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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Plastic bag litter drops 30 per cent in WA

The amount of plastic bag litter in Western Australia has fallen by 29.9 per cent, according to the latest National Litter Index Report.

The drop follows the state’s introduction of a lightweight plastic bag ban in July last year.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the National Litter Index also indicates that the total volume and number of items littered in Western Australia has fallen by 15.7 per cent and 8.5 per cent respectively.

According to Mr Dawson, the state also saw a 18.3 per cent reduction in glass litter, and a 7.1 per cent reduction in paper litter.

“The latest index also found less litter at West Australian beaches with a 58.6 per cent drop, retail precincts falling 46.9 per cent, shopping centres down 9.3 per cent, major roads and highways dropping 8.2 per cent and recreational parks down 1.5 per cent, compared to the previous report,” Mr Dawson said.

“Higher levels of litter were counted on residential streets, rising 4.7 per cent, industrial precincts 3.5 per cent and at car parks, increasing by more than 27 per cent.”

Mr Dawson said cigarette butts and cigarette packaging continue to be the most littered item, making up almost one third of the states litter.

“It is never ok to litter your cigarette butts. There is a serious risk of bushfire caused by disposing of lit cigarettes, as well as being harmful to our wildlife,” Mr Dawson said.

“To raise awareness of this major problem, Keep Australia Beautiful WA has launched a campaign highlighting the effects of cigarette butts on the environment and remind smokers they face fines of up to $500 for littering cigarette butts.”

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Environment Minister discusses export ban with industry

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has hosted a waste and resource recovery roundtable in Sydney, with Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

According to a WMRR statement, executives from Australia’s leading waste, recycling, and resource recovery firms shared their insight with Ms Ley on current barriers to growth and success, including the lack of a nationally consistent and harmonised policy and regulatory framework.

“The minister was keen to hear about the current challenges and opportunities, and importantly, the key elements that would give the export ban, announced at the COAG meeting in August, the greatest chance at success,” the statement reads.

The roundtable was attended by executives from SUEZ, Cleanaway, Veolia, JJ Richards, ResourceCo, Tyrecycle, Visy Industries, Re.Group, Bingo Industries, Alex Fraser, and O-I.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said industry certainty is lacking in Australia, due to different policies, strategies, regulations and specifications across jurisdictions, and the lack of markets.

“The goal posts are constantly changing and often, our industry is a political football which exacerbates the challenges because it causes greater instability and uncertainty,” Ms Sloan said.

“The minister listened intently and said she had a clear idea of the current landscape and need for greater harmonisation, which we appreciated.”

Ms Sloan said Ms Ley advised that the forthcoming export ban on waste paper, plastic, glass and tyres would be on the agenda at the 8 November Meeting of Environment Ministers.

According to the WMRR statement, industry leaders said they would applaud the ban if it was coupled with the expansion of reprocessing and recycling, and the development of domestic remanufacturing.

“Sure, we can stop shipping these materials, and industry does not want to export – we absolutely want to reprocess and recycle right here in Australia – but if there’s no buyback or take up of the recycled products, where does that leave us?” Ms Sloan said.

“The ban must be supported first and foremost by sustainable and mandated procurement at all levels of government, with the Commonwealth leading the way.”

In a separate statement, Ms Ley said the Federal Government would work with Australia’s leading recyclers to achieve the earliest possible export ban time frame.

“The Prime Minister has agreed with all state and territory governments that a ban will be put in place, and we want to establish a clear timetable and clear strategic priorities by working with both industry and the state environment ministers,” Ms Ley said.

“A ban on plastic exports should not lead to higher levels of stockpiling in Australia, and I will be challenging all parties, the states, the industry participants and the community to embark on genuine change in tackling waste.”

Of her meeting with WMRR, Ms Ley said it was clear that policy consistency was needed across the states.

“We need to give industry the confidence to invest in recycling and remanufacturing, and an assurance that markets are being created for their products,” Ms Ley said.

Ms Ley also meet with industry leaders at the Australian Council of Recycling in Melbourne, including senior executives from Visy, Veolia, Orora, 0-I, PACT, Sims Metal Management, Reconomy-Downer, Close the Loop and Tyrecycle.

“The clear message from this and my previous meetings is that the re-cycling industry is in no doubt about the opportunities for re-manufactured products or the ability to generate future investment for expansion,” Ms Ley said.

“Concerns remain, however, about excessive or inconsistent planning regulations that could hamper that growth and the disparate range of collection strategies across local government.”

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Lion Group partners with REDcycle

Lion Group has become the first major brewer in Australia to partner with REDcycle, a national soft plastic recycling initiatives.

REDcycle collects and reuses soft plastics unsuitable for kerbside recycling, with 2000 drops-off points at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets throughout Australia.

According to Lion CEO Stuart Irvine, over 2.75 tonnes of Lion packaging was returned by consumers between July and December 2018.

“For more than 20 years, Lion has invested in reducing litter, improving recyclability and increasing the use of recycled content in our packaging,” Mr Irvine said.

“In the beer industry, plastic rings have been a real focal point in the war on plastic, and Lion was well and truly ahead of the curve in phasing out these rings 10 years ago, with the last plastic rings removed from Lion-owned products over three years ago. This is something we are very proud of.”

The partnership with will see Lion add the REDcycle logo to its soft plastic packaging over the next 18 months.

Mr Irvine said Lion is also evaluating alternative packaging technologies to further reduce the company’s reliance on single-use plastics.

“We are also working with industry partners, such as the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, to develop broader industry solutions that minimise the impact of our packaging and promote the circular economy to minimise waste in the environment,” Mr Irvine said.

“While we work our way through these big supply chain changes, actively supporting programs such as REDcycle helps raise awareness and encourages our consumers to ramp up their recycling efforts.”

Australia’s largest LoraWan smart waste network launched

The City of Canada Bay and Smart Sensor Technologies have launched Australia’s largest Long Range Wide Area Network (LoraWan) enabled smart waste network.

The pilot program will see 95 smart sensors installed in Sydney’s Inner West.

City of Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said the sensors will provide council with critical operations data, such as when a bin is overflowing.

“We’re committed to being at the cutting edge when it comes to smart city technologies like our bin-sensor pilot program,” Mr Tsirekas said.

“With our population only continuing to grow, the program will enable us to respond to increased demand and use our resources wisely, deploying bins and collection staff when and where they are needed most.”

Real-time data from the bin-sensors will be delivered via the City of Canada Bay’s new LoraWan, managed by internet of things integrator Meshed.

Smart Sensor Technologies Managing Director Leon Hayes said the wireless network enables information to be shared across long distances with minimal energy use, and is free for community use as part of the City of Canada Bay’s Smart City Plan.

“We’ve been working with the City of Canada Bay to implement smart city technologies since 2015, starting with our Bigbelly Solar Compactors and now our world first LoRaWAN ultrasonic and laser sensors,” Mr Hayes said.

“We look forward to our continued partnership with the City of Canada Bay and assisting them in maintaining an optimised, smart waste management system for many years to come.”

The pilot program will be evaluated after 12 months, with a view to installing further bin sensors throughout the city.

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ACT appoints new landfill gas manager

Green energy supplier LGI Limited will deliver gas infrastructure services to all ACT Government landfill sites, under a new 15 year contract with the state government.

Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel said the contract would see an estimated 34,900 megawatt hours captured each year, enough to power 5370 homes.

LGI Limited will deliver infrastructure upgrades at Mugga Lane landfill, including at least four power generators at Mugga Lane, each with the capacity to produce 1.06 megawatts of energy per hour.

Mr Steel said LGI Limited would also install an enclosed flare at the West Belconnen landfill to manage the safe destruction of gas onsite, as the volumes are not enough to provide a commercially viable quantity for sale.

According to Mr Steel, the ACT Government has been capturing landfill site methane emissions since 1997.

“Methane gas is generated when organic waste in landfill decomposes,” Mr Steel said.

“If properly managed, gas can be extracted and used to generate electricity, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.”

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SKM closure prompts glass collection roll out

Victoria’s Moyne Shire Council will soon introduce a fourth kerbside bin for glass collection across the entire shire, bucking the trend of short-term limited trials.

Moyne Shire Mayor Mick Wolfe said the shire was initially planning to trial for only six months in one region, however, the recent closures of SKM resulted in too many recyclables going to landfill.

“Moving ahead with a shire-wide rollout of glass-only kerbside collection is not just better for the environment, it’s better economic management of our waste,” Mr Wolfe said.

“Under a new campaign, Better4Moyne, council will be working with residents to improve waste separation, ultimately reducing the amount of recyclables going to landfill.”

Mr Wolfe said introducing a fourth bin for glass, which currently accounts for roughly 40 per cent of recycles in yellow kerbside bins, will make all recycling easier to process.

“Council will no longer be reliant on SKM, as there are other facilities that can process recyclables that are not contaminated by glass,” Mr Wolfe said.

“There are also facilities that will take the glass, crush it and use it as a substitute for sand in road making. Not only is this a better solution for the environment, it’s better for the economy.”

Moyne Shire Council CEO Bill Millard said the new Better4Moyne campaign will focus on correct separation of waste, using all four kerbside bins.

“The purple-lidded glass collection bins will be emptied monthly, yellow lidded recycling and green lidded FOGO bins every two weeks, and the red lidded landfill bin will continue to be collected weekly,” Mr Millard said.

“Over the coming months we will be focusing on our Better4Moyne waste education campaign, and continue to work with our waste collection contractors to finalise the revised collection schedule.”

Council will provide further roll out details to residents in the coming weeks.

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