NSW EPA opens grants up to $250,000 to reduce food waste

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water. ORCA

The NSW EPA has opened applications to grants worth up to $250,000 to establish five ‘Love Food Communities’ across the state.

The funding aims to assist councils tackle the issue of food waste across an entire community, including homes, businesses, schools, supermarkets, clubs, pubs and community groups.

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All projects involved will include delivery of the EPA’s Food Smart and Your Business is Food programs for households and businesses.

The Food Smart program aims to educate NSW households about reducing food waste, with participants receiving a toolkit with bag clips and food huggers to reduce food waste. Your Business is Food provides businesses with information, advice and resources to reduce the amount of food that is disposed of.

Applications to the grants are open to local government in two stages. Stage one is the submission of an Expression of Interest by 19 November 2018, which will be assessed by an independent panel.

Successful applicants will be invited to the second stage to develop a detailed project plan. Funding of up to $20,000 is available for the project planning stage.

Final applications must be submitted by 18 March 2019.

For more information and to access the application form, click here.

QLD Environment Minister opens Future Waste Resources Convention

Queensland’s Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch officially opened the Future Waste Resources Convention in Ipswich, speaking to waste and recycling industry representatives from across the state.

The minister told businesses and local councils that the state government’s priority is to work with the community and industry to reduce landfill and encourage resource recovery.

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“I’m delighted to see that industry leaders are looking to the future, and preparing to make the most of the opportunities ahead,” Ms Enoch said.

“We are in a fortunate position to have internationally competitive businesses right here in Queensland, using cutting-edge technologies and processes for turning waste into valuable and profitable, products and services.

“We want to build on that competitive advantage,” she said.

The convention, located at Ipswich’s Workshops Rail Museum, focuses on realistic solutions to current challenges.

“Changing how we manage waste in Queensland will create jobs and drive significant economic growth as we make better use of resources and develop new industries,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the convention has brought together more than 250 attendees from across the industry, and state and local government.

“This is the largest convention of its kind in Queensland history, focussing on future waste and recycling solutions for the state,” Mr Ralph said.

“It is wonderful the convention is being held at one the oldest manufacturing centres to show the possibilities for the future.”

Veolia releases Rethinking Sustainability case study videos

Environmental services provider Veolia has released several case study videos to showcase examples of environmental and economic sustainability.

The videos aim to challenge perceptions around sustainability and feature some of the company’s significant projects and industry partnerships.

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The case studies include Veolia’s projects in metropolitan, regional, rural and remote communities across Australia and New Zealand.

Clients and projects shown in the videos include the University of the Sunshine Coast, NSW Health Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District (ISLHD), Seqwater, Hunter Water and Auckland Council.

Veolia Executive General Manager – Refractories and Energy Grant Winn said the University of the Sunshine Coast and the NSW Health ISLHD projects demonstrated Veolia’s capability to consider a client’s long-term needs and deliver strategies that targeted operational efficiency and continuous improvement.

“Our role as a partner is to identify, implement and monitor a client’s energy performance to deliver tangible, long-term benefits, while also taking into consideration macro-environmental concerns that could impact their operations,” Mr Winn said.

Veolia Group General Manager, New Zealand Alex Lagny said Veolia’s partnership with Auckland Council is developing waste management in a region that had only recently transitioned from bags to bins.

“We are working closely with the council to drive improvements and a better understanding of practices through data and insights. It’s an exciting space for us, as Veolia looks to expand its waste management capability in the country.”

To watch the videos, click here.

Queensland councils receive $5M to get levy ready

In a move to get Queensland Councils levy ready, the State Government will invest $5 million before the introduction of the waste disposal levy on 4 March 2019.

Local governments can apply for funding under the 2018-19 Local Government Levy Ready Grant Program to support infrastructure improvements at waste disposal facilities.

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The program will be open for submissions between 31 August and 12 October 2018.

Possible examples of infrastructure are fencing, security cameras, traffic control, weighbridges, gatehouses, upgrading IT or signage.

The grant program is being administered by the department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs on behalf of the Department of Environment and Science.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Queensland Government want to ensure councils have efficient, accurate and secure levy collection and landfill facilities.

“Local councils with waste disposal facilities where annual disposal of more than 5,000 tonnes of waste is allowed can apply for infrastructure funding for weighbridges and gatehouses,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Queensland Government is committed to making sure there is no impact on municipal waste collection through the introduction of the waste levy.

“There will be no extra cost to putting your wheelie bin on the footpath each week, and we are keeping that commitment,” she said.

Ms Enoch said Queensland’s new waste disposal levy would also lead to the creation of jobs, local waste management and resource recovery solutions, and market development, particularly in regional areas.

“This will provide a growing incentive for the community and business to take advantage of expanding resource recovery and recycling options across the state,” she said.

“The levy will also bring Queensland in line with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, which have similar levies.

Queensland introduced a waste levy in 2011, which saw resource recovery companies investing in new recycling and processing infrastructure, however it was later repealed.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the amount of waste generated in Queensland was increasing faster than Queensland’s population was growing.

“Reintroducing a waste disposal levy is part of our broader strategy to improve waste recycling and recovery and support jobs growth,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Our local councils will play a key role in helping their communities reduce waste and increase resource recovery.”

For more information about the grant program, click here.

EOI open for WALGA bin tagging program

Expressions of interests are open for WA councils to roll out the WA Local Government Association’s (WALGA) bin tagging program.

WALGA has received funding from the WA Waste Authority to assist five local governments implement the program, with each local government needing to provide in-house staffing to assist.

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Assistance with the bin tagging program includes designing and printing of bin tags, funding to assist staffing for audits and training to facilitate the implementation of the program.

The program aims to encourage households to separate materials into the correct bin by providing direct feedback on through the tags.

Each tag will provide feedback on the content of a resident’s bins and provide guidance for what can and can’t be placed in the bin.

Bin auditors will conduct an assessment of the contents of each bin at the kerb and collect data for each household. The tag is then placed to provide individualised feedback about the content of the bin.

The program aims to reduce the long term costs for local governments by reducing contamination and encouraging diverting waste from landfill.

Generic tags have been made available for two bin systems and three bin systems for local governments that provide green waste or food organics in garden organics (FOGO) bins.

WALGA has prepared guidelines to give local governments a step by step process to implement the tagging program in their area, which detail the planning, preparation, implementation and evaluation phases of the program.

The program was tested in a pilot phase in 2015 and rolled out in 2016 across the Cities of Cockburn and Joodnalup, the Shire of Capel and the Towns of Bassendean and Mosman.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

Byron Bay Bioenergy calls for businesses to help supply feedstock

Byron Shire Council, NSW, has opened an expression of interest for the supply of commercial organic waste to the proposed Bioenergy Plant in Byron Bay.

The technology involved in the waste to energy plant is able to receive more than what the Byron Shire Council already collects, meaning more can be contributed from additional sources.

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Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson said they’re putting out the call to local business and industry to supply commercial food waste and commercial fats, oils and greases as feedstock for the bioenergy plant.

“This is a huge win for our community because it will enable businesses to divert large quantities of commercial food waste from landfill to a Council owned and operated 400-kilowatt bioenergy plant to power our Sewage Treatment Plants,” Cr Richardson said.

“It is the start of us creating our own clean and renewable energy here in the Byron Shire and I strongly encourage our business community to get on board this ground-breaking initiative.

“Our intention from the start was to create a local and scalable bioenergy solution and it is very exciting to be at the stage where we are here inviting the business community to the table,” he said.

It is proposed that the new Bioenergy plant will be located at the Byron Sewer Treatment Plant sit on Wallum Road, Byron Bay.

The Bioenergy plant will help Council reach its zero emissions target by 2025 and make some serious reductions to our carbon footprint,” Cr Richardson said.

It is expected the plant will be commissioned and operational by December 2020.

Planet Ark provide councils packaging recycling label webinars

Planet Ark is increasing its efforts to educate Australians about Australasia Recycling Labels, including councils and educators.

In partnership with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), the Australasian Recycling Label has entered into a new phase which will allow more companies to adopt it. Organisations such as Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Unilever and Woolworths have already pledged their commitment to the label.

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It has been designed to be easy to understand and show what needs to be done with each piece of packaging to dispose of it in the best way.

Because councils play an important part in the recycling process and are the source of the evidence base used by the label, Planet Ark is hosting a series of free webinars in the coming weeks.

Council and waste industry staff members that are interested can sign up by clicking here.

Webinars are planned for the following dates:

  • August 28 – 11am AEST
  • September 4 – 11am AEST
  • September 12 – 1pm AEST
  • September 20 – 1pm AEST

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.

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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.”

Melbourne City waste forum’s top 10 ideas

Around 80 retail and hospitality businesses have gathered for the City of Melbourne’s first waste forum, which looked at ways to assist medium sized businesses could reduce waste.

The forum resulted in more than 200 practical ideas and concepts which will be compiled and reviewed by the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s ongoing programs to assist small and medium businesses in the city.

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The top 10 ideas for waste reduction were identified in the forum and included installing more recycling bins across the city, installing additional organics recycling facilities and providing incentives for businesses to reduce their waste.

Additional ideas for businesses to reduce waste included the introduction of grants or loans and education to improve waste management.

Collaboration between businesses and waste collectors was also identified as a way of improving recycling.

Other ideas identified included the collection of unwanted office or shop fit out furniture for reuse and investigating a city-wide coffee/tea cup exchange system.

Participants included businesses involved in the council’s initial pilot program, which saw 27 businesses receive a $2000 grant to embark on waste reduction activities.

City of Melbourne Councillor Susan Riley recognised the need to look at ways to help small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses to reduce waste.

“Reducing waste does so much more than just help to clean up the environment, it also can reduce costs, increase sales and even cut the number of garbage trucks on the city streets,” Cr Riley said.

“The level of insight and the number of opportunities for businesses to work together to reduce waste is inspiring.”

“Nothing is being ruled out, we’re open to all ideas and we want retailers and businesses to share their thoughts as we plan for a rapidly growing city.”

Image Credit: City of Melbourne

Mobile Muster calls on Australians to recycle phones in storage

MobileMuster

Mobile Muster is calling on Australians to recycle their old mobile phone after the program was showcased on the ABC’s War on Waste.

The national government accredited mobile phone recycling program is aiming to encourage Australians to take their phones out of storage and recycle them. The program is funded by all of the major handset manufacturers and network carriers to provide the free recycling system.

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Mobile Muster says there are currently more mobile phones in storage than the number of people in the country and estimates that by 2028, that number will reach almost 30 million.

Research shows that three out of four Australians are aware that they can recycle their phones, with Mobile Muster aiming to educate people on how they can recycle responsibly through its program.

Consumer awareness campaigns run by Mobile Muster highlight the environmental and social importance of recycling phones.

It also works closely with councils, workplaces, retailers and schools to raise awareness of mobile phone recycling, while also partnering with charities to give mobile users an added incentive to recycle their phones while doing good for communities.

Image Credit: Mobile Muster

Mobile Muster has established more than 35000 drop off points across Australia and have an agreement with AusPost where phones can be posted for free to be recycled.

Almost $45 million has been invested to develop a solid collection network and awareness campaigns over the last 20 years.

The program recycles 99 per cent of the material from phones and accessories, including glass, plastics and metals, reducing the need for virgin materials.

Mobile Muster Manager Spyro Kalos said most Australians know that we shouldn’t throw their phones in the bin, but many people hang on to them just in case they’re needed which often leads to them being forgotten in a draw.

“We know that recycling can be confusing sometimes, so we cut through that by providing a free and simple way for people to easily recycle their mobile phones. To date, we’ve recycled over 1,300 tonnes of mobile phones and accessories, including 13 million handsets and batteries. But there is always more to do,” he said.

“With millions of phones lying dormant at home, the e-waste problem is getting bigger and we all need to be talking about it more. Mobile phones can and should be recycled when they reach the end of their lives. We can all do our part to fight the war on waste, and it starts at home. That’s why we’re calling all Australians to find their old phones and recycle them the right way – today,” said Mr Kalos.

Featured Image Credit: Mobile Muster