NWRIC calls for national register of waste providers

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called for two major reforms following its October 12 meeting.

The industry advocacy group, which represents some of Australia’s largest waste management companies, called for a national database of waste and recycling service providers.

It also argued that a national standard and audit of combustible waste stockpiles is needed. The council members comprise national waste companies and all mainland state waste and recycling associations, including Alex Fraser Group, Cleanaway, J. J. Richards and Sons, Solo Resource Recovery, Suez, Toxfree, Remondis, ResourceCo and Veolia.

In regards to the call for a national database, NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards said effective waste management and recycling requires high standards which protect workers, the public and the environment.

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He said governments should therefore register all facilities and transporters undertaking waste processing, recycling or waste transport to assist their compliance activities.

“The NWRIC was setup to protect and raise standards in landfill, recycling, processing and waste transport. An enhanced registration program will give state Environmental Protection Authorities the power to protect standards.” At a previous meeting, the NWRIC suggested that landfill levy revenue could be used to improve compliance activities .

In addition to a program to register all waste transporters, the council called for state government action to ensure that all waste processing facilities hold an Environmental Protection Licence.

The council argued licensing of all facilities is urgently needed to maintain equal standards, and to ensure that compliance activities cover all facilities, regardless of size.

Key standards the industry are concerned about include; the stockpiling of combustible material, landfill levy avoidance, poorly managed small landfills, illegal dumping for commercial gain and fraudulent activity involved in cash for scrap.

“In some instances, the fines for operating an illegal or a substandard facility are lower than the cost of going through the licensing and compliance measures,” said Max Spedding, NWRIC CEO.

“Regulators must ensure that compliance costs apply to all facilities, and that fines and regulatory action protect those operators that put in place standards at or above compliance requirements.”

At its October 12 meeting, the NWRIC also called for the development of national fire management standards for waste and recycling facilities. The council believes this standard is needed to protect public safety and restore trust. These fire control standards should apply to all waste and recycling facilities.

“Following a series of major fires, we’re calling on regulators in every state and territory to conduct audits of stockpiles of combustible material to ensure future fires do not harm public safety and further tarnish the reputation of our industry,” Mr Richards said.

“We note the recent regulatory action by the Victorian Environmental Protection Authority, and urge other states and territories to follow their example.”

To enhance the program, industry leaders also called for a national register of waste transporters, along with a new program by regulators to licence all waste processing facilities and landfills, regardless of size.

Related to the stockpiling of combustible material is new concerns of an export slowdown, particularly for China, in regards to plastics. Additional government support to enhance markets for paper and plastics is urgently needed to reduce the commercial pressure for operators to stockpile.

Programs which will stimulate recycling markets are available in the NWRIC Policy Roadmap for a Circular Economy.

Used tyres stockpiles also represent a critical fire hazard. The council believes that a mandatory product stewardship scheme, under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act 2011 , should be introduced without further delay. Tyre stockpiles exist in all Australian jurisdictions.

Victoria moves to ban the bag

The Victorian Government will move to ban single-use plastic bags, Premier Daniel Andrews has announced.

The Premier revealed the move on Channel 10’s The Project on Tuesday evening. It follows a campaign by the program in partnership with Clean Up Australia.

“We are going to get this done as quickly as we can and I think that only leaves one or two other states,” Mr Andrews told the Ten Network on Tuesday.

“I have been convinced by [‘The Project’s] advocacy over such a consistent amount of time to announce… that Victoria will ban single-use plastic bags,” he said.

“We know this is really important for the environment, particularly for our waterways, for landfill, for waste management.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Wednesday said the government will work closely with Victorian communities and businesses to design the ban.

“Experience in other jurisdictions shows that banning lightweight plastics ban can lead to undesirable results, including increased use of heavier duty plastics, which can have an even greater environmental impact,” she said.

“That is why the Labor Government will work with the community on how to best manage plastic pollution, and deliver a workable scheme that doesn’t unfairly impact on consumers, retailers, industry or the environment.”

The 2015/16 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that Victoria has the lowest litter count in the country for the fifth year in a row.

NSW is now the only state to have not voiced intentions to ban the bag. South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT have all put bag bans in place as of this year, with Queensland set to join them in 2018. The Western Australian Government recently announced single-use shopping bags will be banned from July 1 next year. The major supermarkets Coles and Woolworths also announced a similar move earlier in the year.

 

WTO members question China import waste ban

Five World Trade Organization (WTO) members have questioned China’s import ban on solid waste, notably certain scrap materials, at the 3 October meeting of the WTO Committee on Import Licensing.

It comes after China notified the WTO that it would be imposing a ban on imports of certain kinds of solid waste by the end of 2017.

The United States, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Korea have asked for more information on which types of materials would be affected. Members noted that this issue was of great interest to their business sectors.

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The United States raised significant concerns with the changes to import licensing with regards to China’s implementation of an existing import ban on plastic and paper scrap. The US asked whether China has plans to extend the measure to cover ferrous and non-ferrous scrap, and if so, when this would be put into place and under what procedures. The US asked China to adhere to notification obligations, particularly for ferrous and non-ferrous scrap, arguing that this constituted a multi-billion market for US stakeholders.

Canada argued in the meeting that the recently announced restrictions were already creating problems for traders in the nation. It said it wanted to know the specific products China would ban as part of its catalogue of solid waste

Canada said it shares the concern of the United States as the recently announced restrictions were already creating issues for its traders. Canada said it wanted to know the specific products China intended to ban as part of the catalogue of solid waste.

Australia noted it had raised similar concerns over this issue both in Geneva and in Beijing. The EU also requested more details on the policy. Korea said it will closely monitor the measures and that it will further cooperate with China as necessary.

China’s delegation responded that it will forward these concerns to its capital for consideration.

The chair said the next WTO Committee meeting is tentatively scheduled for 20 April 2018.

$2.5 million grants for landfill management: EPA NSW

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Environmental Trust have invited local councils to apply for a share of $2.5 million in grants to improve landfills across the state.

The grants, available under the third round of the Regional Landfill Consolidation and Environmental Improvements program, are designed to assist councils in improving landfills and reducing their impact on the environment.

They are available to councils in regional and rural areas in NSW with projects due to commence in 2018 and due for completion by 2019. The funding is via a contestable grants program administered by the Environmental Trust.

The funding is divided into two streams: Stream 1 is available to councils to consolidate and close landfills and establish transfer stations while Stream 2 is available for improvements including fencing and security measures. Both streams aim to support local councils in improving environmental performance of landfills and minimising the impact on the environment.

Following on from Round 1 and 2, 31 landfills in regional NSW have been closed with a further 63 receiving funding for improvements under Stream 2. Previous grant recipients Parkes and Greater Hume have successfully received funding to cap, close or consolidate landfills. Tenterfield Council was successful in receiving $187,000 from the Trust to close four landfills in their region and establishing three supervised transfer stations.

Under Stream 2, councils have been able to use the funding to undertake important improvement works. Bourke Council received $44,000 to fence and improve signage at four remote landfills. Gilgandra Shire Council received $55,000 to increase security and prevent unauthorised access and Bogan Shire Council received $49,000 to install fencing to limit access and control litter at the Nyngan Waste Management Facility.

Up to $200,000 each is available to rural and regional councils which manage licensed and unlicensed landfills, with the grant providing up to 70 per cent of the costs identified for the project. The remaining 30 per cent would be covered by council in-kind or financial contributions.

Multimillion dollar Stawell clean-up engaged by EPA Victoria

A stockpile of scrap tyres

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has removed a stockpile of approximately one million tyres from a Stawell site that would have posed a major hazard for nearby communities if it had caught fire.

EPA CEO Nial Finegan said EPA had removed about 9500 tonnes of tyres and shred after repeated failure by the site’s owners to comply with orders to reduce the risk of fire at the site.

“On 2 August 2017, it was decided that little to no effort had been made by the stockpile’s owner to comply with a Country Fire Authority (CFA) Fire Prevention Notice or any of three EPA notices issued on the site that required the owner to reduce the risk of fire at the site and to segregate tyres into smaller piles; therefore, unacceptable environmental and community risks remained on the eve of the forthcoming fire season,” Mr Finegan said.

“In short, EPA was of the view that the stockpile appeared to have been abandoned or was being handled in a manner by the owners that was likely to cause an environmental hazard.”

Over 380 trucks filled with tyre and shred were taken from the site, with the majority going to Melbourne to be processed at an EPA-licensed site. The site has been inspected twice-weekly during the process to ensure appropriate management. EPA Victoria estimates about 35 per cent were unable to be processed due to contamination from mud and dirt and went to landfill.

Mr Finegan said if the stockpile had caught fire it would have had many environmental, economic and social risks for Stawell and its surrounds.

“The environmental impacts would have included air quality, firewater runoff into local waterways and land contamination. By removing this stockpile, EPA has removed these risks to both the local community and our environment,” Mr Finegan said.

“In the event of a fire there would likely have been a need to evacuate about 7000 people from Stawell. A fire also would have impacted on the brand of Grampians tourism in areas such as the Great Western and the Pyrenees and Grampians wine regions.

“There would also have been agricultural impacts, waterway impacts from fire water and contamination, and a likely closure of major highway and railway connections, not to mention the cost of a likely several-month firefight.

Mr Finegan said EPA’s action to remove the stockpile was seen as a last resort and it will seek to recover costs from current and/or previous owners and occupiers of the site.

“For 10 years, various owners of the stockpile were given every opportunity to comply with legal and regulatory obligations but failed to take material steps to properly manage the site’s risks to the community,” Mr Finegan said.

“The removal of this fire hazard has cost about $5 million, but EPA will use its legal powers to seek to recover these costs from the owners of the site through the courts.”

The coordinated effort saw ignificant input from Northern Grampians Shire Council, CFA, Victoria Police, Victorian Government Solicitor’s Office, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and Department of Health and Human Services.

EPA also engaged private sector partners and local subcontractors to remove the stockpile.

On-Board Mass system uptake continues

Transport Certification Australia (TCA), the national government body responsible for providing assurance in the use of telematics and related intelligent technologies, has announced it has received five applications for type-approval of On-Board Mass (OBM) Systems.

In May this year, TCA released two specifications in launching the new OBM System program to join the growing suite of performance based specifications within the nationally agreed National Telematics Framework; The Interconnectivity of Telematics In-Vehicle Unit (IVU) with Other Systems Functional and Technical Specification and the OBM System Functional and
Technical Specification.

“The number of applications we have already received since May 2017 is significant because it paves the way for establishing an open technology market for the supply of OBM Systems. This ensures that end-users will be provided with more choice, competitive pricing and innovative technology,” said TCA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Koniditsiotis.

According to the TCA, suppliers of OBM Systems recognise that TCA type-approval means their product offerings can be recognised across a diverse range of policy areas, regulators and industry sectors.

“Applications for OBM System type-approval must meet both specifications along with a probity and financial assessment,” Koniditsiotis said.

“This represents a major step forward in establishing performance-based outcomes for the accuracy, integrity, scalability and interoperability of OBM systems which can satisfy the needs of both industry and government.

“The National Telematics Framework provides for a common platform that permits the OBM system type-approval to support multiple policy outcomes. This ensures industry investment is scalable and interoperable to accommodate existing and future needs.

“Type-approval creates a level playing field across comparable systems, but importantly, also allows suppliers to differentiate their product offerings to meet different customer and/or industry needs. TCA recognises that there are often many ways to achieve an outcome.

“Thus, type-approval fosters innovation and best practice and importantly it promotes competition and choice for end-users.

“This approach is central to the National Telematics Framework, which provides a marketplace of certified services and type-approved hardware and systems which offer assurance to industry and government alike.”

Plasticity Forum attracts international speakers

The 9th global Plasticity Forum is slated to tackle the big ideas on innovation, sustainability and business success driving plastics circular economies, with a range of speeches from world-renowned experts.

A key area of discussion will be Australasia’s recycling efforts, under threat from China’s new National Sword policy, which has seen tighter regulations surrounding the nation’s plastic scrap imports. Rather than focusing on the negatives, the forum hopes to highlight opportunities for existing and new businesses across a range of industries.

Internationally renowned speakers taking part in the TedTalk-style forum include:

  • Dr Steve Wong, founder and MD of Fukutomi Company Limited and a major player in the international plastic scrap market
  • Nev Hyman, founder and chairman of Nev House, which provides affordable housing solutions using recycled materials
  • Stuart Clark, CEO of Foy Group, an Australian company with patented technology to convert end-of-life, non-recyclable waste plastics to road-ready fuel

Other presenters include:

  • Phill White, Co-founder of Circular Economy and creator of Blockcycle, a world first blockchain platform with partner Coca-Cola
  • Rob Dvorak, Plant Manager of Visy rPlastics one of the leading recycling facilities which recycles PET and HDPE bottles back to food grade pellets
  • Dr Karen Raubenheimer, Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, who is assessing the effectiveness of relevant international, regional and sub-regional governance strategies and approaches

Further speakers are set to be announced over the coming weeks.

Since 2012, the Plasticity Forum has been held in Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, New York, London, Portugal, Shanghai, Dallas and Los Angeles.

When: Tuesday 31 October 2017: 8:30am to 6:30pm – includes full day conference, refreshments and networking drinks
Where: Maritime Museum, 2 Murray St Darling Harbour, NSW 2000

For more information, including ticket purchases, head to the Plasticity Forum website.

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Volvo Trucks exhibits at Waste Expo Australia

Multinational manufacturing company, Volvo Trucks, has displayed its Euro-VI compliant FE Dual Control waste truck at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre as part of Waste Expo Australia.

“We are extremely proud to display what we feel is the ultimate residential waste truck at the 2017 Waste Expo Australia,“ said Volvo Trucks Australia Vice President, Mitch Peden.

“The combination of Volvo’s proven global platform, dedicated local engineers and close collaboration with major waste management customers has enabled us to produce a superior residential waste truck for the Australian market.

“We treat our customers as business partners, and through this close collaboration we knew they wanted a safer, greener, ergonomically superior truck that would drive value in their business; and that’s exactly what our engineers have delivered,“ he said.

According to Volvo Trucks, the FE Dual Control has a wider windshield, extra side mirrors and windows. Safety features for the standard 6×4 models include collision warning, emergency braking and Electronic Stability Program (ESP).

“Driver comfort and providing a quiet, ergonomic working environment is becoming increasingly important for Australia’s residential waste operators, which is exactly why our engineers made full scale models of the dual-control dash to ensure every button and switch was in exactly the right position,“ said Peden.

Perth’s City of Melville launches FOGO trial

The City of Melville has become the first city in the Perth metropolitan area to rollout a three-bin Food Organics Garden Organics trial.

The trial, which involves 7000 residents, will take place within select areas, in collaboration with the City of Fremantle, Town of East Fremantle and Southern Metropolitan Regional Council.

It forms part of the Regional Strategic Waste Management Plan adopted in 2016, which aims to produce a high quality clean compost, send less waste to landfill and reduce costs.

City of Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey said preparations for the trial kicked off next week with residents involved in the trial being delivered their two new bins over the next few weeks, in preparation for the first round of collections to begin on either the week beginning Monday, 16 October or Monday, 23 October 2017.

“Residents involved in the trial are asked to have their current dark green bin out on the verge ready for collection and the delivery of their new 140 litre red-lidded bin for general rubbish and a 240 litre lime green lidded bin for FOGO,” Mayor Aubrey said.

Mayor Aubrey said residents will also receive their kitchen caddy, a year’s supply of compostable liners and information packs delivered with their new bins.

“Under the FOGO system residents yellow lidded recycling bins will be collected fortnightly, which should provide enough capacity for most households, however, residents who need more capacity will have the option to upgrade to a larger 360L bin,” he said.

“By everyone working together to ensure they put the right thing in the right bin we can help to create a high quality, clean compost, less landfill and reduced processing costs.”

If successful, the system may be rolled out to the remaining residents in the City of Melville and residents across City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle in the coming years.

Image Caption: SMRC Communications Officer Patrick Hay, Bull Creek trial participants Graham and Jenny Lambert, and City of Melville Resource Recovery and Waste Manager Steve Wacher.