New recycling facility opens in Melbourne

Australian Paper Recovery’s $2.5 million paper sorting facility in Melbourne’s west will process 39,000 tonnes of recycled paper a year.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state government provided $475,000 in funding to the project, with the facility providing full grade separation of kerbside and commercial mixed paper and cardboard.

“The high quality sorted and graded paper is reprocessed locally and recycled into valuable products such as newspaper and packaging,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The facility has also expanded operations to accept additional materials from regional and metropolitan kerbside recycling, including plastics and metals, further increasing recycling capability here in Victoria.”

Government funding came from the $2.6 million Recycling Industry Transition Support Fund, which is designed to help Victoria’s resource recovery and reprocessing industry transition after the collapse of international export markets.

“Facilities like these are a crucial part of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill – it’s fantastic to see Australian Paper Recovery expand their operations to accept more materials,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“A circular economy will not only improve Victoria’s waste and recycling systems – it will support local businesses and create local jobs here in Victoria.”

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Cleanaway opens new Melbourne depot

Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal has officially opened the company’s new Perry Road Office and Collections Depot in Dandenong South.

The 53,000 square meter depot will house Cleanaway’s business and operational teams including the Victoria Post Collections leadership team, the commercial, industrial and municipal collections’ business, sales, administration, finance and fleet teams.

According to a Cleanaway news statement, the site features a 20-bay workshop facility designed for vehicle compliance and fleet productivity, with paved parking areas for 164 collection vehicles and the new electric vehicle fleet.

“The site is also equipped with fuelling stations with 100,000 litre capacity and automatic truck and parts washing bays,” the statement reads.

“Bringing together our administrative and operational teams from across Greater Melbourne is a key step forward to serving our customers better and making a sustainable future possible for communities across Australia.”

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Sacyr opens waste treatment plant in south-east Melbourne

International waste management company Sacyr has opened a waste treatment plant in Melbourne with the capacity to process 120,000 tonnes of organic waste per year.

A Sacyr spokesperson said the indoor composting facility will be one of the most advanced of its type in Victoria.

“The facility will be used by councils in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, providing service to a population of 1.2 million people to recycle green garden and food waste,” the spokesperson said.

“The resulting compost will have a great commercial value due to the aerobic tunnel fermentation process and the aerobic maturation in the warehouse, resulting in a product that complies with the most demanding standards within the industry and with the rigorous Australian quality standard AS4454.”

According to the spokesperson, the facility takes the process of composting and industrialises it.

“Instead of relying on individuals to compost their organic waste, Sacyr can compost the organic waste of eight south-east Melbourne metropolitan councils and produce up to 50,000 tonnes of quality compost per annum.” the spokesperson said.

“The facility creates several environmental benefits to the Australian waste management sector such as reducing the amount of landfill waste and reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses such as methane.”

The spokesperson said all plant warehouses will be completely sealed and have an efficient deodorisation system so not to affect neighbouring residents.

“With the start-up of the plant, more than 65,000 tons of CO2 per year will cease to be released into the atmosphere and the emissions generated by landfill waste will be reduced by 85 per cent, the equivalent of removing 13,900 cars from circulation,” the spokesperson said.

The facilities treatment process combines a mechanical system developed by German company Stadler and a biological and air treatment system designed by Dutch company Waste Treatment Technologies.

“Sacyr’s know how, acquired over more than 20 years, will be an innovation in Australia’s current waste management system,” the spokesperson said.

“This procedure stands out, among other aspects, for its ventilation spigots and leachate collection systems.”

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Illegally dumped waste costs Melbourne $10.8 million a year

Cleaning up illegally dumped material costs Melbourne $10.8 million a year, according to a Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) survey.

Following the survey, MWRRG conducted research into factors that contribute to illegal dumping in the region.

MWRRG Litter and Illegal Dumping Program Coordinator Jess Hand presented the findings at Waste 2019 in Coffs Harbour early this month.

“They want to give their items a second chance at life, people justify putting items on the kerb as a form of giving or a charitable act,” Ms Hand said.

The research found proximity to a transfer station made no difference to knowledge of disposal options, participants over 50 however are more likely to use one.

“There is also a misperception among participants that all hard waste collected by councils goes to landfill,” Ms Hand said.

“We need to make sure residents know how to rehome or recycle items responsibly, using charity stores, online marketplaces or council waste disposal channels.”

In 2016-17 metropolitan councils in Victoria collected more than 100,000 tonnes of hard waste, which MWRRG indicates as material unable to be collected through kerbside collection, such as white goods, mattresses, e-waste, general household goods and furniture.

Of metropolitan Melbourne’s 31 councils, all offer a kerbside hard waste service to residents in addition to kerbside bin collections, however only 19 operate a transfer station.

Ms Hand said the findings will be used to inform the development of an illegal dumping prevention resource kit for metropolitan councils.

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Feasibility study supports Australian Paper WtE plant

Australian Paper’s $7.5 million waste-to-energy (WtE) feasibility study has confirmed the social, economic, environmental and commercial viability of its proposed WtE facility in Maryvale Mill Victoria.

The study’s summary report highlights the waste management challenges facing south east Melbourne and concludes that Australian Paper’s WtE facility could provide a unique opportunity to address pending landfill closures.

According to the report, the facility could annually prevent 550,000 tonnes of waste from being trucked across Melbourne from municipalities in the south east to landfill sites located in the city’s west.

Australian Paper Chief Operating Officer Peter Williams said the project would result in an investment of over $600 million in the Latrobe Valley, creating 1046 jobs per annum for the three years of construction.

“With Melbourne’s looming landfill challenge Australian Paper’s WtE project is the missing link in waste management infrastructure for the south east – creating efficient energy from residual household and commercial waste and achieving a more sustainable outcome than disposal to landfills,” Mr Williams said.

“By diverting 650,000 tonnes per annum of residential and commercial waste from Victorian landfill, the facility could provide Melbourne with essential waste management and resource recovery infrastructure.”

According to Mr Williams, the facility will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 540,000 tonnes per year.

“By replacing natural gas at the Maryvale site, Australian Paper will return enough gas to the market to meet the annual needs of up to 70,000 Victorian households annually,” Mr Williams said.

“WtE technology is a proven and reliable low emissions technology, meeting the strictest European emissions standards and has been used extensively in Europe, Japan and North America for decades.”

Mr Williams said Australian Paper would now focus on the development stage, working with partner SUEZ  to finalise approvals and seek to secure long term waste supply contracts.

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Melbourne City Council to consider food waste collection

Melbourne City Council will this week consider a trial of kerbside bins for food waste, designed to test how a domestic food waste collection service would work in the municipality.

As part of the council’s proposed Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, a third kerbside bin for food scraps would be distributed to 700 City of Melbourne residents.

Councillors will consider the strategy, which also outlines plans to introduce more shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city, and remove some commercial bins from the public realm.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the proposed expansion of the existing network of five waste hubs would activate laneways, reduce truck movements, boost amenity and make Melbourne more liveable.

“We can dramatically reduce the number of bins lining our laneways and the number of trucks on our streets by creating more central waste drop-off points,” Ms Capp said.

“Balcombe Place was transformed last year with a waste hub that has replaced around 20 bins and skips, and as a result we are seeing less illegally dumped rubbish and milk crates left in the lane.”

Chair of the Environment Councillor Cathy Oke said with food making up 50 per cent of household waste in the municipality, finding a solution for discarded food scraps is a key component of the proposed strategy.

“Our residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17 and through our engagement with the community we know people want a solution to avoid food going to landfill,” Ms Oke said.

“If the strategy is endorsed, a waste collection trial would be held to determine how collection services could work for residents with kerbside bins and a third bin for organic waste would be rolled out to 700 houses in Kensington later this year, building on an earlier trial in 2017.”

If implemented, the trail will see food and garden waste collected weekly, and a supporting education and community engagement campaign enacted.

Ms Oke said the strategy will address changes to the global recycling industry that has left Victorian councils with a critical oversupply of recyclable material and seek to create more demand for recyclable products.

“China and India have restricted their imports and the stockpiling of waste around the state is a major wake-up call for all levels of government,” Ms Oke said.

“We need government procurement targets for recycling to build Australia’s domestic recycling industry. This would create local jobs in our manufacturing sector and most importantly, stop recyclable material from ending up in landfill.”

Moreland City Council plan to enact similar measures, announcing as of 1 July council will expand its kerbside collection services and offer fortnightly food and garden organics collection (FOGO).

The council conducted a four-month trial of FOGO from November 2018 to March 2019 with 1000 households across Pascoe Vale and Pascoe Vale South.

The scheme will be rolled out across the entire municipality in 2021, with households receiving an organics bin at no additional charge.

Mayor of the City of Moreland Natalie Abboud said currently over 50 per cent of waste in Moreland that goes to landfill is food organics.

“When it breaks down in landfill it produces the harmful greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to climate change,” Ms Abboud said.

“By having household food organics collected and properly processed, it can be turned into compost which can be used to enrich soil on farms, parks, school gardens and other useful applications.”

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1200 tonnes removed in Numurkah tyre stockpile clean-up

About one quarter of a tyre stockpile in the Victorian town of Numurkah has been removed – equating to an estimated tonnes of 1200 tyres.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) used its powers at the end of last year under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to enter the site, with the assistance of Moira Shire Council and funding from the Victorian Government.

Located in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley Highway, the stockpile on privately-owned land has a stockpile of an estimated 500,000 tyres.

EPA Victoria North East Region Manager Emma Knights said the disposal of the tyres was going well.

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“The project has been carefully planned, and the tyres removed so far have come from the sides of the stockpile where the hazards are most critical,” Ms Knights said.

“Aerial pictures taken by an EPA camera drone late last week show piles of waste tyres have been removed from the eastern side, closest to homes along the Goulburn Valley Highway. The southern side, which faces several business premises, is currently being removed,” she said.

The removal began in mid December with up to eight trucks a day leaving the site, five days a week, and the whole project is estimated to take approximately 10 weeks.

“The work is progressing well and we are on schedule, although the completion date will depend on the weather, including any days of total fire ban,” Ms Knights said.

The stockpile has been a concern to the community for some time.

“Tyre fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish and produce considerable amounts of toxic smoke. With an estimated 5000 tonnes of waste tyres at the site, CFA has already warned of serious consequences if a summer grass or bushfire spreads to the stockpile,” she said.

The clean-up was carefully planned to include fire safety, security and wildlife and vermin management. Firefighting equipment is located on site for the duration of the clean-up, and no snakes have been observed so far during tyre removal.

The waste tyres are going to a licensed facility in Melbourne for recycling. Once they have been shredded, waste tyres can be put to use in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, in the form of products such as athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres or road surfacing.

Repurpose It’s Australian-first C&D washing plant

Victoria’s reliance on extractive resources is increasingly becoming an unviable prospect, but a new solution will soon see more construction and demolition materials recovered in the state.

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Sydney ranked as Australia’s most sustainable city

Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.

The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.

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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.

All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.

However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.

London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.

The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.

Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.

“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.

“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.