WA to launch cigarette butt litter campaign in 2019

The Western Australian Government is planning to roll out a campaign that targets littered cigarette butts and packaging after it was found they made up more than a third of the state’s litter.

Keep Australia Beautiful WA’s 2017-18 National Litter Index (NLI) has found discarded butts were responsible for pushing up the state’s litter statistics with a 21.9 per cent increase in cigarette litter. The butts and packaging accounted for 3376 of the 9550 litter items recorded by the count.

Related stories:

Littering had increased by 2.6 per cent across WA compared to the previous year’s results, but overall littering was still 21 per cent lower than what had been recorded in 2015-16. Takeaway packaging litter in WA had been reduced by 11.3 per cent, according to the NLI with beverage containers also down by seven per cent.

The NLI is measured twice each financial year each state and territory. Litter across 151 sites within 50 kilometres of Perth’s CBD is measured as part of the index, looking at highways, beaches, retail and shopping areas, car parks, recreational parks and residential and industrial areas.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.

“Littered cigarette butts do not break down and are often washed into waterways, causing contamination,” Mr Dawson said.

“They can be mistaken for food by our wildlife and are a blight on the beauty of our state’s natural environment.

“The efforts of the majority are being undermined by the selfish acts of the few who litter. If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly into waste bins. Failing to do this is an offence,” he said.

Perth anaerobic digestion project wins bioenergy award

A project that converts food waste to energy has won an award at the Bioenergy Innovation Awards dinner in Queensland.

Four bioenergy projects and the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk were awarded top honours at the awards night, which showcases Australia’s bio-based alternatives for heat, power, and liquid fuels.

Related stories:

Perth based Biogas Renewables has commissioned a plant that will take between 35,000 and 50,000 tonnes of food waste per year and is capable of producing between 2.4 to 2.6 megawatts of energy.

The company was awarded the Large Scale Bioenergy Innovation Award for the project, with Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie saying the application of anaerobic digestion is a major advancement of the Australian market.

Biotechnology company Microbiogen was awarded a commendation for its development and launch of a superior biocatalyst for the global bio-ethanol industry.

Ms Palaszczuk was awarded the Government Leadership Award for the Queensland Government’s 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan to support the growth of the state’s bio-economy. The plan identifies 15 current projects which represents a potential investment of around 41.4 billion and the creation of 2500 new jobs in rural and regional communities.

“The integrated approach is paving the way for Australia to develop a sustainable, export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2026,” Ms McKenzie said.

“The plan shows a pathway which recognises Queensland’s mix of natural resources, skilled workforces, world-class research and development and supporting supply chain industries.”

The research Leadership Award was presented to the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment platform, which is a collaboration of states, industry and universities to enable better links between biomass suppliers and end users.

Victorian Pyrenees Shire Council won the Community Leadership Award for its large-scale project which focused on converting straw and straw pellets to energy.

Ms McKenzie said the awards are recognition for the breadth and scope of the bioenergy work being undertaken across Australia.

“Bioenergy is the subject of considerable interest and investment world-wide, due to its enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and drive a more sustainable energy future,” she said.

Full list of winners:

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – LARGE SCALE
Winner: Biogass Renewables Pty Ltd, the Richgro Anaerobic Digestion Project
Commendation: Microbiogen Pty Ltd, the Development and Launch of World’s First Superior Biocatalyst for Global Bio-Ethanol Industry

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – SMALL SCALE
Winner: Dragon NRG Pty Ltd, the Meredith Dairy Bioenergy Project Commendation: ReNu Energy Limited, Goulburn Bioenergy Project

BIOENERGY COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Pyrenees Shire, the Pyrenees Straw Project
Commendation: CLEAN Cowra, Goulburn Bioenergy Project, CLEAN Cowra BioEnergy Hub Commendation: Mt Alexander Sustainability Group, Integrated Community Bioenergy from Waste project

BIOENERGY CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Commendation: MSM Milling, MSM Milling Biomass Fuel Switch Project

AWARD – BIOENERGY RESEARCH LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment
Commendation: Queensland University of Technology Industrial Biotechnology, Bioproducts and Biorefining Team, Achieving bio-economy impact through industry focused research

BIOENERGY GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP

WA Govt releases draft strategy to reduce 20 per cent of waste by 2030

The WA Waste Authority has released a draft of its Waste Strategy 2030 for comment, outlining key strategies to reduce waste by 20 per cent by 2030.

Other key targets include increasing material recovery to 70 per cent by 2025 and 75 per cent by 2030, and to only recover energy from residual waste.

Related stories:

It also sets a target of sending no more than 15 per cent of the waste generated in the Perth and Peel regions to be landfilled by 2030.

Strategies to reach these targets include a food organics and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside collection system across the Perth and Peel regions by 2025, provided by local governments with support from the state.

The draft outlines implementing sustainable government procurement practices that encourage the usage of recycled products and support local market development.

A review of the waste levy will also be undertaken to ensure its scope and application meets the objectives of the Waste Strategy 2030.

Statewide communications to support consistent messaging on reducing waste will be developed as part of the strategy, alongside implementing local government waste plans to align planning processes with the new targets laid out.

Data collection and reporting systems will be updated according to the strategy to allow waste generation, recovery and disposal performance be assessed quickly.

A strategy to guide future infrastructure development includes a review of WA’s waste infrastructure and landfills to occur by 2020.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said in the report WA has an obligation to its current community and future generations to generate less waste, extract more resources and better manage the disposal of waste.

“Waste Strategy 2030 rises to address that challenge and the opportunities that better choices and better waste management present,” Mr Dawson said.

“We will have to work hard to meet the ambitious targets set out in this strategy and deliver against long-standing issues in the waste community. We won’t, for example, be able to meet our 2025 recovery targets without all metropolitan local government’s adopting a three-bin FOGO system, and I will work with those local governments to achieve this.

“Waste is everyone’s business – individuals, households, neighbourhoods, community groups, schools, small and big businesses, local governments, waste managers, the state government and the media,” he said.

Comments on the Waste Strategy 2030 should be sent to wastestrategyreview@wasteauthority.wa.gov.au and are due by Tuesday 6 November.

EPA VIC consider application for $12M waste to energy facility

Resource Resolution Pty Ltd has applied to establish a $12 million commercial food waste processing facility which has the capability of producing biogas for energy.

The proposed facility would process 30,000 tonnes of liquid food waste a year and produce 2.4 megawatts of power.

Related stories:

Resource Resolution also aims to recover organic matter for use as animal feed or to generate renewable energy with an anaerobic digestion facility.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria received the works approval for the site, planned to be located at 19 Winter Road, Girgarre.

Resource Resolution has proposed to use the Biogass Renewables AD system, which is currently used in Perth, WA. It is estimated that the bioenergy operation will process 23,382 tonnes of dairy, 3,475 tonnes of food products, 2,421 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 722 tonnes of supermarket and grocery waste.

EPA Victoria’s assessment of the application will consider best practice technology, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste composition. It will also assess any potential risk to human health and the environment, including from emissions to air, noise, disposal of digestate, the waste water treatment system and operation contingencies.

An application for an amendment to the current planning permit is currently under assessment by Campaspe Shire Council.

Works approvals are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

ECU to phase out single-use plastics

Edith Cowan University (ECU) will begin phasing out single-use plastic water bottles and straws across all of its campuses from the start of semester two.

It follows initiatives on the east coast from the Universities of Canberra, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Monash University.

Related stories:

ECU said it believes it is the first Western Australian University to limit the use of plastic water bottles on campus.

The phase out will be done as part of a staged approach to restrict single-use plastic water bottles. Beginning with around 40 events it holds on its campuses, ECU will instead provide water refill stations.

The university is also investigating solutions including an increase to the number of water fountains on campus, offering free or discounted multi-use water bottles on campus and discussing with commercial tenants for alternatives to single-use bottles.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said it was a big step forward for the University.

“With around 30,000 students and 1800 staff, we can make a huge difference by taking this first step to limit single-use plastic water bottles at our campus events,” Professor Chapman said.

“It’s also financially responsible. More than 90 per cent of the cost of bottled water can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label.

“This is not a ban. This is about education and providing alternatives. By offering high quality, convenient options to students, staff and visitors, we are confident we can reduce the demand for single-use plastic water bottles on our campuses.

New app links cafes and charities to fight food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities is aiming to reduce food waste by donating excess food.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have trialled the ReFood app in Perth council City of Swan to connect local restaurants and cafes with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute excess food to those in need.

Related stories:

The app fills a gap in the market for smaller businesses to give away food and divert it from landfill.

The app was developed by ECU PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska thanks to a $12,798 grant from the Waste Authority WA’s Community Grants scheme.

“The main aim of the ReFood app is to both reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and also making it much easier for small businesses to link up with not-for-profits to share food,” Ms Stojanoska said.

“The app is very simple to use. All a business has to do is download the app, then when they have excess food they can enter it into the app along with a time that it can be collected. Then a not-for-profit organisation can see what’s available and if the food is suitable for their needs, come and collect it.

“It even shows what food has been donated so businesses can have a record of what they have given away.”

Ms Stojanoska said she was currently analysing data collecting in the pilot of the app to continue the rollout across Perth.

Waste Authority WA Acting Chair Jenny Bloom said the ReFood app would help to achieve the target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020.

“Initiatives like the ReFood app can help increase awareness and education around our understanding of the benefits of waste avoidance, reuse and recycling,” she said.

Owner of the Crooked Spire Coffee House café Mike Matich said the best thing about the app was how easy it was to use.

“No one likes the idea of food being thrown away, so when I heard about the ReFood app and how it could help us link up with local not-for profits I was stoked to take part,” he said.

“It’s super easy to use, all I have to do is enter what type of excess food I have, how much I have and what time it can be collected then wait for it to be picked up.”

Strong results for Perth’s first FOGO trial

The trial of a Perth metro first, three-bin Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) system, has yielded higher than anticipated diversion from landfill.

The Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) alongside three of its member councils – the Cities of Fremantle, Melville and Town of East Fremantle has been working towards the implementation of a three-bin FOGO system.

Commencing in October 2017, the new bin system was rolled out to approximately 7000 households across five areas in the City of Melville.

As part of the rollout, residents received a brand new 240-litre lime-green topped bin for FOGO material, along with a kitchen caddy to help them separate food waste in the kitchen. The kitchen caddy contained educational materials for the residents, along with a year’s supply of compostable liners to line the caddy with.

Related stories:

Residents also received a brand new smaller red-topped 140-litre bin for general waste items that can’t be composted or recycled. The red bin is collected fortnightly. Residents kept their existing recycling bins with collections changing from weekly to fortnightly. For households who required more room to recycle, larger 360-litre bins were made available free of charge. The old general waste bins were removed and sent for recycling into new bins.

In the first six months of the project, 66.5 per cent of all household waste generated from the trial areas was recovered as compost or recycled into new products, above the state government target of 65 per cent of all household waste diverted from landfill by 2020.

In April, a resident survey was undertaken by independent research company Catalyse. All residents participating in the trial were asked for feedback on their experiences with 30 per cent of residents responding and having their say on the new system.

The findings showed strong support towards the new system with:

  • 79 per cent of respondents wanting the 3-bin FOGO system to continue.
  • 94 per cent of respondents rating weekly FOGO collections positively.
  • 87 per cent of respondents rating fortnightly recycling collections positively.
  • 69 per cent of respondents rating fortnightly general waste collections positively.
  • 80 per cent of respondents satisfied that they received the right amount of information about the new system.

Many residents highlighted the need to reduce landfill, create compost and increase recycling as their key reasons for wanting to keep the system moving forward. One resident said, “It makes sense to produce compost ‘en masse’ if individual households are not providing their own. We need more good soil, not landfill”.

Residents were also asked to make suggestions as to how the system could be improved, and between 10-22 per cent of respondents suggested improvements could be made by investigating the size and collection frequency of the red and yellow bins, odour management and sourcing more robust compostable caddy liners.

In a statement, council said many of these issues highlighted by residents are being addressed on an ongoing basis rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. To date, more than 17 per cent of residents have already opted for a larger 360-litre recycling bin and approximately half of the 4 per cent of households who requested additional capacity have been provided with more room following a needs assessment. Alternative compostable bags have been sourced with many residents now reporting improvements in the strength and durability of the bags.

City of Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey said that with mounting global pressures to better manage waste services our surveyed community has expressed a desire to move to an improved, more sustainable waste management model.

“The results show the FOGO three-bin trial by and large has been a fantastic success for everyone involved, noting there are some areas for improvement,” he said.

There is also strong support from those not in the trial areas, with 74 per cent of all residents who took part in a survey across all five SMRC member councils expressing a desire for a third bin for FOGO waste.

Further analysis and reporting will continue over the coming months to help formulate the decision-making process for participating councils.

City of Swan saves $400,000 on recycling

The City of Swan has announced it is on course to save up to $400,000 after implementing a new recycling strategy.

Bullsbrook Recycling Centre (BRC) was opened by the council to reduce illegal dumping and make recycling more accessible.

Related stories:

After opening in July of 2017, the BRC has demonstrated exceptional savings according to the City of Swan.

The latest figures have shown that illegal dumping has been reduced by nine per cent and has provided $205,747 in savings to date, with an estimate to save $400,000 annually. The city also reported that it is estimated to save 2281 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

It also saves money by avoiding waste levies, based on the amount of waste that would normally end up in landfill. The City of Swan said the landfill levy savings in the first eight months of operation amounted to $196,592.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said the Centre offers significant cost savings and makes a major contribution towards protecting the environment.

“The BRC has performed exceptionally well since it opened,” he said.

“I’m delighted that we’re reaping the rewards of our investment. Cost savings and revenue generated will be reinvested to improve services across the city.”

Recyclable goods can be dropped off at the center for free, which the City of Swan says reduces the need for further investment in additional staff and equipment.

Additional revenue is earned from disposal charges on specific items like tyres and the resale of scrap metal.

Pearce Ward Councillor Kevin Bailey said the recycling strategy encourages active participation from residents.

City of Swan recognised for waste management

The City of Swan in WA has been recognised for its efficient delivery of waste management and other essential services.

A major survey of local governments has found the City of Swan’s waste management cost per resident was less than the WA and national average.

Related stories:

Residents living in the area were also fond to dump 14 per cent less rubbish than the average council in WA.

Data was collected from 133 participating councils throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The results were published in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program 2017 by PwC Australia and Local Government Professionals NSW.

The survey found the cost per tonne of actual waste collected per 10,000 residents $265, nearly 32% below the average rate of $389.

The City of Swan has been identifying ways in which it can reduce waste, and has diverted more than 180 mattresses from landfill, and operates its own waste collection service using shared resources, labour and plant between the various waste services.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said he is proud of the city’s performance.

“Waste management has become a global issue and I’m really pleased with how the city performed in this major survey,” he said.

“We will continue our efforts to improve this service and encourage responsible waste management and recycling throughout the city.”

Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward Councillor Rod Henderson congratulated residents on their role in contributing to the city’s performance in the survey.

“The city collected less waste compared to other WA councils and credit must go to residents for their role in achieving this.”