Tyre Stewardship invests in crumb rubber concrete

The University of South Australia, with funding from Tyre Stewardship Australia, is working to develop and test reinforced crumbed rubber concrete (CRC), for use in the residential construction industry.

CRC is made by replacing sand with crumb rubber, from end-of-life tyres, in concrete mixes.

Tyre Stewardship CEO Lina Goodman said the University of South Australia testing has assessed both the material itself and its structural properties, with encouraging results.

“Nearly 40 per cent of the annual total of approximately 9.6 million cubic metres of Australian pre-mixed concrete is used for residential construction,” Ms Goodman said.

“That volume presents a significant opportunity to consume very substantial quantities of recycled rubber, and could account for a large proportion of the 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates each year.”

According to Ms Goodman, CRC showed no difference in performance when compared with conventional concrete during a full-scale trial of residential slabs.

“There were no issues related to the mixing and delivery of CRC by a commercial ready-mix supplier, and the residential slab contractors working with the new product reported easy application and no difference when finishing the concrete surface,” Ms Goodman said.

“In addition, as with conventional concrete, no visual deterioration was observed on the rubber concrete slab surface after three months. All the initial results indicate that CRC in residential slabs is a promising and potentially viable alternative to conventional concrete.”

Ms Goodman said the commercial potential for CRC is considerable, with positive properties including increased toughness and impact resistance, reduced tendency for cracking and shrinkage and better acoustic and thermal insulation.

“Given the ongoing population growth that is sure to sustain a growing domestic construction industry, the work we are supporting on the development and testing of CRC is one of the most promising areas of market development,” Ms Goodman said.

“Ultimately, the aim is to find valuable uses for tyre-derived material that generate a strong domestic market, create a value for the resource and, in that way, deliver a sustainable circular economy outcome.”

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Waste Expo Australia returns in October

Waste Expo Australia, one of the most comprehensive free-to-attend conferences for the waste management, resource recovery and wastewater sectors, returns to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 23-24 October.

The conference will feature two individual programs, the Oceania Clean Energy Solutions Waste Summit Conference and the EnviroConcepts Wastewater Summit.

The Waste Summit Conference will cover six targeted streams from resource recovery, waste-to-energy, collections, landfill and transfer stations, construction and demolition waste and commercial and industrial waste.

Attendees will hear from Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, EPA Victoria CEO Cathy Wilkinson, Sustainability Victoria Director Resource Recovery Matt Genever,  Acting Executive Director Waste Strategy and Policy NSW EPA Kar Mei Tang and Sustainability Australian Food and Grocery Council Director Barry Cosier.

Campaspe Shire Council, City of Holdfast Bay, Yarra City Council and Albury City Council will also present case studies.

The Wastewater Summit will address unique challenges and opportunities in wastewater treatment, with speakers from leading water utility companies.

Waste Expo Australia Event Director Cory McCarrick said no other waste event in Australia provides free access to such a high calibre of speakers.

“Waste Expo Australia is about pushing boundaries and challenging operations and businesses to innovate, not just through technology, but through workforce practices and policy reform,” Mr. McCarrick.

The event will also feature a supplier showcase, with over 120 brands including Caterpillar, Bost Group, Enviro Concepts, Applied Machinery, Cleanaway, Solar Bins Australia, STG Global, Joest, Lincom, Wastemaster, Bio Elektra, Greentech, Bingo Industries,  Oceania Clean Energy and Steinert.

Waste Expo Australia is presented alongside All-Energy Australia, the Energy Efficiency Expo and ISSA Cleaning and Hygiene Expo – forming one of the nation’s most significant showcases for the waste, recycling, renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaning industries.

Register to attend the free conference and exhibition by clicking here.

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Researchers develop concrete solution for recycled glass

Deakin School of Engineering researchers have found ground waste glass can be used as a substitute for sand when making polymer concrete – a material commonly used in industrial flooring.

Senior engineering lecturer Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri said the addition of glass resulted in a stronger product that was less costly to produce.

“This research provides the evidence the construction industry needs to see the potential of glass as a substitute for sand when making polymer concrete and, potentially, concrete,” Dr Al-Ameri said.

“Concrete is a major construction material and sand is one of its primary components, so finding an alternative to sand makes good economic sense.”

Polymer concrete uses polymers, typically resins, to replace lime-type cements as a binder.

According to Dr Al-Ameri, this produces a high strength, water-resistant material suited to industrial flooring and infrastructure drainage, particularly in areas subject to heavy traffic such as service stations, forklift operating areas and airports.

“We have found that substituting sand with ground recycled glass makes the polymer concrete stronger and is a sustainable use of one of the major types of recyclables in the domestic waste stream,” Dr Al-Ameri said.

“Any changes that reduce the cost of production will lead to significant gains across the industry, potentially on a global scale.”

Deakin Engineering student Dikshit Modgil worked with Melbourne-based Orca Civil Products as part of his masters research into the suitability of recyclable glass in polymer concrete production.

Orca Civil Products Director Alan Travers said the research partnership had produced results that would be useful in taking the concept further to commercialisation.

“The specific type of waste glass used in this project was unsuitable for recycling back into glass and the amount that is stockpiling is becoming a community problem,” Mr Travers said.

“The concept has even more appeal to us because of predicted shortages of natural, mined sands in the medium term.”

Dr Al-Ameri said the next stage of Deakin’s research would look at substitutes for the aggregate in polymer concrete, optimising the substitution rate, assessing durability, and the commercialisation of the new product.

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QLD budget supports waste levy

The Queensland 2019-20 budget estimates the state’s new waste levy will raise $432.6 million over the next year.

Commencing 1 July 2019, the levy will apply to most commercial and industrial waste going to landfill – starting at $75 per tonne.

State treasurer Jackie Trad has allocated $30.1 million towards implementing the levy, including funding allocations for levy operation and compliance policy.

An additional $143.5 million has been allocated for grant payments to assist local councils implement the change.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said improving waste management continues to be a priority for state government.

“This year’s budget will see expenditure for key programs funded from the waste levy, including programs to support small businesses and the construction industry to improve their waste practices and further investment in grants for environmental projects,” Ms Enoch said.

The budget has also allocated $5 million towards implementing waste reform, under a new waste management and resource recovery strategy.

The draft waste management and resource recovery strategy, released earlier this year, has set a recycling rate target of 75 per cent for all waste types by 2050.

The strategy allocation includes $4 million to remove car bodies and scrap metal from islands in the Torres Strait and $1 million over two years for the development of a waste management data strategy for Queensland.

Ms Enoch said improving waste data management was a crucial part of implementing waste management reforms in the state.

“The strategy will guide decisions on future waste infrastructure needs and opportunities for investment in resource recovery and recycling,” Ms Enoch said.

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LG Chem partners with Envirostream

LG Chem, a South Korean lithium battery manufacturer, has partnered with Envirostream to develop safe and innovative recycling solutions and reduce battery waste.

LG Chem Australia General Manger Jamie Allen said Envirostream would be LG Chem’s exclusive battery recycling partner in Australia.

“According to research conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, only 2 per cent of Australia’s annual 3300 tons of lithium-ion battery waste is recycled, with waste predicted to grow by at least 300 per cent each year by 2036,” Mr Allen said.

“This valuable partnership aims to develop safe and innovative management solutions to increase Australia’s low recovery rates concerning batteries, which is an increasing threat to the Australian environment.”

Mr Allen said LG Chem and Envirostream’s partnership is expected to elevate battery recycling systems in the country.

“LG Chem batteries were originally sent overseas for recycling or left in landfills,” Mr Allen said.

“However, with Envirostream’s ISO 14001 accredited modular, 95 per cent of the resources from end-of-life batteries can be safely recovered before being sent to metal and battery manufacturers to be converted into raw materials for new battery production.”

Mr Allen said the initiative is the first step towards achieving LG Chem’s environmental mission and bringing a truly circular economy to its Australian operations.

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SA budget allocates $12 million to waste and resource recovery

The 2019-20 South Australian budget has delivered $12 million over four years to help councils and industry transition from the effects of China’s National Sword Policy.

The Waste and Resource Recovery Modernisation and Council Transition Package aims to boost recycling and resource recovery, and keep waste out of landfill through investment, infrastructure, education and modernisation of council and industry collection services.

Environment Minister David Speirs said through better collection systems, infrastructure and education, South Australia aims to see a 35 per cent reduction in waste sent to landfill by 2020.

Of the $12 million waste management package $10 million will be provided through Green Industries SA.

Councils and industry have been allocated $5.5 million to upgrade and standardise waste collection and recycling services, as well as expand education aimed at improving recycling knowledge in the community.

An allocation of $4 million will also be available to enable investment in modern infrastructure, improve processing, increase efficiency and boost jobs.

An additional $500,000 will be available to help local governments implement new waste management strategies.

“The waste management and resource recovery industry is a major player in South Australia’s economy, with approximately 4800 people employed and we want to this number to grow,” Mr Speirs said.

The EPA has received the remaining $2 million – $1.6 million for compliance and audits to ensure the integrity of the waste and resource recovery sector and $400,000 to enable a review of the state’s container deposit scheme.

Mr Speirs said the package would help councils modernise their waste management practices and reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.

“This funding package will lead to less waste sent to landfill, a reduction in emissions and will also provide vital stimulus to our world-leading waste management and resource recovery sector, leading to more than 200 jobs here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know that landfill is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and that councils and industry need to have the tools to divert more for resource recovery and continue moving South Australia towards a truly circular economy.”

Mr Speirs said the funding package comes on top of the $12.4 million support package announced in 2018 to help the recycling industry and local government in response to China’s National Sword Policy.

“China’s National Sword Policy has provided the industry with a challenge, but this funding package on top of support already provided in last year’s state budget will help modernise and transition our resource recovery sector.”

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NSW EPA opens $7 million recycling grants

Business, councils and not-for profits can access more than $7 million in grants to boost NSW recycling rates and encourage innovation in the waste industry, the NSW EPA has announced.

EPA Executive Director Waste Operations Carmen Dwyer said Product Improvement Program and Circulate grant programs are both open for applications.

“These grants can help reshape our waste and recycling industry in NSW, which is undergoing significant change,” Ms Dwyer said.

“Previous grant recipients have already diverted thousands of tonnes of waste from landfill, and are continuing to take major strides forward in reshaping the way we deal with waste.”

A total of $6.3 million is available under the Product Improvement Program, through grants up to $1 million each, to fund innovative projects and provide new recycling solutions via infrastructure or research and development.

In 2018, Unilever received $500,000 under the Product Improvement Program to install new infrastructure at its North Rocks Factory and include a minimum of 25 per cent recycled material in its personal and home care range.

Circulate grants are awarded to projects that prolong or give second life to resources and material via reuse in industrial or construction processes. $1.2 million is available under this program until 2021, with individual grants of up to $150,000.

Under the Circulate program, Cross Connections Consulting received $150,000 to reprocess soft-plastic waste from local businesses into park benches, garden beds, and fencing.

“These grants help to ensure NSW can continue to achieve strong results when it comes to reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling,” Ms Dwyer said.

“Investing in recycling is a no-brainer – it will stimulate local remanufacturing capacity and generate new industries and jobs.”

Both programs are funded through the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, run by the NSW EPA.

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Officeworks to receive e-waste upgrades

Officeworks has received funding though the state governments $25.3 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund to upgrade e-waste collection facilities at 42 stores across Victoria.

The Officeworks sites will collect mobile phones, ink cartridges and IT waste items – forming part of a network of more than 1000 e-waste drop-off locations across the state.

Officeworks already operates as a drop-off point for mobile phone product stewardship scheme MobileMuster and the Cartridges 4 Planet Ark program.

From 1 July 2019, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the ban will ensure valuable materials left inside e-waste can be safely recovered and reused, while reducing the damage electronic items can have on the environment and human health.

“We’re making sure Victorian households know how to dispose of e-waste properly and easily ahead of the e-waste to landfill ban on 1 July.”

“It’s great to see businesses like Officeworks getting on board to ensure all Victorians to have a convenient drop-off point close to home.”

The state government has also invested $16.5 million to help councils across the state upgrade their e-waste collection and storage facilities, and deliver a public education program.

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EMRC appoints new CEO

A new Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) Chief Executive Officer has been appointed, replacing Peter Schneider who resigned in November 2018.

WA Waste Authority Chairman Marcus Geisler has been selected for the role, having served as authority chairman since 2014, in addition to holding senior management positions with Coates Hire, Thiess and SITA – WA’s largest waste management company.

EMRC Chairman David McDonnell said Mr Geisler’s experience in waste processing includes composting organics and alternative waste treatment processes, and the recovery and marketing of secondary materials ranging from construction and demolition waste to kerbside recyclables.

“His extensive advocacy experience, firsthand knowledge of the commercial waste and recycling industry and his commitment to the local government sector will be instrumental in guiding the EMRC forward as a progressive organisation representing the interests of Perth’s Eastern Region and the 365,000 people who call it home,” Mr McDonnell said.

“At the Waste Authority, Mr Geisler’s negotiating skills and commitment to strong engagement successfully brought together state and local governments, industry and the community to enable implementation of the State’s Waste Strategy.”

Mr McDonnell thanked Regional Services Director Wendy Harris for her contributions as acting CEO over the past six months.

Mr Geisler is due to take up his new position on 15 July 2019.

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Calls for Queensland EPA

An independent survey of 67 Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland members has recommended an inquiry into the performance of the Department of Environment and Science.

Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions (QEAS), an independent market research firm, was commissioned to electronically survey members of Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) on the performance of the waste industry regulator – the Department of Environment & Science (DES).

Responses throughout November and December 2018 were received from 67 members representing 70 per cent of the membership employing 4556 Queenslanders. The resulting QEAS Queensland Environmental Regulator Survey 2018 was produced.

The crucial repercussions of the document highlighted concerns towards the effectiveness of the Environmental Services and Regulation (ESR) Division and its ongoing relationship with the sector.

The WRIQ roadmap for ESR improvement highlights a need to improve consultation, education, set clear goals, targets and expectations and improve expertise and ESR resourcing. Other key recommendations are to offer consistent advice and improved response times and that ESR be independent of politics.

WRIQ members overwhelmingly believe Queensland’s DES and ESR responsibilities to be important. But 42 per cent disagreed or strongly disagreed that the ESR was reviewing legislation and policy and compliance frameworks well. Almost 70 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that ESR were taking a proportionate and consistent compliance and enforcement program and working collaboratively with government, industry and community groups.

Rick Ralph, WRIQ Chief Executive Officer, says that it’s unprecedented that 70 per cent of the industry with 45,000 employees were so universal in their scathing criticism of the regulator.

Rick says that there is a fundamental disconnect between regulators focused heavily on penalising operators.

“The regulator makes the rules and that’s their policy – it’s all about enforcement. They don’t offer any solutions. When something gets too hard, they are fundamentally ineffective in understanding the economic impacts of an unregulated environment,” Rick says.

In terms of where the regulator is performing well, select WRIQ members had positive feedback on their dealings with individual officers, but singled out the systematic flaws in the regulatory strategy.

Across the board, survey respondents rated the performance of ESR as poor to average, with an 85 per cent negative rating for problem solving, 86 per cent negative for stopping illegal dumping and 77 per cent criticising the decisions as being unsound, not evidence-based, and illogical.

The wide range of feedback segments covered consistency and confidence, drivers of actions, the Odour Busters program, resourcing and expertise, rogue operators and accountability and compliance versus education.

The Queensland Government’s Odour Busters taskforce was established to deal with nuisance odours in the Swanbank area.

The Odour Abatement Taskforce, also known as Odour Busters, was intended to operate from a local base at Redbank Plains to crack down on offensive odours and other environmental concerns in the area for 12 months in 2018.

One respondent asked why no findings had been published, with vague information on social media.

Rick says that industry and ESR need to actually commission a training program with industry so that officers understand what best practice looks like. Where complexities happen in regulation, there is a process of review to sort out the problem.

Criticism was also drawn at the ability of the regulator to conduct site audits and promote better compliance, and that inspections were part of a structured audit and compliance program rather than reactions to community sentiment.

One of the key recommendations of the report was a complete overhaul of the system for the government to act swiftly and produce an independent investigation into the current system. The goal would be to install an independent EPA, with four in five respondents indicating their support for such an agency.

According to Rick, an EPA should have an independent board.

“That authority then has clarity, purpose and a relationship with the industry and it actually works with the industry to find solutions, not just penalise,” Rick says.

“Universally where there’s been an EPA, it’s shown to be the model that actually works.”

He adds that the Victorian EPA’s modernisation showed how important it was to reinvigorate old structures with contemporary models, while stopping short of making recommendations on a Queensland structure and leaving it to an independent review.

WRIQ put a 10-point plan to the minister and is now waiting for a formal response from the director general. The 10-point plan is focused on building a commercial level playing field on how the industry is managed and non-adversarial. The plan includes that ESR establish an internal reference panel with an independent chair. It also advocates for a third-party review into ESR management and the independent review into environmental regulation.

“The environment minister has agreed to establish a working group and we have provided every Queensland minister with a copy of our report calling upon them to support the environment minister in overhauling the performance of the state’s regulator.

“Regrettably, not a single minister has acknowledged that correspondence and in terms of government engagement with its stakeholders, this lack of support is challenging for our members,” Rick says.

He says the review into ESR at DES should be conducted this year in order to prevent its politicisation in the 2020 election.

A DES spokesperson said it takes its role as Queensland’s environment regulator seriously and works closely with all industry stakeholders.

The spokesperson said that the department will take prompt enforcement action on industry members not compliant with their obligations.

“The Odour Abatement Taskforce is a twelve-month program, being undertaken to address odour and other environmental nuisance issues within the Swanbank Industrial Area.”

It said DES is undertaking a comprehensive education program to help improve compliance.

Queensland Government Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the DES recently underwent a restructure following machinery of government changes in 2018.

This has seen the creation of a new waste branch within the department specific to waste and resource recovery. She said the feedback from WRIQ will be considered by the department and help the government improve its stakeholder engagement.

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

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