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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Waste policy report card released

A detailed analysis of the Labor Party, the Coalition and the Greens election promises has been released.

Using criterion based analysis and independent scoring evaluations, the policy report card has determined all three parties are committed to upgrading innovative recycling infrastructure, establishing local markets for recycled content and dealing with plastic pollution.

According to the report card however, only minor commitments to establishing a circular economy and national regulatory arrangement have been made.

The report card was created by the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), the Australian Industrial Ecology Network (AIEN), the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) and the National Waste & Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), with independent consultancy from Equilibrium.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said the election run up shows an unprecedented, tri-partisan and substantive response to the pressures felt in municipal recycling.

“Labor and the Coalition have come out neck and neck with good grades of C. The Greens also have a C, but less opportunity to realistically implement their vision,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Taken as a whole these policies recognise the landfill diversion, greenhouse gas reduction and jobs creation benefits of our $20 billion and 50,000 job industry.”

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said her organisation was particularly pleased with Labor’s commitment to establishing a National Waste Commissioner.

“This role is key to driving the national waste policy, collaboration across all levels of government and more regulatory consistency between states,” Ms Read said.

“However, NWRIC is concerned with the lack of commitment by the major parties to the use of co-regulatory powers for the Product Stewardship Act for batteries and all electronics.”

AIEN Executive Director Veronica Dullens said tri-partisan support showed recognition for the potential of the waste sector to drive environmental and economic outcomes.

“What is lacking is more specific recognition of the principles of a circular economy and more specific actions to move away from the ‘take, make and throw’ paradigm,” Ms Dullens said.

AORA National Executive Officer Diana De Hulsters said it was time to get serious about policy implementation.

“Given that 60 per cent of a household rubbish bin is potentially compostable, we would like to see comprehensive recycling targets put in place in the National Waste Policy,” Ms Hulsters said.

“Not only those for packaging, which is a minority part of the overall waste stream.”

Official Ratings:

—  All parties have presented credible and coherent policies and achieve a pass mark.

—  The Labor Party scores highly for a balanced suite of programs to support industry growth, recycled content products and work with local and state governments. It loses marks through not specifically committing to wide-ranging community engagement programs – overall achievement is a C.

— The Coalition scores highly for a significant commitment to industry investment and a circular economy approach, however loses marks for lack of recent implementation – overall achievement is a C.

— The Greens score highly with a very strong group of programs, but were marked down due to their inability to implement the proposals – overall achievement is a C.

Click to access the full Report Card.

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AORA 2019 National Conference wrap-up

The Australian Organics Recycling Association brought together recycling suppliers, researchers and packaging associations all under the one roof to identify cost-effective and sustainable solutions to organics. 

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European Bioplastics rejects biodegradable study

European Bioplastics released a statement rejecting claims made in a University of Plymouth study titled Environmental deterioration of biodegradable, oxo-biodegradable, compostable and conventional plastic carrier bags.

The Australian Organics Recycling Association and the Australasian Bioplastics Association have endorsed the statements.

European Bioplastic Chairman Francois de Bie said the findings were misleading as most bags used for study were not biodegradable according to European Union definitions.

“According to European Bioplastic, the bag defined as biodegradable was labelled as such according to the standard ISO 14855, which is not a standard on biodegradation, but merely specifies a method for the determination of the ultimate aerobic biodegradability of plastics, based on organic compounds, under controlled conditions,” Mr Bie said.

“The study actually highlights the importance of correct labelling and certification.”

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International Compost Awareness Week kicks off in May

International Compost Awareness Week (ICAW) will see global organisations band together to build awareness of the benefits of compost.

Activities and celebrations will take place in Australia, the United States, Canada, Europe, Ireland and the Czech Republic in the first full week of May.

Starting in Canada in 1995, ICAW has grown into an annual international event as more people, businesses, municipalities, schools and organisations begin to recognise the importance of compost and the long-term benefits of organics recycling.

Australian Organics Recycling Association National Executive Officer Diana De Hulsters said the goal of the program is to raise public awareness of how the use of compost can improve and maintain high quality soil, grow healthy plants, reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides, improve water quality and protect the environment.

“Globally we have seen that innovative programs and successful efforts have improved organics recycling and sustainability,” Ms Hulsters said.

“International partners are coming together to broaden the understanding of compost use and promote awareness of the recycling of organic residuals.”

Ms Hulsters said while details vary amongst countries, a number of the facts about organics recycling and compost use transcend political and cultural boundaries.

“Soil health and productivity are dependent on organic matter in the form of compost or humus to provide the sustenance for biological diversity in the soil,” Ms Hulsters said.

“Plants depend on this to convert materials into plant-available nutrients and to keep the soil well-aerated. Additional benefits include the reduced need for pesticide usage to ward off soil-borne and other plant diseases.”

Ms Hulsters also highlighted the climate change mitigation benefits of composting by explaining how compost soil returns serve as a carbon bank.

“Diverting food and yard waste from landfills reduces the emission of methane, a greenhouse gas twenty-five times more powerful than carbon dioxide,” Ms Hulsters said.

“The use of landfill space and incineration can be reduced by at least one-third when organics are recycled. Focused attention on recycling organic residuals is key to achieving high diversion rates.”

The ICAW program includes tours of compost facilities, school gardening programs, compost workshops, lectures by gardening experts and compost give-away days.

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AORA announces new board directors

The Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA) have announced Elmore Compost & Organics Managing Director Frank Harney and SOLICO General Manager Charlie Emery will join the associations Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors serves to represent the interests of AORA members and manage operations specific to their regions.

Mr Harney said he will use the position to educate farmers and consumers about the benefits of organic compost, while further developing application equipment and composting best practice.

Mr Emery said he hopes to use his experience in strategic planning and business development initiatives to work towards the production of quality assured soil and advance the organics recycling industry.

The announcement follows AORA’s release of a new constitution earlier this month.

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AORA to host annual conference

The Australian Organics Recycling Association will hold its annual conference on the 1 to 3 of May at the Esplanade Hotel in Perth.

Well established as a principal conference for the Australian recycled organics industry, the event will feature speeches and panel discussions that examine policy, practices, technology and equipment relevant to the industry.

The event aims to explore the renew and regenerate principal, paying specific attention to end-product and its soil regeneration applications.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by two international guests, University of Washington research professor Sally Brown and Italian Composting and Biogas Association senior expert Marco Ricci.

Click here for more information