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.

Waste reduction winners of the NSW Sustainable Cities Awards

Winners of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards have been announced and include the NSW container deposit scheme and a hospital recycling program.

The NSW EPA sponsored and presented two awards for waste management and litter reduction.

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Winning initiatives include Auburn Hospital’s Think before you bin it project to improve recycling and reduce hospital waste and the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s We Like Greenacre Litter Free, which resulted in a 54 per cent reduction in litter in Greenacre over three years.

The Vinnies Container Deposit scheme won the inaugural Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award, as the organisation have collected millions of containers at their automated depot and over the counter return points in NSW.

The Return and Earn school’s category went to Glenmore Park High School, which mobilised its school community to collect litter to fundraise for a minibus for the Special Needs Unit.

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said these projects along with other winners demonstrate the power of acting locally to reduce waste and litter in communities.

“All of the winners demonstrate extraordinary leadership in waste and litter reduction initiatives in our communities, and I commend them all on their efforts,” Ms Levy said.

Ms Levy said the NSW Government is committed to reducing waste and litter in the environment.

“We have dedicated $802 million over nine years to 2021 as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative – the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia,” she said.

“We have also introduced the state’s largest litter reduction initiative, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, to help achieve the Premier’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in litter volume by 2020.

“More than 814 million containers have been returned to return points across NSW in just over ten months, and drink container litter volume has already dropped by a third since November last year.”

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.

Dubbo Regional Council opens new organics processing plant

A new organics processing facility has been opened at the Whylandra Waste and Recycling Facility to recycle food and organic waste from the surrounding councils.

The Dubbo Regional Organics Processing Plant (DROPP) commenced operations in early July and has begun receiving food and garden waste from Dubbo Regional Council, Mid-Western Regional Council and Narromine Shire Council.

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It aims to divert a significant amount of organic waste from landfill and turn it into compost, reducing environmental pollution caused by leachate and methane gas production.

The facility received more than $7 million of funding from the NSW EPA, Dubbo Regional Council and JR Richards & Sons. The project was supported by the Environmental Trust as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More Organics Infrastructure initiative, funded by the waste levy.

Dubbo Regional Council Mayor Ben Shields said the high-tech composting facility was built to handle organic material collected by three council as part of the new Food and Garden Waste Management service.

“It is great to see neighbouring Councils working collaboratively and sharing resources to achieve a common goal,” Cr Shields said.

NSW Member for Dubbo Tony Grant said the regional organics recycling will greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions produced by landfill.

“The carbon footprint of trucking the waste is minor compared to methane that would otherwise be produced by food and garden waste buried in landfill,” Mr Grant said.

“This is a fantastic local initiative where organic waste from the region will be processed locally and reused locally,” he said.

Image: Mayor of Dubbo Region Councillor Ben Shields, Member for Dubbo the Hon Troy Grant and Mayor of Narromine Shire Councillor Craig Davies officially opened the DROPP. 

Downer and Close the Loop build NSW road from recycled plastics

Plastic from around 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and glass from around 55,000 bottles has been diverted from landfill to build New South Wales’ first road made from soft plastics and glass.

Downer and Sutherland Shire Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police to build the road in the Sydney suburb of Engadine.

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Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.

“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.

“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.

“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.

“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”

Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.

The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.

REMONDIS and Lake Macquarie open new organics processing facility

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility.

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility in late July.

It is part of the council’s new three-bin waste management system, which aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by as much as one third by recycling food refuse.

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Food and green waste will be recycled at the new facility and turned into compost products for reuse on parks, grounds and sporting fields.

The facility has a unique hybrid model of ‘in-vessel’ and ‘mobile aerated floor’ systems and includes a fully automated tunnel composting system to pasteurise food waste in two weeks

With a mobile aerated floor finishing. It also includes an automatic, cashless weighbridge system that gives users access to the facility with the swipe of a card.

REMONDIS CEO Luke Agati said the company is proud to be investing in Lake Macquarie and the Australian resource recovery sector.

“REMONDIS has been composting garden waste at Awaba for Lake Macquarie City Council since 2013, and this new facility will enable us to also convert food waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Agati said.

“The facility will convert up to 44,000 tonnes per year of organic waste into compost and soil amendment products.

“REMONDIS applauds forward-thinking local government organisations such as Lake Macquarie City Council for their dedication to building the vital recycling infrastructure that will create job opportunities, strengthen the Australian economy and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the Organics Resource Recovery Facility would see the City take a leading role in recycling and waste management.

“This is a significant step in our Waste Strategy and in our efforts to encourage people to think and act more responsibly about household waste disposal,” Cr Fraser said.

“By making it easy for residents to dispose of organic waste appropriately, we will encourage them to recycle and close the food consumption loop.

“About one third of household garbage bin contents is food waste, so this will divert significant amounts of organic material from landfill, extending the life of our Awaba Waste Management Facility and saving an estimated $4 million over 10 years in waste management costs.”

The project was supported by a grant of $2 million as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycled More initiative, funded from the waste levy.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the NSW Government was pleased to assist by contributing a $1.4 million grant to the facility and $0.6m for community engagement initiatives, from the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

“This facility will improve the availability of organic compost for local primary producers and reduce unnecessary wastage of high quality organic material. I congratulate Lake Macquarie City Council in securing investment from a business with the calibre of REMONDIS.”

More than 100 contracting firms were engaged to build the facility, which also features an education centre where schools and community groups can see the recycling process.

Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility Branch Manager Gunther Neumann said REMONDIS is proud of its environmental achievements in Lake Macquarie.

“Since 2013, REMONDIS has diverted more than 100,000 tonnes of garden organics from landfill in the region, saving more than $13 million in landfill levies for residents,” Mr Neumann said.

“With the opening of the Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility, REMONDIS looks forward to a new chapter in organics processing that will deliver additional landfill levy savings and create new market opportunities locally, reinforcing our role as a valued member of the local community.”

Image: Lake Macquarie City Council

Western Sydney Councils release four year plan for waste

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 Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC)
WSROC CEO Charles Casuscelli and WSROC Vice President Cr Barry Calvert.

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.

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.