National Sword could displace 111M tonnes of plastic waste by 2030

An estimated 111 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be displaced by China’s National Sword policy by 2030 around the world, according to new research.

The Chinese import ban and its impact on global waste trade research paper published in the journal Science Advances reports that new global ideas are needed to reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials, including redesigning products and funding domestic plastic waste management.

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The report, authored by researchers at the University of Georgia, said China had imported 106 million tonnes of plastic waste since 1992, which makes up more than 45 per cent of total global plastic imports.

The National Sword Policy has implemented new restrictions on the contamination rate for imported waste, requiring a cleaner and more processed version of materials such as plastics, metals, paper, cardboard and textiles.

“The displaced plastic waste is equal to nearly half (47 per cent) of all plastic waste that has been imported globally since reporting began in 1988,” the report said.

“Only 9% of plastic waste has been recycled globally, with the overwhelming majority of global plastic waste being landfilled or ending up contaminating the environment (80 per cent).

“Plastic packaging and single-use items enter the waste stream immediately after use, contributing to a cumulative total of 6.3 billion MT of plastic waste generated worldwide.”

The report warns that if no adjustments are made in solid waste management, then much of the waste that would have been diverted from landfill by customers paying for a recycling service will be landfilled.

“Both the displaced plastic waste and future increases in plastic recycling must be addressed immediately. Initially, the countries exporting the most plastic waste can use this as an opportunity to develop and expand internal markets,” the report said.

“If domestic recycling of plastic waste is not possible, then this constraint reinforces the motivation to reduce use and redesign plastic packaging and products so that they retain their value and are more recyclable in domestic markets.”

WA exempts waste levy to promote recycling

The WA Government has amended regulations to ensure sites that accept only clean fill and uncontaminated fill, that meet environmental and health threshold after testing, are not licensed as landfill premises or liable for the waste levy.

The changes have been made to promote recycling, increase diversion from landfill and provide certainty for development, according to the WA Government.

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The amendments to the Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2018 and the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (as amended 2018) were undertaken by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) in consultation with experts, industry and the community.

Definitions of clean fill and uncontaminated fill have been amended to The Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 and include threshold limits for physical and chemical contaminants.

“The Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2018 gazetted today ensure that clean fill and uncontaminated fill can be used without being licensed as landfill premises or being liable for the waste levy,” WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said.

“This decision provides certainty, minimises regulation and promotes recycling of materials that would otherwise be waste.

“This is a win for business, a win for the waste industry and a win for the environment,” he said.

The consultation summary reportsubmissions and the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (as amended 2018) are available on Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s website.

EOI open to build Toowoomba landfill gas development

Toowoomba Regional Council is looking for expressions of interest to develop the landfill gas resource at its major landfill.

The council has completed a business case which has identified the significant resource available at the Toowoomba regional landfill.

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Landfill gas could help supply the council with a sustainable source of gas and electricity. The landfill is also next to major energy users including the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, the APA gas pipeline and the Baillie Henderson Hospital.

Two key options the business case identified were to use the resource to produce electricity for the Wetalla treatment plant, other council facilities or export into the electricity grid, or produce compressed natural gas for use in council vehicles, facilities or into the local gas grid.

The Toowoomba Regional Council has a three-step plan to enter into an arrangement, with the first accepting expressions of interest, followed by early respondent involvement and formal commercial tender.

Companies that are able to utilise more than one landfill gas constituent will be considered more favourably than others that only seeks to utilise one.

Applications for expressions of interest close on 24 April.

View your landfill in 3D

No longer limited to intensive gaming or high-end architecture, virtual reality is making in-roads in the landfill sector.

Landair Surveys, a leading surveying firm in Australia, has introduced a new way for their landfill clients to interactively view their site data.

Previously, waste managers relied on 2D plans and concept drawings to visualise the relationship between existing site conditions and future operations. However, the rise of 3D viewing platforms has led to the possibility of creating virtual landfills where many different spatial data sets can be viewed simultaneously.

The surveyors at Landair now offer prospective clients virtual landfill models that can be tailored to individual landfill sites or operational requirements. The models can be as simple as an online visual tool to a downloadable interactive viewer allowing the user to take basic measurements and create clipping planes.

  • Examples of current virtual files created for landfill operators include:
  • Design top of waste contours overlaid on existing landfill surfaces
  • Design clay sideliner files overlaid on existing rockface surveys
  • View of proposed finished top of cap levels from site boundaries
  • Month by month landfill cell flyover comparisons
  • Composite as built clay liner and subgrade checks.

landair.com.au/landfills

Glass and plastics could be used to help build footpaths

End-of-life plastics and glass fines could soon be used in the construction of footpaths instead of going to landfill, according to a new study from the Swinburne University of Technology.

The research found plastics and glass fines could be incorporated into concrete footpaths while still meeting the standard requirements, and without compromising the mechanical properties.

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It is estimated that approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics end up in landfill each year, and only 48 per cent of glass waste is recovered for recycling, according to Sustainability Victoria.

The next step for this project is to include local governments and industries to increase the amount of recycled content in footpath construction.

“The use of recovered plastics and glass fines in concrete footpaths will divert significant quantities of these materials from landfill, while reducing the demand for virgin construction materials,” said Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Yat Choy Wong.

This research project is one of seven projects that investigate new ways to increase the use of recovered class and flexible plastics.

2017 Australian Landfill & Transfer Stations Conference

27-30 March 2017
Sydney, NSW

This WMAA-hosted conference recognises the integral role landfills and transfer stations play in the waste management industry. The program will compass all areas of this sector, from innovation and design to operation and regulation. The event also includes a conference dinner, where winners of the 2017 National Landfill & Transfer Stations Innovation and Excellence Awards will be announced.

 www.landfill.com.au