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.

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.

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.

Albury City receive close to $2.5M for recycling boost

Albury City’s Waste Management Centre will receive almost $2.5 million from the NSW Government to boost the city’s recycling capabilities.

A $2 million grant will enable the council to build a construction and demolition recycling plant at the Albury Waste Management Centre to recycle waste that would have ended up in landfill.

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An additional $445,840 will go towards funding new pallet shredding and de-nailing technology for the recycling plant.

The machinery is expected to be able to recover more than 5100 tonnes of timber from discarded pallets every year, which will then be potentially used as an industrial fuel or for projects requiring a wood product.

The funding package will also help pay for the development of a local recovery centre to recover steel and textiles from an estimated 3200 mattresses a year.

Albury City Mayor Kevin Mack said the new construction and demolition recycling centre would be an important boost to the community’s efforts to halve the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“As a community, we’re leading the way in recycling and reuse of goods at the Waste Management Centre and this new facility means we can find new uses for thousands of tonnes of commercial waste such as masonry, timber and metals,” he said.

“It will not only provide a social and environmental benefit, it will also turn rubbish into valuable products that can be used for new construction projects, such as road building.”

The council expect to reach its target of halving the amount of waste sent to landfill by 2020 with the help of the new facilities and the community.

NSW consumers return and earn with TOMRA app

More than 100,000 people have downloaded TOMRA’s recycling app linked with the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The free app, called myTOMRA, shows the status with Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) in NSW and has partnered with digital payment provider PayPal.

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Users can scan their personal barcode at the RVM and claim money from returned containers electronically.

The app shows whether a RVM is open, almost full, temporarily unavailable, or in sleep mode during out of hours periods. It also includes a map which can direct users to the nearest RVM.

The Return and Earn scheme was implemented in NSW on 1 December and has seen more than 310 million containers returned since it launched. It aims to reduce the amount of litter across NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.

Consumers are able to claim a 10-cent refund when they return an eligible drink container to a collection point in NSW. Most 150 millilitre to three-litre drink containers made from plastic, glass, steel, liquid paperboard and aluminium are returnable.

TOMRA Cleanaway is the network operator for the scheme, with TOMRA providing the RVM technology and Cleanaway delivering the logistics and sorting for collected containers.

Waste to Energy project at NSW abattoir

ReNu Energy has been provided with $2 million to design, construct, own and operate a waste to energy facility at a NSW abattoir.

The Federal Government and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has invested to assist the creation of the new biogas facility at Southern Meats’ abattoir in Goulburn.

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The $5.75 million project includes construction of a covered lagoon for anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from breaking down effluent.

It is estimated to produce 3800 megawatt hours of electricity per year by treating and transferring biogas to two 800-kilowatt dual fuel generators.

The lagoon can store biogas which can be used during peak times of electricity consumption during manufacturing, with the additional generators able to contribute to reduce the amount of energy from the grid when prices spike during times of peak demand.

The abattoir uses around 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a day.

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said the conversion of waste into energy is an innovative way to help combat the challenges associated with waste management and energy prices.

“Disposing abattoir waste is a major environmental challenge and processing and storing meat is an energy intensive business,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“That’s why this project is win-win, it helps reduce the need to dispose of waste from the abattoir and it provides Southern Meats with a more affordable source of energy,” he said.

Return and Earn donations to help Tathra Bushfire Appeal

Donations from NSW Return and Earn refunds can now be sent towards those who have been devastated by the Tathra bushfires.

TOMRA has announced the Tathra Bushfire Appeal has become an official donation partner, allowing 10c donations for each container returned under the state’s container deposit scheme at any reverse vending machine from across NSW.

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Recyclers are able to donate their funds by choosing the option on the reverse vending machine, which will then go towards helping the people of Tathra to rebuild their lives and homes.

TOMRA Chief Executive Officer Ryan Buzzell, says, “It’s such an easy way for people to help out others in need and our team have worked very hard to make this happen quickly, so we ask everyone to give as generously as they can this month.”

Environmental group Take 3 for the Sea has stepped aside to give the Tathra Bushfire Appeal to have the opportunity to raise funds until the end of April.

Take 3 for the Sea Co-Founder Tim Silverwood says, “It’s a terrible thing for anyone to have to experience, so we were really keen to do what we could and I hope that people will find it in their hearts to help the people of Tathra get back on their feet again.”

TOMRA Cleanaway is the network provider for the Return and Earn scheme, with TOMRA providing the vending machines and Cleanaway handling the logistics and sorting.

There are more than 535 collection points across NSW, with the scheme seeing 200 million containers returned in 16 weeks.

NSW EPA release new research on litterers

New research from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has found that even though the community knows that littering is wrong, people are still making excuses.

The research shows that one in four people wouldn’t call someone a litterer if they only did it once a month and that 75 per cent of respondents said they rarely or never litter, with 46 per cent believing most littering is done by a few repeat offenders.

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The NSW EPA has recently launched the Don’t be a Tosser! campaign to reduce littering and points out there are no valid excuses.

Clinical psychologist Jo Lamble explains there are reasons why litterers look to make excuses but that these excuses can be part of the bigger problem when it comes to changing behaviour.

“We all use excuses from time to time to rationalise our behaviour and allow ourselves to litter. But this behaviour has direct consequences on our environment,” Ms Lamble said.

“Making excuses lowers our sense of responsibility and most importantly, decreases the likelihood of positive change.

“If we continue to make excuses for our behaviour e.g. ‘It’s not a big deal; I only do it sometimes; there isn’t a bin etc’ the bad habit will continue. To break a habit, we need to be fully conscious of what we are doing and the consequences of that behaviour,” Ms Lamble said.

EPA Litter Prevention Manager Sharon Owens said littering was a damaging but preventable environmental problem.

“Around 25,000 tonnes of litter are tossed in NSW each year, costing our community and the environment. Through the Don’t be a Tosser! campaign, we’re asking NSW residents to look at the excuses they use for littering,” Ms Owens said.

“The Don’t be a Tosser campaign will highlight that even if you litter just once or as a ‘one-off’, your rubbish ends up becoming part of a bigger litter problem,” she said.

“Reducing littering is important for the health of the environment and of our communities. Everyone is responsible for their own litter and the best bit is that it is easy to do something about it if we all work together.”

More information about the Don’t be a Tosser campaign can be found here.