VIC commits $1.6M to recycling research projects

The Victorian Government, through Sustainability Victoria’s Research, Development and Demonstration grants program, has allocated $1.6 million to projects that develop products sourced from recycled glass, plastic, paper and e-waste.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the grants program supports innovative research to develop and test new uses and technologies for materials recovered from household and commercial recycling.

Projects include testing roads and railway line noise walls made of recycled plastic, establishing a method to extract zinc and zinc oxide powders from spent alkaline batteries and investigating new blends of foamed bitumen using recycled glass.

Ms D’Ambrosio said research institutions will contribute a further $3.4 million to the projects.

“Institutions including the University of Melbourne and Deakin University will work to drive procurement of large volumes of recycled products into the commercial market,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO Carl Muller said research findings from the funded projects will inform industry of the opportunities to use recovered materials in manufacturing and infrastructure.

“The environmental benefits of using recycled content products and materials are clear, including reducing the need for resources, reducing production of high energy products such as concrete and curbing greenhouse gas emissions from production,” Mr Muller said.

“It’s all part of Victoria’s growing circular economy – we need proven recycled content products and markets for those products to make recycling viable. This will build confidence and market demand.”

Projects include: 

Australian Road Research Board: $200,000, trialling high proportions of recycled crushed glass in asphalt on local roads within Brimbank City Council.

The University of Melbourne: $200,000, developing a precast structural concrete wall using waste glass fines and waste paper cellulose fibres.

Deakin University: $195,00, investigating an alternative to the current physical and mechanical recycling methods of polyethylene.

Victoria University: $195,000, developing new blends of trench backfill material specifically for use in and around sewer and manhole structures.

Swinburne University: $192,950, evaluating the use of glass, plastics and crushed concrete in railway substructure including the capping layer and sub ballast.

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Bin sensors installed in NSW

In a first for the region, Central Coast Council has installed a new solar compaction bin and connected 46 new sensors to existing waste stations across Entrance Town in New South Wales.

The new technology monitors the volume of bins to improve servicing schedules.

Council Waste Director Boris Bolgoff said the investment is part of council’s Place Litter Bin Replacement and Upgrade Program, which aims to increase waste collection and reduce flyaway litter.

“The cloud-based software provides real-time data on the volume of bins to any web enabled device, with alerts set up for when bins are reaching capacity,” Mr Bolgoff said.

“This will allow constant monitoring of bins during busier times of the year, helping to reduce the impacts of litter and improve planning as crews will already know which bins need to be emptied.”

Mr Bolgoff said the new service also includes a single waste solar compactor system, which has a capacity five times higher than a traditional bin.

“This financial year will see a further $300,000 invested into the rolling Public Place Bin Program, with another 160 new waste and recycling units installed to help manage the waste needs of the growing community,” Mr Bolgoff said.

“If successful, we will investigate rolling out the technology in other popular tourism and high foot traffic areas.”

According to Mr Bolgoff, additional benefits include cost savings by purchasing waste stations in bulk, more effective maintenance, consistent design, increased safety and opportunities to recycle.

Central Coast Council Mayor Lisa Matthews said it was great to see council investing in new technology.

“I applaud council for listening to and acting upon community concerns regarding litter bins during peak holiday times,” Ms Matthews said.

“Aside from protecting our unique environment from litter, the project will help maintain the appearance of our well-known tourist destinations, which is integral to the economic development of the region.”

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VIC compost facility seeks expansion

The Victorian EPA is assessing a works approval application for an expansion and upgrade of the Camperdown Compost Company’s Gnotuk facility.

Under the proposal, the existing Blind Creek Rd compost facility would be expanded to receive up to 36,300 tonnes a year of solid and liquid wastes – a 13,138 tonne increase on the sites current 23,162 tonne capacity.

If approved, the site will add additional waste categories including commercial food waste, tannery and wool scouring wastes, category C soils and stormwater contaminated with oil or hydrocarbons.

According to an EPA statement, the site will convert waste into up to 15,000 tonnes of pasteurised compost material a year, using upgraded forced aeration technology.

The EPA’s assessment is being jointly carried out with a Planning Permit application to Shire of Corangamite.

The Gnotuk facility is an EPA licensed site.

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Cleanaway launches waste-to-energy plan

A Cleanaway and Macquarie Capital Green Investment Group joint venture will see waste from households and local businesses converted into power, for as many as 65,000 Western Sydney homes.

Cleanaway and Macquarie Capital are co-investing and co-developing the waste-to-energy project, which will eventually be operated by Cleanaway.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the proposal targets red bin waste that cannot be recycled, and will have the capacity to cut Western Sydney’s annual landfill volumes by 500,000 tonnes – almost a third of the red bin waste generated per year in the local area.

Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said that with technology available today, there is an opportunity for Western Sydney to become a leader in smart waste management.

“Our proposal, if successful, will turn rubbish that would have been landfilled into a clean source of energy that supplies the grid and contributes to more affordable power for consumers,” Mr Bansal said.

“By diverting waste from our landfills, an energy from waste facility would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This is the same as taking approximately 100,000 cars off our roads.”

Mr Bansal said Cleanaway is committed to a comprehensive approvals and consultation process, and if successful, will pave the way for a facility using the world’s best high-temperature combustion technology.

“The emission cleaning systems ensure the emissions leaving the plant are cleaned before they enter the atmosphere,” Mr Bansal said.

“The proposal will be assessed considering the triple bottom line – making sure it creates social, environmental and economic benefits. We won’t spare any effort to ensure the design is leading edge in terms of environmental controls and safe for the community.”

To date, a site has been acquired for the potential facility at 339 Wallgrove Road, Eastern Creek, located in an industrial area surrounded by waste and recycling centres.

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is underway, which will contain information about the project proposal including environmental assessments.

The statement will be released for public consultation early next year.

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Survey reveals waste industry investment push

Australia’s waste and recycling sector is set to back Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $20 million funding with greater investment in research and technology, according to an Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) survey.

AWRE Event Manager Andrew Lawson said the survey found 85 per cent of respondents were planning investments of up to $500,000, while 12 per cent planned to invest more than $1million.

“Organisations cited research and development, technology and innovation, and product development as their major investment priorities over the next three years,” Mr Lawson said.

“While 49 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase staff over the next 12 months, 43 per cent said there would be no staff changes.”

Mr Lawson said the survey revealed an overarching sense of optimism about the future, despite the short-term challenges following the loss of export markets.

“Not surprisingly, there is still widespread concern about China’s National Sword policy, which dramatically cut Australia’s export of plastics, paper, metal and other waste materials to that market,” Mr Lawson said.

“However, far from throwing Australia’s waste and recycling industries into crisis, most believe this presents an opportunity to develop homegrown solutions to the growing problem of waste.”

According to Mr Lawson, 54 per cent of those surveyed said they were confident that new recycling technology, especially in energy generation, would transform the sector over the next one-to-three years.

“A majority of respondents said this far neither federal nor state initiatives had helped their business navigate the challenging new landscape, so the Prime Minister’s recent focus on these issues will be welcomed by the industry,” Mr Lawson said.

“Asked to nominate the main drivers for bringing about radical changes to Australia’s waste and recycling sector, respondents nominated government policy, technology and international trends – with some also identifying climate change as a major influence on public policy and community attitudes.”

AWRE will run 30-31 October at ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour.

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NCTCE opens call for speakers

The National Cleantech Conference & Exhibition (NCTCE) is calling for industry experts, researchers, non-government and government organisations and consortiums to participate in its 2020 speaker program.

NCTCE provides a national platform for collaboration, learning, networking and business between innovators, investors, producers and commercial end-users of clean technology.

An NCTCE spokesperson said the program covers all sectors including water, energy, waste, transport, agriculture, manufacturing and the built environment.

“The NCTCE, the only multi-sector Cleantech event in Australia, is seeking contributions from various disciplines, skills, knowledge bases and experience,” the spokesperson said.

“Do you have a new solution to announce, project success to feature or company case study to share with the Australian Cleantech Industry community?”

According to the spokesperson, industry experts such as Veena Sahajwalla and Arron Wood are already confirmed to speak.

“The theme for 2020 will be Cleantech: fast tracking sustainable growth, and focus on the opportunities for the Cleantech industry as an instigator of innovation, economic development, creative collaborations and inclusive prosperity,” the spokesperson said.

NCTCE will run 3 to 4 August 2020 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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Melbourne opens waste reduction grants

The City of Melbourne is offering grants worth $100,000 to projects aimed at waste reduction and growth in recycling capacity.

According to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the City of Melbourne has this week reached an agreement to resume the processing of household recycling.

“The short-term arrangement to process household recycling was reached while Kordamentha seeks to finalise the sale of SKM,” Ms Capp said.

“We urge the community to continue separating their waste and recycling. It’s vital that general waste not be mixed in with recycling to ensure recycling services are sustainable and viable.”

To aid the transition, grants are available to groups located in the City of Melbourne that help reuse, recycle and divert waste from landfill.

“We’re looking for projects that could help reduce food waste, prevent litter or deliver local solutions to household waste,” Ms Capp said.

Grants up to $5000 are available for community groups, schools and non-profit organisations, while social enterprise startups and university researchers can accesses grants up to $25,000.

City of Melbourne Environment portfolio Chair Cathy Oke said it was important for council to support residents and community groups that are trying to avoid waste.

“Residents and businesses are overwhelmingly telling us they want reduce their environmental impact, and we want to respond to their goodwill,” Ms Oke said.

“Whether it’s home composting and using worm farms to reduce organic waste, or coming up with a solution for glass recycling, we can all have an impact.”

Applications close 16 October 2019.

Grants available for bioenergy infrastructure

Grants worth $750,000 are now available to support bioenergy infrastructure projects, as part of Sustainability Victoria’s Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund.

The Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund is open to industry, social enterprises, community groups and government entities working on bioenergy technology that will increase sustainable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO Carl Muller said the grants are aimed at projects that will boost the collection and reuse of organics across the state.

“Victoria’s commercial and industrial sector generates more than 900,000 tonnes of organic waste every year, with over a quarter of that being food, and around ten per cent is recovered,” Mr Muller said.

“There is great potential for increased recovery of organics as a valuable fuel source, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Previously funded projects include the Western Region Water Corporation, which received $802,784 to collect food waste and generate energy, and the East Gippsland Region Water Corporation, which received $209,765 to enhance an existing bio-digester to process septic tank waste, food waste, fats, oils and greases.

“Bioenergy can play an important role in the mix of renewable energy, supporting not only our transition towards a renewable energy generation network but also a circular economy,” Mr Muller said.

Proposals are open for bioenergy infrastructure or feasibility and technical studies.

Grant applications close 28 October 2019.

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Scott Morrison visits New York MRF

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted his commitment to working collaboratively with state governments and industry to grow Australia’s recycling infrastructure capacity.

The statements were made following a tour of the Sims Metal Management materials recovery facility (MRF) in Brooklyn New York.

Commenting on the scale and scope of the MRF, Mr Morrison said he was excited to see similar technology employed in Australia.

“What we’re seeing here is truly exciting, and it is truly achievable because it is commercial, and it’s a partnership between the public and the private sectors,” Mr Morrison said.

“I mean, up to about two thirds of the revenue that is generated here doesn’t come from the contracts they have with governments, it comes from the products and the revenue streams that are generated by selling that outside of this facility.”

Mr Morrison said the facility’s success highlighted that improving the recycling sector was achievable through public and private sector partnerships.

“There are many environmental challenges that we face, and we need to take action on all of them, but this one for Australia, in a highly urbanised society, one where our waste is our responsibility, these are the commercial solutions that we need to have in place,” Mr Morrison said.

“And this will be a centrepiece of our focus, not only on our domestic environmental agenda, but on our international environmental agenda.”

Sims Metal Management CEO Alistair Field said it was important that contractual arrangements with city governments were mutually beneficial.

“We work very closely with New York City, and in the times that we have ebbs and flows and commodity cycles, there has to be an understanding of how our business can manage through those cycles,” Mr Field said.

“We have seen instances here in the US and throughout the world where that has not worked. So that’s a really key arrangement and our commercial arrangement with business and government.”

When asked by media why similar technology wasn’t being implemented in Australia, Mr Morrison said the scale of operations was challenging.

The Prime Minister added that he would work closely with state governments and the Commonwealth to build that scale.

“The discussion I had with the states at the last meeting of COAG was a very enthusiastic one. I think there’s a real willingness to identify the things that can facilitate this sort of commercial activity,” Mr Morrison said.

“One of the things we are looking at is the procurement practices of our road building agencies, to ensure that they are incorporating recycled asphalt into their procurement in the tens of billions of dollars that we are spending on roads.”

Mr Morrison said higher energy costs in Australia were also a challenge, however noted the potential inherent in waste to energy processes.

“One of the exciting things about waste management is that it can generate its own energy, and plants like this can potentially become fully energy self-sufficient, through recycling waste and converting it through gasification and other processes into energy,” Mr Morrison said.

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Coles partners with Cleanaway to convert waste into fuel

Coles has partnered with Cleanaway to recover energy from difficult to divert waste streams, at the Cleanaway ResourceCo Recovery Facility in New South Wales.

The partnership forms part of Coles’ zero waste to landfill supermarket trail, which aims to alter in-store processes, put greater focus on source separation and treat waste as a resource.

Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve said the trial would help Coles find new ways to reduce waste in stores.

“Waste management is a key component of the sustainability of any business, and reducing waste is a very important issue for our customers,” Mr Keeve said.

“Everyone knows Australia has challenges in how we deal with our waste. That goes for everyone from households sorting their recycling to businesses like Coles. We all have a responsibility to play our part.”

Mr Keeve said that by working with Cleanaway, Coles will be able to recover residual dry waste such as mixed plastic and timber, which historically has been difficult to divert from landfill.

“The Cleanaway ResourceCo Recovery facility uses dry waste to produce Process Engineered Fuel (PEF), which is then used to offset the demands of heavy industry for fossil fuels,” Mr Keeve said.

Cleanaway Solid Waste Services New South Wales Regional Manager Alex Hatherley said the process will provide a solution for Coles stores that produce high volumes of mixed back-of-house plastics.

“Our facility is unique in its ability to divert commercial dry waste from landfill, recover recyclable materials and then convert the remaining combustibles to a sustainable fuel source, PEF,” Mr Hatherley said.

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