NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO steps down

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy has announced she will stand down from her position at the EPA.

She will return to the position of Deputy CEO at Infrastructure NSW.

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Ms Levy joined the EPA as Acting Chair and CEO on 12 March 2018. She has held senior executive positions with the NSW Government, including Deputy Director General of Planning and Programs at Transport for NSW, where she was responsible for the Transport Cluster capital budget, the Bureau of Transport Statistics, strategic integrated transport planning and transport project development.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford will act in the position of EPA Chair and CEO.

NSW Govt cracks down on asbestos waste

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has initiated a crackdown on asbestos waste, introducing stronger measures to protect the community and environment from rogue construction and demolition waste operators.

A reform package has been announced and will increase on the spot fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste by tenfold.

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Construction and demolition waste facilities will also face tougher inspections and handling rules, along with new fines for illegally digging up landfills.

Under the changes, construction and demolition waste facilities will have tighter inspection controls and constant video monitoring. Facilities must also comply with stringent waste storage rules and provide evidence that staff are properly trained.

Incentives are also available for those doing the right thing, with a 75 per cent levy discount for some types of construction and demolition waste that meets specification to be applied as cover material.

The changes were introduced in the Protection of the Environment Operations Legislation Amendment (Waste) Regulation 2018, which will come into effect in May 2019 to allow the industry time to adjust.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said it is a top priority that stronger penalties act as a deterrent and that waste facility operators improve the way they manage construction and demolition waste.

“By giving the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) stronger penalties, it can more effectively hold the waste industry to account as well as encouraging good behaviour.

“On the spot fines for illegal asbestos transport and disposal have increased from $750 for an individual and $1,500 for a corporation to $7,500 and $15,000.

Ms Upton said the reforms follow comprehensive consultation with local councils, waste facility operators, industry bodies and the community.

“Poor practices were identified particularly at a number of facilities handling construction waste. That is why there are now tougher standards and procedures to safeguard the environment and community.”

“There is also a new, $15,000 on-the-spot fine and penalties of up to $44,000 for illegally digging up old landfills. From now on, landfills can only be dug up in cases of emergency or with specific permission of the EPA,” she said.

NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy draft released

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The strategy outlines new measures to close loopholes for transporters and increasing transparency of waste generators.

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This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.

Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.

To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.

The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.

“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.

“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.

Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.

The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.

NSW launches draft of its Circular Economy Policy

The NSW Government has revealed its draft of its Circular Economy Policy as part of the state government’s plan to improve its resource recovery methods.

The policy draft defines the state government’s role in implementing circular economy principles across NSW and how it can commit to achieving long term objectives.

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Minimising the consumption of finite resources by replacing raw materials with recovered and recycled products is one of the main principles of the policy.

Additionally, the policy aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption by maximising the value of resources through keeping materials in use for as long as possible.

Product design will also play a role to implement a circular economy with an aim of creating long lasting products that are able to be easily re-used, remanufactured and repaired.

The draft aims to extend the life of existing landfills to reduce the demand for new landfills along with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Local market for high quality post-consumer recycled materials will be developed to keep them materials use for longer to reduce dependency on international markets. It also aims to improve the quality of collected materials through better sorting.

To move away from the “take, make and dispose” status quo, the policy recommends innovating technologies that increase resource recovery efficiency and referencing higher value re-use opportunities.

Creating new jobs in manufacturing, service and resource recovery sectors is listed as a main principle behind the delivery of a circular economy.

The draft sets out certain focus areas to guide future government action which involve supporting innovation, encouraging sustainable procurement practices for businesses and government, improving recycling systems and making the most of organic resources through food donation or composting.

Mainstream product stewardship will also aim to provide incentives for producers to take responsibility for the management of products at the end of their lives.

To establish this framework, the NSW Government aims to incorporate circular economy principles in the revision of the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy in 2019. A Circular Economy Implementation Plan to be developed by 2020 will also aim to provide timing and direction for the implementation of circular economy principles.

Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the policy draft is the beginning of a better way for NSW to manage its waste and resources.

“Achieving a circular economy will minimise our waste, reduce our impact on the environment and is an opportunity to boost the NSW economy,” Ms Upton said.

“It’s an antidote to the current “linear economy”, where we make things, use them and then throw them away. Instead, we can use items for as long as possible, through repair, re-use and recycling, rather than being thrown away.

“At the same time NSW is working with the Federal Government on the development of national circular economy principles,” she said.

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has welcomed the release of the draft, however it says there is more work to be done on the policy.

The association has urged the NSW Government to set up an organisation similar to Sustainability Victoria or Green Industries South Australia to implement in the final policy.

WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said that all states are preparing or implementing similar strategies, so it is vital that they align and work together.

“WMAA supports the paper’s proposal that the NSW Government will investigate opportunities to incorporate circular economy principles into the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy as part of the five-yearly review process,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMAA commends the government for its support for broadening and strengthening stewardship schemes. This has been discussed time and again and it is pleasing to see that industry’s feedback has been heard,” she said.

“We are also calling on government to consider how the waste levy should look like in a circular economy environment, including how collected monies are re-invested in industry to further boost processing and jobs.

NSW EPA opens grants up to $250,000 to reduce food waste

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water. ORCA

The NSW EPA has opened applications to grants worth up to $250,000 to establish five ‘Love Food Communities’ across the state.

The funding aims to assist councils tackle the issue of food waste across an entire community, including homes, businesses, schools, supermarkets, clubs, pubs and community groups.

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All projects involved will include delivery of the EPA’s Food Smart and Your Business is Food programs for households and businesses.

The Food Smart program aims to educate NSW households about reducing food waste, with participants receiving a toolkit with bag clips and food huggers to reduce food waste. Your Business is Food provides businesses with information, advice and resources to reduce the amount of food that is disposed of.

Applications to the grants are open to local government in two stages. Stage one is the submission of an Expression of Interest by 19 November 2018, which will be assessed by an independent panel.

Successful applicants will be invited to the second stage to develop a detailed project plan. Funding of up to $20,000 is available for the project planning stage.

Final applications must be submitted by 18 March 2019.

For more information and to access the application form, click here.

Cleanaway secures seven-year contract with City of Sydney

The City of Sydney has selected Cleanaway as its new waste and recycling provider with a seven-year contract beginning 1 July 2019.

Services for the council will include general waste, recycling, garden organics and bulk or hard waste and electronic waste kerbside collections.

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The contract also includes 25 new vehicles which have Cleanaway’s integrated data platform installed. The system uses on board cameras to track collections and service events like missed pick-ups, broken bins and can be used for single-call customer service response. Cameras can also provide insights that aim to reduce contamination, improve recycling and increase truck safety.

Cleanaway’s education team will also provide the City of Sydney with sustainability training which aims to reduce waste sent to landfill and improve recycling rates.

Cleanaway Regional Manager – Sydney Metro Michael Sankey said the company looks forward to bringing its expertise to Sydney.

“As part of the contract, Cleanaway will be setting up a new facility and implementing new operational teams and some educational resources,” he said.

“Over the next seven years we’ll be working closely with the council’s waste management team to add value for the community and help the City of Sydney achieve their sustainability goals.”

Byron Bay Bioenergy calls for businesses to help supply feedstock

Byron Shire Council, NSW, has opened an expression of interest for the supply of commercial organic waste to the proposed Bioenergy Plant in Byron Bay.

The technology involved in the waste to energy plant is able to receive more than what the Byron Shire Council already collects, meaning more can be contributed from additional sources.

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Byron Shire Mayor Simon Richardson said they’re putting out the call to local business and industry to supply commercial food waste and commercial fats, oils and greases as feedstock for the bioenergy plant.

“This is a huge win for our community because it will enable businesses to divert large quantities of commercial food waste from landfill to a Council owned and operated 400-kilowatt bioenergy plant to power our Sewage Treatment Plants,” Cr Richardson said.

“It is the start of us creating our own clean and renewable energy here in the Byron Shire and I strongly encourage our business community to get on board this ground-breaking initiative.

“Our intention from the start was to create a local and scalable bioenergy solution and it is very exciting to be at the stage where we are here inviting the business community to the table,” he said.

It is proposed that the new Bioenergy plant will be located at the Byron Sewer Treatment Plant sit on Wallum Road, Byron Bay.

The Bioenergy plant will help Council reach its zero emissions target by 2025 and make some serious reductions to our carbon footprint,” Cr Richardson said.

It is expected the plant will be commissioned and operational by December 2020.

NSW litter reduced by a third with help from Return and Earn

Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.

A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.

“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.

“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.

“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.

“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”

Planet Ark partner with Bingo Industries to divert coffee grounds

A new trial aims to divert spent coffee grounds from landfill and repurpose them into higher value uses.

Planet Ark will begin the Coffee 4 Planet Ark trial in September in Sydney, in collaboration Bingo industries and with leading coffee roasters and members, such as Lavazza. Tata Global Beverages via its Map Coffee brand will collect spent coffee grounds from limited corporate businesses in Melbourne.

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The program aims to roll out around the country in 2019 after it identifies the best and most cost-effective collection method.

Planet Ark undertook a 2016 feasibility study that found almost 2800 tonnes of spent coffee grounds are sent to landfill in Sydney alone.

Once in landfill, the grounds would begin to break down and produce methane. Diverting the spent grounds from Sydney would save approximately 1600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually, according to the study.

To develop new end uses for coffee grounds, Planet Ark has begun working with the SMaRT centre at the University of New South Wales. It has also secured a partnership with Circular Food to produce a nutrient rich soil fertiliser called Big Bio, which will utilise the collected grounds.

Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko said the Coffee 4 Planet Ark program was an important step in ensuring spent coffee grounds were being used to their greatest potential rather than entering landfill.

‘Currently, the vast majority of coffee grounds produced after extracting your coffee are going to landfill. Planet Ark believes in creating a circular economy where all resources are used to their greatest potential,’ Mr Klymenko said.

‘We are thrilled to be working with some of Australia’s leading coffee roasters to trial a collection and repurposing system for coffee ground waste.’