APCO appoints three directors to its board

Three new directors have been appointed to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Board at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting.

Chair of the Australian Council of Recycling and owner of Re.Group, which oversees the container deposit schemes in the ACT and Queensland, David Singh was one of the new directors appointed to the board. His selection is part of APCO’s efforts to collaborate with the waste and recycling industries and its support for the rollout of container deposit schemes nationally.

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CEO, Director and Company Secretary of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and Board Director of the Banksia Foundation, Andrew Petersen was also selected to be a director.

Fellow of the Australian Institute of Packaging Keith Chassell was appointed to the board. Mr Chassell has around 50 years of experience in the packaging, fast moving consumer goods and the food and beverage sectors.

The Board of Directors for 2019 includes Sam Andersen, Andrew Petersen, Keith Chessell, David Singh, Trent Bartlett, Jacky Nordsvan, Anne Astin, Jason Goode and Renata Lopes.

APCO Board Chair Sam Andersen said the board is delighted to welcome the new board members who bring a wealth and diversity of industry experience at a critical time for Australia’s waste and recycling, packaging and sustainability sectors.

“This has been a remarkable year of growth and progress for APCO, and we look forward to an even more productive year in 2019 with the support and guidance of the new Board Directors,” Ms Andersen 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 launches draft of its Circular Economy Policy

The NSW Government has revealed its draft of its Circular Economy Policy as part of the state government’s plan to improve its resource recovery methods.

The policy draft defines the state government’s role in implementing circular economy principles across NSW and how it can commit to achieving long term objectives.

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Minimising the consumption of finite resources by replacing raw materials with recovered and recycled products is one of the main principles of the policy.

Additionally, the policy aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption by maximising the value of resources through keeping materials in use for as long as possible.

Product design will also play a role to implement a circular economy with an aim of creating long lasting products that are able to be easily re-used, remanufactured and repaired.

The draft aims to extend the life of existing landfills to reduce the demand for new landfills along with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Local market for high quality post-consumer recycled materials will be developed to keep them materials use for longer to reduce dependency on international markets. It also aims to improve the quality of collected materials through better sorting.

To move away from the “take, make and dispose” status quo, the policy recommends innovating technologies that increase resource recovery efficiency and referencing higher value re-use opportunities.

Creating new jobs in manufacturing, service and resource recovery sectors is listed as a main principle behind the delivery of a circular economy.

The draft sets out certain focus areas to guide future government action which involve supporting innovation, encouraging sustainable procurement practices for businesses and government, improving recycling systems and making the most of organic resources through food donation or composting.

Mainstream product stewardship will also aim to provide incentives for producers to take responsibility for the management of products at the end of their lives.

To establish this framework, the NSW Government aims to incorporate circular economy principles in the revision of the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy in 2019. A Circular Economy Implementation Plan to be developed by 2020 will also aim to provide timing and direction for the implementation of circular economy principles.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the policy draft is the beginning of a better way for NSW to manage its waste and resources.

“Achieving a circular economy will minimise our waste, reduce our impact on the environment and is an opportunity to boost the NSW economy,” Ms Upton said.

“It’s an antidote to the current “linear economy”, where we make things, use them and then throw them away. Instead, we can use items for as long as possible, through repair, re-use and recycling, rather than being thrown away.

“At the same time NSW is working with the Federal Government on the development of national circular economy principles,” she said.

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has welcomed the release of the draft, however it says there is more work to be done on the policy.

The association has urged the NSW Government to set up an organisation similar to Sustainability Victoria or Green Industries South Australia to implement in the final policy.

WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said that all states are preparing or implementing similar strategies, so it is vital that they align and work together.

“WMAA supports the paper’s proposal that the NSW Government will investigate opportunities to incorporate circular economy principles into the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy as part of the five-yearly review process,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMAA commends the government for its support for broadening and strengthening stewardship schemes. This has been discussed time and again and it is pleasing to see that industry’s feedback has been heard,” she said.

“We are also calling on government to consider how the waste levy should look like in a circular economy environment, including how collected monies are re-invested in industry to further boost processing and jobs.

Planet Ark and HP release sustainability report

A new study from electronics manufacturer HP and Planet Ark has found 90 per cent of Australian consumers and businesses are concerned about environmental sustainability, with more than 70 per cent willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products.

The HP Australia Environmental Sustainability Study 2018 was commissioned to discover the perceptions, value and behaviours of Australians toward environmental sustainability.

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It surveyed more than 1000 people aged 27 to 53 and more than 600 businesses ranging from one to four employees to 51 to 500.

According to the study, most consumers and businesses see marine plastic pollution, landfill waste and the impact on the natural environment as the three leading environmental sustainability concerns.

The study also found a lack of awareness about e-waste, reporting that half of Australian consumers and 44 per cent of businesses do not recycle printer ink and toner cartriages.

HP South Pacific Interim Managing Director Paul Gracey said Australians are starting to recognise the impact of their day to day behaviours.

“Through this research collaboration we aim to help Australian consumers uncover new ways to help the planet, while putting a spotlight on the need for businesses and brands to take meaningful action towards becoming more environmentally sustainable – both for the health of the planet and to future-proof their business,” Mr Gracey said.

Planet Ark Recycling Programs Manager Ryan Collins said it is no longer enough for companies to have environmentally sustainable practices and should encourage these behaviours in others.

“Today’s consumers have good intentions but look to brands to help them to make positive changes towards protecting the environment in their day to day. At Planet Ark, our focus is on enabling companies to be part of the solution and we’re proud to be working alongside HP to better educate Australian consumers and businesses,” Mr Collins said.

For more information on the report, click here.

Nominations open for 2018 WA Infinity Awards

Nominations are now open for the Western Australia Waste Authority’s Infinity Awards 2018, which include nine new categories.

The awards recognise innovative solutions to reduce waste and increase reuse and recycling.

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Individuals, business, local governments, schools, community organisations, state government agencies and media outlets are able to be nominated for the awards.

Winners will be announced at a gala dinner ceremony on 15 November during National Recycling Week.

The awards for 2018 are:

  • Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award
  • Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award
  • Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award
  • 2018 Waste Champion
  • 2018 Young Waste Champion
  • Waste Team of the Year
  • Waste Innovation of the Year
  • Waste Wise School of the Year
  • Media Award

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the awards are an ideal opportunity to recognise and reward the work being done around the state to reduce waste.

“By launching new categories this year, we are hoping to offer more opportunities for deserving individuals and organisations to enter their projects and initiatives into the awards and be recognised for the good work that they do,” Mr Dawson said.

“I strongly encourage everyone to put your projects forward and enter this year’s awards.”

Nominations can be entered until 5 October. For more details, click here.

Repurpose It named Westpac Top 20 business of tomorrow

Victorian recycling and resource recovery company Repurpose It has been named one of Westpac’s Businesses of Tomorrow for 2018.

The program showcases businesses that have shown adaptability, resilience, value to customers and a readiness to meet challenges of the future.

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Repurpose It was named one of the top 20 businesses and will receive a two-week study tour to Silicon Valley and a tailored $50,000 professional services package from their choice of select providers offering legal services, PR and communications, customer relationship management and management consulting.

Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis said the company is extremely proud to be recognised as one of this year’s top 20 Businesses of Tomorrow by Westpac.

“Selected from over 2000 applicants across multiple industries, we are honoured to represent the resource recovery sector and hope to demonstrate the innovative spirit that is strongly engrained across our industry as we convert waste to resource for future generations,” George says.

Repurpose It is in the process of installing Australia’s first construction and demolition waste washing plant, which will treat the residual waste from materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and process it back into materials suitable for civil construction. Based in Melbourne, Repurpose It will wash materials including rail ballast, glass, excavated materials and demolition waste fines.

The top 20 will also take part in a mentor matching program with notable Australian business leaders.

Westpac Business Bank Chief Executive and 2018 program judge David Lindberg said this year’s applicants demonstrated the scale of movement of the Australian economy into a digital world.

“The digital economy is predicted to be worth $139 billion by 2020 to the Australian economy – as a key driver of change in the future. This year’s businesses reflect the drive that’s disrupting and shaping the industries they operate in,” he said.

“Almost three quarters of the top twenty businesses are directly involved in technology or software development and this year also saw an increase in microbusiness applicants, including early stage tech businesses, which increased almost threefold from 2017.”

“This tells me leading Australian businesses are capitalising on the opportunities for growth. They’re breaking new markets, developing technology that helps people with autism gain employment, providing better analysis for solar energy users, using technology to make prescription glasses more durable and affordable and transforming waste into useful materials.”

Pictured: Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis.

Monash Uni helping farmers profit from food waste

Research has begun on helping farmers transform their food waste into profit while improving their business model thanks to a joint effort from Monash University’s School of Chemistry, IITB (India), the Food Innovation Centre and the agriculture industry.

Monash University is using a holistic approach to ‘biomass valorisation’ to help the industry extract high value components such as antioxidants, oils, pectin and protein from food disposal. Mangoes, pomegranate and pineapple skin, spent coffee grounds and almond ash.

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The food waste also extends to fresh produce that is disposed for not meeting the cosmetic standards of supermarkets.

Professor Tony Patti said the biomass valorisation looks at the entire fruit or vegetable, not just what is eaten, which is what currently provides value to the grower.

“The skins, seeds, kernels, leaves and off-cuts were seen as ‘waste’, adding to their disposal costs. These by-products are not waste, but a potential valuable resource, providing several components, identified as being of high market value,” Dr Patti said.

“Monash is working with Australian growers and businesses to diversify the potential market opportunities, including expansion into the pharmaceutical, cosmetic and pet food industries.

“Using this research, food and agricultural companies can tackle costly waste challenges, improve their environmental footprint and create a sustainable business that takes full advantage of growing demand in domestic and export markets for high quality food products,” he said.

ecoBiz program receives $4M for local business waste reduction

The Queensland Government has allocated around $4 million to extend the ecoBiz program until 2022 to help local businesses reduce waste and improve water and energy efficiency.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said six local businesses have received one on one coaching sessions with a locally-based sustainability consultant and an action plan to start saving.

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“It is a win-win for business operators and the environment,” Ms Enoch said.

“Since 2013, ecoBiz partners across Queensland have also taken practical steps to reduce waste in their business like ditching disposable coffee cups, reducing food loss and going paperless.

These quick wins have helped to save 24,785 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfill and support Queensland’s waste and recycling strategy.

She said the program is helping local businesses understand energy, water and waste costs and teaching them how to save money through sustainability initiatives.

“We hope to see more Bundaberg businesses take advantage of free coaching, training, education and tools to improve their environmental sustainability and lower operating costs,” she said.

“This is a great example of government and industry working together to take some of the pressure off businesses while supporting the environment.”

For more information, click here.

Veolia ANZ announces new CEO

Veolia Australia and New Zealand CEO Doug Dean has announced his retirement and named his successor.

Danny Conlon has been appointed as Veolia’s CEO and Managing Director, effective 1 July 2018 and will be responsible for the continued growth and success of Veolias’ portfolio of water, waste and energy operations.

Mr Dean has worked with Veolia for 27 years and oversaw a period of sustained growth and achieved a number of successful acquisitions and joint ventures.

He will take on a consulting role with Veolia to provide strategic advice and governance support for the organisation as needed.

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The company has thanked Mr Dean for his significant contributions to the business over the last three decades.

Mr Conlon has been an employee of Veolia for more than 20 years, beginning as a Waste Collection Operations Manager. He was the Executive General Manager for Veolia’s East-Coast Operations since 2014.