Sims Metal Management to open Australian waste-to-energy plant

Sims Metal Management will expand into the waste-to-energy market, with plans to install and operate seven plants over the next 10 years, according to an ASX report.

The metals and recycling company will leverage expertise and best practices from joint venture partner LMS Energy, a leading landfill energy company in Australia, and later expand that business model into other parts of the world.

Sims Metal Management Group CEO Alistair Field told investors the company is strongly positioned to become a global leader in the circular economy and act as responsible stewards for the environment.

Mr Field said the company plans to acquire or build a minimum of 50 Megawatts of sites within the next six years.

To generate electricity the company will capture the energy available in non-metallic residue produced during the metal shredding process.

Mr Field addressed opportunities for growth within the company’s existing metals and e-recycling businesses, as well as plans to establish new businesses to reduce waste and produce renewable energy.

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Melbourne City Council to consider food waste collection

Melbourne City Council will this week consider a trial of kerbside bins for food waste, designed to test how a domestic food waste collection service would work in the municipality.

As part of the council’s proposed Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, a third kerbside bin for food scraps would be distributed to 700 City of Melbourne residents.

Councillors will consider the strategy, which also outlines plans to introduce more shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city, and remove some commercial bins from the public realm.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the proposed expansion of the existing network of five waste hubs would activate laneways, reduce truck movements, boost amenity and make Melbourne more liveable.

“We can dramatically reduce the number of bins lining our laneways and the number of trucks on our streets by creating more central waste drop-off points,” Ms Capp said.

“Balcombe Place was transformed last year with a waste hub that has replaced around 20 bins and skips, and as a result we are seeing less illegally dumped rubbish and milk crates left in the lane.”

Chair of the Environment Councillor Cathy Oke said with food making up 50 per cent of household waste in the municipality, finding a solution for discarded food scraps is a key component of the proposed strategy.

“Our residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17 and through our engagement with the community we know people want a solution to avoid food going to landfill,” Ms Oke said.

“If the strategy is endorsed, a waste collection trial would be held to determine how collection services could work for residents with kerbside bins and a third bin for organic waste would be rolled out to 700 houses in Kensington later this year, building on an earlier trial in 2017.”

If implemented, the trail will see food and garden waste collected weekly, and a supporting education and community engagement campaign enacted.

Ms Oke said the strategy will address changes to the global recycling industry that has left Victorian councils with a critical oversupply of recyclable material and seek to create more demand for recyclable products.

“China and India have restricted their imports and the stockpiling of waste around the state is a major wake-up call for all levels of government,” Ms Oke said.

“We need government procurement targets for recycling to build Australia’s domestic recycling industry. This would create local jobs in our manufacturing sector and most importantly, stop recyclable material from ending up in landfill.”

Moreland City Council plan to enact similar measures, announcing as of 1 July council will expand its kerbside collection services and offer fortnightly food and garden organics collection (FOGO).

The council conducted a four-month trial of FOGO from November 2018 to March 2019 with 1000 households across Pascoe Vale and Pascoe Vale South.

The scheme will be rolled out across the entire municipality in 2021, with households receiving an organics bin at no additional charge.

Mayor of the City of Moreland Natalie Abboud said currently over 50 per cent of waste in Moreland that goes to landfill is food organics.

“When it breaks down in landfill it produces the harmful greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to climate change,” Ms Abboud said.

“By having household food organics collected and properly processed, it can be turned into compost which can be used to enrich soil on farms, parks, school gardens and other useful applications.”

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WMRR releases election plan

Ahead of the 2019 federal election on 18 May, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has released a five-point election plan.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said that as China, India and Indonesia enforce stricter contamination levels of imported commodities, the Australian waste management and resource recovery industry needs 1.2 million tonnes of remanufacturing capacity.

“China’s National Sword policy brought to the fore the need for Australia to focus on domestic processing and remanufacturing. It showed everyone where the gaps were and what issues we needed to fix,” Ms Sloan said.

“While industry is willing and ready to up recovery and remanufacture materials, and community has expressed a hunger for resource recovery, we need support and collaboration from all stakeholders, we especially need leadership from the Federal Government.”

WMRR is calling on everyone from industry, government and the community to support an ‘Made with Australian Recycled Material’ label to highlight and support the use and purchase of Australian recycled material.

Ms Sloan said Labor’s waste and recycling policy offers a ray of hope for the industry, highlighting its commitment to mandate recycled content targets, stimulate demand for recycled materials and develop a $60 million National Recycling and Circular Economy Fund.

“We need all government departments to mandate sustainable procurement of goods that include Australia recycled content, and to be held accountable for their procurement decisions,” Ms Sloan said.

“This is what government leadership looks like and with a top down approach, manufacturers will follow suit. Further, we need support for domestic remanufacturing not later, but now.”

WMRR’s five-point election plan:

1. Leadership in sustainable procurement and market development, creating a strong remanufacturing sector and supporting Australian job creation. Mandatory targets should be set to ensure a 30 per cent government procurement of recycled goods by 2020.

2. Strengthening product stewardship and extended producer responsibility schemes, including the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation implementing the “Made with Australian Recycled Material” label for all packaging. To create jobs and investment in Australia, the Federal Government needs to strengthen the laws and framework around extended producer responsibility and move to a mandatory scheme for recycled content in packaging

3. A national proximity principle to enable certainty, market development and investment in local jobs and infrastructure. The Federal Government needs to clarify the constitutional interpretation of the proximity principle and seek advice from the Commonwealth Attorney General on this matter as a priority.

4. A common approach to levies and industry development (with a minimum 50 per cent reinvestment.) WMRR is calling on the Federal Government to drive coordination across jurisdictions to harmonise policies and regulations, including a common approach for resource recovery exemptions and orders.

5. A whole-of-government approach to circular economy, including considering tax reform and import restrictions to support the sector. The Federal Government must use the levers unique to it in relation to areas such as taxation and importation to encourage the use of recycled materials.

WMRR has opened design submissions for a “Made with Australian Recycled Material” Label.

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Waste advisory group to support reform in WA

An advisory group tasked with providing direction on waste policy and legislation, has been set up as part of the Western Australian government’s continued push to improve the state’s recycling and waste management policies.

Following the release of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has established the Waste Reform Advisory Group to help inform the future direction of waste reform in the State.

The new advisory group will continue the work of the Waste Taskforce – convened by Mr Dawson as a response to the China National Sword Policy – and be the ongoing mechanism to ensure up-to-date information on waste matters is maintained.

The advisory group will provide advice on the direction and development of waste policy and legislation in Western Australia, including the key reforms outlined in the State’s new waste strategy and priority waste targets.

“The Waste Reform Advisory Group’s first task will be to consider an issues paper to guide legislative reforms to encourage the use of waste derived materials,” Mr Dawson said.

“I am keen to ensure legislative and policy reforms are developed collaboratively and fit for purpose to ensure we deliver outcomes in the long-term best interests of the State, the community and industry.”

The Waste Reform Advisory Group will be chaired by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Director General Mike Rowe, and will include representatives from the Waste Authority, local government, peak industry and resource bodies, community groups and non-government organisations, and material recovery operators.

The group’s first meeting is anticipated to be in April 2019.

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New think-tank launches to combat E-waste

A new independent think-tank Ewaste Watch will launch this Friday with the aim of protecting community health and the environment through accelerating levels of electronics sustainability.

Ewaste Watch will focus on three key questions, are we doing enough? can we do better? and what are the solutions beyond recycling?

The think tank is calling on federal Environment Minister Melissa Price to expand the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all products with a plug or a battery, and ensure that end-of-life electronics are diverted from landfill.

Ewaste Watch is also calling on Ms Price to create a regulated national recycling scheme for all handheld batteries under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act.

Ewaste Watch Director and co-founder John Gertsakis said Australian’s are globally the fourth highest generators of e-waste per capita, producing over 23.6 kilograms per inhabitant or 574,000 tonnes per annum.

According Mr Gertsakis, the world generates 44.7 million metric tonnes of e-waste a year, with only 20 percent being recycled through appropriate channels.

Mr Gertsakis said there is a lack of effective collaboration, research and action on how to effectively deal with the rapid growth of electronics and the associated socio-environmental impacts.

“Electronic products are proliferating in society, and in many ways have become an extension of us that we take for granted,” Mr Gertsakis said.

“The reality however, is that recycling alone will not deliver the sustainable outcomes and materials conservation required. Greater attention is needed on product durability, reuse, repair, sharing and productive material-use to turn the tide on ewaste and create circular electronics.”

The National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme regulated under the Commonwealth Product Stewardship Act has collected and recycled 291,280 tonnes — roughly 42 per cent of waste arising — of TV and computer ewaste since its creation in 2011.

Mr Gertsakis said this doesn’t include a variety of other end-of-life electronics, most of which are still ending up in landfill.

“There are few if any collection, reuse or recycling options for small appliances, power-tools, photovoltaic panels, handheld batteries and a growing number of consumer electronics devices,” Mr Gertsakis said.

According to Mr Gertsakis, Australian’s import 100,000 tonnes of televisions, computers, printers and computer accessories each year, roughly 35 million pieces of electronic equipment per annum.

“The Federal Government must require any company placing Internet of Things devices on the Australian market to provide a detailed plan for the reuse and recycling of these devices when they are damaged, replaced or reach end-of-life — including how such plans will be funded,” Mr Gertsakis said.

Ewaste Watch’s second Director and co-founder Rose Read said the think-tank will inform, educate, engage and activate key stakeholders across the electronics life-cycle, from design and manufacturing through to retail, government and the general public.

“Business as usual and voluntary programs have barely made a dent in the total volume of ewaste arising, so the urgency for step-change improvement, new business models and positive disruption is now overwhelmingly obvious,” Ms Read said.

“Circular solutions for electronics across the complete product life-cycle is a cornerstone for Ewaste Watch, as is the need to empower consumers to buy less, choose well and make it last.”

Ewaste Watch’s activities will include attention to social and consumer aspects, product design, cleaner production, smart logistics, innovative consumption models such as sharing economies and collaborative consumption, reuse, repair and recycling.

Ms Read said Ewaste Watch will achieve this through knowledge sharing, policy analysis, consumer education, exhibitions and public activations.

Ewaste Watch will collaborate closely with its research partner the Institute for Sustainable Futures at University of Technology Sydney, with Professor of Resource Futures Damien Giurco chairing the Ewaste Watch advisory group.

Ewaste Watch will be officially launched by War on Waste presenter Craig Reucassel at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures.

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Perth’s top 10 recyclers

For the first time, local council waste and recycling data is available on the Western Australian Government’s MyCouncil website.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the data offers an opportunity for local government communities to better understand their waste footprint and assess progress towards a more sustainable and low-waste future.

“Western Australians want to do the right thing when it comes to waste and by making this data publicly available we can all work collaboratively to reduce waste generation,” Mr Dawson said.

The data, sourced from the Waste Authority’s annual Local Government Waste and Recycling Census, includes the quantities of waste collected, disposed to landfill and recovered by local governments for each type of waste service offered.

“As we roll this out we expect to see improved resource recovery in metropolitan local governments that will be reflected each year on MyCouncil — helping us to meet the state government’s target of at least 75 per cent of waste generated in Western Australia to be reused or recycled by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

According to Local Government Minister David Templeman, the data shows councils south of the river are significantly reducing waste to landfill, with East Fremantle, Melville, Cockburn and Fremantle all ranking among the top five recycling performers in the Perth metropolitan area.

“Making this data available in a central location on the MyCouncil website will improve transparency around local government waste performance and provide them with an increased incentive to improve their resource recovery performance,” Mr Templeman said.

Top 10 metropolitan recyclers

East Fremantle (Town)61%
Cockburn (City)61%
Melville (City)60%
Joondalup (City)55%
Fremantle (City)54%
Wanneroo (City)53%
Nedlands (City)52%
Cottesloe (Town)50%
Stirling (City)47%
Vincent (City)46%

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Australians throw away $8.9 billion in food annually

The Rabobank Food Waste Report shows Australians are wasting a collective $8.9 billion on food waste, a seven per cent reduction from $9.6 billion in 2017.

The report shows more than a third of all food produced globally is never consumed as it is either spoiled in transit or thrown out by consumers.

This results in one third of the world’s agricultural land being used to produce food that is subsequently not eaten.

Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said while the report shows changing attitudes towards food waste, the $890 waste bill per household illustrates more needs to be done.

“While is it pleasing that Australian consumers are wasting less food compared to 12 months ago, there is clearly much to do to raise awareness about food production and waste – while improving the finances of all Australians,” Mr Wealands said.

The report shows food delivery services are having a negative effect on food waste, with those who use food delivery services wasting 6.8 per cent more food than those who don’t.

According to Mr Wealands, the main culprit is food going off before it can be finished at 75 per cent, while 45 per cent of Australian’s are simply buying too much at the grocery store.

Mr Wealands said despite this, many Australians are actively embracing better habits at home including 50 per cent who use a shopping list when buying groceries, 38 per cent who eat leftovers, 36 per cent who plan meals in advance and 30 per cent who freeze food.

“As our population increases we will struggle to feed additional mouths. If we don’t curb our waste, we could run out by 2050,” Mr Wealands said.

While the reduction in food waste is a global responsibility, we all – as individual consumers – can play a significant role in sustaining this planet for generations to come.”

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Pilot plant opens to purify industrial wastewater

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has opened a pilot plant in Banyo Queensland to study the removal of salts from bore water and industrial wastewater.

QUT researchers from the Institute for Future Environments have been working with the Japanese chemical conglomerate Asahi Kasei for three years on the technology, using solar energy or low-grade waste heat produced by industry to remove dissolved salts from water samples.

QUT Science and Engineering Professor Graeme Millar is heading the research team to further develop the system using Asahi Kasei membranes.

Through a process called membrane distillation, the pilot plant will have the ability to process 1000 litres of pure drinking water each day.

According to Dr Millar, one of the advantages of the system is that it can use industrial waste heat, which is heat produced as a byproduct, to distil the water through membranes.

Dr Millar said future applications of the new technology include treatment of coal seam gas associated water, bore water in remote communities and the reverse osmosis of brine and seawater.

“Agriculture is the major consumer of freshwater resources in Australia,” Dr Millar said.

“Consequently there is a need to develop means to use impaired water resources such as coal seam gas associated water for irrigation purposes.”

Professor Millar said the planned design for a commercial module using the system would be able to convert 1 million litres a day of water — with uses ranging from installations at mining, agricultural and industrial sites and portable solar-powered units that could be used by emergency services in the wake of natural disasters.

“It offers low-cost water treatment for remote communities,” Dr Millar said.

“It’s about taking those brackish waters and making them drinkable.”

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Bastille Festival announces sustainability plan

The Bastille Festival in Sydney has teamed up with SUEZ to transition into a more environmentally sustainable event.

Director Vincent Hernandez said the festival welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors over four days, generating an estimated 20 tonnes of waste.

“Tonnes of rubbish – plastic wine cups, food packaging, food waste, cigarettes buds and more. How can we do better?

“That’s precisely the question I asked myself after the success of last year’s festival but I needed an expert to lead us and SUEZ accepted the challenge to help us make a difference,” Mr Hernandez said.

SUEZ will implement the festival’s waste collection system to ensure waste is minimised and diverted from landfill.

SUEZ NSW General Manager Tony Grebenshikoff said simple changes such as installing appropriate recycling bins and raising awareness about what is and is not recyclable will make a significant difference.

Other changes include a plastic ban, and requirement that all stall holders use energy-saving LED lights.

Re-usable glasses and compostable cutlery and plates will be mandatory for food stall holders, and non-recyclable packaging will be eliminated for food consumed at the festival.

Wastewater and cooking oil will be collected separately and treated appropriately, and public transport will be encouraged.

The festival will also attempt to minimise the contamination of recyclable material and food waste by using separate organic and co-mingled bins, with a target of 75 per cent diversion rate from landfill.

Power generators will be shared by stall holders, operating on energy saver mode to optimise the use of electrical resources as well as using electricity generated from solar panels.

To support the effort, the festival will be working with local organisations, communities and individuals to help implement and manage the new policy.

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WALGA releases CDS discussion paper

At its annual policy forum, The Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) released the Sharing the Benefits of the container deposit scheme (CDS) discussion paper.

WALGA Manager Waste and Recycling Rebecca Brown said the paper would form the basis for advocacy on key components of CDS regulations.

CDS laws were introduced into the Western Australian Parliament in December 2018, with the scheme expected to start in early 2020.

The scheme is expected to deliver a net positive benefit of around $152 million over the next 20 years.

WALGA proposes negotiations between local governments and material recovery facilities (MRF) on how to best share cost benefits of the CDS start at a 50/50 basis — net the verifiable inclusion costs for MRF’s.

Ms Brown said a 50/50 starting point would provide both parties with an equitable share of the benefits of CDS, while including considerations of the costs to the MRF operator.

The paper also explores how CDS will influence the cost of operating an MRF, potential sampling protocols and approaches to transparency.

At the policy forum, Ms Brown also announced the development of a new WALGA resource for local government that provides an overview of the legislative framework, anticipated implementation timeframes, contractual relationships and local government considerations of the CDS.

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