Waste reduction winners of the NSW Sustainable Cities Awards

Winners of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards have been announced and include the NSW container deposit scheme and a hospital recycling program.

The NSW EPA sponsored and presented two awards for waste management and litter reduction.

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Winning initiatives include Auburn Hospital’s Think before you bin it project to improve recycling and reduce hospital waste and the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s We Like Greenacre Litter Free, which resulted in a 54 per cent reduction in litter in Greenacre over three years.

The Vinnies Container Deposit scheme won the inaugural Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award, as the organisation have collected millions of containers at their automated depot and over the counter return points in NSW.

The Return and Earn school’s category went to Glenmore Park High School, which mobilised its school community to collect litter to fundraise for a minibus for the Special Needs Unit.

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said these projects along with other winners demonstrate the power of acting locally to reduce waste and litter in communities.

“All of the winners demonstrate extraordinary leadership in waste and litter reduction initiatives in our communities, and I commend them all on their efforts,” Ms Levy said.

Ms Levy said the NSW Government is committed to reducing waste and litter in the environment.

“We have dedicated $802 million over nine years to 2021 as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative – the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia,” she said.

“We have also introduced the state’s largest litter reduction initiative, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, to help achieve the Premier’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in litter volume by 2020.

“More than 814 million containers have been returned to return points across NSW in just over ten months, and drink container litter volume has already dropped by a third since November last year.”

Network provider selected for QLD Container Refund Scheme

Queensland’s Product Responsibility Organisation, Container Exchange, has selected recycling company Envirobank Recycling as the network provider of container refund points for the Queensland Government’s Container Refund Scheme (CRS).

Envirobank will provide a minimum of 48 collection points along the Queensland coast across Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

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Collection points will include Coles supermarket locations, community collection points with not for profit partners such as Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and three large-scale automated depots for bulk processing of large quantities for businesses and community groups.

The Queensland CRS launches on 1 November 2018 and aims to reduce beverage container litter across the state.

Drink containers are the second most commonly littered item in the state, with around 2.4 billion generated annually even though the majority of the containers can be recycled.

A 10 cent refund is provided for each eligible container that is returned to a collection point, with payment made through cash, retail vouchers or digital payments such as Scheme ID or a PayPal account.

Container Exchange Acting Chair Alby Taylor said the criteria for selecting operators was an extensive process designed to meet customer needs.

“Our tender process generated a lot of interest from both small and large operators and in the end, it came down to ensuring we provided the best service to the Queensland public,” Mr Taylor said.

“We have listened to the feedback from other states and in Queensland you will see a lot more mobile collections to ensure we can get to as many people as possible wanting a refund.

“We will have depot sites as well as bag drop options in many communities, with many operations benefiting local community groups and charities,’ he said.

Envirobank Founder and Managing Director Narelle Anderson said her goal is to make collecting refunds easy for the public, so they can be rewarded for their recycling efforts.

“We are always dreaming up new ways to ensure people not only get convenient access to the scheme, but also choose the way they want to get their refunds,” said Ms Anderson.

“Envirobank has been a long-term network operator in the Northern Territory Scheme and it’s evident the program is much more than a litter reduction initiative.

“With the right partnerships in place the Scheme has the potential to raise substantial funds for many charities that deliver the vital services we need in our communities.”

Coles Queensland General Manager Jerry Farrell said the partnership was in line with the retailer’s sustainability commitments to improve recycling and reduce waste sent to landfill.

“Coles has made a public commitment to crush waste and reduce landfill, and our partnership with Envirobank in Queensland is a great opportunity for us to work with our customers to stop empty plastic containers ending up on the streets, our waterways or in landfill,” Mr Farrell said.

The scheme offers charities, community groups and not for profits a way of fundraising by setting up donation sites.

SLSQ CEO John Brennan said the partnership with Envirobank will help maximise the benefits for volunteer surf lifesavers.

“We are thrilled that the Container Refund Scheme is coming to Queensland and, by partnering with Envirobank, it means that each of our 58 clubs right up and down the Queensland coastline will have the opportunity to benefit financially,” Mr Brennan said.

“Every valid container put in a donation point at one of our clubs is a new stream of income that will be re-invested straight back into their lifesaving work in their local community.”

Image: Narelle Anderson

CDS contract renegotiations: Mike Ritchie

Mike Ritchie, Director of MRA Consulting Group, explains the alternative revenue stream created through the Container Deposit Scheme in NSW and offers advice on how to handle contract renegotiations.

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NSW litter reduced by a third with help from Return and Earn

Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.

A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.

“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.

“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.

“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.

“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”

New information on Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme released

A Tasmanian round table discussion has seen local government and the waste industry agree to the creation of a Waste Action Plan, amid the release of a report on the potential framework for a Container Refund Scheme.

Consulting firm Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA) has detailed the model framework for a Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme (CRS).

The report concluded the scheme should include common features with similar schemes, such as the eligible containers and price.

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It has allocated 18 months to set up the scheme and found the total funding requirement over 20 years would be $239 million, of which $138 million are refunded deposits. The costs of running the scheme were found to be around $101 million, or 4 cents per eligible container.

A redemption rate of at least 80 per cent was outlined, with a target of at least 60 refund points. Graduated sanctions were recommended for failing to meet these targets, with a verifiable auditing and tracking system required to ensure the objectives are met.

Potential cost savings for local councils were found, with beverage container litter estimated to fall by half, with an 80 per cent redemption rate.

MJA said in the report that the market should be allowed to determine the operational details of the system. The firm estimates nominal price impacts on consumers who don’t redeem the containers would start at around 10 cents per container and rise over time to 16 cents, with cost impacts on redeemers being around 10 cents lower.

Another finding from the report said the CRS should be run by a single co-ordinator and operator, set up as a product stewardship organisation (PSO). This PSO would be overseen by a board of directors that is representative of the industry and ensures access to relevant expertise.

The Action Plan will aim to consider initiatives like the CRS as part of the broader context across Tasmania. It will be further developed following China’s increased restriction on solid waste imports.

With the implementation of stricter contamination levels for imported waste, the amount of recyclate and waste that it will accept has decreased significantly, affecting Australia’s waste industry.

Tasmanian Minister for the Environment Elise Archer said the government will continue to consider the views of local government, industry, business and the community regarding a CRS and a range of other initiatives in developing the Waste Action Plan.

Local Government Association of Tasmania President Doug Chipman said that local government has welcomed the round table.

“The impacts of China’s restrictions are being felt deeply by councils and the community’s interest in waste management in general has risen significantly,” Cr Chipman said.

“We have five motions on waste at our upcoming LGAT General Meeting and I look forward to collaborating with the State Government in addressing these issues.”

Return and Earn sees half a billion containers returned

More than half a billion containers have been returned to Return and Earn reverse vending machines in NSW, eight months after the scheme launched.

The container deposit scheme aims to improve recycling rates and reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40 per cent by 2020.

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Each eligible container is worth 10 cents when returned to a reverse vending machine or depot.

Drink containers litter currently makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter throughout NSW and costs more than $162 million to manage, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) was the first educational institution to install a reverse vending machine as part of the scheme.

UNSW Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability Will Syddall said that while this initiative helps to reduce littering and improve recycling rates, it is just one step in improving the way we create and manage waste.

“In the waste hierarchy, reducing and reusing resources is better than recycling them. We encourage the community to use reusable water bottles and coffee cups so that they can avoid disposable cups and bottles altogether,” Mr Syddall said.

“We also recognise that we have more work to do to reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other consumables used on our campuses.”

According to the World Bank, half of the plastic ever manufactured was made in the last 15 years.

ACT CDS locations announced as scheme begins

The first locations for the Australian Capital Territory’s Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) have been announced.

The scheme commenced on 30 June 2018 and refunds consumers 10 cents for returning an eligible container.

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The scheme targets containers that occur most often in the waste stream of ACT, covering glass, PET, HDPE, aluminium, steel or liquid paperboard cartons, between 150 millilitres and three litres in size. The scheme does not include plain milk containers, flavoured milk containers above 1 litre, pure juice drinks, wine, spirit or cordial bottles.

Director of ACT NoWaste Michael Trushell said a total of nine return points will open across Canberra’s north and south side with more locations to join over the next 12 months.

“To receive a 10 cent refund, residents will be able to take their eligible containers to two types of return points, express return points for returning up to 500 containers or bulk depots, which can accept any number,” he said.

“The ACT CDS is a little different to the one that operates in NSW. Residents can choose to collect the refund or donate the funds directly to a charity. Social enterprise groups like the Salvation Army and St Vincent de Paul have express shopfronts across Canberra that will benefit from the scheme.”

The locations include:

  • 151 Gladstone Street, Fyshwick (bulk depot)
  • 10 Buckland Street, Mitchell (bulk depot)
  • 1/9 Wooley Street, Dickson (express return point Vinnies)
  • Corner Pitman Street and Athllon Drive, Greenway (express return point Vinnies)
  • Corner Rae and Purdue Streets, Belconnen (express return point Vinnies)
  • Corner Anketell and Reed Streets, Tuggeranong Square, South Greenway (express return point Salvos)
  • Shop 7, Corner Hindmarsh Drive and Botany Street, Phillip (express return point Salvos)
  • 32 Hoskins Street, Mitchell (express return point Salvos)
  • 15 Mildura Street, Fyshwick (express return point Salvos)

“I would like to thank the Network Operator, Return-It and the Scheme Coordinator, Exchange for Change ACT for working behind the scenes to establish the first CDS for Canberra,” Mr Trushell said.

For more information on the scheme, click here.

QLD Gov announce $100M resource recovery fund

The Queensland Government has announced a $100 million resource recovery fund, more information on the waste levy and a plan to reduce plastic pollution in its state budget.

The government revealed a further $2 million will go towards implementing a Container Refund Scheme, along with its ban on single-use plastic bags.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that by funding initiatives and programs that push for positive environmental change, the government is delivering a budget firmly focused on the future.

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“To help transition to a low carbon, clean growth economy, there will be $5.6 million in this coming budget to help Queensland adapt to the impacts of a changing climate,” Ms Enoch said.

“These major plastic-reducing initiatives are not far away, with the ban on plastic bags coming into effect in less than a month, and Container Refund Scheme coming into effect in November.”

The budget also revealed the already announced waste disposal levy, more information on that here, which will begin in the first quarter of 2019 and apply to 38 local government areas, covering more than 80 per cent of the state’s population. It will be set at $70 a tonne for general waste and increase by $5 per annum, with the process going to waste programs, environmental priorities and community purposes.

There will also be $100 million allocated over three years to support the resource recovery and recycling industry through its Resource Recovery Industry Development Program.

An annual advance will be provided on levy charges to local governments disposing of municipal waste in the levy zone, with $32 million in 2018-19 for this.

The budget also includes $5 million to go to waste to energy and $5 million over two years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities to remove metal waste and vehicle stockpiles in areas which comprise the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Torres Shire Council.

It will also offer $3.9 million over for years to continue to deliver its ecoBiz program, that helps small to medium-sized businesses identify and achieve financial savings and eco-efficiency in energy, water and waste.

 

ACT container deposit scheme start date announced

The ACT Government has announced that Canberra’s container deposit scheme will start on 30 June.

Contract agreements have been signed with the scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Re.Turn-it.

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Residents will be able to return eligible beverage containers at registered collection points to receive a 10-cent refund.

The scheme is similar to the legislation in SA, NT and NSW, which use the refund to encourage consumers to dispose of drink containers properly to decrease litter.

Minister for Transport and City Services Meegan Fitzharris said the ACT has always said it would introduce a scheme as quickly as possible to align with NSW but took time to make sure the scheme it was done right.

“I’m excited to announce that the ACT’s Container Deposit Scheme will start on 30 June 2018, which I’m sure will be good news for local sporting groups and kids who have already started stockpiling cans and bottles,” Ms Fitzharris said.

“The scheme will provide opportunities for container refunds to be donated to charities and offer increased economic and employment opportunities for participating collection points,” she said.

“We also want to make sure industry are supported through this process, and this week we will introduce legislation to allow beverage manufacturers up to two years before they have to introduce ACT specific refund marking on their containers.”

Examining similar schemes around Australia alongside community consultation, discussions with industry, social research and waste audits were performed to inform the scheme.

Re.Turn-It is responsible for establishing a series of collection points where people will be able to return their containers once the scheme begins.

Managing Director of Re.Group David Singh said the company’s approach will be to maximise customer convenience, which includes delivering a range of collection point formats across ACT, designed to suit the needs of different members of the community.

Collection points will include depots where containers are counted on the spot for immediate cash refunds, as well as express collection points where customers are able to drop off containers and have the refund automatically credited to their account within a few days. Reverse vending machines are also a possibility at some sites in the ACT.

“By working with charities and disability employers, our aim is to ensure that the ACT CDS provides real benefits to the wider community, as well as to individual customers,” he said.

“We are committed to ensuring that, from Day 1, the people of the ACT have options on where to take their containers. We’ll also work with the Territory to expand the collection network over time, taking account of customer feedback and demand,” said Mr Singh.