New wastewater technology developed


Researchers from Edith Cowan University have developed a way to modify the atomic structure of iron to create a metal which they say can strip impurities from water in just a few minutes.

The research, recently published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, offers new applications in the mining, textile and other industries where large amounts of wastewater are

Nano technology

Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering was able to change the atomic structure of iron to form what is known as metallic glass.

Metallic glass gets its name not from the fact that it is transparent and can be used in windows, but because its atomic structure resembles that of glass.

Whereas the atomic structure of traditional metals is very ordered, with the atoms forming a grid like structure, metallic glass atoms have a much more disorganised composition.

“It is this disordered atomic structure that gives metallic glass its very interesting and useful characteristics,” Professor Zhang said.

Saving waste water

A thin strip of the iron-based metallic glass developed by Professor Zhang can remove impurities such as dyes or heavy metals from even highly polluted water in just minutes.

“It works by binding the atoms of the dye or heavy metals to the ribbon, leaving behind useable water,” Professor Zhang said.

“This offers a number of benefits compared to the current method of using iron powder to treat wastewater. Firstly, using iron powder leaves you with a large amount of iron sludge that must be stored. Secondly it is expensive to produce and can only be used once.

“In contrast, the iron-based metallic glass we have developed can be reused up to 20 times, produces no waste iron sludge and can be produced as cheaply a few dollars per kilogram.”

Industrial scale

Professor Zhang said the technology could have significant applications in the textile and mining industries.

“Mining and textile production produces huge amounts of water that is contaminated with heavy metals and dyes respectively,” he said.

“We have already had significant interest from companies in both China and Australia who are keen to work with us to develop this technology, including Ausino Drilling Services, whose clients include Rio Tinto and the Aluminium Corporation of China.”

Both Ausino Chief Executive Officer Dr Minlu Fu and Vice General Manager of Beijing Wuyi Environmental Technology Ltd Mr Yeqiang Wu said they were looking forward to collaborating with Professor Zhang.

“Our experts noticed that Laichang’s recent research using metallic glass as a catalyst for ultrafast water purification is very achievable in the industrial application,” Dr Fu said.

Sustainability Victoria helps removes dangerous chemicals


A joint project involving Sustainability Victoria, Bass Coast Shire and neighbouring councils has netted 653 kg of dangerous chemicals during a two-hour Detox Your Home collection at Wonthaggi.

Sustainability Victoria’s Resource Recovery Group Director, Jonathan Leake, said more than 300 kg of flammable goods were brought in by 30 people to the first collection of the financial year.

“‘Detox Your Home’ is a safe, free and easy-to-use service that diverts hazardous good from landfills and lets you dispose of common household chemicals without harming your health or the environment.”

“In this case an average of 21kg per person was brought in. It’s an indicator of what else is out there.”

Detox Your Home is administered by Sustainability Victoria delivered in partnership with local councils and is funded through the landfill levy. Products collected are recycled and diverted from landfill.

In the 2016/17 financial year, nearly 73 tonnes of chemicals were collected at 30 metropolitan and country Detox Your Home activities across Victoria.

Australian cold-chain industry forms food-waste advocacy group

Food and organics waste

Australia’s first advocacy group to improve compliance and standards in the handling of food at all levels of the cold chain has been established at a meeting in Queensland.

The inaugural session of the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) on 7 August 2017 brought together representatives from the manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain industries.

The council has reportedly been established in response to mounting community pressure about the costs and environmental damage of food wastage, with the AFCCC positioning itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.

“The new council is not about promoting an industry – we want to change the industry for the better, said Interim Chair, Mark Mitchell.

“One of our priorities will be to apply whatever pressure is needed in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold chain food handling are properly followed.

“There’s lots of rhetoric in government programs, associations and among food handlers and suppliers about commitments to food waste reduction and cold chain compliance, but little, if nothing, is being done at any level about improving the cold chain, and ensuring that standards are followed. Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.”

The interim directors of AFCCC are Stephen Elford General Manager Australia New Zealand, Carrier Transicold; Mark Mitchell, Managing Director, SuperCool Australia Pacific; Peter Lawrence, Technical Director ANZ, Thermo King; Kyle Hawker, Transport Manager, Simplot Australia; Adam Wade, National Transport Leader, Lion; Kevin Manfield, General Manager – Products & Markets, MaxiTRANS Australia; plus a nominated individual representing the transport industry.

The AFCCC asserts that on average, Australians waste 860kg of food per person annually, with at least five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from food wastage.

Mitchell noted that Australian industry is well placed to attack the issue.

“Performance across the cold-food chain can be improved with better equipment and handling processes as well as with improved monitoring and assessment to determine where the weaknesses lie,” he said.

The new advocacy group’s first priorities will be contributing to both the development of the National Food Waste Strategy and becoming part of the CRC designed to address food waste and fraud.

This article originally appeared on Logistics & Materials Handling.

NWRIC releases Industry Roadmap


The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council has released its Industry Roadmap document, a national plan for a circular economy to improve Australia’s waste and recycling industry.

It comes after a Four Corners investigation into stockpiling, the illegal transportation of waste and numerous other issues.

Interstate transport and stockpiling 

The council said it has been actively advocating for a solution to the issue of interstate transport of waste materials between Sydney and South East Queensland. Media reports have focused on the cause of this as related to the landfill levy, which is non existent in Queensland.

In July this year, NWRIC wrote to both NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton and Queensland Environment Minister Stephen Miles – asking for urgent government action to mitigate this problem. The NWRIC said this correspondence was a continuation of industry advocacy on this issue going back several years.

Council members have ratified a national position opposing the unnecessary interstate transport of waste. The NWRIC says Australia’s largest waste and recycling companies believe the inter-jurisdictional variation in landfill levies undermines new investment into resource recovery infrastructure, particularly in NSW. As a solution, the council has called for all states to recognise the portability of landfill levy liabilities and put in place regulations to collect these wherever waste is landfilled.

In response to the issue of glass and plastic stockpiling, the NWRIC’s Roadmap calls for better planning to ensure commodities can be managed to accommodate market fluctuations.The roadmap calls on state governments to effectively re-invest landfill levy revenue to create and simulate markets for recycled materials and build new recycling infrastructure.

Odour, dust and noise

The NWRIC said a significant national effort has been made to consolidate Australia’s landfills and recycling facilities into larger, more centralised sites. This work has considerably reduced public nuisance from odour, dust and noise. Improvements in facilities management has further reduced these emissions.

However, the nature of waste processing means that some emissions are inevitable. The industry is calling for state and territory government to undertake effective, whole of government planning initiatives to create landfill and recycling sites segregated from sensitive residential and commercial development. The most effective tool for reducing public nuisance from waste management is good planning.

Professional management

Australia’s national resource recovery rate of over 50 per cent puts us well ahead of many of our OECD counterparts, including the US and Canada. Despite some setbacks, Australia’s overall recycling rates continue to improve.

The waste and recycling industry employs close to 30,000 people according to 2009 statistics by Access Economics, making it Australia’s largest green collar employer and one of the nation’s fastest growing manufacturing sectors. The NWRIC believes that with improved planning, regulatory harmony and effective re-investment of landfill levy revenue – the economic, social and environmental performance of the industry will continue to improve.

Free recycling centre in Adelaide


A free drop-off service for recyclable batteries and light globes has opened in the Adelaide CBD.

The free recycling service – at the offices of the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources and Green Industries SA – is a South Australian Government first.

Two distinct recycling mascots in the form of a giant light globe and battery will take centre stage in the ground floor of the Waymouth Street building for recycling ease.

Materials like light globes and batteries cannot be recycled through kerbside yellow recycling bin, but they can be diverted from landfill when handled separately.

South Australia leads the nation with a waste diversion rate of 81.5 per cent.

Green Industries SA works closely with businesses and the resource recovery sector to improve recycling and waste management systems, teaming up with the DEWNR accommodation and asset management team to roll out the trial recycling programme on Waymouth Street.

Householders can also recycle light globes at Mitre 10 stores across South Australia. Many councils provide a drop off option for battery recycling, and householders can drop off batteries at ALDI stores, Ikea and Electronics Recycling Australia.

“Many workplaces now have recycling systems similar to the yellow and green lids most householders are familiar with, and South Australia’s nation leading waste diversion rate of 81.5 per cent is a result of constantly seeking new ways to recycle and recover resources through trials like this,” said Environment Minister Ian Hunter.



Less waste means less cost for City of Nedlands


New technology used to recover and recycle bulk verge rubbish streams has put the City of Nedlands a significant step closer towards achieving the Western Australian Government’s target of diverting 65 per cent of all waste from landfill by 2020.

The technology enables the City to recover household furniture, whitegoods and metal products with minimal contamination.

All waste brought in from collection vehicles undergoes an initial inspection for non-conforming items, followed by the extraction of oversized goods before recyclables undergo a multi-staged segregation process.

Under the new bulk collection and disposal arrangements introduced in 2016-17, 748 tonnes of hard waste and 722 tonnes of green waste was collected from City verges in four weeks – resulting in a 92 per cent recovery rate from landfill.

By comparison, the 2015-16 bulk collection was done over eight weeks and achieved a 52 per cent recovery rate.

City of Nedlands Mayor Max Hipkins said the new arrangement had significantly reduced the need for illegal dumping.

“This is reflected in the reduced tonnages collected which, consequently, has meant a lower cost for the City,” he said.

“The bulk collection waste stream represents 12 per cent of the City’s total waste collection, 92 per cent of which is recycled or recovered.

“We’ve had an increase of five per cent on the City’s overall recovery rate, meaning we achieved 54 per cent overall waste diversion in the past financial year compared to WA’s average rate of 36 per cent.”

Mayor Hipkins said the City’s waste management service was in a strong position and continued to make savings for the City’s ratepayers by achieving cost-effective outcomes.

“Since the state government increased the landfill levy, it’s been essential for the City to reduce the need to dispose of waste produced within its limits to maintain lower waste charges for ratepayers,” he said.

“Our new bulk collection and disposal contract has resulted in a decrease of more than 160 tonnes of waste to landfill and a reduction in collection and disposal costs of about $75,500 compared to the previous year.”

Mayor Hipkins said the council’s message is to encourage waste materials to be thought of in terms of a resource to be recovered, reused and recycled wherever possible.

“Our contractor has also advised that 95 per cent of glass collected as part of our recycling program is currently re-used in a road construction material.”

Cleanaway gains Central Coast contract until 2028


Central Coast Council has announced that Cleanaway have secured a 10-year contract to provide its waste management collection services, with the service beginning from 1 February 2018.

Under the 10 year agreement, Cleanaway will be delivering general waste, recycling and green waste collection services as well as six free kerbside bulk waste collection services per year for each residence. Cleanaway will also be rolling out 65,000 new 140 litre bins across the council.

Central Coast Council said they based their decision on Cleanaway’s service capabilities, experience, customer service, technology advances, equipment and local employment. As part of the contract Cleanaway will provide a dedicated operational team and call centre working out of a purpose built facility based on the Central Coast, as well as offering residents the option to book their bulk waste collection via the website or, for the first time, via a phone app.

Michael Sankey, Regional Manager – Sydney Municipal, said Cleanaway will be working closely with Central Coast Council to provide a superior level of customer service and keep employment in the area.

“We’re excited to partner with Central Coast Council and provide a world class collection service to local residents.”

“We’ll be setting up a new facility, implementing operational teams, a call centre and some education resources so it will be a busy six months recruiting and putting the team in place. We’ll also be upholding the rate Council has previously negotiated with the Transport Workers Union for the existing drivers.”

REMONDIS will continue to deliver waste collection services to Central Coast Council until January 31 2018, with Cleanaway beginning operations from February 1.

Queensland Government tackles “dump capital” reputation



Environment Minister and Acting Main Roads Minister Steven Miles has said Queensland must shake the title of Australia’s dump capital tag, calling an urgent meeting with waste management stakeholders.

Last week, Mr Miles revealed a roundtable would be hosted on Monday with the Premier and the waste industry, including key players such as Cleanaway, JJ Richards and Visy.

“We will address the extent of the dumping allegations raised this week and explore solutions,” he said.

A joint agency operation between Queensland’s Transport and Main Roads (TMR), Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) and the Queensland Police Service (QPS) will begin targeting heavy vehicles from New South Wales dumping waste in Queensland.

The news comes less than a week after a Four Corners report into illegal dumping, which focused heavily on landfill levy avoidance through interstate waste transportation.

“There is considerable community concern about this issue, and I want to reassure the people of Queensland we will not put up with rogue operators.

“We are taking the discussion directly to industry to identify pathways forward and will use our regulatory powers to crack down on illegal transport of waste.”

Mr Miles said the inspections would take place at pertinent locations along the border.

“The special compliance operation – named Operation TORA – will target unlicensed waste management operators including waste vehicle inspections,” Mr Miles said.

“Operation TORA inspections will involve checks of heavy vehicles, and compliance with regulated waste and other transport requirements.

TMR Compliance Officers will undertake compliance checks of heavy vehicles as follows:

  • Fatigue Management (work diaries)
  • Mass and dimension
  • Vehicle Safety Inspections
  • Load restraint

EHP Officers will:

  • Undertake waste checks to determine if loads contain general waste or trackable regulated waste
  • Cross reference against consignment authority for observed loads of trackable regulated waste
  • For loads of regulated trackable waste, compliance checks against Environmental Authority operating conditions for regulated waste transport in Queensland.

Minister Miles said so far, Operation TORA had prompted 207 investigations, resulting in 69 enforcement actions.

“Operation TORA was established in 2015 to crackdown on unlicensed waste management operations in Queensland and address the unfair advantages gained by operating without regulatory oversight and not paying fees,” he said.

“We want to stamp out existing unlicensed waste management operators.”