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.

 

Bucking the trend: CMA Ecocycle

CMA Ecocycle has spent the past 18 months planning a first-of-its-kind battery recycling plant set to become a critical part of Victoria’s e-waste recycling infrastructure network. 

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VIC councils receive $16.5M e-waste infrastructure funding

The Victorian Government has awarded 76 councils a share of $16.5 million to improve the state’s e-waste infrastructure.

Funding will go towards upgrading more than 130 e-waste collection and storage sites and help local councils to safely store and collect increasing amounts of e-waste.

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The funding aims to assist councils prepare for the state’s ban on e-waste which will come into effect in July 2019.

The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point and 98 per cent of regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive from a disposal point.

Councils will receive discarded electronics which will then be stripped of components for reprocessing or sold on the second-hand goods market.

Applications will also open in November for a share of $790,000 to deliver local education campaigns, with councils able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding.

E-waste is defined as anything with a plug or a battery that has reached the end of its useful life, including phones, computers, white goods, televisions and air conditioners.

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

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will ensure the state has one of the best e-waste collection infrastructure networks in Australia.

“We’re delivering on our promise to maximise recycling and minimise the damage e-waste has on our environment,” she said.

Reusable bag campaign launches ahead of VIC plastic bag ban

The Victorian Government has launched a campaign to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags ahead of the state’s 2019 ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags.

The Better Bag Habits campaign urges Victorians to remember their bag, wallet, keys and phone when leaving the house. The campaign will run on social media and radio.

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Some tips the campaign will encourage will be to store reusable bags in the car, at home, work to ensure customers are always ready to shop. It also encourages the use of foldable bags that can easily fit into a pocket, handbag or backpack.

Research commissioned by Sustainability Victoria found around three quarters of Victorians already carry reusable bags when food shopping.

Younger Victorians and those on higher incomes have been the slowest to say no to single-use bags, particularly when shopping for non-food items.

The ban on single-use plastic bags will come apply to shopping bags less than 35 microns tick after community consultation found a 96 per cent of the 8000 submissions were for the ban.

The state government is also working with other states and territories to phase out thick plastic bags to further reduce plastic pollution.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victorians are already saying no to plastic bags, but this campaign will encourage it to become a habit.

“We’re stopping plastic pollution and ensuring Victorians are ready to live without single-use, lightweight plastic bags.”

New powers to stop polluters for EPA Victoria

New laws have been passed in Victoria which have given the EPA powers to stop pollution and protect the state’s environment.

The Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 has introduced a criminally enforceable General Environment Duty which requires people conducting activities that pose a risk to human health and the environment from pollution to take responsible steps to eliminate or reduce them.

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It aims to move the focus to prevention, rather than responding to pollution after it has occurred.

The Bill substantially increases maximum penalties to better reflect the seriousness of environmental offences.

The reforms have also delivered improved clarity and flexibility, including reforms to EPA licensing and the environmental audit system.

A range of measures have been introduced to assist the EPA’s ability to protect the environment, including strengthening powers of EPA Authorised Officers to enter premises and investigate suspected breaches of the law.

Community members have also been given the ability to seek civil remedies to enforce the Environment Protection Act and regulations.

The new laws will come into effect on 1 July 2020, which will allow time to develop the regulations and guidance required to support the new laws.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the historic reforms were developed carefully over a number of years and will help Victoria’s environment for generations to come.

“We’re making sure Victoria’s EPA is equipped with the people, powers and resources it needs to do its job and protect Victoria’s environment,” she said.

Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2018 finalists revealed

The finalists have been announced for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, which recognise individuals, communities, organisations and businesses that are driving a sustainable future.

Winners will be announced at the Premier’s Sustainability Awards gala dinner at The Forum on Melbourne on 11 October.

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There are ten different categories for the awards with Premier Daniel Andrews selecting two overall winners of the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award and the Premier’s Recognition award.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the finalists in this year’s Premier’s Sustainability Awards are an especially diverse group from every sector in Victoria.

“I congratulate all finalists for their innovative work – using resources wisely and promoting sustainable practices here in Victoria,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

The Finalists for 2018 are:

Built Environment

  • City of Greater Bendigo, Lovell Chen, Nicholson Construction – Bendigo Soldiers’ Memorial Institute Passive House
  • Lendlease, CPB Contractors, WSP, Aurecon, Level Crossing Removal Authority and Metro Trains Melbourne – Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal
  • RMIT University – RMIT Sustainable Urban Precincts Program

Community

  • Enable Social Enterprises – Expansion – Greener Futures Employability Program
  • Kelly Mrocki – The Girl Who Saved the Frogs Incursion
  • Kensington Compost – Kensington Compost

Education

  • Albert Park Preschool Centre – Keeping Our Promise to Bunjil
  • Beeac Primary School – Brolga Pathways
  • Dunkeld Kindergarten – Educating Future World Leaders

Environmental justice

  • Department of Health and Human Services – Elenara House Sustainable Rooming House Upgrade
  • GWMWater (Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation) – Memorandum of Understanding with Dja Dja Wurrung – South West Loddon Pipeline
  • Moreland City Council and Moreland Energy Foundation – Cooling Communities

Environmental protection

  • Extreme Dents – Eso-friendly Automotive RepairPOD
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste
  • Zoos Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks – When Balloons Fly

Government

  • City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra, City of Moreland – Melbourne Renewable Energy Project
  • Department of Justice and Regulation – Recycle, Reuse, Donate Woodwork Program
  • Gannawarra Shire Council – Gannawarra Large Scale Solar

Health

  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian Branch – Nursing for the Environment
  • Beaconsfield Dental – Beaconsfield Dental Health
  • Western Health – Changing Anaesthetic Gases at Western Health

Innovative products or services

  • BCH – Whole Garment Design
  • PonyUp for Good – PonyUp for Good
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste

Large business

  • IKEA Richmond – IKEA Richmond Refurbishment Project
  • Telstra Corporation – Murra Warra Wind Farm harnessing long-term renewable energy supply

Small and medium enterprises

  • Extreme Dents – Eco-friendly Automotive RepairPOD
  • Revolution Apps – Compost Revolution
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste

More than $1.1M invested in Victoria’s recycling sector

Three recycling companies are set to share more than $1.1 million from the Victorian Government to fast track upgrade projects.

The Recycling Industry Transition Support fund is designed to boost the sector’s capacity to capture and reprocess plastics, paper and cardboard waste to a commercial grade acceptable to local and international markets.

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Australian Paper Recovery at Dandenong South will receive $475,000 as part of the company’s $1.2 million equipment upgrade, which includes new waste paper sorting and compaction equipment.

Polymer Processors, Braeside will receive a $500,000 grant as part of a $3.2 million upgrade, which will allow the company to purchase new plastic washing equipment and accept a wider range of plastics.

The grant will also support an upgrade of waste water treatment and increase processing capacity of plastics by 800 kilograms per hour.

Tambo Waste in Bairnsdale will receive a $130,000 grant to upgrade its equipment and lift its annual production by 800 tonnes and to enable future expansion by another 5000 tonnes a year.

The project will aim to create jobs, reduce contamination in processed plastic, paper and cardboard, and lift material to a commercially acceptable grade for local and international markets.

The funding is part of a $13 million package to help councils and the recycling sector.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government is helping Victoria’s recycling sector adjust to changes in world recycling markets.

“These grants will help reprocess more than 48,000 tonnes of plastic, paper and cardboard each year and create 19 jobs in Melbourne and Gippsland,” she said.