Vict Govt launches Resource Recovery Market Development Fund

The Victorian Government has announced a new $2.5 million fund to help develop markets for Victoria’s recyclable waste, and boost research and development into recycling.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Tuesday launched the Resource Recovery Market Development Fund in Craigieburn, Melbourne where major road builder Downer is trialling an asphalt mix containing recycled plastic bags, printer cartridges and glass in road surfacing.

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Downer received $67,000 from the fund, which will be managed by Sustainability Victoria and support researchers and industry in finding new ways to use recovered resources.

Downer estimates that up to 15 per cent of asphalt could contain soft plastics and that up to 10 million tonnes of recyclable waste could be diverted from landfill every year using their new approach.

Sustainability Victoria provided Close the Loop with $40,000 for equipment to develop the plastic additive used in the asphalt mix.

The fund builds on $80 million over four years invested by the Victorian Government into waste and resource recovery.

Applications for the Resource Recovery Market Development Fund will open in July.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the new fund will help support new industries and stimulate a circular economy for recyclable material.

 

VIC EPA Governance Board appointments finalised

The remaining appointments to the new Victorian Environment Protection Authority (EPA) governing board have been announced by Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.

The board members have been selected for their skills and knowledge of their roles and will be key to implementing the state government’s EPA reform agenda, according to the Victorian Government.

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Ms Cheryl Batagol will be chair of the governing board and will lead and eight-person board that includes:

  • Mr Greg Tweedly (Deputy Chair)
  • Professor Joan Ozanne-Smith
  • Mr Graeme Ford
  • Professor Rebekah Brown
  • Ross Pilling
  • Ms Monique Conheady
  • Ms Debra Russell.

Ms Batagol has been Chair of the EPA under the current governing structure since 2009. She brings more than 40 years of experience in waste management, water and environment sectors to the positions.

The Board will come into operation on 1 July and will lead the EPA in implementing its response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the Victorian Government is making sure the EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment.

“This board has a fantastic cross section of experience and knowledge to help us implement our vital reforms to the EPA,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Victorian Government announces $16.5 million e-waste investment

The Victorian Government has announced a $16.5 million investment to help upgrade more than 130 e‑waste collection and storage sites across Victoria.

It comes as the Victorian Government seeks to implement its ban on e-waste to landfill. The government released a policy impact statement for consultation last October. It is now responding to feedback to develop a preferred policy package. Non-regulatory measures will be implemented until June 2019, with a legislative process to occur between now and June. Regulatory measures are scheduled to be implemented from July 2018, with a commencement date of 1 July, 2019.

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Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas this week visited Australia’s first lithium and hand-held battery recycling facility at Envirostream Australia in Gisborne.

Sustainability Victoria is rolling out a state government $16.5 million program which includes $15 million to help councils and state government entities upgrade e-waste collection facilities and a $1.5 million awareness campaign to educate Victorians about e-waste.

Starting the ban mid next year aims to allow extra time for new infrastructure to be in place, for the statewide education campaign to reach more people, and for those managing e-waste – particularly local councils – to prepare for the new arrangements.

The amount of e-waste generated in Victoria is projected to increase from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to approximately 256,000 tonnes in 2035.

The upgrades will ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas will be within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point, and 98 per cent of Victorians in regional areas will be within a 30-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point.

Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards now open

Entries are now open for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, which recognise individuals, communities, organisations and businesses leading the way to a sustainable future.

Example entries from 2017 included a small business that uses new technology to clean without chemicals, a hospital soap recycling program for disadvantaged communities, a new type of energy efficient residential development and a program to rebuild Port Phillip Bay’s oyster reefs.

The 2018 Premier’s Sustainability Awards categories are:

  • Built Environment
  • Community
  • Education
  • Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Protection
  • Government
  • Health
  • Innovative Products or Services
  • Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Large Business

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the awards are an opportunity to recognise Victorians who are leading the way in sustainable practices across all sectors.

“We know that more and more Victorian businesses, not-for-profit organisations, community groups and government programs are implementing sustainable practices,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

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“Many Victorian organisations are nation leading in their sustainable practices and I encourage them to enter the Premier’s Sustainability Awards this year to inspire others to think more creatively about the work that they do.”

Sustainability Victoria CEO, Stan Krpan, said the awards celebrated sustainability not for its own sake, but the flow on effects that are felt right throughout the community.

“We have an incredible depth of sustainability talent in Victoria – they’re saving energy and resources, developing and applying new technology reducing and re-purposing waste, regenerating natural and man-made environments, and saving threatened species.

“This work leads not only to environmental good, but to other tangible benefits in terms of increased productivity, reduced costs, many community benefits and enhanced reputation,” he said.

As well as awards in each of these categories, the Premier will personally select two overall winners for the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award and the Premier’s Recognition Award.

Entries close on Thursday, June 7.

For more information on the awards criteria, registering for updates and free information sessions, and to read about past finalists and winners, visit the Premier’s Sustainability Awards website.

Pictured: Lily D’Ambrosio

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.

 

The winners of the Premiers Sustainability Awards 2017

This year’s Premiers Sustainability Awards has seen winners across a diverse range of categories, from medical recycling to the recovery of shellfish reefs and water recycling.

Hosted by comedian Charlie Pickering and presented by Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the awards recognise individuals, organisations and businesses working to create a better world.

In the area of waste management, The Nature Conservancy’s Shuck Don’t Chuck took out the Community category, while Western Health’s Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program was recognised in the Health category. Kingfield Galvanizing won the Small and Medium Enterprises category for the development of a large, automated galvanising plant with some of the lowest emissions of any similar plant in the souther hemisphere.

Melbourne company, eWater Systems, won the night’s top honour – the Premier’s Recognition Award – for developing water splitting technology which was used to clean and sanitise facilities such as hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants chemical free.

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Sustainability Victoria’s interim Chief Executive, Stephanie Ziersch, said the Premier’s Sustainability Awards recognised Victorians who had made a difference to the environment by implementing measures to better manage their waste, water and energy.

“Victoria has an excellent track record of delivering innovative projects that benefit our environment and the community, particularly in relation to efficient waste management, resource recovery and new technologies for clean energy.”

The 2017 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards winners are:

Built environment

Nightingale Housing – Nightingale 1 (Brunswick)

The Nightingale model is a new housing development system that enables like-minded architects to develop design-led, multi-residential housing that is environmentally, financially and socially sustainable.

Community

The Nature Conservancy Australia – Shuck Don’t Chuck Recycling Project (Greater Geelong)

A reef restoration project that is regenerating the natural environment by rebuilding shellfish reefs with leftover oyster shells collected from local seafood restaurants.

Education

CERES – Sustainability and Alternative Pathways (East Brunswick)

This sustainability leader celebrates 35 years of community-based learning and action. CERES’ work aims to benefit the environment, remain socially just, economically and culturally satisfying and helps to deliver better ways of living together.

Environmental Justice

Friends of the Earth – Coal and Gas Free Victoria (Collingwood)

An awareness campaign run across regional Victoria through more than 100 forums alerts communities to the potential threat of fracking and addresses the question of unconventional gas drilling.

Environmental Protection

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park – Orange-bellied Parrot Breeding for Recovery Program (Mornington Peninsula)

Development of a 20-aviary complex for up to 40 breeding birds resulted in 25 offspring from 12 pairs in the first season. This project is helping to save this endangered species from extinction.

Government

Moreland City Council – Moreland Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan (Moreland)                            

The council’s 2016–2026 maps out vital projects needed for Moreland to transition to a cooler, greener and more resilient and liveable city.

Health

Western Health – Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program (St Albans)                                

This program recycles single-use metal instruments (SUMIs) which a waste of high-quality metals. The program has recovered around 500kgs of recycled steel, representing approximately 80 per cent of all SUMIs purchased. This project can be used in any hospital.

Innovative Products or Services

eWater Systems – eWater Systems (South Yarra)                                                                            

eWater Systems is a world-recognised company that has developed a water-splitting technology that is used to clean and sanitise facilities like hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants.

Large Business

Exemplar Health (NBH) Partnership – New Bendigo Hospital (Bendigo)

Victoria’s largest regional hospital integrates sustainable thinking into all elements of its design, construction and systems to create a healing and therapeutic environment.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Kingfield Galvanizing – Sustainable Hot Dip Galvanizer (Somerton)

A large, sustainable and highly automated galvanizing plant produces significantly low emissions through a fully enclosed facility that re-uses waste, reclaims furnace heat and recycles.

Pictured: Catherine O’Shea, Sustainability Officer, Western Health, Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Andrew McGavin, Operations Manager Engineering Services, Western Health,