Battery Stewardship Council welcomes changes

The Battery Stewardship Council (BSC) has begun designing an industry-led stewardship scheme, which will undertake consultations of the industry and public in the coming months.

The BSC welcomed the plan to fast track the development of a stewardship scheme that aims to result in all types of batteries being recycled in Australia.

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The meeting of Environmental Ministers on 27 April 2018 was called to address concerns in the Australian recycling industry with representatives from federal, state and territory ministers.

Of the 400 million batteries that enter the Australian market each year, less than three per cent of non-car batteries are recycled in Australia, according to a 2014 trend analysis and market assessment report, prepared on behalf of the National Environment Protection Council Service Corporation.

Toxic chemicals such as nickel, cadmium, alkaline and mercury are often found in batteries, and can be a risk to the environment and human health due to their flammability and the leaching of heavy metals.

The BSC was formed earlier in 2018, combining government and industry bodies, to undertake background work to understanding the markets and barriers to recycling that need to be addressed in a stewardship scheme.

The work of the Battery Stewardship Council is supported by the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI) with funding from the QLD Department of Environment and Science.

Chairman of the Battery Stewardship Council Gerry Morvell said Australians have to stop the throw away mentality which wastes a fully recyclable resource and poses a long-term threat to human health and the environment.

“One of our key aims is to facilitate the building of a strong and effective battery recycling industry in Australia. We do not want a repetition of the go-stop issue that has emerged with plastics,” said Mr Morvell.

Australian Battery Recycling Initiative Chief Executive Officer Libby Chaplin said there is a confluence of events paving the way for an industry led scheme that could quickly solve this rapidly escalating problem waste.

“Australia has the capability and there is growing motivation to transform this waste management concern into a resource recovery success story,” she said.

How many recyclables are affected by China waste ban?

Cans for recycling in a container deposit scheme

Consultancy firm Blue Environment was asked by the Federal Government to analyse the amount of waste being sent to China before the ban on contaminants began.

China’s ban on waste with contaminants of more than 0.5 per cent have led to commodity price reductions, stockpiling and instability in the provision of recycling collection services, according to Blue Environment.

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The data showed that 1.25 million tonnes of waste was exported to China in 2016-17, with 920 thousand tonnes made up of paper and cardboard, 203 thousand tonnes of metal and 125 thousand tonnes of plastics.

Blue Environment also report that 99 per cent of waste from the 2016-17 period were affected by these new restrictions.

According to the data, China made up the majority of exported materials in plastics and paper and cardboards, making up 68 and 63 per cent of the total recyclable material exports.

Blue Environment said the data should be considered preliminary and may change with further consideration.

You can read the full data set here. 

New additions to WMAA’s Board of Directors

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has announced four new directors for the board.

It follows an announcement earlier in 2018 that the WMAA would be undergoing a period of board renewal.

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The following members will be affirmed as directors at the 11 May 2018 annual general meeting and commence their two-year term:

  • Adam Faulkner – Adam has previously served on the WMAA Board and is an active member of the company’s SA branch. He is currently the acting CEO of the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority.
  • Georgina Davis – Georgina has extensive experience in waste innovation in government and academia.
  • Jade Barnaby – Jade is the most recent recipient of the WMAA Women in the Environment Award. Currently she is the National Accreditation and Compliance Manager for Tyre Stewardship Australia and has been the Program Manager for Victoria’s household battery recycling system in WA.
  • Tim Youe – Tim has experience in Local Government and is currently the CEO of the Southern Metropolitan Regional Council managing a significant resource recovery system in WA.

Eligible members are now being called by the WMAA to apply for the role of Vice President and elected director.

EOI open to build Toowoomba landfill gas development

Toowoomba Regional Council is looking for expressions of interest to develop the landfill gas resource at its major landfill.

The council has completed a business case which has identified the significant resource available at the Toowoomba regional landfill.

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Landfill gas could help supply the council with a sustainable source of gas and electricity. The landfill is also next to major energy users including the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, the APA gas pipeline and the Baillie Henderson Hospital.

Two key options the business case identified were to use the resource to produce electricity for the Wetalla treatment plant, other council facilities or export into the electricity grid, or produce compressed natural gas for use in council vehicles, facilities or into the local gas grid.

The Toowoomba Regional Council has a three-step plan to enter into an arrangement, with the first accepting expressions of interest, followed by early respondent involvement and formal commercial tender.

Companies that are able to utilise more than one landfill gas constituent will be considered more favourably than others that only seeks to utilise one.

Applications for expressions of interest close on 24 April.

Federal Govt offer waste battery export guidance

The Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy has released a report that offers guidance on whether a hazardous waste permit is required to export waste batteries to another country.

Batteries can increase the risk of toxic chemicals polluting the environment if not disposed of properly.

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The report clarifies the Federal Government’s position on the status of batteries as hazardous waste under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports Act) 1989 (the Act) and Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) (OECD Decision) Regulations 1996 (the OECD Regulations).

Alkaline, nickel-metal hydride, zinc-carbon and zinc chloride waste batteries are considered by the Federal Government to not require an import permit, as long as they are not flammable, explosive or toxic.

These batteries are considered to be in List B for the Basel Convention for international transport of potentially hazardous waste.

The Federal Government said it is the responsibility of the waste exporter to check whether the destination and transit countries require a hazardous waste permit to import waste batteries.

The report can be read here.

View your landfill in 3D

No longer limited to intensive gaming or high-end architecture, virtual reality is making in-roads in the landfill sector.

Landair Surveys, a leading surveying firm in Australia, has introduced a new way for their landfill clients to interactively view their site data.

Previously, waste managers relied on 2D plans and concept drawings to visualise the relationship between existing site conditions and future operations. However, the rise of 3D viewing platforms has led to the possibility of creating virtual landfills where many different spatial data sets can be viewed simultaneously.

The surveyors at Landair now offer prospective clients virtual landfill models that can be tailored to individual landfill sites or operational requirements. The models can be as simple as an online visual tool to a downloadable interactive viewer allowing the user to take basic measurements and create clipping planes.

  • Examples of current virtual files created for landfill operators include:
  • Design top of waste contours overlaid on existing landfill surfaces
  • Design clay sideliner files overlaid on existing rockface surveys
  • View of proposed finished top of cap levels from site boundaries
  • Month by month landfill cell flyover comparisons
  • Composite as built clay liner and subgrade checks.

landair.com.au/landfills

Vinyl Council research new solutions to recycle PVC

A Vinyl Council of Australia research project has identified new recycling approaches in a bid to use 1.2 million square metres of PVC advertising banners sent to Australian landfills each year.

The REMAKE Project researched the challenges of recycling vinyl coated polyester woven fabrics, including the 5000 tonnes of billboard skins, grain covers, and truck tarpaulins sent to landfill each year.

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Studies were launched into cost effective techniques to create end products and markets for the recycled material. These studies found a number of possible options, from bags, safety floor mats, garden containers and roof tiles.

Three of these designs are being assessed for commercial viability following prototyping.

The project has encouraged industry and government to invest more than $300,000 into PVC recycling. According to the Vinyl Council of Australia, finding a solution to recycling outdoor media is important as the cost of sending billboard skins to landfill is around $200,000 per year.

Commenting on the REMAKE project, Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan said that more work is needed to find a long-term, market-based, viable solution.

“The durability, weatherability and flexibility of these materials make them an excellent choice for many applications, yet they have been previously difficult to recycle. As a priority recycling area, this project has shown great potential for recovering these resources for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.

“Further encouragement by government and the community of circular economy programs like ours would lift recycling rates, support reprocessing of complex products as well as generate jobs and promote innovation. This would lead to a step change in diverting difficult, but quality products from landfill and a move towards greater sustainability,” she said.

“While there is still more work to do, if we find a viable reprocessing technology and end product solution, then this has the potential to be replicated overseas.”

Sustainability Victoria considers submissions for $5 million fund

Sustainability Victoria is currently considering 45 submissions for the second round of applicants to the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund.

The Victorian Government have invested $13.6 million into the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund to help develop recycling infrastructure and increase the amount of jobs in the resource recovery industry. Projects funded must increase the recovery rate of materials in Victoria.

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$5.1 million was given to 14 projects in round 1, which will collectively recover 17,000 tonnes of plastics, 3500 tonnes of food organics, 100,000 tonnes of timber, and reduce landfill by over 200,000 tones each year.

Recycling Solutions (Vic) is an example of one recipient of the fund. It is establishing an advanced recycling facility that will be able to separate and recycle individual polymer types, which they expect to divert over 10,000 tonnes from landfill a year.

Repeat Plastics Australia have also taken advantage of the fund to establish reprocessing at their Ballarat Recycling Plant to diversify the types of plastic waste it can process.

Round 3 of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund is expected to be released mid-2018.