Victorian Government commits $30 million to stockpile clean up

The Victorian Government has announced it will provide $30 million in initial funding to maintain fire prevention measures and assist clean up at a waste stockpile in Lara north of Geelong.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said clean up processes could take several years, as the stockpile contains an estimated 320,000 cubic meters of waste including timber, concrete, brick, plaster, glass and ceramics.

The Victorian EPA used powers granted under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to take over management at the stockpile after the previous operator let recycling waste grow to dangerous levels.

According to Ms D’Ambrosio, action from the EPA will ensure fire prevention can continue in the short term, ahead of a full clean up.

“Poor site management practices by the previous operator has resulted in an unacceptable risk to the local community, the environment and emergency services in the event of a fire at the site,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The occupier and owner of the site have gone into liquidation, and the funding available to the liquidators to maintain security and fire prevention measures on site ends today (30 April 2019).”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the EPA would rigorously pursue the previous site occupiers, owners, company directors and any other relevant parties to recover the costs of the fire prevention measures and clean up.

“We will be pursuing the private operators involved for every cent of the clean up cost. They created this mess, it’s only right they pay for it to be fixed.”

Member for Lara John Eren said the site has been cause for local concern for some time.

“It’s excellent news for the whole community to know that the EPA will now take control of the clean up, it’s time to get on with fixing the problem once and for all.”

Since August 2017 the Victorian EPA has possesed additional powers to support fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks.

Ms D’Ambrosio said powers will be further strengthened under the new Environment Protection Act which comes into effect on 1 July 2020.

The City of Greater Geelong will project manage the works on behalf of the EPA and state government.

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Single-use plastic bottles banned by Zoos Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced all single-use plastic bottles will be banned from Zoos Victoria sites in an effort to move towards zero public waste going to landfill.

From 1 May single-use plastic bottled water and soft drinks, along with straws and plastic bags, will no longer be used or sold at Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said plastic pollution is an urgent environmental problem that is having a significant impact on marine wildlife.

“Each year Zoos Victoria’s Marine Response Unit deals with an increasing number of callouts to marine wildlife in distress,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Zoos Victoria is leading by example to reduce Victorians’ impact on the environment, advance the sustainable use of resources and help protect marine wildlife.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said Zoos Victoria is the state’s leading zoo-based conservation organisation.

“This move is part of a broader effort to influence visitors and other organisations to make positive changes towards a greener, more wildlife-friendly future,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Additionally, from June this year the three Zoo properties will have a new public three-bin waste system – organics, co-mingled and soft-plastics such as single-use food wrappers.

Ms D’Ambrosio said soft plastics will be recycled through a circular economy arrangement where Zoos Victoria will buy back products made from the plastics it recycles.

The move follows the state government’s ban on single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags, which comes to effect in November.

“We’re investing in initiatives that maximise recycling and reduce the amount of material that goes to landfill – it’s fantastic to see Zoos Victoria taking strong leadership to help achieve that goal,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

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Entries open for Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards

The Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards is now open for entries and features a new category to celebrate outstanding contributions made by volunteers.

The new environmental volunteering category will recognise the impact made by thousands of dedicated individuals and groups who give their time to sustainability projects and environmental protection.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said as the most prestigious program of their kind in Victoria, the awards are a terrific showcase of leading edge sustainability practices.

“Through these awards we proudly showcase the businesses, government, schools, institutions and community groups that are leading the way helping to stop the effects of climate change, developing more integrated circular economies and creating a more liveable, engaged, prosperous community for us all,” Mr Krpan said.

According to Mr Krpan, recent research shows that while sustainability remains an important concern for most Australians, only half believe they are doing enough.

“Joining the program’s existing ten categories, the new environmental volunteering category will make the awards more accessible to more people who take environmental action in real, practical and tangible ways,” Mr Krpan said.

The Premier’s Sustainability Awards includes the categories built environment, community, education, environmental justice, environmental protection, environmental volunteering, government, health, innovative products or services, small to medium sized businesses and large business.

2018 winners include small business Yume Food, who won for building a marketplace exclusively for surplus food, the Caulfield to Dandenong level crossing removal project and a campaign by Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks that addressed the threat of plastic debris to marine life.

Entries in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards close on Thursday 13 June.

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New tracking system for Victorian waste sector

Chemical waste in Victoria will be electronically monitored from July this year under a state government crackdown on the illegal storage of hazardous material.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio announced the EPA would invest $5.5 million to switch to a fully GPS electronic tracking system to better record the production, movement and receipt of industrial waste.

The EPA currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates – with up to 100,000 paper certificates received each year.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the new system would enable the EPA to monitor the movement of waste more quickly and more accurately, compared to paper certificates which can be time consuming and difficult to process.

“Moving to a fully electronic GPS tracking system will mean we know when and where these chemicals are being moved and stored – so we can identify potentially illegal activity and catch these criminals in the act,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“This move will see the EPA phase out the paper certificates by 1 July 2019, ensuring all certificates are recorded electronically.”

EPA Chief Executive Officer Dr Cathy Wilkinson said the introduction of the electronic system would enable the EPA to better track the movement of waste, and help the regulatory body detect potential risks and intervene earlier.

“A new integrated waste tracking tool, with improved data analytics and reporting will also be developed over the next 12 months to deliver insights on sector activity, trends and highlight potential illegal activity,” Dr Wilkinson said.

The tracking system will be finalised by March 2020, giving the industry three months to transition before the new Environment Protection Act legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2020.

The new legislation will introduce modern surveillance devices, tougher penalties and a greater focus on industry responsibility to proactively manage risks to human health and the environment.

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Repurpose It launches Australian-first washing plant

Repurpose It has launched Australia’s first $8.5 million construction and demolition washing plant facility with Downer, who have come on board as a 50 per cent partner.

The 150 acre facility will recover and treat residual waste and process it into materials suitable for the civil construction industry, with a focus on reducing the reliance on excavated materials.

Repurpose It’s new washing plant will focus on reducing CO2 emissions, saving more than 84,000 tonnes of CO2 annually or the equivalent of planting 300,000 trees and 295 million kilometres of car travel.

This is achieved through a process of washing and recycling ordinarily difficult to recover materials through advanced screening, scrubbing and water treatment.

Repurpose It’s Founder and CEO, George Hatzimanolis explained change in the industry is vital following the sharp growth in demand for extractive resources in Victoria’s infrastructure sector and the growing number of materials buried under landfill.

“Our new construction and demolition washing plant will revolutionise the way we manage waste through our investment in cutting edge technology, allowing us to supply in-demand materials back to the industry while preserving the environment”, Mr Hatzimanolis said.

Downer Executive General Manager of Road Services Dante Cremasco said the plant highlighted the importance of partnerships to deliver sustainable practices and solutions in Australia.

“The new recycling facility demonstrates that with strong partnerships we can deliver change.

“It’s incumbent on all of us to work together to drive the circular economy, creating new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It is all about pulling products that we can use, not pushing waste,” Mr Cremasco said.

Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state government invested $500,000 into the project as part of a Resource Recovery Infrastructure grant.

“We’re supporting large-scale infrastructure projects like this one to reduce Victoria’s dependence on landfills, create new jobs and drive investment.

“Our Recycling Industry Strategic Plan is helping Victoria’s recycling sector adjust to changes in world recycling markets so more material is diverted from landfill,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Repurpose It will partner with the state government on other projects to integrate waste into road and rail infrastructure works, including the Level Crossing Removal Project, Metro Trains, North East Link and the Western Distributor.

The latest round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund is now open, with grants between $40,000 and $500,000 available to support efficient sorting, and the recovery and reprocessing of priority materials such as plastic, paper, cardboard and glass.

A further $1.2 million is also available to support the market development of recycled materials.

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Victorian parliamentary inquiry into ‘waste crisis’

The Environment and Planning Committee will inquire into the “crisis” affecting Victoria’s recycling and waste management system following a parliamentary inquiry push from the Greens.

The inquiry was endorsed by the Victorian Parliament’s upper house on Wednesday.

Victorian councils were forced to send recyclables to landfill after the Environment Protection Authority banned a major Melbourne recycler from accepting waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North plants in February.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told parliament a third of the councils affected by the ban had found alternative processors and the government was working to help the others.

When operational, the Melbourne recycler receives approximately 50 per cent of Victoria’s kerbside recycling across three facilities.

Victorian Greens deputy leader Ellen Sandell said the inquiry would help develop short-term measures to support councils and limit the amount of recycling ending up in landfill.

The Victorian Greens party is of the view that Victoria has been in the midst of a waste crisis since at least February 2018 and has been calling for solutions to improve market development.

Ms Sandell said she hopes the inquiry will provide direction to develop a state-based recycling industry, highlighting Greens proposals to develop a container deposit scheme and ban on single-use plastics.

“Victorians are doing the right thing and recycling at home, but right now there are no assurances of where it ends up.

“Government support for a state based recycling industry is long overdue and it’s not good enough for Labor to continually push responsibility back onto councils,” she said.

The Environment and Planning Committee plans to report by 13 August.

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ANZRP to build world’s first commercial e-waste microfactory

The Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform (ANZRP) has announced plans to build the world’s first commercial e-waste plastic microfactory after receiving a $250,000 grant from Sustainability Victoria.

In partnership with UNSW SMaRT Centre and e-recycler TES, the microfactory will process up to 500,000 kilograms of waste plastic per year. This will be recovered from e-waste recycling and reformed into 3D printer filament for retail sale.

Worldwide demand for plastic 3D printer filament is estimated to triple during the next four years, reaching a value of more than USD$1,965.30 million by 2023.

With the upcoming e-waste ban in Victoria and growing restrictions on exports of mixed e-waste plastic, options to reduce the cost of recycling and keep these materials out of landfill are growing. The project aims to reform a waste stream (e-waste plastic) that’s currently shipped overseas for processing or sent to local landfill.

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World first e-waste recycling microfactory launches at UNSW

Warren Overton, CEO of ANZRP, said the e-waste plastic micro-factory is a truly circular economy approach that ensures materials are kept in productive use.

“We’re so pleased to be supporting Australian innovation from UNSW and TES that helps improve e-waste recycling,” Mr Overton said.

“As the volume of e-waste continues to increase, technologically advanced approaches such as microfactories will play a key role mitigating the impact of old televisions and computers.

“By working alongside industry and internationally recognised research hubs, ANZRP is committed to ensuring all e-waste is managed responsibly. This reduces environmental impact and creates employment.”

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the grants will help develop a circular economy that maximises the reuse of materials and reduces the amount of waste that goes to landfill.

With construction due to start early 2019, the microfactory will be housed at the TES e-waste recycling facility in Somerton, Victoria. This portable factory has the potential to be moved and process recovered e-waste plastic in other areas.

“The microfactory has the potential to scale and accommodate the 6000 tonne plastic feedstock that is currently produced each year from the e-waste recycled through the TechCollect program,” Mr Overton said.

“We have taken the first step with a scalable solution that has guaranteed feedstock, strong environmental benefits, as well as economic benefits through the creation of employment opportunities in regional and metropolitan parts of Australia.”

 

Numurkah tyre stockpile to be cleaned up

A dangerous tyre stockpile in Numurkah will be removed, with the Victorian Government utilising its legislative powers to enter the site and remove the tyres.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Thursday called a community meeting in Numurkah, a town located in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley Highway, to announce funding to clear up the stockpile on privately-owned land, where an estimated 500,000 tyres have been stored.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria will use its powers under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to enter the site and remove the tyres, with the assistance of Moira Shire Council.

The removal of the tyres will take approximately 10 weeks, with the waste to be taken to an EPA-licensed facility in Melbourne for shredding and recycling..

A Country Fire Authority fire risk assessment of the Numurkah site concluded that a fire at the premises would be catastrophic. A security fence will be constructed around the border of the site to prevent any access.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the stockpile presents an unacceptable risk to the community.

“We’re providing immediate funding to clean-up this site and keep the community safe,” she said.

 

 

Victorian Government Environment Minister reappointed

Lily D’Ambrosio will continue her work as the Victorian Government’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change following the announcement of a new cabinet.

It comes after the Labor party’s sweeping victory in November’s election.

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One of her key responsibilities will be to implement the government’s commitment to 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030. She has also been appointed the Minister for Solar Homes, tasked with overseeing Solar Victoria as it rolls out a large-scale program of solar panels, solar hot water systems and batteries to help reduce power bills for consumers.

Ms D’Amrosio has represented the electorate of Mill Park in the Victorian Legislative Assembly since 2002. She was appointed the Minister for Industry and Minister for Energy and Resources after the election of the Andrews Labor Government in 2014. In 2016, she was appointed Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change and Minister for Suburban Development.

One of her achievements in the climate portfolio saw her oversee the passage of the Climate Change Act, which led to Victoria becoming the first Australian state to legislate in line with the Paris Agreement for net zero emissions by 2050. The minister has also overseen an overhaul of the Environmental Protection Act 1970, a 2014 election promise, which reformed the regulatory body to focus on the prevention of harm to human and environmental health.

 

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