Facing our waste

A campaign which aims to raise awareness about the amount of waste households produce in WA has been gaining attention throughout Australia.

It’s been featured on the War on Waste and the mainstream press and it was presented at this year’s Waste 2019 Conference.

Face Your Waste has reached two million households – an extraordinary result in a state of just over 2.5 million. The campaign allows households to volunteer as bin ambassadors and use a transparent bin.

Mindarie Regional Council (MRC), one of WA’s largest waste authorities in Perth’s north, devised Face Your Waste two years ago with a view to making its residents more conscious of the waste they were producing. The authority is responsible for member councils that include the cities of Joondalup, Perth, Stirling, Vincent and Wanneroo and the towns of Cambridge and Victoria Park.

Australians generated 13.8 million tonnes of core waste in 2017 (excluding hazardous waste, ash and landfill gas), according to the National Waste Report 2018. In the Perth metro area this was 539 kilograms per capita in 2016-17.

Face Your Waste was spawned off the back of a lack of awareness of what happens to our waste after it leaves the kerbside.

The idea was to confront residents with their waste and inspire better outcomes. Its aims are to reduce contamination, waste to landfill and most importantly, waste creation in the first place.

Face Your Waste provides practical tips on how to reduce/avoid waste as traditional campaigns talk a lot about dealing with waste better as opposed to not creating so much. It is also aiming to be relatable with a comedic campaign spokesperson “Famous Sharron”, who provides simple tips such as taking reusable bags to the store and favouring quality over quantity.

The message supports that of Own Your Impact, a WA Government initiative focused on inspiring Western Australians to take ownership of their waste.

Geoff Atkinson, Education Manager at MRC, says the campaign has exceeded expectations beyond what council could have imagined.

“It actually got tremendous traction within various aspects of the media and since then basically everyone in the Perth metropolitan area has seen the Face Your Waste message,” Geoff explains.

“We wanted to really capture people’s imagination and get them talking about their waste – a little bit different to other campaigns. While they’re important, it can be easy to gloss over the issue and think that’s someone else’s waste.”

The program was first rolled out in April last year at a variety of households over a two-week period, using its 20 clear bins. MRC’s feedback found that a standard bin cycle was not enough to make a change and soon moved to a complete month.

He says that initial tests showed the 240-litre bins were robust enough to withstand side lift and rear loader trucks. The success of the program has seen more than 350 bin ambassadors registered in the first six months.

Geoff says feedback has been overall positive. He says that anecdotally, people taking part in the trial are making conscious decisions to purchase differently.

“From what we gather with the research we’ve done, transparent bins haven’t been used anywhere else and it’s actually quite unique,” Geoff explains.

Although some residents are concerned about people knowing what’s in their bins, the concept is voluntary and therefore would not affect households that don’t want to participate. The program is not intended to penalise householders in any way but rather increase community engagement.

“We’re not looking to roll this out to all households on a permanent basis. I think it has a novelty factor about it. If everyone had clear bins I wonder if it would work as it would become normalised,” he says.

Anecdotally, the project has drawn attention to how much waste households produce each month.

“When you put your bins out, you don’t really know whether what your putting out is a normal amount or how it ranks in terms of what others put out. So with these bins you can make a comparison to your neighbours.”

He adds that this provides a benchmark for others to look to eliminate unnecessary waste while also potentially identifying contamination more easily.

“It provides a bit of community competition where they can share stories and exchange ideas and make decisions on how they can do it better,” Geoff says.

“Some people thought they were doing things right but then go to see what their bin looked like and realised they produced a lot of avoidable waste or recyclables.”

He says where they have been used at events, including business training, they have proved a useful tool in improving contamination education.

He says numerous other councils in Australia and New Zealand have expressed interest in replicating the concept. The idea might also be able to be linked to other initiatives such as food and garden organic rollouts or single-use plastic bag bans to encourage waste reduction.

“The broader idea behind this campaign is that it can reduce contamination and the amount of waste being produced in the first place. It’s putting it back to grassroots and taking ownership that can be dovetailed into other campaigns,” he says.

As to the project’s next steps? Geoff says that MRC will look to measure waste reduction outcomes and provide some data on the longevity of behavioural change.

“It’s important to know if people keep reducing their waste after reverting back to normal bins and it creates a pattern of behavioural change that allows people to keep doing the right thing afterwards.

“It’s not how much waste you’ve got in the bin, but how much you can reduce over time. If you’re producing a bin full because you have a number of people in the household, that is fine. It’s about taking steps to bring that amount down.”

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WMRC halves gate fees

The Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) has halved the cost of gate fees and upgraded their domestic recycling program.

Depositing general, bulk and green waste at WMRC’s Perth resource recovery facility will now cost member councils significantly less, with the facility also offering free drop-offs for e-waste and tyres.

WMRC Chief Executive Officer Stefan Frodsham said the changes form part of a new strategy and fee structure, designed to attract more business to the West Metro Recycling Centre in Shenton Park.

“We surveyed all our member council households last year and it was clear from the results that the majority of people wanted to do more to minimise what goes to landfill,” Mr Fordsham said.

The facility aggregates, compacts and loads municipal solid waste into silos to be transferred to alternative sites for appropriate treatment and disposal.

“In part, the savings are due to our fixed costs now being met by members on a population share basis, but otherwise they result from us passing on the savings from the new lower waste processing and disposal costs we have been able to achieve,” Mr Fordsham said.

“Member councils will also receive tip passes for half the rate charged to non-member councils.”

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Perth’s top 10 recyclers

For the first time, local council waste and recycling data is available on the Western Australian Government’s MyCouncil website.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the data offers an opportunity for local government communities to better understand their waste footprint and assess progress towards a more sustainable and low-waste future.

“Western Australians want to do the right thing when it comes to waste and by making this data publicly available we can all work collaboratively to reduce waste generation,” Mr Dawson said.

The data, sourced from the Waste Authority’s annual Local Government Waste and Recycling Census, includes the quantities of waste collected, disposed to landfill and recovered by local governments for each type of waste service offered.

“As we roll this out we expect to see improved resource recovery in metropolitan local governments that will be reflected each year on MyCouncil — helping us to meet the state government’s target of at least 75 per cent of waste generated in Western Australia to be reused or recycled by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

According to Local Government Minister David Templeman, the data shows councils south of the river are significantly reducing waste to landfill, with East Fremantle, Melville, Cockburn and Fremantle all ranking among the top five recycling performers in the Perth metropolitan area.

“Making this data available in a central location on the MyCouncil website will improve transparency around local government waste performance and provide them with an increased incentive to improve their resource recovery performance,” Mr Templeman said.

Top 10 metropolitan recyclers

East Fremantle (Town)61%
Cockburn (City)61%
Melville (City)60%
Joondalup (City)55%
Fremantle (City)54%
Wanneroo (City)53%
Nedlands (City)52%
Cottesloe (Town)50%
Stirling (City)47%
Vincent (City)46%

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Three-bin rollout for the City of Joondalup

Perth’s City of Joondalup has commenced a three-bin rollout with new look SUEZ waste trucks hitting the streets.

The roll-out will encompass 60,000 residential properties and aligns with the Waste Authority’s Waste Strategy (more information here) to improve waste avoidance and resource recovery. The trucks promote green waste sorting, waste and recycling, displaying the text “Let’s sort” to align with each of the three processes.

The three-bin system has been partly funded by the Better Bins program – a $20 million WA Government initiative that provides funding to local governments to implement better practice kerbside waste collection.

The bin lid colour change will bring the city in line with the Australian Standard – red for general waste, lime green for green waste and yellow for recycling.

During the bin roll-out the city will deliver a new 140-litre red lid bin for general waste and replace the old general waste bin lid with a new lime green lid. The bin will then be used for green waste.

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Joondalup Mayor Albert Jacob said the roll-out of the three-bin system was a significant milestone for the city and the new method of collecting household waste would deliver huge benefits for residents.

“The new system is an integral part of the city’s commitment to meeting the WA Government’s target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020, which is also a key aspiration of the City’s Waste Management Plan,” Mayor Jacob said.

“There has also been a significant increase in disposal costs at landfill from $120 per tonne in 2013-14 to $205 per tonne in 2018-19, and this figure will continue to rise.

“Changing from a two-bin system to a three-bin system provides an opportunity to generate both cost savings for the city, and therefore our ratepayers, as well as reducing the amount of waste that is sent to landfill.

“I encourage residents to embrace these changes and to be more ‘waste wise’ by thinking about ways to reduce the waste they create in their daily lives.”

The new 140-litre red lid general waste bin will have an information pack attached to the lid, providing information on collection days and how to use each bin.

East Rockingham first waste-to-energy project for SUEZ

WA’s East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility has awarded waste management giant SUEZ a 20-year minimum contract as waste management partner.

SUEZ has partnered with a consortium of four companies running the facility – Hitachi Sozen INOVA (HZI), Tribe Infrastructure Group and New Energy Corporation, which won a series of competitive tenders for long-term contracts in the Perth metropolitan area before securing the East Rockingham partnership.

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The facility encompasses the design, construction, financing and operation of a greenfield waste-to-energy facility, 40 kilometres south of the Perth CBD.

The project aims to treat approximately 300,000 tonnes of waste per year from municipal, commercial and industrial sources including up to 30,000 tonnes per year of biosolids.

Energy generation targets are expected to reach 29 megawatts of renewable energy, enough to supply 36,000 homes following the start of construction slated for 2019.

SUEZ will provide 65,000 tonnes per year of commercial and industrial waste, maintenance services, removal of non-processable waste at its Bibra Lake and North Bannister facilities and the purchase of renewable electricity generated for its Perth operations.

This is the second waste-to-energy plant planned for the Rockingham-Kwinana industrial region.

Hitting the right target

The WA Government has revamped its waste strategy, with shared responsibilities across government, the business sector and community.

Read moreHitting the right target

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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