WSROC calls on NSW Government to re-invest waste levy funds

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to direct waste levy funds collected in the region to sustainable waste management programs for western Sydney.

According to WSROC President Barry Calvert, the NSW Government has reinvested only $20 million of the $225 million collected from western Sydney waste levy’s over the last five years.

“Each year councils pay the NSW Government a significant levy on waste sent to landfill, the aim of the levy is admirable – to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and reuse – however, only a small percentage is actually used for this purpose.

“Government should be using waste levy money for the purpose it was collected – to promote a more sustainable waste sector,” he said.

Levy rates for NSW are $81.30 per tonne in regional areas and $141.20 per tonne in metropolitan areas like western Sydney.

Mr Calvert said given that western Sydney processes the majority of the cities waste, improving recycling and resource recovery in the area is critical.

“We should be seeing $234 million invested in helping councils adapt to the new market conditions caused by the China National Sword Policy, investing in the development of local recycling markets and waste processing infrastructure, and implementing measures to reduce waste generation,” Mr Calvert said.

The state governments half yearly budget review, released late last year, showed the treasury collected $769 million in 2017-18.

At the Save Our Recycling Election Summit earlier the year Local Government NSW voiced similar concerns, calling for 100 per cent of waste levy funds to be re-invested into sustainable waste management initiatives for the state.

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NSW Labor’s waste election pledges

New South Wales Labor leader Michael Daley has announced that if elected his government will ban single-use plastic bags and invest $140 million into local recycling initiatives.

Mr Daley said the NSW waste system is struggling to keep up with rapidly declining sites for landfill, China’s National Sword policy and a collapsing market for recycled material.

NSW is the second highest per capita waste producer in the world with every person in the state generating an average of two tonnes of waste each year.

Mr Daley said that within the first 100 days of taking office Labor would introduce legislation to ban plastic bags as part of a longterm plan to phase out single-use plastic.

The proposed $140 million Circular Economy and Job Creation Investment Fund aims to support the resource recovery and recycling industry by investing in recycling and processing facilities, increasing community-based waste reduction and providing seed funding for innovative solutions for dealing with waste.

Mr Daley said the fund would use unallocated waste levy revenue to support recycling and environmental programs.

Labor also plan to establish a recycling, resource recovery and waste council comprised of key industry stakeholders that will provide advice to the Environment Minister.

“It is a fact that recycling waste generates more jobs than sending waste to landfill, Labor’s war on waste will seize this opportunity and at the same time reduce waste and pollution. It’s a win-win,” he said.

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WMRR releases NSW election priorities

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is urging all parties to commit to six key priorities for the upcoming NSW election.

At the Local Government NSW’s Save Our Recycling Election Summit, WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said meeting WMRR’s six priorities would future-proof the state’s economy, protect the environment and create jobs in NSW.

“If China’s National Sword policy has taught us anything, it is the need to strengthen and grow both domestic processing/remanufacturing and local market demand.

“All stakeholders need to play their part in responding to this new reality, it is now up to the NSW Government to show leadership and support our vital industry,” she said.

WMRR is urging all parties to commit to the following priorities:

1. The creation of a market development agency similar to Sustainability Victoria (SV) and Green Industries South Australia (GISA).

2. Greater accountability and transparency of the landfill levy, and a return and reinvestment of 50 per cent of levy funds raised each year to support diversion from landfill, grow remanufacturing facilities, and create markets.

3. To underpin waste infrastructure and award funds accordingly, WMRR is calling for a recommitment for a finalisation of the state’s strategic infrastructure strategy, which has been placed on hold by the NSW EPA since July 2017, to strategically develop and approve required infrastructure.

4. To develop a specific Waste and Resource Recovery State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), including recognition that this infrastructure is critical/essential and requires certainty of both location (by way of designated precincts) and appropriate buffer zones.

5. Enforcement of the proximity principle and development of a common approach to managing ‘waste’ as it becomes a resource, which also requires resource recovery exemptions and orders to be certain and robust.

6. Commitment to sustainable procurement coupled with the development of specifications that include recycled content. Mandate the use of recycled/recovered content in procurement policies for local and state government, including state government agencies, and ensure these are applied in procurement for all building, civil, and infrastructure works.

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NSW EPA awards $3.6 million to boost recycling

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is awarding more than $3.6 million to waste and reprocessing facilities and manufacturing plants to increase recycling.

The grants have been awarded under the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s $802 million Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia.

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NSW EPA Executive Director of Waste and Resource Recovery Carmen Dwyer said the funding will help waste and recycling facilities invest in new infrastructure and respond to changing recycling markets.

“Nine projects have been successful in accessing a total of $3,654,000 in funding through the Product Improvement Program.

“The funding will support licensed waste facilities, reprocessing facilities and manufacturing plants to increase recycling of waste materials from households and businesses, in a cost-effective manner.

“Projects funded include boosting the recycling of foam, increasing recycling of kerbside plastics, reducing contamination in recycling of paper and plastics and processing crushed glass for use in road base,” she said.

Ms Dwyer said the funding will also help mitigate the effects of China’s National Sword Policy by improving the quality of recycled materials, increasing the capacity to recover and reprocess waste materials and stimulate local remanufacturing capacity in NSW.

Trial funded to turn sawmill waste into diesel and bitumen

Sawmill scraps and sawdust could soon be turned into renewable diesel and bitumen as a result of a $1.2 million feasibility study, funded by the Federal Government and Boral Limited.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to grant Boral with $500,000 towards the study, with Boral providing the remainder.

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The study will trial a mechanical catalytic conversion technology, developed by Spanish-based Global Ecofuel Solutions SL, along with initial design works for the full-scale plant, exploration of the regulatory challenges and development of the business case.

Boral will explore the technical and financial viability of establishing a biorefinery using this technology near its Herons Creek hardwood sawmill, near Port Macquarie, NSW.

If successful, the proposed biorefinery would cost around $50 million and could convert up to 50,000 tonnes of waste sawmill residue produces each year into transport grade diesel and renewable bitumen.

Sawmill residue, which includes sawdust, remnant woodchips, shavings and offcuts, is currently used for lower value uses such as landscaping and boiler fuel.

Boral consumes a large amount of diesel and bitumen, using around 100 million litres of diesel a year to operate its business in Australia. The company estimates the volume of timber residues should create around 16 million litres of diesel and 8000 tonnes of bitumen.

Boral Building Products Executive General Manager Wayne Manners said if the study was successful, the diesel and bitumen produced at the potential new biorefinery could eventually account for up to 15 per cent of Boral’s annual needs.

“The application of this technology has the potential to transform the way we use low value hardwood sawmill residues into a resource that could be highly valuable, not just to Boral, but to the industry more generally,” he said.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project further shows that big businesses are increasingly moving towards renewable energy solutions.

“If this ground-breaking technology is successful, we hope to see a transition to similar biorefineries by other companies which have a waste stream in forestry or agriculture,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The transport sector is a significant user of energy in Australia, with liquid fuels a key long-term energy source for heavy-vehicle road and air transport since they cannot readily be electrified.

“Bioenergy comprises a growing proportion of Australia’s energy mix, and this new technology could see residue from the production process be used to reduce Boral’s reliance on diesel and bitumen derived from fossil fuels,” he said.

NSW EPA to develop 20-year waste strategy

The NSW EPA, in partnership with Infrastructure NSW, is developing a 20-year waste strategy for the state.

The strategy aims to set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network.

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It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.

Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.

This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.

A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.

A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Coca-Cola partners with CitizenBlue to improve NSW recycling

Coca-Cola Australia has partnered with social enterprise CitizenBlue to introduce more drink container recycling options at venues and events in Sydney and regional NSW.

The partnership will aim to strategically place drink container recycling bins in key venues and events, with the proceeds of the collected waste being sent towards environment and community charities.

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Drink containers collected in these bins will be collected and sorted through the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The bins are expected to help collect around 7.5 million containers per year, leading to an estimated $750,000 in funds raised.

CitizenBlue is a collective of seven environmental not for profit organisations, including Total Environment Centre, Surfrider Foundation and Landcare NSW.

“We’re on a mission to stop waste from entering our waterways and Coca-Cola has a big goal to ensure that every drink bottle and can they sell is collected and recycled,” said Jeff Angel for CitizenBlue.

“This partnership is a first step towards both not-for-profit groups and a major beverage leader working together to tackle our waste issue.”

The NSW Government has reported a 44 per cent drop in drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017.

Surfrider Foundation Australia Chairperson Susie Crick said CitizenBlue’s aim is for these activities to enhance and promote the existing recycling efforts through the container deposit scheme in NSW.

“More organisations and businesses coming together to find solutions to tackle waste and recycling is better for the environment, the sector, not to mention a funding boost for charities,” she said.

The partnership forms part of Coca-Cola’s recently announced global sustainable packaging strategy, which includes a goal to collect and recycle and equivalent of 100 per cent of the packaging they sell by 2030.

Director Public Affairs and Sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific Christine Black said the company is focusing its efforts locally on designing packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable across its entire portfolio.

“This partnership is part of the next step for Cola-Cola in tackling drink container waste, whilst inspiring positive change to ensure our bottles and cans have another life beyond their first use,” Ms Black said.

The collection bins are expected to roll out in the early new year at festivals and venues in NSW.

NSW Govt boosts organics collection funding by $4.9M

Funding has been granted by the NSW Government to 10 organics collection projects to improve services that recycle food and garden waste into compost.

The grants will go towards the provision of kitchen caddies to hold food waste and make it easier for households to use the new food organics and garden organics collections.

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It also will help provide new garden waste kerbside collection services in two local government areas, and food and garden or food only collection services to households and business in seven council areas. This includes more than 100,000 households living in units within Sydney.

The $4.9 million in grant funding is shared across Armidale Regional Council, City of Sydney, Cumberland Council, Lockhart Shire Council, Penrith City Council, Randwick City Council, Upper Lachlan Shire and Wagga Wagga City.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said nearly half the landfill from household bins is food and garden waste (approximately 45 per cent).

“Simply putting all food and garden waste into green bins will dramatically reduce the amount of household garbage currently going to landfill,” she said.

“When food and garden waste goes into the green lid bin, it is properly processed and becomes a clean, green supply of compost, rather than rotting away in landfill and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

“For the first time, this program is also supporting food waste collections from businesses, with three projects that will collect around 1350 tonnes of business food waste a year,” Ms Upton said.

New multi-million dollar fines for asbestos dumpers

Illegally dumping asbestos now carries a multi-million dollar fine under new laws passed by the NSW Government.

Previously, the maximum penalty for asbestos waste offenders were $44,000 for corporation and $22,000 for individuals. Under the new laws, these are now $2 million for corporation and $500,000 for individuals who illegally dispose, recycle or re-use asbestos waste.

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Maximum court penalties for land pollution and waste offences involving asbestos have also been doubled to $2 million for corporations and $500,000 for individuals.

Managers and directors can also now be held accountable for offences committed by their companies under the new laws.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said illegally dumping asbestos is a serious crime, and the government wants dumpers to know there are tough penalties for those that break the law.

“The new laws also require the courts to consider the presence of asbestos when determining the magnitude of the penalty,” Ms Upton said.

“The massive fine hike comes on top recently announced tougher asbestos handling controls for waste facilities and a tenfold increase in on-the-spot asbestos fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste,” she said.