AORA announces NSW industry award winners

The organics recycling industry has celebrated its industry achievements over the past year in NSW.

The Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) event was held at the Novotel Parramatta and attended by more than 70 representatives from organic processors, to industry suppliers, state and local governments.

The event was hosted by MC Tony Emery (Soilco) who announced the winners with the assistance of David Bonser (Amiterre Ag and AORA NSW Chair), Christopher Malan (Komptech), Jessica Hurst (Hitachi Construction Machinery Australia), Rob Niccol (ANL) and Peter Wadewitz (Peats Soil and AORA Chair). NSW Government member of the legislative council Paul Green was also invited to share his views on the growing industry.

Peter Wadewitz, Chair of the Australian Organics Recycling Association said it was wonderful to see such great companies performing so well and leading the way at a time when food waste around Australia is such a hot topic.

The 2018 AORA NSW Award for “Outstanding local government initiative in organics collection or processing or marketing” went to Bega Valley Shire Council.

The council was nominated by Sean Hayes from C-Wise, who also accepted on behalf of the council, and the AORA judges agreed that the team at Bega Valley Shire Council should be congratulated on their community centric approach to composting and their recent introduction of a FOGO collection and processing service.

The 2018 AORA NSW Award for “Outstanding Contribution to industry development” was awarded to Duncan Le Good.

Mr Le Good was nominated by Angus Johnston and the judges agreed unanimously that he had made a large contribution to the industry and the association over many years, and particularly over the last two years. He sits on the AORA Board representing NSW and is the deputy chair of the NSW Branch. Within SUEZ he is a strong voice for active participation in the association and industry cooperation more broadly. With Tony Emery stepping down from the NSW Chair and Paul Coffey’s departure from board and management of the association, Duncan has stepped up and influenced others to make big contributions to industry development too. .

The judges found there was no clear winner for the AORA NSW Award for “compost user demonstrating innovation and advocacy in agricultural markets” this year.

The 2018 AORA NSW Award for “compost user demonstrating innovation and advocacy in amenity markets” went to Penelope Smith.

Ms Smith was nominated by Duncan Le Good and the judges agreed that she had been a critical member of The Hills Bark Blower team working tirelessly to promote and raise standards specifically in the area of custom mixes for unique applications. As a horticulturist and marketing specialist, she has applied her knowledge and advocacy successfully to the development and promotion of mixes for roof top gardens, green walls and specialist erosion control (compost blankets). She has also been successful in receiving grants from both rounds of WLRM Organics Marketing Grants Scheme.

The 2018 AORA NSW Award for “Rising Star for outstanding operations or sales team member showing leadership and commitment to a processing members business” was awarded to Gunther Neumann.

Gunther was also nominated by Duncan Le Good and the judges agreed that Gunther oversaw the successful construction and commissioning of the REMONDIS Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility – a new state of the art composting facility at Awaba – which now offers residents and businesses a food and garden waste collection and recycling solution unique in the Hunter. A serial award winner – Gunther was also named Young Business Executive of the Year (Age 18-35) at the Lake Macquarie Business Excellence Awards earlier this year.

Following the official awards presentation, AORA NSW presented a Certificate of Appreciation for “Exemplary and Meritorious Service to the recycled organics industry in New South Wales” to Annie Kavanagh, Senior Projects Officer in the Organics Unit at EPA NSW on the eve of her retirement later this month.

Peter Wadewitz, National Chair of AORA closed the ceremony with the induction of Paul Coffey as the inaugural Life Member of the Association for outstanding service to the Organics Recycling Industry and the Association.

Pictured: Penelope Smith and Duncan Le Good. 

Potential emergency plastic tax by 2021: report

The plastic waste crisis is expected to deepen, potentially leading to a federal response in the form of an emergency tax by 2021, according to global wealth manager Credit Suisse.

It argues that reactionary policy measures are highly likely in the short term and could include a tax on virgin resins or additional tariffs placed on imported plastic goods in its report, The age of plastic at a tipping point.

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With too much plastic waste domestically and with no large export markets available, Credit Suisse estimates there will be a sharp increase in plastic being sent to landfill and illegal dumping.

“Our headline view is that things will get worse before they get better: the policy initiatives in the National Waste Strategy won’t take hold until FY20/21,” the report said.

Credit Suisse expects bans on single use-plastics to be extended to the six most common plastic packaging and tax incentives to be provided to help hit the 2025 target of 30 per cent recycled content in packaging.

The long lead time from policy approval to implementation is problematic, particularly for new waste infrastructure, which the company said will likely lead to a more supportive project approval environment for waste infrastructure.

Waste managers are expected to benefit from this scenario, with short term potential from council re-negotiations and long-term potential to fast-track waste infrastructure approvals, according to the report.

“Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of human life. It is the most prolific material on the planet, growing faster than any commodity in the last 33 years,” the report said.

“Plastic packaging has become one of the most intractable environmental challenges of our age. None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable; they accumulate in landfills or the natural environment rather than decompose.

“To curtail the situation in the short run, it is a matter of when, not if, we see reactionary policy measures,” the report said.

Sydney ranked as Australia’s most sustainable city

Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.

The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.

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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.

All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.

However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.

London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.

The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.

Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.

“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.

“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.

NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy draft released

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The strategy outlines new measures to close loopholes for transporters and increasing transparency of waste generators.

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This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.

Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.

To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.

The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.

“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.

“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.

Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.

The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.

Planning for national solar panel product stewardship underway

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Sustainability Victoria has appointed product stewardship consultant Equilibrium to analyse and assess potential options for a national product stewardship to help manage end of life products.

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Photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated products and equipment have been identified as a rapidly growing e-waste stream in the future. For the project, “PV systems” have neem defined to include panels and PV system accessories such as inverter equipment and energy storage systems.

Equilibrium has opened an online survey to gather input and information form manufacturers, installers, project developers, the energy industry, and peak bodies.

The information gathered by the survey along with other evidence gathered will support the assessment of potential options.

Organisations and individuals interested in the project can complete the survey here.

Dubbo Regional Council opens new organics processing plant

A new organics processing facility has been opened at the Whylandra Waste and Recycling Facility to recycle food and organic waste from the surrounding councils.

The Dubbo Regional Organics Processing Plant (DROPP) commenced operations in early July and has begun receiving food and garden waste from Dubbo Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Narromine Shire Council.

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It aims to divert a significant amount of organic waste from landfill and turn it into compost, reducing environmental pollution caused by leachate and methane gas production.

The facility received more than $7 million of funding from the NSW EPA, Dubbo Regional Council and JR Richards & Sons. The project was supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure initiative, funded by the waste levy.

Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Ben Shields said the high-tech composting facility was built to handle organic material collected by three council as part of the new Food and Garden Waste Management service.

“It is great to see neighbouring Councils working collaboratively and sharing resources to achieve a common goal,” Cr Shields said.

NSW Member for Dubbo Tony Grant said the regional organics recycling will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.

“The carbon footprint of trucking the waste is minor compared to methane that would otherwise be produced by food and garden waste buried in landfill,” Mr Grant said.

“This is a fantastic local initiative where organic waste from the region will be processed locally and reused locally,” he said.

Image: Mayor of Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields, Member for Dubbo the Hon Troy Grant and Mayor of Narromine Shire Councillor Craig Davies officially opened the DROPP. 

Volvo backs new program for women drivers

The first Superior Heavy Vehicle Licensing (SHVL) program for women will be delivered in partnership between Wodonga TAFE’s Transport Division DECA, Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) and Volvo Group.

The program has been created to help women qualify for their heavy vehicle licence. Volvo will supply a prime mover for the four-week intensive training course designed to provide students with behind-the-wheel experience.

By encouraging female drivers to participate in the course, DECA was looking at a solution to address the driver shortage across the road transport sector.

At the recent Transport Women Australia Conference in Canberra, Women Driving Transport Careers was launched. Offered in Metropolitan Melbourne, the course will be arranged in conjunction with Volvo Group Australia Driver Academy.

Simon Macaulay, National Manager Transport at DECA, said the training will assist females obtain a high demand skill for which to fast-track their entrance into the heavy transport workforce.

“We provide participants with the industry standard skills and know-how. We take them through areas that are barely mentioned in a lot of licence instruction, such as safety protocols and health and safety procedures, road maps, fatigue management, chain of responsibility and use of technology,” Macauley said.

Volvo Group Australia has found the average age of truck drivers in Australia is 47. Meanwhile 52 per cent of employers, according to its research conducted in 2016, struggle to attract the quantity of drivers needed and 46 per cent are already experiencing a shortage of available drivers.

President and CEO of Volvo Group Australia Peter Voorhoeve said the company is working hard to attract new and more diverse talent into the heavy transport sector.

“Australia is standing on the precipice of a serious truck driver shortage, the effects of which will be felt far beyond the transport industry. If the industry does not find ways to attract more drivers to the industry, we will all feel the pain in higher prices for the things that trucks move up and down our highways – food, clothing, construction materials, medical supplies and consumer goods to name just a few.

“As the leading manufacturer of trucks in Australia, we take our role in the industry seriously, which is why we are constantly looking for new ways to grow the heavy transport sector workforce and champion greater diversity in the driver workforce.”

(Image: 2017 Volvo Truck Challenge finalist Kerri Connors).