South Australian sites nominated for nuclear waste facility

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Two sites in rural South Australia have been volunteered as potential locations for a national radioactive waste management facility.

In March, News Corp reported the proposed $257 billion international nuclear waste repositor has received the backing of 42 influential people, including Economic Development Board chairman Raymond Spencer.

In a new open letter to state MPs, the letters asked the South Australian Government to commit to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository.

The Federal Government last year asked landowners to express their interest in hosting a radioactive waste management site.

Australia has 4000 cubic metres of low-level waste and 550 cubic metres of medium-level waste in temporary storage that need a permanent home.

The waste is said to be a by-product of nuclear medicine and research, including contaminated gloves and gowns.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan told AAP he plans to approve nominations for potential sites at Lyndhurst and Napandee in SA.

In a recent notice in the Government Gazette, Senator Canavan said the sites would undergo detailed assessments to determine their suitability.

The Minister also invited local communities and other interested parties to give feedback on the proposed sites through his office.

Plastic waste ‘underestimated’: research

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The amount of ocean plastic waste washing up on beaches could be underestimated by up to 80 per cent, new research shows.

Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, conducted a study comparing the number of plastic items found during a standard black clean up, comparing it to the amount identified by more thorough surveys.

The initial results of several comparative experiments suggest a typical beach clean-up, even if carried out by multiple individuals looking at the same area, on average only identifies between 20 and 25 per cent of the waste that is actually present on the surface.

Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, told Sky News current pollution data could represent just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of what is really in the environment.

“The reality of the plastic situation is that we are only skimming the surface,” Dr Lavers said.

“What is really truly out there: we don’t have the complete picture; there are big gaps in our understanding.”

2016 Recycling and Waste in Queensland report released

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The Queensland Government has released its 2016 Recycling and Waste in Queensland report, with the findings revealing more than four million tonnes of waste diverted from landfill in 2015-16.

The findings revealed headline wastes increased by 8.6 per cent from 2014-15, bringing the total waste reported to 9.2 million tonnes.

At the same time, Queensland’s population grew by 1.3 per cent, with its economy growing by 3.2 per cent during the same period.

The overall recovery rate improved by almost 1 per cent from 43.5 per cent in 2014-15 to 44.1 per cent in 2015-16.

Recovery rates for the headline waste streams included 33 per cent for municipal solid waste, 47 per cent for commercial and industrial waste and 50 per cent for construction and demolition waste.

Private facilities, such as landfills, monofills and incinerators disposed of 54 per cent of headline wastes sent for disposal, up four per cent on the previous year.

Private landfills disposed of 13 per cent of the state’s municipal solid waste, 53 per cent of commercial and industrial waste and 93 per cent of construction and demolition waste.

Meanwhile local governments saw a 3 per cent increase per capita in 2014-15 on mixed domestic waste picked up by their weekly council kerbside collection service, bringing it to a total of 1.3 million tonnes. This was however an 8 per cent decrease per capita since 2009–10.

The 333,000 tonnes of paper and packaging materials sent to recyclers by local governments is a 7 per cent increase from the 311,000 tonnes sent in 2014–15.

Almost all of of the 760,000 tonnes of segregated green waste reported was recovered, with approximately 75 per cent classified as municipal solid waste.

Approximately 30,400 tonnes of tyres (55 per cent of the 55,600 tonnes reported) were recovered.

The findings also showed about 81 per cent of the materials diverted from disposal in 2015–16 were recovered in Queensland.

Queensland Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Steven Miles said advances in technology would play an important role in improving resource recovery and recycling rates.

“The 2016 Recycling and Waste in Queensland report shows that Queenslanders increased their recycling effort for headline wastes by more than 370,000 tonnes, resulting in over 4 million tonnes of materials being diverted away from landfill,” wrote the Minister in the report.

“While these efforts highlight the progress being made to reduce waste and increase recycling, there is more that needs to be done.

“That is why the Queensland Government is undertaking a review of the current waste strategy and is working to deliver a number of key waste-reduction initiatives including the introduction of a plastic bag ban and a Container Refund Scheme in 2018 which will help improve recycling rates and reduce the impact of plastic litter on our environment, our wildlife and our communities.”

Bingo Industries float pays off for the company

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NSW waste and recycling company Bingo Industries has floated onto the stock market – with the CEO Daniel Tartak said to collect $420 million from the move.

The Australian Financial Review reported that the Sydney-based company has become a $628 million company over a period of 12 years, after the Tartak family purchased a small skip bin firm more than a decade ago.

The company now runs 158 collection trucks and nine recycling centres in Sydney. The family will still maintain 30 per cent in a holding valued at $188 million.

Daniel Tartak has been CEO since June 2015, but he has been with the business for 12 years.

The four-truck skip bin company that helped define Bingo was acquired in 2005 for less than $1 million by Tony Tartak, Daniel’s father.

Daniel Tartak told the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday the family had seen a gap in the market and had the courage to back itself.

“We saw there was a big opportunity in offering a more innovative service in waste management and we really just went for it,” he said.

Bingo chairman Michael Coleman, who is a director of Macquarie Group said in a letter to potential investors that the company was a leader in building and demolition waste collection in Sydney and its presence in waste collection in the commercial and industrial market was growing strongly, largely through “market share gains”.

The commercial and industrial waste collection service commenced in 2013-14, but is expected to produce revenue of $31.7 million in 2016-17.

Mr Coleman said the broad dynamics in the sector were working for Bingo, with strong investment in infrastructure and population growth driving demand, while there was a “clear preference” for diversion of waste from landfill by governments, corporations and consumers, and this bolstered the importance of recycling.

The prospectus said the entire Australian waste management sector grew at a compound annual growth rate of 7.2 per cent between 2007 and 2015.

ACT begins green waste pilot to boost knowledge

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The first green waste bins have begun as part of the ACT government’s green waste bin pilot program.

More than 5,000 homes in Weston Creek and Kambah have agreed to the new green waste kerbside collection service, commencing in the second half of April 2017.

The 240 litre green waste bins cover all household garden vegetation waste and will help divert some of the 5,000 tonnes of garden waste currently going to landfill each year. Waste collected from green bins will be processed, recycled and made available through commercial providers.

Weston Creek and Kambah were chosen to give the ACT Government a good sample size of residents in an established region of Canberra. The ACT Government noted they are mature suburbs with established gardens and are broadly representative of the housing profile of the Territory.

The pilot is aiming to help the Government understand the intricacies of kerbside green waste collection on a larger scale.

It will help inform how many waste trucks would be required for a city-wide rollout, the impact that a city-wide roll-out may have on existing waste facilities, how the Government can deliver the service to multi-unit dwellings, the frequency of pickups and the need for infrastructure to cater for a broader roll-out.

Dial A Dump Industries seeks world’s largest waste to energy plant

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Australian waste management firm Dial A Dump Industries is reportedly looking to obtain approval from the Planning Assessment Commission for the “world’s largest” waste to energy facility at NSW’s Eastern Creek industrial estate.

The company told Waste Management World it was confident it will gain permission for the proposed facility, to be located next to its Genesis recycling facility.

“There is not one solution to waste. Genesis is already playing an important role in recycling and re-using Sydney’s building and demolition waste and our sophisticated and environmentally responsible, clean Energy from Waste facility will operate alongside the current operations,” said Dial A Dump Industries’ chief executive, Ian Malouf.

Fairfax Media reported the $700 million facility has received some opposition from the NSW Greens, as well as some surrounding councils, having written to the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils expressing their concern.

The proposal includes the construction and operation of an energy from waste facility, thermal treatment of up to 1 million tonnes of waste per year, a boiler house and an electronically powered feed-stock conveyor from the existing Genesis waste management facility.

“We will use residue building and demolition wastes that would otherwise be landfilled to generate electricity for 200,000 homes across Sydney, providing a secure, long-term supplement to western Sydney’s energy demands,” he said.

The company said the Next Generation facility will be built to the latest European and Australian engineering and environmental standards. This would Include technology that captures any particulate matter and adsorbs heavy metals and dioxins, while cleaning any gases before they reach the atmosphere.

The company noted that this would mean that outputs would be below the limits set out by the New South Wales Environmental Protection Agency and the very strict European directives, and in many cases would not even be detectable. The facility’s pollution controls will be monitored by the EPA 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Emissions from the facility will have less impact than a person holding a burning sparkler at a birthday party, emitting less chloride, dust and nitrous oxides,” Mr Malouf said.

“By converting residual waste into power, the facility will prevent the release of 3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and divert over 1 million tonnes of waste from landfill each year”.

Waste Management World reported the facility will also include an educational centre where the company intends to give tours of the existing and proposed facility’s to educate schools and community groups on the importance of sustainability, recycling and energy from waste technology.

 

The Project pairs with Clean Up Australia to ban the bag

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Channel Ten’s The Project is leading a campaign with Clean Up Australia to ban plastic bags in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

On Wednesday night’s show, written by host Waleed Aly and The Project‘s managing editor Tom Whitty, state premiers were urged to have the courage to ban the bags to save the environment.

Aly challenged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Victorian Premer Daniel Andrews, and WA Premier Mark McGowan to step up.

“A Senate Inquiry into marine plastic pollution from last year recommended the federal government support the states to ban plastic bags,” Aly said.

“Unless we give them a push, nothing will change, and you and I will keep using plastic bags. But we can change this. You can change this. So now’s the time to be heard.”

Clean Up Australia has endorsed the push.

If the states agree, it would result in a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags, with South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT having already banned them, while Queensland plans to ban them from next year.

Viewers were urged to sign a Change.org petition to show their support for a ban, as well as writing to each state premier. The petition received almost 6000 signatures in half an hour.

Aly said each plastic bag is used for 12 minutes on average – then up to 6 billion each year are thrown into landfill across Australia, taking hundreds of years to break down.

Terrie-Ann Johnson, managing director of Clean Up Australia, said people don’t really think about the environmental impact of plastic bags.

“It’s really frustrating because these things are having an enormous impact on the environment. They’re killing our precious wildlife. We don’t need plastic bags,” she told The Project.

“Let’s put aside landfill for a minute and think about the 80 million plastic bags that end up in our litter stream. Think about the poor animal in the marine environment that chokes or it starves because it’s got a gutful of non-nutritious material. It’s a horrible, horrible death.

“Internationally, Australia is really lagging behind the rest of the world.”

Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg told The Project he supported all states introducing a ban, while supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths said they would comply with such a ban.

 

Plastics recycling increases: survey

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Plastics packaging recycling has increased over the past year by almost 2 per cent, according to the Australian National Recycling and Recovery Survey.

Last year, the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC) commissioned Envisage Works and Sustainable Resource Use (SRU) to undertake the 2015–16 National Recycling and Recovery Survey (NRRS) for plastics packaging.

However, although recycling rates have enjoyed a steady increase, the APC argued the results highlight a real need for Australia to understand and support plastics closed loop economies, particularly in relation to soft plastics.

The results show an improved plastics packaging recycling rate of 31.1 per cent, up from 29.3 per cent on the previous year.

Approximately 263,000 tonnes of plastics packaging was recycled across Australia during the survey period, with a total consumption figure of 844,300 tonnes.

Plastic packaging recovery saw a relatively minor decrease of 5,500 tonnes on the 268,500 tonnes of plastics packaging recycled in 2014–15.

This represents a decrease of 2 per cent in overall recovery from 2014–15. In comparison, total consumption was down by 11 per cent in the same reporting period. The APC said the decrease was driven mostly by a drop in reported locally reprocessed plastic packaging, in tandem with steady exports of plastic packaging recyclate.

The APC noted another factor that may have influenced the drop in recovery are low oil and gas prices that have resulted in cheaper virgin resins, the main competitor to recycled plastics. A general oversupply of virgin polymer manufacturing capacity internationally has also compounded competitive pressure.

A total of 48,100 tonnes of flexible plastics were recycled in 2015–16 compared to 49,700 tonnes in 2014–15. This represents a 3 per cent decrease in overall recovery year on year, and is a similar result to 2013–14.

The APC said soft plastics have been addressed in their new five-year strategic plan, and has been further explored at the recent Packaging Sustainability Think Tank in February.

 

EPA and Roads and Maritime Services partner

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Roads and Maritime Services, NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and ten Western Sydney councils have partnered to reduce and prevent roadside litter in Sydney’s West in the month of April.

The first-of-its-kind partnership was formed through the Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) regional waste strategy following ongoing discussions with state government agencies.

“Last year Western Sydney councils collectively spent $14 million on litter management, making it a major impost for councils and their communities,” said WSROC President Cr Stephen Bali.

“This isn’t just a public amenity issue, roadside litter can increase risks other road users, and in the case of cigarette butts, cause dangerous grass fires.”

The campaign will include coordinated enforcement activities and roadside litter pick-ups, as well as promotion of the Report to EPA website that allows members of the public to report littering offences by noting the vehicle’s registration plate and location of the offence.

“Currently, roadside litter is managed by a number of different levels and sectors of government,” said Cr Bali.

“EPA polices littering from vehicles, however, once that litter hits the ground it becomes the responsibility of either local councils or Roads and Maritime – depending on whether it is a local or state road.

“This division of responsibility can only be overcome by collaboration. Working together will improve outcomes for all parties – preventing litter falling through the cracks,” said Cr Bali.

WSROC began working with the NSW EPA and Roads and Maritime through the NSW Government’s Tidy Roads Steering Committee. Key industry players such as Roads and Maritime Services, NSW EPA, McDonalds, Woolworths and the Australian Food and Grocery Council have also been involved in discussions around litter.

In a statement, Roads and Maritime Services said roadside litter cost the organisation around $9 million last year across NSW. This isn’t just costly for Roads and Maritime, but ultimately for the community.

It said the campaign is the result of ongoing collaboration between WSROC, EPA and Roads and Maritime; a partnership that is essential for a coordinated approach to litter.

Roads and Maritime Services said it is working toward replicating partnerships like this with other joint organisations across the state.

“The Report to EPA website gives Western Sydney residents the power to make a difference – to report litterers, and ultimately reduce the local clean-up bill,” said Barry Buffier, Chair and CEO of NSW EPA.”

“Councils have a history of effective grass-roots engagement with their communities, and we hope this partnership will bolster local engagement with the state-wide Hey Tosser program,” said Mr Buffier.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council meets

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The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council has held its inaugural meeting with waste and recycling leaders in Melbourne.

The council, which formed earlier in the year, aims to represent and canvass the views of some of Australia’s largest waste management companies, working to create a cohesive vision to inform legislation.

For the first time, waste and recycling leaders have met to discuss industry planning and infrastructure needs nationwide.

The meeting brought together companies representing the majority of the waste management and recycling industry from across Australia.

Attending the meeting were senior representatives from Alex Fraser Group , Cleanaway , J. J. Richards and Sons, Solo Resource Recovery, Sims Metals Management, Suez, Toxfree, Remondis, ResourceCo and Veolia. Also attending were delegates from state affiliates, representing industry bodies in Queensland, South Australia, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

“The purpose of this Council is to create a single voice for the industry at a national level,” said Phil Richards, Chair of the Council.

“At the first Council meeting, we debated a number of key policy challenges, which we believe are holding back the development of improved waste and recycling services for all Australians.”

This first Council meeting resolved a shared commitment to move Australia towards a circular economy, where industry is encouraged to invest in new technology, improved infrastructure and new employee skills.

The Council also discussed the need for national harmonisation in relation to the laws and regulations governing the industry.

“The current variation in the rules and regulations governing waste management between jurisdictions creates a cost to business with no environmental, social or economic dividend,” said Max Spedding, CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council.

“Finally, the Council discussed the need for improved infrastructure planning, to encourage private investment and innovation in the circular economy.”

At future meetings, members and delegates will be working to further refine Council policy positions. The next Council meeting is scheduled for June 13 in Sydney.