Unilever Australia on track for sustainablity targets

Unilever Australia has announced it is on track to meet 80 per cent of its Sustainable Living Plan commitments, which include improving the health and wellbeing for 1 billion people and reducing the company’s environmental impact by half.

The plan originally launched in 2010 and aimed to decouple the company’s growth from its environmental impact, while increasing the company’s positive social impact.

Related stories:

Some key commitments include sourcing 100 per cent of all grid electricity used in manufacturing with renewable sources by 2020, becoming carbon positive in its manufacturing operations by 2030 and making 100 per cent of its plastic packaging recyclable, reusable or compostable while increasing the recycled plastic content in its packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.

Unilever Australia and New Zealand CEO Clive Stiff said the company has made good progress towards the targets in Australia and globally and that consumers were increasingly aware of the impact the products they purchase have on the environment.

“We also want to be transparent about how much more work there is still to do. This is critical when we are witnessing a crisis of trust in institutions in Australia and across the world. We believe business must play a leading role in restoring trust, and that at the heart of trust lies transparency,” Mr Stiff said.

“We also know that the biggest challenges facing our nation and our world can’t be addressed on our own. There is an ever-increasing need for us to work in partnership to drive transformational change across our value chain. To do so will require a new level of transparency across the board and business must be part of the solution.”

Australia Post launches its Environmental Action Plan

As part of its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, Australia Post has announced its first ever Environmental Action Plan. The announcement was made on World Environment Day.

The program is part of Australia Post’s commitment to a greater environmentally sustainable model. By 2020 the company aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 25 per cent.

This is estimated to save Australia Post up to $10 million annually.

With a network covering 11.7 million addresses and including the operation of some 16,000 vehicles, Australia Post is the country’s largest delivery network.

The Environmental Action Plan according to Janelle Hopkins, Australia Post, Chief Financial Officer, will help drive sustainability and allow the business to explore new avenues to improving its customer service.

“That saving of $10 million every year enables Australia Post to invest in improving and creating services our customers want to us,” said Hopkins.

“Since 2000 we have reduced our carbon emissions by 20 per cent, which is significant given domestic parcel volumes are continuing to grow, and more than two million parcels were delivered in a single day during Christmas last year.”

Hopkins said Australia Post in the last eight years had been working aggressively to improve its emissions. In 2017 the company installed the largest single-roof solar panel system in Australia at its Sydney Parcels Facility.

“We are seeing immediate returns as we unlock renewable energy at some of our busiest sites which helps to insulate the business against rising energy prices,” said Hopkins.

“Our first ever Environmental Action Plan is a step towards continuing to reduce carbon emissions and achieve our target of a 25 per cent reduction by 2020.”

In a statement Hopkins said Australia Post was also looking to leverage its existing network to support communities.

“Our partnerships with groups like TerraCycle, Planet Ark and Mobile Muster, has seen us remove 26,000 tonnes of material from landfill. We also helped develop the world-first Nespresso recycling satchel to send used coffee pods to a purpose-built recycling centre – and out own satchel packaging is now completely recyclable.”

“We’re excited to see Australia Post make an even greater commitment towards delivering better commercial and environmental outcomes for the Australian community,” said Hopkins.

National Retail Association launch campaign for plastic bag ban

The National Retail Association (NRA) has launched a campaign that calls on Queenslanders to get behind the state government’s 1 July ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said retailers had long-supported the idea of industry-wide action to combat toxic plastic bag pollution.

Related stories:

“Our industry is behind the State Government for making this a non-negotiable for all stores right down to the smallest takeaway outlets, local markets and online stores, as it’s a crucial step toward changing overall consumer behaviour,” Ms Lamb said.

Global plastic bag pollution has reached with around 5 trillion plastic bags used every year, an estimated 160,000 every second according to statistics from Oceanwatch Australia.

“We know we’ve reached a tipping point and the retail industry is right in the thick of it as consumers demand more transparency into how the products they buy are produced, so they can support brands with ethical production methods and environmentally sustainable practices. Banning lightweight plastic shopping bags is another important step in creating a future-proof industry,” Ms Lamb said.

From 1 July, no retailer in Queensland will be allowed to give out single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags under 35 microns thick, risking fines of up to $6000 per offence.

Ms Lamb has asked shoppers to be patient with retailers during the transition period.

“Consumers will need to prepare by either bringing their own reusable bags and should expect to pay a small fee of around 15 to 20 cents for a basic reusable option, through to as much as five dollars for locally-made jute or hessian bag,” she said.

It’s up to all of us to do our bit. It’s a small change in our routine for a big impact on Queensland’s environment.”

QLD Gov announce $100M resource recovery fund

The Queensland Government has announced a $100 million resource recovery fund, more information on the waste levy and a plan to reduce plastic pollution in its state budget.

The government revealed a further $2 million will go towards implementing a Container Refund Scheme, along with its ban on single-use plastic bags.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that by funding initiatives and programs that push for positive environmental change, the government is delivering a budget firmly focused on the future.

Related stories:

“To help transition to a low carbon, clean growth economy, there will be $5.6 million in this coming budget to help Queensland adapt to the impacts of a changing climate,” Ms Enoch said.

“These major plastic-reducing initiatives are not far away, with the ban on plastic bags coming into effect in less than a month, and Container Refund Scheme coming into effect in November.”

The budget also revealed the already announced waste disposal levy, more information on that here, which will begin in the first quarter of 2019 and apply to 38 local government areas, covering more than 80 per cent of the state’s population. It will be set at $70 a tonne for general waste and increase by $5 per annum, with the process going to waste programs, environmental priorities and community purposes.

There will also be $100 million allocated over three years to support the resource recovery and recycling industry through its Resource Recovery Industry Development Program.

An annual advance will be provided on levy charges to local governments disposing of municipal waste in the levy zone, with $32 million in 2018-19 for this.

The budget also includes $5 million to go to waste to energy and $5 million over two years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities to remove metal waste and vehicle stockpiles in areas which comprise the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Torres Shire Council.

It will also offer $3.9 million over for years to continue to deliver its ecoBiz program, that helps small to medium-sized businesses identify and achieve financial savings and eco-efficiency in energy, water and waste.

 

Downer partner with CDEnviro for Sydney detritus processing facility

A new Detritus Processing Facility in Rosehill, NSW, will divert more than 21,000 tonnes of waste annually from landfill, to be separated, cleaned and sorted into valuable products and materials for reuse.

The facility, opened by construction company Downer and partnered with CDEnviro, can recycle several different types of materials from everyday waste streams.

Related stories:

Materials such as organic matter, sand, gravel, metals and plastics are able to be separated and then sold for reuse.

Downer’s Executive General Manager Road Services Dante Cremasco said the Detritus Processing Facility creates economic, social and environmental value for material that would end up in landfill, or end up as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“The Rosehill Detritus Processing Facility is capable of cost effectively processing, separating and cleaning upwards of 25,000 tonnes annually from everyday waste streams such as street sweepings or stormwater. Approximately 85 per cent of it is then converted into meaningful streams of use such as organic matter, sand, gravel, metals and plastic,” he said.

“The facility is about pulling product, not pushing waste, as these products can be utilised in compost, asphalt for roads that Downer builds and building materials,” Mr Cremasco said.

The facility is able to support the optimisation of street sweeping operations in metroplitian Sydney, which aims to enable some street sweepers to complete more than one load per shift.

“The proximity of the facility to street sweeping operations in metropolitan Sydney will see further benefits through improved efficiency with shorter distances travelled by street sweepers. This will in turn allow for improved productivity, reduced fuel consumption and longer equipment life.”

NSW Environment and Protection Authority (EPA) Director Resource Recovery Kathy Giunta said the EPA is committed to supporting research and the introduction of new technologies to boost recycling in the state.

“This project is one of several the government has supported through the Recycling Innovation Fund, a part of Waste Less Recycle More initiative and is a good example of innovation in recycling,” she said.

War on Waste season 2 focus on e-waste and recycling crisis

The ABC’s War on Waste will return on Tuesday, July 24, to tackle new targets including plastic water bottles, straws, e-waste and furniture waste.

The series will also explore previous topics such as food waste and the recycling crisis.

Related stories:

More than 4.3 million viewers watched the original series in 2017, which sparked one of the ABC’s most successful social media campaigns with a video on dumping edible bananas reaching 20 million views.

The series inspired Australians to get involved about waste management, with the Keep Cup crashing and sales rising by 400 per cent after the series, Woolworth and Coles announced lightweight plastic bags in the series, and reusable coffee cup scheme Responsible Cafes went from having 420 cafes to 1050 a week after the broadcast.

Craig Reucassel returns as host and aims to expose the effects of e-waste from discarded laptops, mobile phones and electronic goods in landfill.

ABC ME is also launching a new eight-episode series for children called Project Planet that aims to demonstrate how everyone can make a difference for sustainability.

ABC Director of Entertainment & Specialist David Anderson said War on Waste highlights the ABC’s capacity to spark national conversations and drive community action and social change.

“The distinctively ABC series empowers people to take immediate steps to reduce their consumption of plastic and electronic goods, and wastage of coffee cups and food. Waste is a universal issue, it impacts everyone,” he said.

JJ Richards & Sons bolsters fleet with 20 Volvo trucks

JJ Richards & Sons has started a seven-year contract to provide kerbside collection services for the City of Whittlesea, Victoria, with 20 new Volvo FE side-loaders.

The City of Whittlesea said in a statement that the waste collection trucks feature Euro VI–compliant environmental design, demonstrating its commitment to investing in sustainable equipment that reduces the impact of vehicle emissions. The contract began at the end of April.

The trucks are also fitted with the JJ Richards–designed j-Track in-cab computer system that provides real-time service tracking and information, reducing the likelihood of bins being missed. Data is reportedly updated within minutes and records every bin lift with location, date and time.

The vehicles are also fitted with Black Moth Mobile Vision System comprising an on-board dual-touchscreen computer as well as up to five wide-angle smart cameras, giving the driver access to 360° vision around the vehicle.

The Volvo side-loaders have also been engineered to be significantly quieter, with advanced engine braking systems and a thick layer of insulation under the cab to help reduce engine noise, therefore ensuring as little disruption to residents as possible.

Last year, JJ Richards & Sons invested in 20 new waste recovery trucks for a new nine-year kerbside waste and recycling contract in Cairns.

The FE Electric garbage truck is set for launch by Volvo Trucks in Europe. Developed with refuse equipment builder, Faun, the new truck will reportedly be operational in Hamburg, Germany, early 2019

Improving Melbourne’s waste collection solutions

The City of Melbourne has released its Improving Waste Collection in the Central City discussion paper to assess potential waste management solutions for the CBD.

Limiting the number of private waste collection companies or expanding communal garbage and recycling services could be possible solutions to Melbourne’s disruptive rubbish removal system, according to the report.

Related stories:

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the paper presents problems and possible solutions to the issues associated with waste collection and bin storage in the CBD.

“Reducing the noise, smell, congestion and mess from waste collections across city streets and laneways is a key priority for the City of Melbourne this World Environment Day,” Cr Capp said.

“From day one of my term, waste management has been top of my agenda and my first meeting was to discuss how our waste system can be better managed.”

Currently rate paying businesses in the City of Melbourne are entitles to a weekly collection of one small garbage bin and one small or large recycling bin. If a business generates more waste, it must arrange their waste services through commercial waste collection companies.

“With 36 commercial providers registered to collect waste within the central city, in addition to council collections, there is a glut of bins and trucks clogging our streets and laneways,” Cr Capp said.

“We need to find a solution, so we’re putting ideas out there to find the best fit for our city. We want to hear from our residents, our businesses and visitors to find out how they’re impacted by the current system and what changes should be made.”

“This is about improving amenity, making it easier, safer and more pleasant to move around the city and maintaining our status as the ‘most liveable’,” she said.

City of Melbourne Environment Portfolio Chair Councillor Cathy Oke said feedback on the discussion paper was part of consultation on the Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

“We have done a lot of important and innovative work in waste removal in the central city. Since 2013 the City of Melbourne has taken an estimated 500 rubbish bins off the streets by setting up communal waste compactors and recycling hubs,” Cr Oke said.

“The goal of our new Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy is to build on this work by developing and introducing more initiatives that are focused on maintaining a liveable city, through cost effective and environmentally responsible means.”

The community will be able to submit feedback here. Additional discussion papers will be released next month.

ACOR call for $150M into regional recycling

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.

The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.

Related stories

ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.

“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.

“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”

Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.

ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.

Coles to halve food waste by 2020

Coles has announced it will halve food waste across its supermarkets by 2020, make all packaging of Coles Brand products recyclable and reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and vegetables.

The company has pledged to divert 90 per cent of all supermarket waste, including food, cardboard and plastic, from landfill by 2022 and donate the equivalent of 100 million meals to people in need by 2020 by redistributing surplus food.

Related stories:

The supermarket giant is also planning to begin phasing out the use of single use plastic bags in its stores on 1 July.

Removing double plastic packaging for fruit, selling bunched vegetables like kale and silver beet without plastic and removing plastic packaging from Coles Brand bananas are among the initiatives planned to reduce plastic waste.

Replacing the packaging for meat and poultry products with recycled and renewable materials and replacing single use fresh produce bags with 30 per cent recycled content are also part of Coles commitments.

The company will also provide its customers with an option to recycle soft plastics at every Coles supermarket across Australia, which can be turned into outdoor furniture and road base.

Coles Managing Director John Durkan said Coles wanted to lead the way in its commitment to the environment.

“We know that 69 per cent of customers say that we need to actively reduce waste and landfill through recyclable packaging and find alternative uses for waste,” he said.

“We are delighted to be the only Australian supermarket to sell own brand water bottles that are both 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent made from recycled materials. Now we are the first major food retailer in Australia to announce a target to make all of our own brand packaging recyclable by 2020, ahead of the Federal Government’s target of 2025.”

The company also plans to connect every Coles store with Food rescue program SecondBite, meaning surplus edible food from supermarkets will be redistributed to people in need.

Mr Durkan said connecting an additional 130 supermarkets to SecondBite will also divert further waste from landfill.

“By 2020, we want to provide the equivalent of 100 million meals to Australians in need. Since 2011, we’ve donated around 72 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank so we’ve still got 28 million meals to go.”

Coles has also pledged that it will label all Coles Brand products with recycling information to assist consumers when it comes to disposing of their waste.