New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan

New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.

The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.

Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.

These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

Related stories:

The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.

Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.

Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.

“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.

Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.

With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.

“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.

“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.

“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

Geelong launches $3M organics composting facility

The City of Greater Geelong has launched a $3 million garden organics composting facility that is able to recover 35,000 tonnes of green organics per year.

Compost from the Geelong Garden Organics Composting Facility will be used on council land, such as parks and ovals, and local farmers. It will see an abatement of 49,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

Related stories:

Sustainability Victoria provided a $500,000 grant towards the facility on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Projects in regional Victoria have increased the organics processing capacity by 38,250 tonnes per year, with approximately 74,570 households now able to access kerbside collections for food and/or organic waste. With the launch of the new facility, kerbside organics collection services have resulted in an average abatement of 81,621 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said he was delighted to see the organics facility opened.

“We’ve been working closely with the City of Geelong to enable greater recovery of its valuable resources,” he said.

“Victoria’s population could reach 10 million by 2050, putting pressure to our waste recovery and disposal systems. Taking action now through creating and expanding recycling opportunities will greatly reduce the environmental impact of these resources ending up in landfill, and their economic value being lost.

“This project falls under Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan and the Victorian Organics Recovery Strategy, which plans for all viable recovered materials to be extracted from waste streams before reaching landfill,” Mr Krpan said.

The new Geelong facility is able to provide long term benefits such as processing the council’s green organics, with the potential to process additional organic materials such as food.

“Geelong is one of three large regional organics projects funded by the Victorian Government. It followed Ballarat and Bendigo which all now divert large quantities of organics from waste streams,” Mr Krpan said.

Sustainability Victoria’s Optimising Kerbside Collection Systems guide assists councils to increase recycling, improve the quality of recycled quality materials and reduce contamination

Winners announced for 2018 APCO awards

The 2018 Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) awards took place in Sydney on 29 August, showcasing companies with outstanding achievements in recyclable packaging.

Companies from the telecommunications sector to the food and beverage sector came together on the day to discuss how each could reach the target of 100 per cent of Australian packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Related stories:

Two workshops were available on the day, with one exploring a sustainable packaging guidelines review and the other focusing on consumer education and behaviour change.

At the workshopping event, APCO Chief Executive Officer Brooke Donnelly said Australia was undergoing a sustainable packaging review to update the most recent, which took place in 2011.

“What we are trying to achieve is better material choices and better design,” said Ms Donnelly.

“Part of that achievement also included correct disposal of packaging and no packaging in landfill,” she said.

At the awards evening, Detmold Packaging won the top award – Sustainable Packaging Excellence.

Detmold Packaging manufacturers paper and board packaging products for the FMCG and industrial markets.

The company was founded in 1948 and is part of the Detmold Group. It has access to a global network, with seven factories and more than 20 sales offices through Australia, Asia, South Africa, the Middle East, America and Europe.

Food company Campbell Arnotts Australia won the award for Outstanding Achivement in Packaging Design, along with the award for the Food and Beverage sector.

Arnott’s is one of the largest food companies in the Asia Pacific region, with its ongoing growth supported by the Campbell Soup Company’s investment in the business.

Other winners for outstanding achievements were CHEP Australia for Outstanding Achievement in Sustainable Packaging Operations, and Australian Postal Organisation for Outstanding Achievement in Industry Leadership.

APCO Award Winners: 

ACCO Brands Australia – Homewares Sector

Amgen Australia – Pharmaceutical Sector

Detmold Packaging – Packaging Manufacturer

Redback Boot Company – Clothing, Footwear and Fashion

Kyocera Document Solutions – Electronics Sector

LyondellBasel Australia – Chemicals and Agriculture

Qantas Airways – Airline Sector

SingTel Optus – Telecommunications

Telstra Corporation – Telecomunications

Super Retail Group – Large Retailer Sector

Tasman Sinkware – Machinery and Hardware

Integria Healthcare – Personal Care

CHEP Australia – Logistics Sector

New solar powered composter for Canberra community

A new solar powered composter has been unveiled at the Canberra Environment Centre to launch the Canberra Community Composting project.

The composter was purchased by the centre after it received a $24,200 grant from the ACT Government’s Community Zero-Emissions Grants program.

Related stories:

Food scraps can be dropped off at the Environment Centre to be processed by the new machine, nicknamed The Hungry Composter. The project aims to support members of the community who feel as if they don’t have the time, space or knowledge to compost at home.

The Hungry Composter is able to process 100 litres of mixed waste a day, including paper, cardboard, food scraps and green waste. It is solar power, odourless, continuous-feed system that processes food scraps into ready-to-use compost within 10-14 days.

Community members need to register with the Environment Centre before disposing of their waste for composting.

ACT Government Sustainability Programs Senior Manager, Ros Malouf said it was a fantastic example of a community group working with the ACT government to implement a project which will have significant benefits for both residents and the environment.

“In addition to generating nutrient rich soil, composting is a great way to reduce emissions. Organic material sent to landfill produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is approximately 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.”

Dubbo Regional Council opens new organics processing plant

A new organics processing facility has been opened at the Whylandra Waste and Recycling Facility to recycle food and organic waste from the surrounding councils.

The Dubbo Regional Organics Processing Plant (DROPP) commenced operations in early July and has begun receiving food and garden waste from Dubbo Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Narromine Shire Council.

Related stories:

It aims to divert a significant amount of organic waste from landfill and turn it into compost, reducing environmental pollution caused by leachate and methane gas production.

The facility received more than $7 million of funding from the NSW EPA, Dubbo Regional Council and JR Richards & Sons. The project was supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure initiative, funded by the waste levy.

Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Ben Shields said the high-tech composting facility was built to handle organic material collected by three council as part of the new Food and Garden Waste Management service.

“It is great to see neighbouring Councils working collaboratively and sharing resources to achieve a common goal,” Cr Shields said.

NSW Member for Dubbo Tony Grant said the regional organics recycling will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.

“The carbon footprint of trucking the waste is minor compared to methane that would otherwise be produced by food and garden waste buried in landfill,” Mr Grant said.

“This is a fantastic local initiative where organic waste from the region will be processed locally and reused locally,” he said.

Image: Mayor of Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields, Member for Dubbo the Hon Troy Grant and Mayor of Narromine Shire Councillor Craig Davies officially opened the DROPP. 

CEFC finance composting facility for Melbourne councils

Organic waste from eight Melbourne councils will be sent to a new composting facility, to be built by international waste management company Sacyr Group.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will commit up to $35 million towards the new composting facility.

Related stories:

The $65 million South Eastern Organics Processing Facility will be the most advanced of its type in Victoria and will produce approximately 50,000 tonnes of high grade compost each year.

The compost will be made from processed household garden and food waste from council kerbside green waste collections in Melbourne’s south-east, which will then be used on local parks and gardens.

Food and green waste makes up an estimated 42 per cent of landfill for Australia’s municipal and commercial waste streams.

The Melbourne councils include Bayside, Cardinia, Casey, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Kingston and Monash.

Sacyr expects the fully-enclosed, in-vessel aerobic composting and maturation plant will be operational by mid-2019. It will aim to operate for 15 years, with a potential five-year extension.

The new facility will have an annual processing capacity of 120,000 tonnes of waste each year, the equivalent of 12,000 truckloads of waste. It is expected to abate more than 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually. This would cut the greenhouse gas emissions from landfill by 85 per cent if it were to be landfilled, which is equivalent to taking 13,900 cars off the road.

Sacyr Group has built 48 plants around the world and handles more than three million tonnes of waste each year. It currently operates in Australia through its subsidiary, Sacyr Water, which has built and operates the Binningup desalination plant.

The technology used in the plant has been developed over two decades, ensures plant storage reservoirs are completely closed, and uses efficient and reliable deodorisation systems.

Federal Government  Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said converting waste to compost can play a part in Australia’s long-term waste solutions.

“This facility alone, which will be the most advanced of its type in Victoria, can process around 12,000 truckloads of waste per year,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“It means food and organic waste produced by south east Melbourne residents will not end up in landfill and will instead produce high-grade compost for our gardens and parks.”

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the corporation is looking across the economy to identify finance opportunities to reduce Australia’s emissions.

“We’re pleased to be making our first project investment to help councils and communities tackle emissions from their organic waste,” he said.

“When organic waste such as food and green waste ends up in landfill it breaks down and produces methane. With this technology, councils can avoid those emissions by turning their organic waste into reusable compost, while also reducing our unsustainable reliance on landfill as a waste disposal option.

“We strongly endorse the principle of avoiding and reducing waste at the source. Our finance is about effectively manage the remaining waste, so that it doesn’t end up as landfill and we make a meaningful difference to our greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Learmonth said.

CEFC Bioenergy Sector lead Henry Anning said the CEFC finance model for the Melbourne project was an industry first, providing councils with access to a project financing structure that has rarely been leveraged across local government.

“Australia’s waste sector is facing enormous challenges, because of the growing amount of waste we produce as well as increasing community concerns about the way we handle that waste. This new Melbourne facility provides us with a practical and proven way to turn organic waste into a reusable commodity at the same time as avoiding harmful emissions,” Mr Anning said.

“We expect to see more councils and communities consider innovative ways to manage all forms of waste. This innovative project finance model offers opportunities for other groups of councils considering investing in substantial waste management infrastructure to reduce landfill waste.”

REMONDIS and Lake Macquarie open new organics processing facility

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility.

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility in late July.

It is part of the council’s new three-bin waste management system, which aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by as much as one third by recycling food refuse.

Related stories:

Food and green waste will be recycled at the new facility and turned into compost products for reuse on parks, grounds and sporting fields.

The facility has a unique hybrid model of ‘in-vessel’ and ‘mobile aerated floor’ systems and includes a fully automated tunnel composting system to pasteurise food waste in two weeks

With a mobile aerated floor finishing. It also includes an automatic, cashless weighbridge system that gives users access to the facility with the swipe of a card.

REMONDIS CEO Luke Agati said the company is proud to be investing in Lake Macquarie and the Australian resource recovery sector.

“REMONDIS has been composting garden waste at Awaba for Lake Macquarie City Council since 2013, and this new facility will enable us to also convert food waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Agati said.

“The facility will convert up to 44,000 tonnes per year of organic waste into compost and soil amendment products.

“REMONDIS applauds forward-thinking local government organisations such as Lake Macquarie City Council for their dedication to building the vital recycling infrastructure that will create job opportunities, strengthen the Australian economy and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the Organics Resource Recovery Facility would see the City take a leading role in recycling and waste management.

“This is a significant step in our Waste Strategy and in our efforts to encourage people to think and act more responsibly about household waste disposal,” Cr Fraser said.

“By making it easy for residents to dispose of organic waste appropriately, we will encourage them to recycle and close the food consumption loop.

“About one third of household garbage bin contents is food waste, so this will divert significant amounts of organic material from landfill, extending the life of our Awaba Waste Management Facility and saving an estimated $4 million over 10 years in waste management costs.”

The project was supported by a grant of $2 million as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycled More initiative, funded from the waste levy.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the NSW Government was pleased to assist by contributing a $1.4 million grant to the facility and $0.6m for community engagement initiatives, from the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

“This facility will improve the availability of organic compost for local primary producers and reduce unnecessary wastage of high quality organic material. I congratulate Lake Macquarie City Council in securing investment from a business with the calibre of REMONDIS.”

More than 100 contracting firms were engaged to build the facility, which also features an education centre where schools and community groups can see the recycling process.

Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility Branch Manager Gunther Neumann said REMONDIS is proud of its environmental achievements in Lake Macquarie.

“Since 2013, REMONDIS has diverted more than 100,000 tonnes of garden organics from landfill in the region, saving more than $13 million in landfill levies for residents,” Mr Neumann said.

“With the opening of the Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility, REMONDIS looks forward to a new chapter in organics processing that will deliver additional landfill levy savings and create new market opportunities locally, reinforcing our role as a valued member of the local community.”

Image: Lake Macquarie City Council

BioPak and Perth cafes combine to compost coffee cups

Cafe customers in Perth will be able to sustainably dispose of their coffee cups as part of Australia’s first national composting program for food service packaging.

Sustainable packaging company BioPak has partnered with Perth cafes to divert food scraps and packaging from landfill.

Related stories:

Under the service, used coffee cups and compostable takeaway food packaging can be disposed of in specially designed collection bins placed in local cafes and workplaces.

The bins are collected weekly and sent to commercial facilities to be composted over eight weeks.

BioPak founder Richard Fine said the aim of the service was to ensure that the environmental benefit of compostable, single use disposable packaging could be maximised, helping customers in reducing the environmental impact of their business.

“In Australia, we send more than eight million tonnes of organic waste to landfill every year, including 1.5 million tonnes of food waste,” Mr Fine said.

“The problem with this is that when food waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, which is a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, resulting in enormous damage to our environment.

“Switching to compostable food service packaging, including compostable coffee cups, can divert much of this material from going to landfill.”

Café owner Mike Pond has signed up to the service and said it would allow patrons to enjoy the convenience of disposable takeaway packaging, including coffee cups, while doing the right thing by the environment.

“This is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will help divert potentially tonnes of waste away from landfills and turned into composting that can be used for commercial-level agriculture – at no cost to our customers,” Mr Pond said.

“In fact the composting service will save us more than 20% a year in waste bills.”

“We are big supporters of the concept of a truly circular economy, using rapidly renewable and sustainably sourced material that return nutrients back into the soil at the end of their life.

Food waste compost combats NSW weeds

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority (NSW EPA) has been able to use compost as a weed suppressant to reduce African lovegrass and improve soil quality.

The Monaro lovegrass project was delivered by Australian Soil Management (ASM) with a $50,000 grant from the NSW EPA’s Organics Market development program.

Related stories:

Compost made by Snowy Monaro Regional Council from kerbside food and garden waste was blended with supplements to address deficiencies in soil tests and compost analysis.

Two farms at Billilingra at Bredbo and Macfield at Cooma were selected for the project to develop a method for compost use to control lovegrass on the two major soil types in the Monaro region.

The company tested the soil and mapped each site before applying compost to fill soil nutrient gaps.

Both sites recorded an approximate 50 per cent reduction in lovegrass, along with more preferred species, improved pasture quality and more nutrition for cattle.

ASM estimates that within five years, because of the composts efficiency to improve pastures, there would be no need for winter feed of hay or fodder crops.

Results of the project have been shared with farmers at field days and workshops. The NSW EPA says that ten tonnes of compost was sold for immediate pick-up, and followed by a steady increase in the region’s compost sales to 250 tonnes.

Tasmanian EPA consider new organics processing plant

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

The proposal by Launceston City Council is to produce up to 15,000 tonnes of compost product a year, using Forced Aerated Floor (FAF) technology to aerate the compost piles and reduce the potential odours.

Related stories:

No representations were received in relation to the permit application, and a 40-day public consultation period was open in July 2017.

The Chair of the Tasmanian EPA Board Warren Jones said that the board concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly air emissions,” Mr Jones said.

“Conditions have been imposed to ensure appropriate management practices are in place during operation of the organics processing facility to reduce the risk of impact to surrounding sensitive receptors from odour emissions,” he said.