Ipswich Council stop collecting recycling

Ipswich City Council has announced all contents from household recycling waste will be sent to landfill.

The council also aims to focus its efforts on green energy and intends to call tenders to bid on waste to energy projects by mid 2018.

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The move comes in response to the recycling price surge nationwide. Ipswich City Council said recycling contractors notified the council that the current rate being paid to them would skyrocket if recycling was to continue in the order of $2 million per year, which could potentially lead to a 1.5 to 2 per cent rate rise.

Additionally, the current contamination levels in the city’s recycling was said to be unacceptably high, according to the council, which said about half of everything collected from household recycling bins was not able to be recycled.

Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said Ipswich was the latest domino to be affected by a nationwide issue – one which required a three-tier government solution.

“As a city, we need to move forward,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“We want to become a leader in the waste-to-energy space, which will in the medium to long-term provide us with an environmentally-friendly energy source, jobs and a better economic outcome for Ipswich.

“We’ve actually been looking at waste as an energy source for some time, and this gives us the ideal opportunity to be ahead of the game in that space.”

Deputy Mayor Wayne Wendt said the move is a fundamental shift in how we as a community think about waste.

“The focus on recycling will now be very much about waste reduction. Everybody plays a role in the protection of our environment, and ways to reduce waste now become even more important to our daily lives,” Cr Wendt said.

“Under the current and previous rates of contamination waste experts advise it would be almost unachievable even with the best and well-intentioned community education program to lower the rate of contamination to acceptable levels.

“In a nutshell, this means we were left with no other choice but to send yellow lid bin contents to landfill. Importantly, it is worth repeating that this does not change the way household rubbish is collected. There will still be the same number of trucks, the same number of staff, and we anticipate a similar level of waste,” he said.

Ipswich City Council is advising residents to continue sorting their waste as normal and that green waste would continue to be recycled.

Opportunity for 500 jobs: ACOR/MRA Consulting report

Investment in the local Australian recycling industry could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from MRA Consulting.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said the report shows that remanufacturing half of the material domestically would lead to job creation and reduce as much greenhouse gases as taking 50,000 cars off the road. It comes as China clamps down on its exports of interstate waste with a contaminant level of more than 0.5 per cent.

ACOR recently joined the Waste Management Association of Australia in calling on state ministers to implement its Australian Circular Economy and Recycling Action plan at the Ministerial Council – supported by a $150 million injection.

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“To check the China challenge, we are ready to reboot recycling as a self-sufficient sector that enables employment and prevents pollution. Ministers can support this by agreeing to a National Circular Economy & Recycling Plan that makes a one-off investment in the three ‘i’s’ of recycling: infrastructure, improvement and innovation,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The promise of recycling is that what punters put in the bin becomes new products not lumps in landfill. Our political leaders, through the policy targets they have set, are part of delivering on that promise and should continue to do so on 27 April.”

“We need to make and buy more recycled content products here in Australia. Closing the loop is what’s needed for community confidence, job growth and environmental results,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said other industries are regularly supported in transition and crisis, and the recycling sector needs the same support, otherwise jobs could go including in country towns.

“While state governments have rightly focussed on the system’s short-term survival, it’s time for all governments to jointly act for recycling’s future success,” he said.

The report, titled The China National Sword: the role of Federal Government highlights:

  • New technology to support more Australian reprocessing of mixed paper, mixed plastics and glass cullet;
  • Enhanced methods and machinery at recyclate sorting centres;
  • Support for government and corporate purchasing of recycled content products;
  • A national centre for recycled content product development;
  • Education to ensure what’s collected is clean enough for recycled content product making.

VWMA call for VIC Gov to build resilient waste system

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called on the state government to develop an industry led initiative that tackles challenges facing the Victorian waste and recycling system.

The organisation’s position is to set up a VWMA initiative to make sure the Victorian waste and recycling is working in the same direction.

The VWMA said in a statement that the waste sector is facing higher insurance costs, recent import and trade restrictions, urban planning, increased regulations and a negative public perception of the industry.

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It also mentioned China’s National Sword policy and how the restrictions have impacted the entire sector as a whole.

More than 11 million tonnes of waste are generated in Victoria a year, and the waste industry generates over $2.2 billion in revenue for the economy.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said there is an opportunity to establish Victoria as Australia’s most resilient state with regard to waste and recycling management.

“The private sector owns and operates the bulk of waste and resource recovery infrastructure and services in Victoria and should be front and centre in proposing solutions,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government has had a closed door/invite only approach with regard to formulating responses to the current recycling issues. We’d like to make things more transparent.”

Recycling Industry Transition Support grants open: SV

Victoria’s recycling industry has been provided a $1 million funding package as part of the state Government’s response to China’s National Sword policy.

The move is part of the Victorian Government’s $13 million package towards councils and industry to support the ongoing collection of household recyclable waste.

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Funding will be available to companies that recover and reprocess plastics, paper and cardboard, with work needing to be completed within one year of signing with Sustainability Victoria.

Funding will be available for:

  • Infrastructure, equipment and process upgrades at Material Recovery Facilities to support greater sorting of paper and plastic
  • Infrastructure and equipment upgrades to process paper, cardboard and rigid plastic (wash, granulate, pelletise) to allow material to be used by domestic manufactures and allow for re-entry to export markets
  • Storage and consolidation infrastructure (sheds/shipping containers/temporary cover) to allow for the short-term safe storage of recovered paper, cardboard and plastic while processing capacity and/or end markets is developed.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 were available on a 1:1 funding ratio to Victorian-based projects that recover, handle and process plastics, paper and cardboard waste.

“The Recycling Industry Transition Support grants will help to fast-track development of new infrastructure that improves the quality of recovered plastics, paper and cardboard,” Mr Krpan said.

Mr Krpan said project proposals for work costing more than $1m would also be considered as Victoria had many opportunities to expand its recycling sector.

“If there are projects that exceed the million-dollar funding envelope, we also want to hear about them.”

“China’s policy change is serious, but it gives us an opportunity to more-quickly expand our reprocessing capacity and improve the quality of the end-product so it can be made into new products.

“In the 2015/16 financial year, councils collected 590,000 tonnes of recyclables and recycled 95 per cent of this was recycled, but with a growing population we need to look for ways to recycle a greater range of products, not just from households, but across the wider community.”

Mr Kpran said there are many opportunities to build on Victoria’s long-established recycling and re-processing sector which provides the raw material for paper and cardboard, many types of plastic, metal, and glass products.

“Board rooms and investors are also looking for commercial projects that demonstrate their sustainability credentials and reduce risks in their supply chains,” he said.

“Despite the current market volatility, smart, responsible investment and the ongoing maturation of our resource recovery sector and emerging markets for our waste, we should look forward with confidence.”

Applications for the first round of the of Recycling Industry Transition Support grants close on 8 May 2018.

APCO releases Market Impact Assessment Report: National Sword

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has released the Market Impact Assessment Report – which reveals the impact of China’s National Sword policy.

Findings from the report reveal that the volume of Australian export of scrap paper and plastics has remained largely stable over the past 12 months, however their value has dropped significantly due to global oversupply.

According to the report, mixed paper scrap once valued at $124 per tonne (EXW) has dropped approximately 100 per cent and is now close to worthless. Scrap mixed plastic has fallen 76 per cent, from $325 per tonne to $75 per tonne and cardboard is now valued at $125 per tonne, falling 40 per cent from $210 per tonne.

In January 2017, around 71 per cent of Australian exports of scrap paper/paperboard and scrap plastics were exported to China (98,300 tonnes of the 139,400 tonnes total). By January 2018 this had fallen to 34 per cent of Australian exports (43,200 tonnes of the 128,200 tonnes total).

“There is no doubt that the Chinese import restrictions have had a financial impact on the revenue streams of those receiving and sorting recyclables. This has coincided with the increasing costs of electricity, fires at some facilities, stricter compliance requirements and large increases in insurance costs,” the report says.

“The impact on a per tonne basis for all recyclables will vary from one sorting facility to another. Based on the analysis of reported prices for each commodity, the overall impact to end of February compared to long term averages is estimated to be a loss of between $65 and $85/tonne.”

APCO Chief Executive Officer Brooke Donnelly said that what essentially lies at the heart of this issue is China’s decision to revise the contamination threshold for scrap paper and plastics.

“We need to develop the right domestic infrastructure to lower the contamination levels in our waste and start building viable end market solutions here in Australia to ensure a smaller, cleaner packaging waste stream,” she said.

APCO is already developing a range of solutions to improve sustainable packaging design, reduce contamination and improve recycling rates.

Most recently, APCO launched the first nation-wide labelling program to help Australians better understand how to recycle packaging correctly and assist organisations in designing for recycling and working towards lowering contamination levels. Launched in conjunction with Planet Ark and PREP Design, the program has already been adopted by Australia Post, Blackmores, Nestlé, Officeworks, Unilever and Woolworths among others.

APCO has accelerated the delivery of the PREP design tool, an online evaluation portal that determines if a packaging format is recyclable or not in the current kerbside collection service. For the first time in Australia, organisations can develop their packaging to be recyclable where possible, driving waste avoidance outcomes at the design stage.

APCO is also currently reviewing its Sustainable Packaging Guidelines (SPGs) to help businesses reduce the environmental impact of their packaging and develop a standardised approach to key issues such as the use of recycled content in packaging.

“Transitioning to a circular economy is essential if we are to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and this requires collaboration from brands, governments, the recycling and packaging industry and consumers alike. APCO is in a unique position to facilitate this collaboration and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help Australia realise a circular economy,” Ms Donnelly said.

You can read the Market Impact Assessment Report here.

WMAA and ACOR call for national recycling action plan

Australian politicians have been called to implement the Australian Circular Economy and Recycling Action plan at the Ministerial Council by the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) and the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).

The move comes in response to China’s National Sword policy, with the Action Plan aiming to build upon state government’s short-term actions to maintain community confidence in recycling services.

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WMAA Chief Executive Officer Gayle Sloan said a concerted effort at this critical point in time is required by all.

“It is absolutely the case that the industry’s future direction is at an important crossroads, with an opportunity to grow more Australian-based manufacturing jobs, and actively build on the 20 years’ worth of environmental gains in Australia,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMAA and ACOR have a united industry position on this important topic, and are committed to working with government to ensure the success of the Australian Circular Economy & Recycling Action Plan,” she said.

WMAA and ACOR are advocating to Federal Environment and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg and state ministers to work with the recycling and resource recovery industry to change strategic directions.

ACOR chief executive officer Peter Shmigel said a $150 million national Action Plan would enable the ‘three I’s’ that are needed to reboot recycling and kickstart the circular economy.

“Investment in infrastructure and new markets, improvement of recyclate material quality and recycling contracts, and innovation in positive purchasing of recycled content products by governments,” Mr Shmigel said.

“It is time to transform the recycling and resource recovery industry so it can help transform our economy to a more competitive, sustainable and circular model that makes the best use of as many resources, including human resources as possible in Australia,” he said.

Waste Taskforce created in WA in response to National Sword

A Waste Taskforce has been created in WA in response to China’s National Sword policy.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson created the taskforce to advise on waste management in WA, following consultation with state and local governments, the waste industry and community stakeholders.

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The group’s first meeting is planned for 9 April 2018, where it will consider its objectives, scope and governance arrangements.

It will provide advice on how to ensure WA van respond effectively to the National Sword policy and build on the current domestic recycling options.

The taskforce will directly advise the WA Minister for Environment on recycling market issues and opportunities in the state and aims to align with the national actions taken.

Short, medium and long-term opportunities will be explored by the taskforce and will take the WA Waste Strategy and the promotion of a circular economy.

The Waste Taskforce will be chaired by Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Environment Baldivis MLA Reece Whitby and will include representatives from the Waste Authority and Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, local government and regional councils, the waste services and recycling industry, the packaging industry, Aboriginal and community groups, and key government agencies.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the recycling sector at a state and national level is facing market challenges caused by fluctuating commodity prices and international policy decisions.

“This is also having an impact on the cost of waste management services,” Mr Dawson said.

“While a national response is important, it is also imperative that local opportunities to support recycling in WA are developed – and the Waste Taskforce will play a critical role in achieving this,” he said.

“I look forward to receiving advice from the Waste Taskforce on how we can support a thriving recycling sector in WA.”