Waste Management Review speaks to RED Group’s Rebecca Gleghorn about the success of its soft plastics recycling program.
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.
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.”
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.’
The Vinyl Council of Australia aims to expand its PVC Recycling in Hospitals program to cover 150 hospitals by the end of 2018.
After launching in 2009, the recycling program has grown to operate in 138 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is managed by the the Vinyl Council of Australia and its member partners: Baxter Healthcare, Aces Medical Waste and Welvic Australia.
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More than 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals has been diverted from landfill to recycling over the past year. The material is redirected to reprocessors, which use the recycled polymer in new products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.
The program partners also explore designs for new product applications for the material generated through the program.
Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan says thanks to the great support and enthusiasm from healthcare professionals, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program is now operating in every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.
“It’s a great example of how the healthcare sector can demonstrate leadership in PVC sustainability and recover high quality material that can be genuinely recycled locally for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.
“We are currently looking at further end product applications for the recyclate.
“New South Wales is one of our priorities given it only has 11 hospitals participating in the program at the moment. As the state with the biggest population in Australia, the opportunity to grow the program there is really good.”
Western Sydney councils have joined up to reduce waste, increase recycling and prevent illegal dumping under a newly launched four-year strategy.
The Western Sydney Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2017 – 2021 is a blueprint for a cleaner and more sustainable future.
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The Regional Waste Strategy has received $120,000 in funding from the NSW EPA under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which uses funding gathered from the waste levy.
Blue Mountain, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith councils have all committed to participating in the plan.
Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Vice President Barry Calvert said waste, like water and electricity, is a critical service for any city, delivered almost solely by local government in partnership with industry.
“Councils are constantly working to deliver safe, sustainable and affordable waste services to the community. This is no easy task in a region experiencing rapid growth, increasing household waste generation, and changing recycling markets,” he said.
“Working together allows councils to share knowledge, find efficiencies and work strategically to meet these challenges.”
Western Sydney’s first regional waste strategy was developed in 2014, which has helped local councils cut the percentage of household waste going to landfill from 49 per cent to 43 per cent.
“Our goal is to reach 30 per cent by 2025,” said Cr Calvert.
“Landfill space in Sydney is filling up fast. At the same time, we have a million additional residents moving into the region.
“We must reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill if council waste services are to remain affordable and sustainable well into the future,” he said.
Cr Calvert said the WSROC is working closely with the community to reduce the amount of waste created and to increase the rates of recycling.
“At the regional level councils will work with industry and the state government to identify and support new recycling methods, investigate new technologies and plan for future waste needs,” he said.
More than half a billion containers have been returned to Return and Earn reverse vending machines in NSW, eight months after the scheme launched.
The container deposit scheme aims to improve recycling rates and reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40 per cent by 2020.
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Each eligible container is worth 10 cents when returned to a reverse vending machine or depot.
Drink containers litter currently makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter throughout NSW and costs more than $162 million to manage, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) was the first educational institution to install a reverse vending machine as part of the scheme.
UNSW Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability Will Syddall said that while this initiative helps to reduce littering and improve recycling rates, it is just one step in improving the way we create and manage waste.
“In the waste hierarchy, reducing and reusing resources is better than recycling them. We encourage the community to use reusable water bottles and coffee cups so that they can avoid disposable cups and bottles altogether,” Mr Syddall said.
“We also recognise that we have more work to do to reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other consumables used on our campuses.”
According to the World Bank, half of the plastic ever manufactured was made in the last 15 years.
Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.
Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.
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The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.
Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.
A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.
Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.
“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.
Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”
Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.
“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.
Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.
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The NSW Government has received $162 million more than expected from its waste and environmental levy, while at the same time committing $196 million reduce waste, strengthen recycling and protect the health of the environment in its 2018-19 state budget.
According to the budget papers, the government received a revised $727 million from its waste and environment levy, which it attributes to strong construction sector activity.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority budget for 2018-19 includes $70 million to improve waste management and resource recovery, $8 million for the management of contaminated land and $5 million for asbestos management and emergency clean-up.
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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the budget provides support for programs and initiatives to reduce litter and waste, while also strengthening recycling and tackling illegal dumping.
“Diverting waste from landfill is a key priority and the NSW Government has set targets to increase the diversion of waste from landfill from 63 per cent in 2014-15 to 75 per cent by 2021,” Ms Upton said.
“The Premier has also made it a priority to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020, achieved through Return and Earn, Hey Tosser and council and community litter prevention grants.”
In March, a $47 million support package was also announced for the local government and industry to respond to China’s National Sword policy.
“The support package provides a range of short, medium and long-term programs to ensure kerbside recycling continues and to promote industry innovation.”
Ms Upton said there is also funding for the emergency clean-up of asbestos, managing James Hardie Asbestos legacy sites at Parramatta and support for the Broken Hill Lead program and the management of PFAS.