New app links cafes and charities to fight food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities is aiming to reduce food waste by donating excess food.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have trialled the ReFood app in Perth council City of Swan to connect local restaurants and cafes with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute excess food to those in need.

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The app fills a gap in the market for smaller businesses to give away food and divert it from landfill.

The app was developed by ECU PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska thanks to a $12,798 grant from the Waste Authority WA’s Community Grants scheme.

“The main aim of the ReFood app is to both reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and also making it much easier for small businesses to link up with not-for-profits to share food,” Ms Stojanoska said

“The app is very simple to use. All a business has to do is download the app, then when they have excess food they can enter it into the app along with a time that it can be collected. Then a not-for-profit organisation can see what’s available and if the food is suitable for their needs, come and collect it.

“It even shows what food has been donated so businesses can have a record of what they have given away.”

Ms Stojanoska said she was currently analysing data collecting in the pilot of the app to continue the rollout across Perth.

Waste Authority WA Acting Chair Jenny Bloom said the ReFood app would help to achieve the target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020

“Initiatives like the ReFood app can help increase awareness and education around our understanding of the benefits of waste avoidance, reuse and recycling,” she said.

Owner of the Crooked Spire Coffee House café Mike Matich saod the best thing about the app was how easy it was to use.

“No one likes the idea of food being thrown away, so when I heard about the ReFood app and how it could help us link up with local not-for profits I was stoked to take part,” he said.

“It’s super easy to use, all I have to do is enter what type of excess food I have, how much I have and what time it can be collected then wait for it to be picked up.”

National Sword could displace 111M tonnes of plastic waste by 2030

An estimated 111 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be displaced by China’s National Sword policy by 2030 around the world, according to new research.

The Chinese import ban and its impact on global waste trade research paper published in the journal Science Advances reports that new global ideas are needed to reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials, including redesigning products and funding domestic plastic waste management.

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The report, authored by researchers at the University of Georgia, said China had imported 106 million tonnes of plastic waste since 1992, which makes up more than 45 per cent of total global plastic imports.

The National Sword Policy has implemented new restrictions on the contamination rate for imported waste, requiring a cleaner and more processed version of materials such as plastics, metals, paper, cardboard and textiles.

“The displaced plastic waste is equal to nearly half (47 per cent) of all plastic waste that has been imported globally since reporting began in 1988,” the report said.

“Only 9% of plastic waste has been recycled globally, with the overwhelming majority of global plastic waste being landfilled or ending up contaminating the environment (80 per cent).

“Plastic packaging and single-use items enter the waste stream immediately after use, contributing to a cumulative total of 6.3 billion MT of plastic waste generated worldwide.”

The report warns that if no adjustments are made in solid waste management, then much of the waste that would have been diverted from landfill by customers paying for a recycling service will be landfilled.

“Both the displaced plastic waste and future increases in plastic recycling must be addressed immediately. Initially, the countries exporting the most plastic waste can use this as an opportunity to develop and expand internal markets,” the report said.

“If domestic recycling of plastic waste is not possible, then this constraint reinforces the motivation to reduce use and redesign plastic packaging and products so that they retain their value and are more recyclable in domestic markets.”

ACOR calls for more recycled packaging after plastic bag ban

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has called on large Australian brands to commit to using recycled content in their packaging as Coles and Woolworths phase out single-use plastic bags.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the move to stop supplying plastic bags in supermarkets is a good step, but a bigger move for the environment and economy is ensuring recycled content material is used for packaging.

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“Giving consumers a chance to buy recycled content products has more benefits than bag bans, and survey work shows more than 80 per cent of Aussies support such a move. Ministers can do more to encourage recycled content in packaging at their next discussion about the China crisis,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Putting recycled content into Australian packaging creates domestic demand for collected material and that drives investment and jobs in remanufacturing into new products, and lower risk for Councils’ kerbside recycling collections.”

“At present, Coles appears to have a voluntary target of 5 per cent of products sold having recycled content. It’s unclear what Woolworths’ target is.”

Mr Shmigel said it would be great if both companies announced what their targets are for recycled content going into the future.

“Without recycled content and other measures to make recycling sustainable, we are ‘pushing’ material out and not ‘pulling’ it through. It just shifts more costs to local governments for recycling services. If we can’t get progress through voluntary measures, the community is right to expect regulation to get it done, as is the case in Europe,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Coca-Cola is showing what can be done. Mount Franklin water bottles are all made with recycled content plastic, and they are looking at switching 50% of all their bottles to recycled content,” he said.

Lighting Council Australia relaunch product stewardship scheme

Lighting Council Australia (LCA) is relaunching the industry-led battery recycling program, Exitcycle, with support from the Queensland Government to improve the recycling rates of emergency and exit lights.

The voluntary product stewardship initiative developed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and LCA was launched in 2015 as a 12-month pilot project to provide guidance on issues impacting recycling batteries from metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

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Commercial users commit to recycling at least 95 per cent of their end of life emergency and exit lighting batteries as part of the program, while facilitators commit to promoting the scheme to users of these batteries.

LCA National Marketing and Environment Manager Roman Gowor said the program brings industry, government, and community together to improve environmental outcomes, noting that there are approximately 30 million emergency and exit lights across the country.

“The majority of the green-emergency lights we see across all buildings are powered by a combination of older battery technologies, which often use cadmium, nickel metal hydride or sealed lead acid,” Mr Gowor said.

“In the coming years, newer generation batteries will use more sustainable components, however multiple sectors—government, industry and end users— must work together to find the best way of increasing recycling rates.”

The program will be launched at the Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane, with attendees including recyclers, government officials and the lighting industry.

“The Exitcycle approach is successful because it is very well suited at addressing the specific waste issue,” Mr Gowor said.

“Unlike a great proportion of batteries used across the economy, emergency and exit lights are not typically used in households and, by law, can only be serviced by electrical contractors. The Exitcycle program is more targeted than other programs and focuses on electricians and facility and building managers,” he said.

Waste and recycling receive $196M in NSW Budget

The NSW Government has received $162 million more than expected from its waste and environmental levy, while at the same time committing $196 million reduce waste, strengthen recycling and protect the health of the environment in its 2018-19 state budget.

According to the budget papers, the government received a revised $727 million from its waste and environment levy, which it attributes to strong construction sector activity.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority budget for 2018-19 includes $70 million to improve waste management and resource recovery, $8 million for the management of contaminated land and $5 million for asbestos management and emergency clean-up.

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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the budget provides support for programs and initiatives to reduce litter and waste, while also strengthening recycling and tackling illegal dumping.

“Diverting waste from landfill is a key priority and the NSW Government has set targets to increase the diversion of waste from landfill from 63 per cent in 2014-15 to 75 per cent by 2021,” Ms Upton said.

“The Premier has also made it a priority to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020, achieved through Return and Earn, Hey Tosser and council and community litter prevention grants.”

In March, a $47 million support package was also announced for the local government and industry to respond to China’s National Sword policy.

“The support package provides a range of short, medium and long-term programs to ensure kerbside recycling continues and to promote industry innovation.”

Ms Upton said there is also funding for the emergency clean-up of asbestos, managing James Hardie Asbestos legacy sites at Parramatta and support for the Broken Hill Lead program and the management of PFAS.

SV research finds who throws out the most food in Victoria

Young Victorians and parents with children are key contributors to the state’s food waste dilemma, according to new research commissioned by Sustainability Victoria.

The research findings showed that Generation Z throw out $115 of food waste weekly, compared to Baby Boomers who reported just over a tenth of that at $17 per week.

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The research also found that almost half (46 per cent) of Victorians are not aware of how much money they are throwing in the bin in the form of food waste, with nine out of every 10 feeling guilt about how much food they waste.

Men were reported to waste close to twice as much as women, throwing away $54 in food waste compared to $29.

Parents with children under the age of 16 years old were also highly likely to throw out food, with more than one third believing it is their children who are responsible for the waste.

More than three quarters of respondents to the research showed a strong desire to save money on groceries, with the average Victorian household throwing away more than $2000 a year worth of food.

The research was conducted by QDOS research, which surveyed 1001 Australians over the age of 18 years old.

The findings are part of a new campaign which has launched called Love Food Hate Waste, Love a List – which encouraged Victorians to write better shopping lists and stick to them to reduce food waste and save money.

The Victorian Government has also announced an additional $1 million funding for the Love Food Hate Waste campaign to reduce food waste through to 2021.

The research findings found that only 43 per cent of Victorians shopped with a list, with 46 per cent admitting they buy food they don’t need.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said that preventing food from being wasted is the best way to address the costly problem.

“We know from previous research that households that use a shopping list reduce their food waste compared to those who don’t. Through the Love Food Hate Waste, Love a List campaign, we’re giving Victorians the tools they need to reduce their food waste,” said Mr Krpan.

Comedian Cal Wilson hosted a documentary to highlight the issue of food waste, which has significant environmental impacts. She said she was genuinely shocked at how much food is thrown out.

“There’s so much we can do to reduce food waste that doesn’t include overeating, or giving leftovers as presents. A really great first step is making a shopping list and sticking to it,” said Ms Wilson

Sustainability Victoria recommends threes ways to shop smarter, which are planning the week’s meals, writing a list and eating everything that has been bought.

$4.2M Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund announced

The Victorian Government has announced funding for 13 new resource recovery infrastructure projects, comprising more than $4.2 million from the second round of its Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund.

Managed by statutory authority Sustainability Victoria, the new projects, worth more than $47 million and all in rural and regional Victoria, are expected to create 50 jobs and divert around 85,000 tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

Eight of the 13 projects are being delivered by local government which will include $2.4 million in funding. Projects include new or upgraded council resource recovery centres in the rural cities of Benalla and Wangaratta, and the Campaspe, Mitchell, Moira, Toowong and Yarriambiack Shires.

Campaspe Shire is being funded $275,000 for two projects to expand its combined collection of food organics and garden organics for composting. It will also invest in collecting and compressing soft plastics and expanded polystyrene to increase the capacity to recycle these products.

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Private sector projects funded include large-scale composting operations near Camperdown, Shepparton and the Latrobe Valley, and a waste to energy plant using commercial and industrial waste and other products near Bacchus Marsh.

A Mildura based recycling company that makes a range of products from recycled plastics is also receiving support to increase its production capacity.

Sustainability Victoria Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said the $13.6 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund aims to support the development of infrastructure which improves the collection and processing of recycled materials.

“The Victorian government is investing at record levels in programs to develop markets for recovered resources, facilitate private investment in resource recovery infrastructure and educate households and businesses about how to better manage waste,” Mr Krpan said.

“With recent changes to international recycling markets, infrastructure investments are crucial to ensuring we continue to develop our local industry and in doing so, facilitate innovation and create jobs,” Mr Krpan said.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Victorian Government is developing a circular economy that maximises the reuse of materials, increases recycling and reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

Fourteen round one projects were announced in July 2017. They received $5 million and will divert at least 350,000 tonnes of waste materials from landfill and create an estimated 85 jobs.

NEW FUNDING APPLICATIONS OPEN

Applications for the third round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Funding have also opened. Up to $3 million is available for infrastructure projects across Victoria. Grants of between $40,000 and $500,000 are available.

Information about how to apply for round three funding can be found by clicking here. 

FUNDED PROJECTS                                                                                                               

Grant recipientProject descriptionGovernment fundingTotal project cost
Benalla Rural City CouncilA best-practice resource recovery transfer station will be built at a council’s landfill site, significantly improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Benalla landfill and lift the amount of material not going to landfill from 35 per cent to 55 per cent.$440,000$900,00
Campaspe ShireCampaspe Shire is being funded for two projects, including a new opt-in kerbside food and garden organics collection service for 2000 households and a food organics collection for nearly 6000 residents who now have a garden waste collection service.

Two compactors to compress soft plastics and expanded polystyrene will be installed at the Mt Scobie and Echuca resource recovery centres increasing the recovery of these materials which are expensive to transport if not compacted.

Collection bins for flexible plastics will be installed at eight resource recovery centres and later at council offices, schools, neighbourhood houses, disability services and businesses to maximise convenience for residents.

$295,155$555,288
Mitchell ShireA new resource recovery centre will be built on council-owned land, next to its Hilldene landfill and prioritise waste minimisation, resource reuse and recovery over disposal.$500,000$2,585,000
Moira ShireCobram’s resource recovery facility will be upgraded to enable industrial waste sorting which accounts for 45 per cent (6000 tonnes) of the waste that is currently disposed at the landfill. The project aims to divert half of this material (e.g soft plastics, cardboard, soil, concrete, metals and timber) from landfill.$495,000$993,000
Towong ShireTowong Shire is upgrading Corryong’s resource recovery centre and Tallangatta’s transfer station, diverting up to 30 per cent of priority materials like rigid and soft plastics, e-waste, glass, timber and cardboard from landfill. Towong Shire will also establish two resale shops, public access to recycling skips at Corryong and improve storage capacity at each site.$40,000 $480,000
Wangaratta Rural City CouncilA new organics processing facility will be built at the Bowser East landfill which will be capable of processing up to 12,000 tonnes of material each year.$500,000$3.58m
Yarriambiack ShireWarracknabeal’s transfer station will be upgraded and the neighbouring landfill closed to allow for more recyclables to be collected, including agricultural soft plastics like grain bags and tarpaulins.$140,000$290,000
Camperdown CompostA facility upgrade includes development of improved compostables receival and storage areas, upgraded screening and pre-sorting processes including plastic extraction equipment, new aeration and watering systems to maximise the effectiveness of the composting process.$500,000$2.67m
iGas Operations Pty Ltd A new waste-to-energy facility will be established at the Maddingley Brown Coal site near Bacchus Marsh. The plant will process 100,000 tonnes of waste a year, including material from plantation timber processing, construction and industrial waste, plastics and product left over from paper making.$500,000$29.86m
Integrated RecyclingThis Mildura company makes timber replacement products from recycled plastics. It is upgrading its raw material storage area and upgrading one of its production lines to double production capacity. Its products are sold throughout Australia.$130,000$420,000
Pinegro ProductsAn enclosed tunnel composting facility will be built near Morwell on the company’s existing 8.9-hectare site. Compost will be made in climate-controlled tunnels which manage leachate waters and reduce odour. The project includes construction of buildings, four composting tunnels, air and water treatment systems and a computer-controlled processing and management system. The company currently has an open windrow composting system.$500,000$5m
Western Composting TechnologyThe company plans to boost production of compost made from food and green organic material at its Shepparton site. This will include diverting an extra 4500 tonnes a year from landfill by using commercial food waste from commercial collections in the Barwon and South West Victoria regions, the Goulburn Valley, Loddon-Mallee and north-east Victoria.$215,302$717,675

SA EPA disrupts illegal waste operations

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia, with the assistance of South Australia Police (SAPOL), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and local government have disrupted illegal waste operations in late May.

The crackdown involved a number of search warrants executed at businesses and residential premises across metropolitan and regional SA in relation to the illegal activities.

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EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this has been a complex investigation with significant outcomes and serves as a warning to those who operate illegally in the waste industry

“The lawful South Australian waste industry provides an essential service for our community and businesses managing around 4.5 million tonnes of waste annually and being responsible for around 5,000 jobs. The legitimate industry works to meet required environmental standards and supports our leading recycling culture,” Mr Circelli said.

“The EPA is committed to maintaining confidence in existing and planned investments by ensuring that unlawful operations are brought to account and do not undercut sound operations.”

Mr. Circelli said the four-month long investigation involved extensive surveillance and resources, and required the EPA to draw on special powers warrants introduced in 2017.

“This law allows the EPA to better regulate waste generated from construction, demolition and earthworks to ensure appropriate and safe transport and disposal,” he said.

The investigation identified more than 1000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste, including material containing asbestos.

“This operation is a great demonstration of the new powers and collaboration across multiple agencies working together to target the illegal operators and support the legitimate waste industry,” Mr Circelli said.

The Waste and Recycling Industry Association of SA (WRISA) President Jim Fairweather said there is no place in the waste, recycling and resource recovery industry for illegal or poor-quality operators that tarnish the reputation of the industry.

“WRISA supports the work of the EPA in upholding environmental standards and licence conditions as steps towards helping to maintain a waste and recycling industry that has the public’s confidence,” Mr Fairweather said.

EPA TAS opens waste minimisation for Sustainability Award

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tasmania has opened nominations to the 2018 Community Achievement awards.

The EPA Sustainability Award acknowledges businesses from any industry sector who have developed and implemented initiative that minimise waste, maximise resource efficiency, reduce pollution and conserve water and energy.

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Submissions should be a for a project that provides measurable improvements in waste minimisation, resource efficiency, water conservation or energy efficiency and results in wider community or flow on benefits for the sector.

Nominations are now open for the following categories:

  • EPA Sustainability Award
  • University of Tasmania Teaching Excellence Award
  • Ricoh Business Centre Hobart Community Group of the Year Award
  • Prime Super Business Achievement Award
  • Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award
  • MAIB Disability Achievement Award
  • Get Moving Tasmania Physical Activity Award
  • Fonterra Australia Agriculture Award
  • Betta Milk ‘Make It Betta’ Health Achievement Award
  • Rural Health Tasmania Innovation in Mental, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award

Nominations can be submitted here, and close on Thursday 23 August.

NHVR details incoming HVNL changes

A national mass increase for two-axle buses and twin steer tri-axle semi-trailer combinations will be among a number of changes to the Heavy Vehicle National Law (HVNL) and regulations starting 1 July, according to the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR).

NHVR CEO, Sal Petroccitto, said the changes would provide nationally consistent mass limits for the two classes of heavy vehicles.

“Mass limits for twin steer tri-axle heavy vehicle combinations will also increase from 42.5 tonnes to 46.5 tonnes, providing more flexibility for operators.”

Among other changes, heavy vehicle operators using tag trailers will be required to operate under 1:1 towing mass ratio, similar to pig trailers and dog trailers.

“Two-axle buses equipped with dual tyres on the rear axle can operate up to 18 tonnes, conditional on the bus being equipped with some additional safety features,” said Petroccitto.

“This means buses in South Australia, ACT and Tasmania can operate at the increased mass limit, similar to buses that are currently operated in Queensland, NSW and Victoria,” he said.

The NHVR has also reported that all penalties will increase by CPI and access charges will increase from $72 to $73, also in line with CPI. An access fee will also be applied to all Higher Mass Limit permit applications from 1 July.

The NHVR has provided a summary of some minor changes to the Vehicle Standards, including warning sign requirements for long vehicles and road trains, rear marking plate requirements, condensate drain valve requirements and number plate markings for hydrogen and electric powered vehicles.

The first round of changes to national heavy vehicle registration agreed to by state and Federal governments will also begin, including: a new national heavy vehicle plate and nationally consistent plate fee in participating states and territories (jurisdictions); more jurisdictions removing heavy vehicle registration labels; and the option for fleet operators across all jurisdictions to set common registration expiry dates.

Further changes to the registration system, including free read-only access to fleet registration details on a digital platform will be available later this year.