Grants to boost household food scrap recycling

Ten local government organisations will receive more than $745,000 in funding from the South Australian Government to encourage food waste recycling.

The funding is part of a Green Industries SA programme which aims to divert more kitchen scraps from household waste bins.

Councils will receive a subsidy for the cost of bench-top containers, compostable bags and production of householder education material.

Ian Hunter, Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister, said too much food waste was still ending up in landfill.

“An average household throws out about 3.3 kg of food scraps every week which is a criminal loss of a valuable resource,” Mr Hunter said.

“Everything – from dairy, shell fish and meat scraps and bones – can be thrown into the bench-top container then turfed into the garden organics bin for fortnightly collection.

“This food waste is then sent off for reprocessing into compost and used in South Australia’s vineyards, farms, parks and gardens.”

Councils that have been awarded funding include Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority, which received up to $62,796 to introduce and maintain a food waste diversion system using a ventilated basket and compostable bags for 3,107 dwellings.

Councils maintaining an area wide food waste diversion system using a ventilated basket and compostable bags include:

  • City of Burnside – up to $44,688 per annum over two years for 18,620 dwellings
  • City of Holdfast Bay – up to $39,444 per annum over two years for 18,783 dwellings
  • City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters – up to $40,416 per annum over two years for 16,923 dwellings
  • City of Port Adelaide Enfield – up to $112,854 per annum over two years for 53,740 dwellings
  • City of Prospect – up to $26,952 per annum over two years for 8,984 dwellings

• Councils with opt-in (optional) food waste diversion system using a ventilated basket and compostable bags:

  • City of Mount Gambier – $8,824.50 for 2,000 dwellings
  • City of Marion – $8,749.30 for 2,000 dwellings (plus 150 compost bins)
  • Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority (on behalf of the Kangaroo Island Council) – $2,335 for 240 dwellings
  • City of Tea Tree Gully – $45,200 for 5,000 dwellings

Green Industries SA’s Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Organics) Incentives programme encourages councils to implement systems which assist with the diversion of food waste from landfill.

Since 2010, some 150,000 households have introduced food waste recycling systems with the support of State Government funding.

Blending food scraps with kerbside green organic material improves the quality and nutrient value of the processed compost.

Compost applied to soils improves plant growth, increases plant vigour, improves soil conditions and reduces soil moisture loss.

Cleanaway to double renewable power generation for Melbourne

Transpacific CEO Vik Bansal

Cleanaway’s latest investment is slated to power more than 8,000 homes Melbourne each year.

The company will add four modules to its current gas regeneration capability, enabling it to repurpose landfill gas and produce more than 8.5 megawatts of electricity per hour. This will effectively double the power generation capacity at Melbourne Regional Landfill (MRL) from today’s equivalent of 4,000 homes.

Clete Elms, Cleanaway General Manager for Victoria/Tasmania said the company’s decision to boost the waste to energy capability at MRL underlined its philosophy of treating waste as a sustainable resource wherever possible.

“It’s a significant capital investment we’re undertaking on behalf of the community because we believe in the principle of recovering, recycling and reusing waste throughout our operations and, where possible, through those of our customers”, he said.

“MRL is a highly sophisticated facility with best-practice systems and technology that ensures we’re able to manage and treat different types of waste safely and effectively. In this case, capturing and converting landfill gas into renewable energy brings tremendous environmental benefits for the community, while delivering more electricity to the grid”, said Mr Elms.

Cleanaway operates a national network of collection, processing, treatment and landfill assets from almost 200 locations across Australia.

Mr Elms said the company’s upgraded power generation capacity at MRL would be operational from mid-2017.

Federal Budget 2017-18: how the environment sector fared

The Federal Government has released its Portfolio Budget Statements 2017-18 with funds revealed for the management of hazardous waste.

The Budget includes about $62.8 million to go towards the management of hazardous wastes, substances and pollutants. This reduces to about $61.7 across the forward estimates in 2018-19, increasing to about $62.5 million in 2019-20.

The management includes funds for biofuels monitoring, councils, ozone protection and synthetic greenhouse and a range of other areas. This will be delivered through a risk based approach to compliance and enforcement and delivery of government policies, programs and priorities in relation to environmental health.

A key focus of Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg’s portfolio is a $265 million energy package.

“The nation’s energy system is undergoing its greatest transition since electricity became widely available in Australia. The measures in this package will set Australia up for a modern and dynamic energy system, allowing us to keep pace with changing energy technologies, as we transition to a lower emissions future,” Minister Frydenberg said.

The Government is also looking at further hydro-electricity and pumped storage opportunities in Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.

To expand gas supply as part of a package of about $90 million, the Government will extend funding by $30.4 million for its Bioregional Assessments program to assess any potential impacts on waterways and aquifers from unconventional gas projects.

This package also includes $28.7 million over four years from 2017-18 to encourage and accelerate the responsible development of onshore gas for the domestic market. The Government will also provide $19.6 million over four years to the Gas Market Reform Group intended to better facilitate gas trading and encourage greater competition to place downwards pressure on prices and ensure gas markets are more transparent and accountable.

“Commercial and residential consumers have already benefitted from smarter, lower emissions technologies developed and commercialised through ARENA and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

“As part of this work the Turnbull Government will also make available up to $110 million to build a solar thermal plant at Port Augusta in South Australia and separately provide up to $36.6 million over two years from 2017-18 to target investment in energy infrastructure in South Australia under a bilateral Asset Recycling agreement. ”

The Australian Energy Regulator will receive an additional $7.95 million to scrutinise energy providers to ensure they are serving consumers’ needs.

The Federal Government will provide $6.6 million over three years from 2017-18 to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to establish a monitoring regime for the gas market by using its inquiry powers to compel the gas industry to provide greater transparency of transactions in the gas market, including factors affecting supply and pricing. The Government will also provide $7.9 million in 2017-18 to the ACCC to review retail electricity prices.

Victorian State Budget reveals proceeds of landfill levy

The Victorian Government has revealed the proceeds of the state’s landfill levy in its 2017 State Budget.

The 2017 State Budget papers show the $200 million collected in municipal and industrial waste levies has been spent on Melbourne trams ($9.6 million), a $110 million plantation for the timber industry in the Latrobe Valley and $8.1 million on upgrading Parks Victoria’s website.

The Budget papers also revealed the Government diverted landfill levies to new lighting, heating and solar panels into government buildings ($20 million), the purchase of land to establish three new Melbourne metropolitan parks ($21.5 million) and a range of other areas.

The Weekly Times reported that the Government’s own independent inquiry into the Environmental Protection Agency, last year found: “These levies are failing in their primary regulatory objective of reducing disposal to landfill”.

“Evidence that the Municipal and Industrial Landfill Levy is having little impact on household behaviour feeds into community concerns that the levy’s purpose is to raise revenue, rather than reduce waste,” the report concluded.

“Indeed, over the past 10 years, the average amount of waste attributable to each Victorian every year increased by 29 per cent.”

Mary Lalios, President of the Municipal Association of Victoria said the original intent of collecting the landfill levy was to boost recycling rates and support waste reduction and sustainability initiatives.

“Councils have been crying out for support with waste and resource recovery projects and the exorbitant cost of rehabilitating closed landfill sites, yet the State Government has chosen to spend landfill levy revenue on totally unrelated purposes,” Cr Lalios said.

A spokesman for Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told The Weekly Times levy funds were used to provide broad benefits to the Victorian community and contribute funding to state government agencies that work to protect the environment and ensure sustainable use of resources, including the EPA, Sustainability Victoria and the Waste and Resource Recovery Groups.

Ms Ambrosio’s office also highlighted that $30.4 million of budget funding had gone towards waste and resource recovery.

“An example of the landfill levy delivering for the Victorian community is the recently announced boost of funding and powers for the Environment Protection Agency — $162.5 million announced in the 2017 Budget was delivered from the landfill levy,” the spokesman said.

Budget 2017 also committed to greater investment in the waste and resource recovery sector, with a goal of generating jobs in regional areas.

“Steps will also be taken to keep e-waste out of landfill and foster Victoria’s emerging waste-to-energy market,” the Budget overview stated.

EPA Victoria CEO Nial Finegan said the significant investment under the Victorian 2017/18 Budget would enable EPA Victoria to fully implement the Victorian Government’s response to the EPA Inquiry.

“This is a very significant investment that provides EPA with great certainty and resourcing to implement our reform commitments and the Government’s vision for EPA over coming years,” Mr Finegan said.

“Through this investment, the Government has pledged its commitment to ensuring EPA is well resourced to become the modern, 21st century regulator envisaged in its response to the Inquiry.”

Mr Finegan said EPA had already delivered on the Government’s early commitments and was now planning for the remaining reforms.

“Victoria’s first Chief Environmental Scientist, Dr Andrea Hinwood, started with EPA Victoria this week and will strengthen and promote our scientific voice,” he said.

“EPA Victoria is committed to modernising to meet Victoria’s environment and human health challenges and will use this funding to deliver an environmental regulator that protects Victorians, and their environment, from the harmful effects of pollution and waste now and into the future.”

“Today’s announcement builds on the commitment made by the Victorian Government earlier this year in its response to the EPA Inquiry, and will allow us to continue to build on the great work already under way.”

Toxfree announce new agreement

Hazardous waste collection company Toxfree have been awarded two Glencore Coal Assets Australia sites in the NSW Total Waste Management Umbrella Agreement.

The contract will be supported by the company’s existing Hunter Valley based business units. Toxfree said it further complements their current service offering to the region.

The company will be tasked with the collection, transport, treatment & reporting of all waste streams across Ravensworth Operations and Tahmoor Colliery.

“We are delighted to partner with Glencore Coal Assets Australia and look forward to long and productive relationship,” the company said.

Established and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in 2000, Toxfree has grown through acquisitions, new green-field developments and the organic growth of their existing businesses.

In 2000, the company employed 20 people, and operated from two locations in Kwinana and Port Hedland.

Today Toxfree employs over 1600 people and provides national services from over 80 locations Australia wide.

ResourceCo receives loan for alternative fuel plant

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) is lending $30 million to leading resource recovery company ResourceCo to deliver an innovative alternative fuel plant in NSW.

The money will be used to build two new plants that will transform selected non-recyclable waste streams into solid fuel, known as Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF). The first plant is to be built at Wetherill Park in Sydney and the second to be in another Australian state yet to be announced.

PEF is used in cement kilns, reducing the reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. This fuel will initially be used locally, but will also be exported as an alternative to coal and gas for cement kilns in Asia.

Henry Anning, CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead, said PEF demonstrated the incredible potential to transform waste, that would otherwise go into landfill, into a baseload energy source as part of Australia’s future clean energy mix, while also lowering emissions.

“Our research into the bioenergy sector has identified investment opportunities of between $2.2 billion and $3.3 billion to 2020 in the urban waste industry. Commercial viability has been driven by a combination of rising landfill gate fees and falling technology costs,” Mr Anning said.

“Waste levies in states such as NSW, the ACT, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, are improving the business case for this kind of alternative use of the waste, rather than it going into landfill.”

The CEFC finance will enable ResourceCo to accelerate the development of the Wetherill Park plant, and proceed with a similar facility in another Australian state in due course.

Simon Brown, ResourceCo Managing Director said: “Our business operates across both Australia and South East Asia, which places us in a prime position to drive this new initiative forward and make a real difference in the way in which these communities view and deal with waste.”

When operational, the Wetherill Park plant will process around 150,000 tonnes of waste a year to produce PEF and recover other commodities such as metal, clean timber, and inert materials.

As an indication of the plant’s environmental credentials, it has been successful in securing $5 million in grant funding from the NSW Environmental Trust under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative. The technology is also eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) due to the diversion of waste from landfill.

Mr Anning said generating heat and electricity from bioenergy and waste resources is cost competitive with other new-built energy generation. However, the technologies are not yet widely deployed in Australia.

“Being a throw-away society is a luxury Australia must reconsider. As a nation, we’re producing about 23 million tonnes of landfill each year, causing a growing problem with potential air, water and land quality impacts and generating ongoing monitoring and remediation liabilities,” he said.

“This investment is expected to abate over 8 million tonnes of CO2e over the expected lifetime of the equipment,” Mr Anning added.

The CEFC’s finance for ResourceCo is another example of the CEFC’s focus on delivering clean energy solutions in Australian cities, as part of its Sustainable Cities Investment Program.


Cleanaway opens South East Melbourne Transfer Station

Cleanaway has officially opened its South East Melbourne Transfer Station in Dandenong South.

Melbourne’s Gabrielle Williams, State Member for Dandenong joined Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director, Vik Bansal, to celebrate the opening of the facility.

Marking a significant milestone for the company, and designed with the capacity for growth, the transfer station will serve Melbourne’s growing south east corridor.

“As our population grows, so does the waste we generate. This means we need to plan carefully. Facilities like these are an important part of our long term strategies for waste management,” Ms Williams said.

Vik Bansal, CEO and Managing Director of Cleanaway said “the investment in this facility strengthens our long- standing commitment to Victoria’s economic and environmental wellbeing.

“At Cleanaway, we’re working to ensure that our national network of facilities and supporting infrastructure will meet Australia’s waste management needs well into the future.”

Once operational, the site will act as a consolidation point for waste, which will then be transported to the Melbourne Regional Landfill, in high capacity A-Double trailers. The use of these trailers will reduce the overall number of heavy vehicles, which would otherwise be transporting waste long distances, helping to ease congestion across Melbourne’s road network.

Cleanaway’s strategy supports Sustainability Victoria’s Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP) which favours greater resource recovery, with fewer, larger landfills to manage Victoria’s residual waste, supported by a growing network of transfer stations like this.

The opening coincides with the company’s closure of the final landfill in the Clarinda area. Rehabilitation work is already underway in close consultation with the City of Kingston.

“As our landfilling operations come to a close, we remain committed to rehabilitating Cleanaway’s managed landfills and progressively returning them to the community as recreational land,” said Clete Elms, General Manager – Solid Waste Services, Victoria/Tasmania.

The South East Melbourne Transfer Station will be fully operational from mid May 2017.

Check out Waste Management Review’s feature article on the new facility.

Kingston ratepayers to pay millions for landfill clean up

Ratepayers within Melbourne’s Kingston City Council will reportedly be out millions of dollars to clean up former landfill sites over the coming years.

News Corp reported the council is urging the Victorian Government to assist with the money collected from landfill levies.

The council has already set aside $5 million for remedial work over the next four years.

Council city assets and environment general manager Daniel Freer told News Corp the council spends around $250,000 a year to monitor the former landfill sites which it is responsible for.

“Council would welcome assistance from the Victorian Government to fast-track rehabilitation and to acquire private land in order to transform former landfill sites into public parkland,” Mr Freer said.

Landfill levies help to fund Sustainability Victoria and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), as well as metropolitan and regional waste management groups. The remainder is paid into the Sustainability Fund, established in 2010 for the State to reinvest in waste management and green house reduction projects.

Responsibility for the clean-up of landfills rests with the land owners which in Kingston is a combination of council and private owners.

Council has allocated $2 million of the current budget to the Eder St South landfill site with plans to transform it into a public park.

The two remaining operating privately owned landfills in the area are set to close by the end of the year and the cost of their rehabilitation will rest with landowners Cleanaway.

Cleanaway’s post collections regional manager Mark Globan told News Corp they anticipated Fraser Rd and Victory Rd tips would stop receiving rubbish in mid to late 2017.

He said rehabilitation of the Fraser Rd site was scheduled to begin in 2020.

A planning amendment for the Victory Rd site was recently approved by Kingston Council, to allow Cleanaway to transform the site into a community park.

Six privately owned former landfills and four council managed ones have been issued a clean up notice by the EPA that requires owners to submit a rehabilitation plan.

South Australian sites nominated for nuclear waste facility

Two sites in rural South Australia have been volunteered as potential locations for a national radioactive waste management facility.

In March, News Corp reported the proposed $257 billion international nuclear waste repositor has received the backing of 42 influential people, including Economic Development Board chairman Raymond Spencer.

In a new open letter to state MPs, the letters asked the South Australian Government to commit to completing first-stage investigations of the proposed high-level repository.

The Federal Government last year asked landowners to express their interest in hosting a radioactive waste management site.

Australia has 4000 cubic metres of low-level waste and 550 cubic metres of medium-level waste in temporary storage that need a permanent home.

The waste is said to be a by-product of nuclear medicine and research, including contaminated gloves and gowns.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan told AAP he plans to approve nominations for potential sites at Lyndhurst and Napandee in SA.

In a recent notice in the Government Gazette, Senator Canavan said the sites would undergo detailed assessments to determine their suitability.

The Minister also invited local communities and other interested parties to give feedback on the proposed sites through his office.

Plastic waste ‘underestimated’: research

The amount of ocean plastic waste washing up on beaches could be underestimated by up to 80 per cent, new research shows.

Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, conducted a study comparing the number of plastic items found during a standard black clean up, comparing it to the amount identified by more thorough surveys.

The initial results of several comparative experiments suggest a typical beach clean-up, even if carried out by multiple individuals looking at the same area, on average only identifies between 20 and 25 per cent of the waste that is actually present on the surface.

Dr Jennifer Lavers, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, told Sky News current pollution data could represent just ‘the tip of the iceberg’ of what is really in the environment.

“The reality of the plastic situation is that we are only skimming the surface,” Dr Lavers said.

“What is really truly out there: we don’t have the complete picture; there are big gaps in our understanding.”