Tyre Stewardship Australia members achieve circular outcomes

Eight members of Tyre Stewardship Australia are taking their role as tyre manufacturers a step further by working towards a circular economy future.

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EOIs open for Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund

Expressions of interest are open for the Queensland Government’s $5 million Queensland Waste to Biofutures Fund.

The Waste to Biofutures Fund offers grants from $50,000 to $1 million to develop pilot, demonstration or commercial-scale projects that produce bio-based products instead of conventional fossil fuel-based products.

This includes utilising household food and green waste, tyres and plastics, recovered fats and oils from restaurants, and biosolids from sewerage treatment plants.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the aim was to make Queensland a world leader in the re-manufacturing of materials to turn waste into bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts.

“Through this initiative we’ll see innovative waste processing technologies emerge that are scalable and can be deployed statewide, particularly in regional areas of Queensland.

“We’re already doing this at pilot plants where we’re converting a variety of feedstocks like sugarcane waste into biofuels. These processes are supporting Queensland’s transition to a low carbon, circular economy – the results being improved energy efficiency, enhanced fuel security and reduced emissions,” Mr Dick said.

The fund has two pathways both which require the applicant to provide co-funding that matches or exceeds the grant amount.

The first pathway is the purchase and installation of plant and equipment for an existing or greenfield facility to produce bioenergy, biofuels and bioproducts and the second is collaborative research projects that could contribute to the commercial development and growth of Queensland’s biofutures industry.

The fund is an addition to the $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program which targets projects using proven technologies to divert waste from landfill or stockpiling.

Expressions of interest are open until 8 April.

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NSW Labor’s waste election pledges

New South Wales Labor leader Michael Daley has announced that if elected his government will ban single-use plastic bags and invest $140 million into local recycling initiatives.

Mr Daley said the NSW waste system is struggling to keep up with rapidly declining sites for landfill, China’s National Sword policy and a collapsing market for recycled material.

NSW is the second highest per capita waste producer in the world with every person in the state generating an average of two tonnes of waste each year.

Mr Daley said that within the first 100 days of taking office Labor would introduce legislation to ban plastic bags as part of a longterm plan to phase out single-use plastic.

The proposed $140 million Circular Economy and Job Creation Investment Fund aims to support the resource recovery and recycling industry by investing in recycling and processing facilities, increasing community-based waste reduction and providing seed funding for innovative solutions for dealing with waste.

Mr Daley said the fund would use unallocated waste levy revenue to support recycling and environmental programs.

Labor also plan to establish a recycling, resource recovery and waste council comprised of key industry stakeholders that will provide advice to the Environment Minister.

“It is a fact that recycling waste generates more jobs than sending waste to landfill, Labor’s war on waste will seize this opportunity and at the same time reduce waste and pollution. It’s a win-win,” he said.

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Australian-first Circular Economy Lab opens

In a first for Australia, a Circular Economy (CE) Lab launched this week in Brisbane, which will see industry, research and government partnerships to identify and deliver three initial pilot projects.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government had pledged $150,000 to start the initiative which will launch innovative projects to change the way we think about materials, resources and waste in Queensland.

“Today’s launch of theCE Lab will help to propel Queensland’s transition to a new low-carbon and circular economy, delivering new opportunities for industry and more jobs for Queenslanders,” Minister Enoch said.

She said Queensland needs to move to a more-circular way of thinking and acting towards its valuable materials and resources, instead of simply using and throwing things away.

“A key feature of the CE Lab will be to consolidate industry, research and government partnerships and expertise to identify and deliver three initial circular economy pilot projects,” she said.

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“These partnerships, once operational, will focus on understanding what actions Queensland can take today to manage the transition to the circular economy of tomorrow.”

She said the CE Lab will test ideas and explore opportunities with leaders from across a range of sectors.

“The circular economy concept is relatively new in Australia, but it is well established overseas and continues to gain traction,” Minister Enoch said.

“This work certainly aligns with the vision outlined in the Queensland Government’s Draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy which is currently open for public feedback.

“I commend Coreo and Business Models Inc. on driving the establishment of this trailblazing new initiative.”

Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp said the CE Lab means Queensland is amongst the world leaders in acknowledging that there is an urgent need for a circular economy.

“For a long time, we’ve existed in a linear take-make-dispose economy. A circular economy is not just about recycling the products we use, it’s about creating new economic opportunities,” Ms Kemp said.

“A circular economy will transform the way we design, teach, invest and buy. In a circular economy there is no waste and at the worst attempt there is less.

“A circular economy designs products with disassembly and re-use in mind and materials are sourced as an enabler for extension of life or reuse in closed loop or extended loop applications.”

Treading the circular path

The new National Waste Policy acknowledges the importance of a circular economy, but is largely a missed opportunity, writes Jenni Downes, Senior Research Consultant at the University of Technology Sydney’s Institute of Sustainable Futures.

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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.