ongoing risk of contaminated household recycling continues to pose challenges to the community, too – especially with green waste and putrescible (general) bin services, which are part of the City’s three-bin set-up.

Under the three-bin system, the City provides weekly putrescible waste collections, as well as green waste and recycling services operating on alternating fortnights.

“The first bin works very well, but there’s a contamination issue with the second, recycling bin,” he explains. “Over 80 per cent of residents are using the small putrescible rubbish bin, while 21 per cent use the complimentary second recycling bin.”

To raise that ratio, all bins are colour coded and stickers are given out to say what can go in them. Additional education in the eld is meant to help the Council reinforce the message.

“I think it’s really tackling the whole of the waste stream. In the past, councils have concentrated on the obvious things,” he says. “We’re trying to raise(the public’s awareness whenever they put things in the bin. If it’s a bigger item, we’re making them think about what happens to it.”

Mayor Hipkins says the City’s new Strategy will build on the highly successful previous one, which led to 49 percent of waste being diverted from landfill with minimal contamination, for example by introducing a separate collection service for e-waste and mattresses, and completing an independent waste audit in 2014.

To read more, see page 30 of Issue 10.

Bins and Circuses

A century and a half before the first waste paper collection from Melbourne households inspired the idea of systematic waste recycling, thoroughbred horseracing began shaping the very fabric of Australian society. A relic of English colonialism, the first races were held in Sydney as early as 1790, not long after the colony was settled.

Today, horseracing is the third most patronised sport in Australia after AFL and rugby league, and the only event able to ‘stop’ the nation for a single 3200m race – the Emirates Melbourne Cup held at Flemington Racecourse.

Throughout the Melbourne Cup Carnival – consisting of the world-famous Emirates Melbourne Cup as well as AAMI Victoria Derby Day, Crown Oaks Day and Emirates Stakes Day – some 318,900 local and international visitors flocked to Flemington in 2016, making it the world’s most vibrant horseracing venue and placing complex challenges on the local waste management team.

Led by James Reid, Senior Manager Event Operations, the team had to handle some 122 tonnes of waste on Cup Day alone. Over the four-day Melbourne Cup Carnival, an additional 350 tonnes had to be managed – and that’s just the venue’s core offering.

With Flemington Racecourse’s evolution into an all-year event location over the past decade or so, handling all types of waste has become a full-time job for Reid, who has partnered with Melbourne consultancy, Incognitus, to ensure the world-famous venue is managed to an equally world-class standard.

Reid’s self-imposed key performance indicator is to reduce diversion from land ll to the smallest possible amount, he explains, “a seemingly simple measure that’s incredibly complex to control.”

During the 2016 Melbourne Cup Carnival, Flemington Racecourse achieved a staggering 98.05 per cent diversion rate – a long way from the 25.9 per cent in 2008, when Reid and his team first embarked on the sustainability journey.

“I don’t see myself as an environmentalist,” he says, with the stoic calm of someone who has had to endure many a frantic race day at Flemington. “Diverting waste from land ll is a cost-saving tool rst and foremost. Sustainability is a by-product, if you will.”

Driven by a ‘natural urge’ to keep improving, Reid says his competitiveness has helped achieve results quickly – the first year saw the largest improvement to date – but that doesn’t mean Flemington’s sustainability program will come to an end any time soon.

“When you start on a journey like this, success may come quickly, but you also plateau out relatively soon. That’s where it’s getting interesting for someone like me, who is naturally wired to continuously improve,” he explains – adding that the idea of promoting sustainability as a way of life has since become more important for him personally and the Flemington operation at large.

“It’s fair to say my mindset has changed from viewing recycling as a cost-saving measure alone to now regarding it as a holistic societal challenge that iconic venues like Flemington Racecourse have to contribute to,” says Reid, who became a father in January.

“It still doesn’t mean I’m a green activist; but as a team, we’ve certainly realised just how important it is for us to have a strong position on sustainability and take our responsibility not just in the racing community, but in society, seriously. At the end of the day, a world-leading venue has to lead the way on every level – including waste management.”

To read more, see page 14 of Issue 10.

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