South Australian councils sign procurement MOU

In an Australian-first, nine South Australian councils have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prioritise the purchase of products made from recycled materials.

According to Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) President Sam Telfer, the MOU is the beginning of a circular procurement pilot project led by the LGA, with the assistance of a $96,500 Green Industries SA grant.

Mr Telfer said the goal is to increase local demand for recycled materials, support the development of a circular economy in SA and reduce waste and recycling costs for councils.

“China’s National Sword Policy has made waste and recycling significantly more expensive for South Australian councils,” Mr Telfer said.

Mr Telfer said it was vital to develop new markets for recycled materials in South Australia, and to support this, councils should prioritise the use of recycled materials in their procurement processes.

“This MOU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability,” Mr Telfer said.

Through the MOU, councils have committed to prioritising the purchase of recycled-content products through the procurement process, and tracking and reporting on recycled-content purchasing by weight.

According to a LGA statement, most will also adopt a rolling target for the purchase of recycled plastic products, and work towards eventually buying back recycled materials equivalent to half the weight of plastics collected in council areas.

“Examples of products made of recycled materials that can be purchased by councils include road and construction materials, street furniture, bollards, office stationery and compost,” the statement reads.

“The MOU was signed on-site at Advanced Plastic Recycling (APR); a leading manufacturer and designer of recycled wood plastic composite products made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste. Products produced by APR include bollards, boardwalks, fencing and street furniture.”

APR CEO Ryan Lokan said that by using materials sourced locally from kerbside recycling, APR prevent 1500 tonnes of plastic and 1500 tonnes of wood from entering landfill each year.

“The greatest benefit coming from mandatory buy back is the demand created,” Mr Lokan said.

LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar and LGA President Sam Telfer.

“Demand drives innovation and it is companies like ours that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled material.”

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said improved recycling and resource recovery not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, but also supports the state’s economy.

“This project will help drive local demand for recycled materials, supporting local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

Participating councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the circular procurement pilot project highlights councils working together to find positive and long-term solutions, to issues facing recycling in South Australia and across the country.

“This announcement builds on our plans – and those of other SA councils – to establish new material recycling facilities in our communities,” Ms Thompson said.

“Exciting projects like this help us become more self-sufficient, create circular economies and reduce our reliance on recycling companies, delivering major benefits to the environment and local economy.”

Adelaide Hills Council Acting Mayor Nathan Daniel said the program will lead to improved knowledge and understanding of circular procurement, through the increased purchase of products with recycled content.

“This will in turn provide stability and ongoing markets for recyclable material placed in the kerbside recycling bin. Adelaide Hills Council is committed to providing leadership in transitioning to a sustainable future that prioritises the use of recycled material,” Mr Daniel said.

“It’s essential that we continue to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Council hopes the pilot project will help develop local markets for recyclable materials by increasing market demand for recycled content products and materials.”

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Modern Family

Green Industries SA’s latest education program seeks to heighten the state’s understanding of waste separation with a multi-pronged digital campaign.

Taking a modern approach to waste education is now more important than ever, with shifting international export markets placing greater significance on reducing contamination.

In the wake of these changes, the South Australian Government created a support package for local government and the recycling industry.

Vaughan Levitzke, Green Industries SA Chief Executive, says an educational kerbside separation campaign was highlighted as part of the package.

“We formed two groups under the package taskforce: one for procurement and one for education,” Vaughan says.

“The education group comprised mostly of councils, waste educators and companies that run material recovery facilities.”

Following engagement with the education group, Vaughan says Green Industries undertook market research with an estimated 1000 South Australian households.

According to Vaughan, the 2018 research examined current levels of contamination and separation knowledge in an attempt to understand information barriers.

“That research showed a clear preference for simple, consistent, state-wide messaging. Time and time again, householders remarked that they would recycle more, if they only knew which bin to use,” he says.

“I have to say, I have not been enamoured with the way we have traditionally conducted education programs.”

Vaughan says with Which Bin, Green Industries are approaching the public from multiple different mediums.

“I think that’s why the program has been successful,” he adds.   

Which Bin urges residents to consider what they put in household recycling and organics bins, with the aim of improving the quality of recyclables.

The campaign includes a series of episodic television ads, a linked social media campaign and an educational website.

The Which Bin website is designed to act as a centralised space, where residents can access waste information relevant to their respective council.

Vaughan says Green Industries’ previous engagement program was called Recycle Right. However, focus groups found citizens preferred the name Which Bin.

“The problem is that householders weren’t getting consistent information across councils, and the advice they were getting was often unclear,” Vaughan says.   

“People needed easy access to information about what different councils accept in each bin.”

Regulation information for all South Australian councils is available on the Which Bin website.

After a year of research, local South Australian advertising company Showpony were tasked with creating the campaign’s creative collateral.

“The ads are kind of like a sitcom, with links to the US comedy Modern Family,” Vaughan says.

Episode one of the four-part campaign introduces viewers to Vinnie and his family as they learn which bin to use and how to better recycle.

Four episodes have been produced so far, with titles such as “Vinnie embarrasses his daughter and recycles 10c containers for fun” and “Vinnie and Lucy recycle soft plastics … eventually”. When episodes end, viewers are directed to the Which Bin website.

Within the campaign’s first month, Vaughan says Green Industries saw significant traffic on the Which Bin website.

“Most people were accessing the site from mobile phones. The lesson being, if you’re going to do anything in the digital space, it has to be mobile-friendly,” he says.

“The social media campaign has blown us away through Facebook.”

According to Vaughan, within the campaign reached half a million people in its first month, which he says highlights the importance of a multi-pronged approach.

“Which Bin has its own Facebook page and in the first month we had more than 24,000 engagements on posts. It’s getting significant cut through,” Vaughan says.

Vaughan says as the campaign progresses, Green Industries will begin evaluating its effectiveness by checking bins.

“We are also planning more TV commercials, coming to air in the spring,” he says.

“Initial feedback from the public and the media has been very positive.”

A suite of resources for local government has also been developed, including calendars, bin stickers, signage, posters and customisable social media assets.

“All councils need to do is call our office and we can provide access to whatever the council wants to use,” Vaughan says.

The campaign is set to continue for at least three to four years.

“That’s the type of timeline you need to commit to with public education and awareness – I don’t see this going away,” he says.

“We needed a totally new approach and I think combining comedic television ads with an informative website has achieved that. Hopefully it bears fruit.”

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SA releases Recycling Activities Report

South Australia has achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia, according to the newly released Recycling Activities Survey Report.

Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia diverted 4.49 million tonnes of material from landfill between 2017-18.

“The state has once again achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia. The increase in our diversion rate is driven by an increase in state infrastructure projects,” Mr Speirs said.

“While all of the long-term key indicators are trending in the right direction, we actually saw a slight increase in waste to landfill from 2016-17 to 2017-18, as well as an increase in waste generation per person, showing we need to remain vigilant.”

According to the report, 87 per cent of the states recovered material is recycled locally.

“Despite considerable impact on recycling as a result of China’s National Sword policy, South Australia’s recycling industry is transitioning by implementing measures to improve the quality of the materials recovered and diverted, and by educating the public on the importance of recycling,” Mr Speirs said.

“Our recycling results are world leading, however, we still have room to improve. South Australia set an ambitious target in 2003 to reduce waste to landfill by 35 per cent by 2020 and we’re at 29 per cent.”

Over 118 individuals from South Australian organisations involved in resource recovery were surveyed for the report.

The survey asked participants to provide the value per tonne of each material stream reprocessed by their organisation.

Using this data, the report lists metal as the greatest contributor to the market value of resource recovery at $177 million, followed by organics at $101 million and cardboard and paper at $40 million.

The overall market value of the South Australia resource recovery sector is estimated at $356 million.

Additionally, the survey highlights masonry and soil as the highest recovered material streams at 30 per cent, followed by organics at 24 per cent and metals at seven per cent.

The report was prepared by Rawtec for Green Industries SA.

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SA budget allocates $12 million to waste and resource recovery

The 2019-20 South Australian budget has delivered $12 million over four years to help councils and industry transition from the effects of China’s National Sword Policy.

The Waste and Resource Recovery Modernisation and Council Transition Package aims to boost recycling and resource recovery, and keep waste out of landfill through investment, infrastructure, education and modernisation of council and industry collection services.

Environment Minister David Speirs said through better collection systems, infrastructure and education, South Australia aims to see a 35 per cent reduction in waste sent to landfill by 2020.

Of the $12 million waste management package $10 million will be provided through Green Industries SA.

Councils and industry have been allocated $5.5 million to upgrade and standardise waste collection and recycling services, as well as expand education aimed at improving recycling knowledge in the community.

An allocation of $4 million will also be available to enable investment in modern infrastructure, improve processing, increase efficiency and boost jobs.

An additional $500,000 will be available to help local governments implement new waste management strategies.

“The waste management and resource recovery industry is a major player in South Australia’s economy, with approximately 4800 people employed and we want to this number to grow,” Mr Speirs said.

The EPA has received the remaining $2 million – $1.6 million for compliance and audits to ensure the integrity of the waste and resource recovery sector and $400,000 to enable a review of the state’s container deposit scheme.

Mr Speirs said the package would help councils modernise their waste management practices and reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.

“This funding package will lead to less waste sent to landfill, a reduction in emissions and will also provide vital stimulus to our world-leading waste management and resource recovery sector, leading to more than 200 jobs here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know that landfill is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and that councils and industry need to have the tools to divert more for resource recovery and continue moving South Australia towards a truly circular economy.”

Mr Speirs said the funding package comes on top of the $12.4 million support package announced in 2018 to help the recycling industry and local government in response to China’s National Sword Policy.

“China’s National Sword Policy has provided the industry with a challenge, but this funding package on top of support already provided in last year’s state budget will help modernise and transition our resource recovery sector.”

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