Rethinking Sustainability: Veolia’s new campaign

Veolia’s Ben Sullivan, NSW Group General Manager, tells Waste Management Review about the company’s innovative virtual reality campaign and how raising community awareness has formed an integral part of its approach to infrastructure.

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ACOR call for $150M into regional recycling

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.

The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.

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ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.

“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.

“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”

Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.

ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.

Equilibrium release kerbside market assessment tool

Equilibrium has developed a tool with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to assist local councils and kerbside service operators to assess changes to contracts.

The methodology comes off the back of China’s National Sword policy, which has spurred on numerous contract renegotiations across Australia. It is intended to act as a guide that councils and others can use to suit their particular circumstances and requirements, rather than being prescriptive. It includes examples, instructions and indicative responses aiming to make it simple to use.

MWRRG developed the tool in consultation with councils, industry groups, materials recovery facility operators and other states.

MWRRG is using the system with Victorian Councils, and it has been widely circulated to all states, major recyclers and industry groups. The methodology assists parties involved in kerbside recycling arrangements to make informed decisions on ongoing arrangements based on principles of accountability, transparency and reasonableness when negotiating and agreeing to service arrangements.

It sets out the principles of kerbside recycling, considerations for assessing kerbside recycling service arrangements, commodity price indices, factors and calculations to inform financial considerations and monitoring and verification of agreements.

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Equilibrium Managing Director Nick Harford said the current issues surrounding contract stability have highlighted that the community wants and supports kerbside recycling. He said it is incumbent on the waste industry to ensure services are sustainable.

“The current situation with kerbside recycling has motivated an update of kerbside arrangements by some materials recovery facility (MRF) operators and collectors, as they have expressed concerns about meeting current contractual obligations. In Victoria, there is a requirement for councils to update arrangements with MRF operators in order to be able to access the state government financial support,” Mr Harford said.

The tool calculates the market commodity prices for materials such as mixed paper, paper grade, cardboard grade, mixed grade, PET plastic, HDPE plastic, aluminium, steel and glass. In addition, it shows the percentage of total materials in kerbside by weight and the average tonnes processed per annum. Operating expenditure is divided into labour, repair and maintenance, consumables, waste to landfill, rent, rates, interest, business insurance, legal compliance and reporting, systems accreditation and certification and a range of other key metrics.

Mr Harford said the figures included in the template method were based on current market intelligence and reported composition of materials in kerbside.

“Having said that however, the figures are indicative and as a guide only, it is intended that the method and tool is adapted to each individual circumstance and the numbers re-entered to reflect actual specific arrangements,” he said.

He said kerbside recycling is a relatively complex arrangement when all factors are considered and it is not homogeneous. Mr Harford noted that council contracts differ and companies use varying business and operational models.

“It is therefore necessary to assess a broad range of activities to determine whether the service being offered is adequate, the price is reasonable and the operation is sustainable. The risk assessment is a process to navigate what may or may not be a priority for a particular arrangement. The most significant risk factors depend on each circumstance.

“For some councils, security of downstream markets for commodities may be paramount, while for others it may be business contingency and insurance. The method and tool enables assessment of a wide range of risk factors.”

Mr Harford said general feedback has been positive and that the information is helping people work through reviewing and, where needed, updating kerbside arrangements.

“Equilibrium doesn’t present this is as being anything entirely novel as most people with a working knowledge of kerbside would be aware of these issues, but it is a way to bring more transparency and accountability to current considerations. The method and tool is being updated based on further feedback and to also account for other factors that some operators have requested – one being an ability to assess capital expenditure impacts on ongoing arrangements.”

MWRRG Chief Executive Officer Rob Millard said the organisation has shared the tool with other jurisdictions to inform and support a consistent approach to dealing with recycling challenges across the country.

To request a copy email info@equil.com.au or call + 61 3 9372 5356

Vinyl Council calls for stronger local recycling

The Vinyl Council has called on industries and manufacturers to support and strengthen the local recycling industry.

It follows the announcement that the Vinyl Council’s PVC Recycling in Hospitals program has been unaffected by China’s National Sword policy.

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The National Sword policy restricts the amount of recycled waste exports that can be sent to China.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Officer Sophi MacMillan said the Vinyl Council is proud of its flourishing industry program which has remained unaffected by the changes in international waste management strategies.

“We would like to see greater support and incentives from government to encourage local design and manufacturing of products that use recyclate to drive demand for recyclate use in Australia,” Ms MacMillan said.

“This example-setting program is growing precisely because it is supported by the local vinyl manufacturing industry and the healthcare sector as product consumers. It is a clear demonstration that circularity within Australia can work,” she said.

PVC Recycling in Hospitals has diverted almost 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals from landfill to recycling across more than 130 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand.

PVC recycled from hospital waste is turned into products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

“We seek to assure the healthcare sector and its staff that the PVC Recycling in Hospitals is strong and not affected by China’s ban on unsorted materials,” Ms MacMillan said.

“All the medical waste collected under the program has always been, and continues to be, reprocessed and used here in Australia or in New Zealand.”

Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority upgrade

An Adelaide recycling plant has signed an arrangement to convert used paper into newspapers, in a $500,000 sorting line upgrade.

News Corp reports the company signed the deal late last month with a New South Wales mill. Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority services the council districts of Playford, Salisbury and Gawler.

NAWMA chief executive Adam Faulkner told News Corp the deal was “exciting” and a “huge opportunity” in the wake of the Chinese ban on waste imports of plastics and paper.

“What it means basically is that residents who recycle paper in their yellow-top bins from our three northern council areas, that paper will be turned back into newspapers,” he said.

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“Keeping business onshore is the most important bit and supporting local manufacturing at the paper mill.”

Mr Faulkner also reportedly vowed to save residents from rate hikes linked to an increase in collection costs by absorbing any additional costs until the deal commences on 1 September.

“We saw this China shift happening around August last year and we moved early,” Mr Faulkner said.

“The fact we own and run our own facility on behalf of the councils gives us that slight competitive advantage where we can direct these materials to where they need to go.”

Mr Faulkner said there was still a “rocky road to go” and supported calls from the Local Government Association for the South Australian Government to help alleviate the situation by tapping into its $100m Green Industry Fund.

“We just need to ride this out. That’s why we’re calling on SA Environment Minister David Spiers to release some of that money into local government.”

Mr Speirs told News Corp that after that meeting he was working on a relief package to help councils and the waste industry. He said there would be “firm detail” on its support package within weeks.

 

The Bundaberg Protocol: Queensland’s response to recycling

Queensland industry stakeholders have released a five-point action plan in response to the impact of the global recycling challenge on the state, including greater risk sharing provisions for council contracts and more recycled content in public policy and purchasing.

The Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) hosted the Queensland Secondary Resources Forum in late April, in Bundaberg, to address issues impacting kerbside recycling and international challenges.

The forum aimed to discuss the Chinese Government’s decision to restrict the amount of waste being imported and how it effects Queensland domestic recycling capabilities.

All actions must be reported against in October 2018.

The five point plan includes education and awareness, collection, procurement, contracting and regulation. It places the onus of responsibility on the various stakeholders involved in reform to take action.

Education and awareness aims to be established through improved standardised community education to inform approved items for kerbside recycling bins. A Working Group will be convened by 30 May, 2018 to develop an education program project scope for councils. This will be facilitated by local government representatives, state government, the Product Stewardship Council, WRIQ and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation.

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The plan also includes a focus on collection, with a plan to trial two local government kerbside collection systems and monitor the reduction of contaminants. Bundaberg Regional Council will trial the removal of flexible plastics and all non-bottle plastics from its kerbside bins. Ipswich City Council will trial the removal of all glass items from its kerbside bins. Project plans for each will be established in May, 2018.

In terms of procurement, the manifesto recommends the Queensland Government’s procurement policy be amended to mandate the use of recycled content in public policy and purchasing, with a preferred weighting to Queensland generated recycled product. Products to be promoted include recycled glass for reuse in infrastructure, plastic for feedstock in manufactured public infrastructure, paper and cardboard for reuse and organics for street scapes, landscapes and other composting activities. This will be facilitated by WRIQ working with the state government.

Contracting in the plan comprises separating recyclables processing and recyclables collection contracts, the inclusion of risk sharing provisions with commodity prices and contamination between councils and contractors, and some other measures. This will be facilitated by the state government’s Department of Environment and Science (DES) with support from WRIQ and the Local Government Association of Queensland. The action plan requests DES to assist by convening a local government and industry working group to scope and redesign a new contract framework (and model contract) for kerbside recyclables collection and processing in Queensland.

Regulation focuses on using existing provisions in the Waste Recycling Reduction Act – Chapter 4 Management of Priority and other products provisions. The manifesto argues the Queensland Government should prepare notices of intent for the introduction of priority product statements on materials which include non-CRS glass item, non-bottle plastics and textiles. Australian standards be amended to allow for/encourage recycled content to be used in product manufacture. The action plan requests DES to issue a directive to the relevant industry organisations for glass, plastics and textile manufacturers placing product in Queensland. It asks them to call for the introduction of voluntary stewardship programs for their products and seek their future commitments by October, 2018.

The news followed with recent commitments by state and territory environment ministers regarding recycled packaging.