Preparing for the Victorian e-waste ban

With the Victorian e-waste to landfill ban less than six weeks away, the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an event to prepare delegates on 28 May.

Once the ban comes into effect, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the ban had been pushed from its original 2018 start date due to issues impacting the Victorian waste sector.

“We’ve all had a lot going on, and recent events impacting the waste and resource recovery sector have almost made us forget what’s around the corner,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re putting this event on in response to member feedback, and those of the broader sector, who are concerned with the lack of information they have in regard to the incoming e-waste to landfill ban.”

Mr Smith said the event will provide key information to prepare attendees, and also facilitate the opportunity to engage with peers and raise issues and concerns.

“Attendees can also speak directly with government agencies working to implement the commitment to support e-waste resource recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“The event will feature presentations from the Department of Environment, a Q&A with the EPA on compliance and an e-waste infrastructure build update from Sustainability Victoria.”

Mr Smith said there will also be presentations on battery stewardship and the rise of advanced machinery and robotics.

“Delegates will have the opportunity to raise questions, which VWMA will formally raise with government agencies,” Mr Smith said.

“By hosting this event in Ballarat – about an hour out of Melbourne – we can ensure regional members get access and also that our metropolitan members can attend.”

The event will run in partnership with Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, CMA Ecocycle and the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform.

VWMA members and delegates from within the Barwon South West and Grampians Central West regions can purchase tickets for $50, which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and workshop materials for the day.

The event will be held at the Mercure Hotel in Ballarat, with accomodation available on site.

To make a booking visit VWMA’s website.

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QLD container refund scheme hits half a billion returns

Half a billion containers have been returned and more than 640 jobs created through Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said more than 173,000 Queenslanders now have a scheme ID, which shows the state is getting behind the initiative.

“Containers for Change continues to go from strength to strength, providing financial incentives for recycling cans and bottles,” Ms Enoch said.

“The scheme has also helped create more than 640 new jobs and is providing more business opportunities across Queensland.”

Ms Enoch said $50 million had been returned to Queenslanders, charities and community organisations through the scheme.

“When people take their bottles and cans to be recycled, they can choose to get the 10 cent refund or choose to donate that money to charities or community groups,” Ms Enoch said.

“About 3400 community groups, schools, charities and sports clubs are benefitting from the refunds.”

Ms Enoch said since the scheme started on 1 November 2019, there has been a 35 per cent reduction of containers ending up as litter in the environment.

“This scheme, along with the ban on single-use plastic bags also implemented last year, are making a real difference to plastic pollution ending up in our environment and waterways,” Ms Enoch said.

Container Exchange, the organisation that runs the scheme, Chair Mark O’Brien said new refund depots have been opening up across the state in recent weeks.

“We now have more than 275 container refund points providing customer access to container refunds,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Container Exchange will continue to grow the Containers for Change scheme to provide opportunities for customers, charities and community groups to receive refunds and raise funds.”

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Proposed Adelaide MRF seeks funding

The Southern Region Waste Resource Authority (SRWRA) has developed a business case for a $21 million material recycling facility (MRF) in Adelaide’s south.

According to SRWRA Chairman Mark Booth, South Australia’s 2018 Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan specifically identified the need for an MRF to service southern Adelaide.

SRWRA, a joint subsidiary of Holdfast, Marion and Onkaparinga council, is seeking federal funding for the facility.

Mr Booth said government investment was necessary to minimise the use of landfill and improve recycling in the region.

“The operation of a MRF creates the opportunity to stimulate local economic growth through the creation of a new industry to re-use, re-purpose and recycle recovered resources,” Mr Booth said.

“I’ve written to the candidates of Boothby, Kingston and Mayo to help secure funding, including a five million contribution towards the construction of the plant.”

Mr Booth also requested an additional five million to develop an economic fund to support compatible circular economy industries in the region.

“This is about us becoming self-sufficient, creating a circular economy and reducing our reliance on recycling companies,” Mr Booth said.

“We’ll be able to utilise recycled materials in our own backyard, create up to 37 full time equivalent jobs at the new plant, process approximately 60,000 tonnes of product per annum and attract complementary businesses to our region.”

Mr Booth said the new facility would ease strains caused by China’s ban on contaminated recycling imports and the rising financial and environmental costs of disposal to landfill.

“A plant like this will reduce the financial impacts of the China Sword recycling ban – felt not only by our three councils but all councils and their ratepayers,” Mr Booth said.

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Scania launches natural gas engine

Scania has expanded its alternative fuel and sustainable transport range with the launch of a OC09 compressed natural gas (CNG) engine at the Brisbane Truck Show.

Based on Scania’s 9.0-litre five-cylinder engine, the OC09 works using spark plugs and complete combustion in accordance with the Otto principle gas power cycle.

Scania Senior Engineer Folke Fritzson said sustainability was a driving factor behind the engines development.

“As with Europe, in Australia there is a small but growing band of operators and businesses keen to investigate the benefits of operating vehicles on alternative or renewable fuels,” Mr Fritzson said.

“Natural gas provides a CO2 reduction of 15 per cent, while biogas from waste water can cut CO2 emissions by up to 90 per cent.”

Mr Fritzson said Scania Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding with natural gas consultants NVG Group.

“This will ensure operators of Scania’s CNG fuelled vehicles enjoy a reliable fuel supply,” Mr Fritzson said.

Scania Head of Service Concepts Anders Ekstrom said the OC09 has an unusually high torque for the engine type, making it useful in a number of different applications.

“Regardless of the type of gas used, the drivability of Scania’s gas engine is in line with what conventional diesel engines can offer in terms of torque and power,” Mr Ekstrom said.

“Gas, and of course biogas in particular, are of particular interest from a European perspective with the potential for reductions in both CO2 and other emissions.”

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Organics regeneration: Australian Organics Recycling Association

To renew and regenerate is a fundamental and everyday principal to an industry dedicated to the recovery and beneficial reuse of organics, writes the Australian Organics Recycling Association’s Diana De Hulsters and Peter Wadewitz.

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Election results for the waste industry

The Coalition, which promised $203 million to the waste and recycling sector, has been re-elected with a likely majority.

While votes are still being counted, the Coalition currently holds 75 of the 76 seats needed to win government – with ABC election analyst Antony Green predicting a final result of 77 seats.

The lead up to the 18 May election saw significant waste and recycling policy promises from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“We will increase Australia’s recycling rates, tackle plastic waste and litter, accelerate work on new recycling schemes and continue action to halve food waste by 2030,” Mr Morrison said earlier in May.

While Melissa Price has been re-elected to the seat of Durack Western Australia, it is unclear whether she will return as Environment Minister.

The Coalition’s campaign promises include:

— $100 million to develop the Australian Recycling Investment Fund to support the manufacturing of lower emissions and energy-efficient recycled content products including recycled content plastics, paper and pulp.

— $20 million for a new Product Stewardship Investment Fund to accelerate work on new industry-led recycling schemes for batteries, electrical and electronic products, photovoltaic systems and plastic oil containers.

— $20 million to find new and innovative solutions to plastic recycling and waste through the Cooperative Research Centres Projects grants program.

— $16 million to support the Pacific Ocean Litter Project, working with neighbours in the Pacific to reduce plastics and other waste in the ocean.

— Up to $5.8 million for a range of initiatives through the Environment Restoration Fund to support Clean Up Australia, Keep Australia Beautiful, the Australian Council of Recycling, Planet Ark, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and OzHarvest.

— Up to $5 million through the Environment Restoration Fund for Conservation Volunteers Australia to coordinate community campaigns to clean up plastic waste in beaches and rivers.

— Continuing to work with state, territory and local governments on opportunities to get more recycled content into road construction – building on the funding provided to the Australian Road Research Board in the 2019-Budget.

The industry will now have to wait and see if the Coalition’s promises are put into action.

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