Australian company will convert China’s waste plastic to fuel

Australian company, Integrated Green Energy Solutions (IGES), has announced a joint venture agreement with the Chinese Crown World Holdings (CWH) to expand its plastic-to-fuel production operations in China.

The agreement targets construction of a waste plastic-to-fuel facility in Weifang in Shandon Province of China. The facility will have an initial production capacity of 200 tonnes per day, producing 70 million litres of road-ready fuels per annum.

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The proposed site has existing infrastructure and sufficient space to expand the facility to over 600 tonnes per day as the joint venture ramps up supply and offtake activities.

The first project will be jointly funded by both parties, with IGES contributing US$12.75 million (AU$16.41 million) and CWH contributing US$12.25 million (AU$15.77 million).

Crown World Holdings is a wholly owned subsidiary of Beautiful China Holdings (BCH), committed to becoming the leading eco-environmental protection operation and service provider in China.

In 2017, the Chinese government notified the World Trade Organisation it intended to ban the import of all scrap plastics and unsorted paper by the end of 2017 as part of a broad clean-up effort against “foreign garbage.”

As of January 2018, China enforced this policy. The move has hit Europe’s recycling industry hard, as 87 per cent of Europe’s waste ended up in China.

As China has committed to cleaning up the plastic problem that has led them to ban foreign plastics, IGES is using the opportunity to help the country convert the waste plastics into road-ready diesel fuel, using its patented pyrolysis technology.

IGES’s patented plastic-to-fuel process enables the company to reduce the environmental impacts of waste plastic, that would otherwise be used in landfills or discarded into the environment.

Earlier in January, IGES had announced the purchase of an Amsterdam-based entity with a fully approved and sanctioned Environmental Approval Permit, enabling IGES to produce road-ready diesel that meets European Standard EN590 and gasoline by December 2018.

Opportunity for 500 jobs: ACOR/MRA Consulting report

Investment in the local Australian recycling industry could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from MRA Consulting.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said the report shows that remanufacturing half of the material domestically would lead to job creation and reduce as much greenhouse gases as taking 50,000 cars off the road. It comes as China clamps down on its exports of interstate waste with a contaminant level of more than 0.5 per cent.

ACOR recently joined the Waste Management Association of Australia in calling on state ministers to implement its Australian Circular Economy and Recycling Action plan at the Ministerial Council – supported by a $150 million injection.

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“To check the China challenge, we are ready to reboot recycling as a self-sufficient sector that enables employment and prevents pollution. Ministers can support this by agreeing to a National Circular Economy & Recycling Plan that makes a one-off investment in the three ‘i’s’ of recycling: infrastructure, improvement and innovation,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The promise of recycling is that what punters put in the bin becomes new products not lumps in landfill. Our political leaders, through the policy targets they have set, are part of delivering on that promise and should continue to do so on 27 April.”

“We need to make and buy more recycled content products here in Australia. Closing the loop is what’s needed for community confidence, job growth and environmental results,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said other industries are regularly supported in transition and crisis, and the recycling sector needs the same support, otherwise jobs could go including in country towns.

“While state governments have rightly focussed on the system’s short-term survival, it’s time for all governments to jointly act for recycling’s future success,” he said.

The report, titled The China National Sword: the role of Federal Government highlights:

  • New technology to support more Australian reprocessing of mixed paper, mixed plastics and glass cullet;
  • Enhanced methods and machinery at recyclate sorting centres;
  • Support for government and corporate purchasing of recycled content products;
  • A national centre for recycled content product development;
  • Education to ensure what’s collected is clean enough for recycled content product making.

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. 

Vict Govt responds to China waste ban

In response to China’s National Sword decision, Victorian councils and industry will be provided a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.

The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts.

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The Victorian Government has also moved to establish a recycling industry taskforce to develop a plan for industry transition.

The decision comes not long after the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) called for a suite of measures to improve the situation.

The VWMA in a statement welcomed the opportunity to represent its member base on any proposed taskforce and said it has been assured by relevant government agencies that it will have a seat at the table. It advocated for the taskforce to have fair representation of the waste and resource recovery sector, including small and medium operators and the waste transport sector. It said the taskforce should be steered by principles such as a competitive resource recovery sector and circular economy principles that prioritise local jobs over exports or landfilling.

China has not banned the importation of waste entirely but new restrictions on the contamination rate means that they require a cleaner and more processed version of these materials.

“While recycling is ultimately a matter for local councils, we’re stepping in to help councils and industry affected by China’s new import rules,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

“This is about protecting jobs and ensuring Victorians have confidence to continue recycling.”

Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.

 

Visy reportedly invokes “force majeure”

Recycling company Visy has reportedly told two council contractors it will no longer accept recyclable material from February 9.

In a letter reportedly seen by News Corp, Visy invoked “force majeure”, otherwise known as unforeseen circumstances to suspend contracts, citing the China waste ban and collapse of the recycling materials market.

In a statement to News Corp, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambriosio said the state government would look into the problem.

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“I have asked for a meeting with these businesses to seek an explanation into what’s happened and will be discussing these matters with local government,” she said.

“I will be seeking assurances from all relevant parties to ensure this will have no impact on Victorians.”

Warrnambool based company Wheelie Waste was informed of the move on January 24. Other councils may be affected, but reports indicate this has not been confirmed yet.

Polytrade and SKM Recycling is reportedly negotiating with councils and contractors to find a solution over the next 10 days.

Citywide, owned by the City of Melbourne, told the publication its contract with Visy would remain.

Paintback draws interest in China

A unique Australian scheme to collect and reuse unwanted paint and packaging is creating interest in China.

A 20-strong Chinese delegation was in Melbourne late last week to study the successful Paintback initiative, which has opened 74 collection sites nationwide in its first 18 months and accepted more than 5.3 million kilograms of paint and packaging – equivalent to 7 kilograms every minute.

“Dealing responsibly with unwanted paint to keep it out of landfill is a global issue and ours is the first voluntary, industry-led scheme anywhere in the world,” said Paintback chief executive Karen Gomez.

“The Chinese wanted to see all aspects of the process and to talk with trade painters about how it works in practice.”

The visitors inspected a collection site at the Boroondara Recycling and Waste Disposal Centre in Camberwell, then toured facilities where paint and packaging are separated for disposal or recycling and solvent paints are prepared for use as a replacement for fossil fuel in cement manufacture in Dandenong.

Led by the Chinese National Coatings Industry Association, the delegation included industry and government representatives. The CNCIA is developing policies to support industry sustainability efforts and key issues that need to be considered as new environmental policies are being developed in China.

“The strength of Paintback is that it both supports and encourages professional and DIY painters not just to do the right thing but to actually think about paint as a reusable resource,” Ms Gomez said.

“Already more than 15 million Australians are no more than 20 kilometres from a free collection site and more sites are opening all the time. In other areas, we provide a mobile service.

“Our goal is to make it normal for people to want to take their paint back, rather than stockpile it or throw it away into the environment, and the response has been quite overwhelming.”

Paintback was developed by five founding member companies – DuluxGroup, PPG Industries, Valspar, Haymes and Resene. Between them, they produce more than 30 brands and 95 per cent of the architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

Launched in May 2016, the scheme is supported by all state and territories governments, some of which amended their regulations to ensure it could operate nationally.

As well as disposing of paint responsibly, Paintback repurposes valuable materials into recycled packaging, alternative energy and water resources in industrial processes. It also is funding research to find better uses for unwanted paint.

Study finds China dumps most e-waste in Asia

Telstra e-waste reuse and recycling strategy went live in November 2016
China is dumping more electronic waste per year than any country in Asia, according to research by the United Nations E-Waste Monitor.

The regional study found China dumped the most waste at 6.7 million metric tons, while Hong Kong was responsible for the most per capita.

The United Nations University (UNU) research, which sampled 11 countries, found electronic waste in Asia and Southeast Asia rose by almost 63 per cent over a five-year period from 2010 to 2015.

In 2015 alone, the region overall dumped 12.3 million metric tons of electronics, which includes TVs, computers, mobile phones and refrigerators.

According to the World Bank, there are more than two mobile phones for every person in the nation in Hong Kong, while its 7.2 million population is estimated to be nearly 200 times smaller than China’s.

Last year, an investigation by Seattle environmental group ­Basel Action Network found Hong Kong had become a dumping ground for exporters of electronic waste in the United States.

The UNU research showed the increase in e-waste in East and South East Asia was driven by high demand for new gadgets and rising incomes.

It found Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Province of China had e-waste collection systems in place, while Hong Kong and Singapore had no specific e-waste legislation, but instead managed via a public-private partnership through their respective governments and producers.

South China Morning Post reported in December of last year that Hong Kong was in the midst of developing its first integrated recycling plant for electronics.