Return and Earn sees half a billion containers returned

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, government and community tackle plastic waste

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.

Recycling grants worth $3.6M awarded by NSW EPA

More than $3 million in grants has been awarded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to increase recycling rates across the state.

Eight organisations have been granted around $3.6 million to invest in new infrastructure to increase municipal recycling rates in NSW to 70 per cent and divert 75 per cent of waste from landfill by 2020.

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As part of the Resource Recovery Facility Expansion and Enhancement grant, Albury City Council will install a shredder and de-nailing pallet processing equipment at its Waste Management Centre to recover more than 5100 additional tonnes of timber from pallets every year.

Weston Aluminium has been awarded $1 million to expand its facility to incinerate medical and hazardous waste, improving the facility to be able to process 8000 tonnes a year and diver 90 per cent from landfill.

Shoalhaven City Council was also awarded around $350,000 to expand and enhance Nowra and Ulladalla’s waste management facilities operations by installing infrastructure to process, consolidate and transport soft plastics, polystyrene and cardboard. The council estimates that through this, more than 300 tonnes of plastics and carboard will be recovered and diverted from landfill each year.

For more information about the Resource Recovery Facility Expansion and Enhancement grants, click here.

NSW EPA award $5M in Bin Trim grants

More than $5 million has been awarded as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA) Bin Trim program.

The program aims to help businesses produce less waste or divert it from landfill into recycling. It provides funding for organisations to access waste assessors who provide advice and support to individual businesses to increase their waste diversion and reduction.

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To make this happen, 16 councils, industry, consultancies and not-for-profit organisations have been awarded $5.16 million.

Sustainability solutions company Eco Guardians was awarded $379,200 to divert food organics and dry recyclables from landfill by targeting up to 400 business in the Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Hunter region.

Environmental consulting company Cool Planet Energy Pty Ltd was awarded $398,700

To target industrial, hospitality and accommodation sectors in regional NSW to divert organics and dry recyclables.

The grants were awarded under the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

For more information on the grants, click here.

NSW EPA open $9.5M grants to counter National Sword

The NSW Government has announced it will provide $9.5 million in grants for better waste recycling projects to counter the effects of China’s National Sword policy.

The support package is being funded by the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative and will aim to provide a range of short, medium and long-term initiatives to ensure kerbside recycling continues.

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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said China’s enforcement of its policy restricts the types of recycled material that China will accept.

“As China is the largest importer of recyclable products from Australia, this policy threatens NSW’s kerbside recycling system and the options for recycled material currently produced in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

Ms Upton has urges local councils to team up with industry to seek funding to improve recycling in NSW.

“A new grant, called the Product Improvement Program, provides $4.5 million for projects that reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the recycling process,” she said.

“Another $5 million is available for programs that identify new uses for recyclable materials and increase the production and use of recycled products.

“This includes $2.5 million under the Civil Construction Market Program and $2.5 million under the Circulate Program,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government is committed to working with councils and industry to improve and strengthen our recycling systems in NSW.

“The NSW Government has consulted with industry and local government to develop the grant programs and I encourage the state’s recycling sector to apply for this funding,” she said.

“An inter-government taskforce has been established to urgently progress a longer-term response to National Sword in partnership with industry and councils.”

Applications to the grants are now open through the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

For more information, click here.

Waste and recycling receive $196M in NSW Budget

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.

Downer partner with CDEnviro for Sydney detritus processing facility

A new Detritus Processing Facility in Rosehill, NSW, will divert more than 21,000 tonnes of waste annually from landfill, to be separated, cleaned and sorted into valuable products and materials for reuse.

The facility, opened by construction company Downer and partnered with CDEnviro, can recycle several different types of materials from everyday waste streams.

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Materials such as organic matter, sand, gravel, metals and plastics are able to be separated and then sold for reuse.

Downer’s Executive General Manager Road Services Dante Cremasco said the Detritus Processing Facility creates economic, social and environmental value for material that would end up in landfill, or end up as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“The Rosehill Detritus Processing Facility is capable of cost effectively processing, separating and cleaning upwards of 25,000 tonnes annually from everyday waste streams such as street sweepings or stormwater. Approximately 85 per cent of it is then converted into meaningful streams of use such as organic matter, sand, gravel, metals and plastic,” he said.

“The facility is about pulling product, not pushing waste, as these products can be utilised in compost, asphalt for roads that Downer builds and building materials,” Mr Cremasco said.

The facility is able to support the optimisation of street sweeping operations in metroplitian Sydney, which aims to enable some street sweepers to complete more than one load per shift.

“The proximity of the facility to street sweeping operations in metropolitan Sydney will see further benefits through improved efficiency with shorter distances travelled by street sweepers. This will in turn allow for improved productivity, reduced fuel consumption and longer equipment life.”

NSW Environment and Protection Authority (EPA) Director Resource Recovery Kathy Giunta said the EPA is committed to supporting research and the introduction of new technologies to boost recycling in the state.

“This project is one of several the government has supported through the Recycling Innovation Fund, a part of Waste Less Recycle More initiative and is a good example of innovation in recycling,” she said.