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.

Sydney’s Trisun Green Energy Co secures work in Vietnam

Sydney-based firm Trisun Green Energy Co has secured approval to build a $520-million waste treatment plant outside Ho Chi Minh City in southern Vietnam.

VN Express International reported the Australian company will use plasma gasification technology in the plant to burn 3,000 tons of garbage per day, which equates to more than 40 percent of the city’s volume of waste.

As Vietnam’s largest economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City has treated its waste using burial methods at its landfill sites, with the remainder incinerated and a small portion recycled.

The plant will use runaway heat to generate electricity while the post-incineration material will be used for making building materials.

Ho Chi Minh City will cover the cost to treat each ton of solid household waste, at $20.63 per ton, while the Australian firm will negotiate the price of treating industrial, medical and hazardous waste with their generators.

In October of last year, the city gave Cienco, a state-owned company providing environmental services, the green light to build the first waste treatment plant with the ability to generate generate power.

Data from the Ho Chi Minh City environment department found the city produces about 2.5 million tons of garbage each year, costing it VND1 trillion ($44 million) for waste treatment.

The plant will take about 33 months to be built.

Waste Management Association of Australia announces scholarship

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has announced JustWaste Consulting environment manager Isabel Axiö as the winner of its inaugural revamped Young Professionals Scholarship.

Beginning last year, the scholarship required a submission of an abstract to one of WMAA’s national conferences to be held in 2017.

The funding allows the winner to attend and present at a national conference, providing exposure to the industry and their peers.

WMAA said Ms Axiö’s submission was of a high calibre and relevant to current issues facing the waste and resource recovery industry.

Ms Axiö has been employed at JustWaste since 2015, they said, and engaged in auditing, site assessments and EPA approvals.

Her presentation, Innovative strategy for rural transfer stations: working towards increased diversion rates, revenue and employment, will run on day two of the conference on March 29, to be held from March 28 to 31 at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney.

They said her strategic approach results in a continuous drive to identify holistic solutions that take into account social behavioural norms as well as the political and financial landscapes of her role.

“Ms Axiö strives towards progressive innovation and is always seeking to find new solutions to old problems,” WMAA said.

“I feel appreciated and enthused to receive the scholarship,” Ms Axiö said.

WMAA said they will undergo a similar scholarship process for ENVIRO‘17, to be held in Melbourne in August 2017.

February / March 2016