CEFC invests $30M into Visy Industries

Packaging and resource recovery company Visy Industries plans to invest $30 million of Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) finance across a range of energy efficient, renewable and low-emissions technologies over the next four years.

Visy plans to use the funds to increase waste recycling and processing capabilities while also offsetting the impact of changes in the international recycling market.

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CEFC’s finance is part of a pipeline of potential projects to increase Visy’s manufacturing capacity to recycle waste materials by 10 per cent and improve the energy efficiency of the company’s large-scale manufacturing operations.

Visy’s pipeline includes better processing and sorting technology to increase the amount of material which can be recycled as well as increased energy generation to offset grid energy needs.

The company currently recycles 1.2 million tonnes of paper and cardboard each year and expects to increase its capacity by 10 per cent as a result of the $30 million investment program.

The CEFC aims to increase its investments in waste-related projects as part of its goal to reduce Australia’s overall emissions.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said Visy is a leader in recycling and the use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies and that the CEFC was proud to work with the company to respond to the waste crisis.

“As a community, we need to reduce our overall waste as well as invest in more sustainable management of remaining waste. This includes extracting energy from non-recyclable waste to replace fossil fuels, as well as increasing our ability to recycle paper and packaging waste onshore,” Mr Learmonth said.

“As a major Australian manufacturer, Visy is also leading the way in investing in energy efficient equipment and technologies to help power its 24-hour operations. We see this as a model for other manufacturers grappling with high energy prices and commend Visy on its leadership.”

According to the International Energy Agency, Australia’s manufacturers are the most energy intensive in the world and accounted for around 40 per cent of natural gas consumption in 2014-15.

Visy Chairman Anthony Pratt said the company was pleased to partner with the CEFC to improve sustainability.

“Visy has pledged to invest $2 billion in Australian manufacturing to create jobs, increase efficiencies and boost sustainability,” Mr Pratt said.

CEFC Bioenergy Sector Lead Henry Anning said with the investment into Visy, it will be able to upgrade its existing infrastructure as well as invest in new equipment.

“We see clean energy technologies playing an increasingly important role in enabling Australian industry to reduce its energy intensity and better manage its energy-related operating costs,” he said.

“Visy is already a great example of this, meeting a part of its energy needs, including heat, through its existing biomass and energy from waste investments.

“The CEFC finance will allow Visy to further complement these energy sources with new investment to lift the overall energy efficiency of its operations. These are proven technologies that can be considered right across the manufacturing sector.”

Image: Henry Anning

Nestlé pledges to improve recycled content in EU packaging

Nestlé has pledged to increase the amount of recycled plastics the company uses in some of its packaging in the European Union by 2025.

The company aims to include 25 to 50 per cent recycled materials in PET layer in laminates, caps on glass jars and tines, trays for meat products and shrink films for display trays.

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It follows Nestlé’s pledge in April to make all of its packaging recyclable or re-useable by 2025.

The announcement is part of the voluntary pledging exercise on recycled content by the European Commission. Nestlé CEO for Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa Marco Settembri delivered the pledge in person to the European Commission.

Mr Settembri said the company is taking the first concrete steps to achieve its packaging ambitions.

“Nestlé supports the Plastics Strategy of the European Union. We share the vision that no plastic packaging ends up in the environment. Recyclable packaging, good recycling infrastructure and more use of recycled material will help us close the loop,” he said.

City of Yarra uses recycled glass and plastic in road resurfacing

Around 100 tonnes of recycled glass and plastic have been used in a road resurfacing project in Melbourne’s City of Yarra.

A road resurfacing trial took place in the suburb of Richmond, with Stanley and Margaret Street repaved with an asphalt product containing recycled glass, asphalt and high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic.

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The project repurposed around 7300 two litres plastic bottles and 55,000 glass bottles, which is equivalent to the annual kerbside recycling collection for every household on Stanley Street.

The City of Yarra engaged recycling company Alex Fraser for the project and has called on the company to repair and repave more streets in the coming weeks, which will use an additional 1000 tonnes of sustainable asphalt.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said this was a prime example of how a circular economy can be achieved – with government, industry and community working together to recycle problem waste streams, and invest in recycled materials to build new, sustainable infrastructure.

“The City of Yarra’s progressive approach to the use of sustainable material is an excellent illustration of how local councils can proactively reuse the waste generated in their communities to build and maintain their cities while reducing the carbon footprint of their projects by up to 65 per cent,” Mr Murphy said.

City of Yarra Mayor Daniel Nguyen said the City of Yarra had worked with Alex Fraser to incorporate sustainable materials like glass and recycled concrete into its road works.

“As a council with a strong focus on sustainability we are excited about using recycled plastics in our latest roadworks for the wide range of environmental benefits it delivers,” said Cr Nguyen.

New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan

New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.

The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.

Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.

These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

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The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.

Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.

Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.

“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.

Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.

With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.

“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.

“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.

“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

TerraCycle collects more than 100,000 pieces of contact lens waste

contact lens

More than 100,000 pieces of contact lens waste have been diverted from landfill in Australia as the Bausch + Lomb Recycling Programme hits its one-year anniversary.

Bausch + Lomb launched its recycling programme in partnership with TerraCycle in 2017 to help Australians keep contact lenses, lens cases and blister packs out of landfill.

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Any contact lens waste can be shipped to TerraCycle for no charge, who will shred, wash and melt it down into sustainable raw material to use in manufacturing instead of virgin plastic.

A number of public drop-off locations are also available around Australia in environmentally conscious optometry stores.

For each kilogram collected and sent to TerraCycle, Bausch + Lomb donates $1 to the Optometry Giving Sight foundation.

Optometrist at Bailey Nelson Claremont in Perth Jayson Chong said collecting locals’ contact lens waste helps his team champion sustainability.

“While most of our customers are educated about the environment, many are surprised to learn that we can also recycle contact lenses!” Mr Chong said.

“Running an eco-friendly business helps us build a good reputation and promote workplace satisfaction for our staff.”

Optometrist at Point Cook & Sanctuary Lakes Eyecare in Point Cook in Victoria Jenkin Yau said joining the program was an important way for his store to contribute to the community.

“We felt it was important to become a public drop-off location for the program as our customers like to do the right think socially and environmentally,” Mr Yau said.

“Additionally, the generous donations from Bausch + Lomb to Optometry Giving Sight made the decision very easy.”

TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand General Manager Jean Bailliard said they are thrilled to celebrate this milestone, as it is a huge win for the environment.

“We’re really driven by the commitment of companies like Bausch + Lomb who are dedicated to tackling waste.”

Nestlé to implement Australasian Recycling Label by 2020

Nestlé

Nestlé will implement the new Australasian Recycling Label and REDcycle logo across all of its locally made products by 2020 to educate consumers that soft plastic can be recycled through the in-store scheme.

The rollout will start in August and will roll out throughout 2019, starting with Allen’s lollies.

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The Australasian Recycling Label shows how each piece of packaging can be disposed of in the best possible way, indicating if the packaging can be recycled via kerbside recycling, conditionally recycled through programs such as REDcycle, or if it is not recyclable.

Nestlé previously announced it aims to make its packaging 100 per cent recyclable or reusable by 2025.

To reach this goal, the company will focus on three core areas, eliminate non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates and eliminate complex combinations of packaging material.

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said the company is proud to adopt the new label to help consumers correctly recycle by providing the information on how to properly dispose of it.

“Consumers have good intentions when it comes to recycling but they need clearer information. The Australasian Recycling Label will help to remove confusion, increase recycling rates and decrease contamination in recycling streams by helping consumers navigate the process,” Ms Martinez said.

Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling said the commitment from companies such as Nestlé was an important one.

“We need widespread commitment from industry to apply the Australasian Recycling Label if it’s to become effective in helping consumers improve their recycling habits.”

Turning coffee grounds into coffee cups

Coffee grounds could be used to create biodegradable plastic coffee cups thanks to new research from Macquarie University.

The process converts the spent coffee grounds into a lactic acid which is then turned into a plastic, however the method is still being refined by researcher Dominik Kopp.

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Because 50 per cent of coffee grounds are made up of sugars, they can be converted into bio-based chemicals.

The method was inspired by a metabolic pathway that is thought to exist in an evolutionary ancient organism, which lived in hot and extremely acidic environments.

“Australians consume six billion cups of coffee every year, and the coffee grounds used to make these coffees are used only once and then discarded,” says Mr Kopp.

“In Sydney alone, over 920 cafes and coffee shops produced nearly 3,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year.

“Ninety-three per cent of this waste ends up in landfill, where it produces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.”

Mr Kopp sources the coffee grounds from one of the shops on Macquarie’s campus and took them back to the lab.

“We assembled a synthetic pathway to convert the most abundant sugar in the coffee grounds, mannose, into lactic acid,” he says.

“Lactic acid can be used in the production of biodegradable plastics, offering a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuel-derived plastics.

“You could use such plastics to make anything from plastic coffee cups to yoghurt containers to compost bags to sutures in medicine.”

His next step will be to further refine the conversion pathway and improve the yield of lactic acid.

“I think my project is one of many interesting approaches on how to use synthetic biology in a responsible manner for the development of a more sustainable and greener industry that doesn’t rely on crude oil,” says Dominik.

“The simple idea that we are converting waste into a valuable and sustainable product is extremely exciting!”

NSW litter reduced by a third with help from Return and Earn

Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.

A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.

“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.

“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.

“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.

“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”

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.