ecoBiz program receives $4M for local business waste reduction

The Queensland Government has allocated around $4 million to extend the ecoBiz program until 2022 to help local businesses reduce waste and improve water and energy efficiency.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said six local businesses have received one on one coaching sessions with a locally-based sustainability consultant and an action plan to start saving.

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“It is a win-win for business operators and the environment,” Ms Enoch said.

“Since 2013, ecoBiz partners across Queensland have also taken practical steps to reduce waste in their business like ditching disposable coffee cups, reducing food loss and going paperless.

These quick wins have helped to save 24,785 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfill and support Queensland’s waste and recycling strategy.

She said the program is helping local businesses understand energy, water and waste costs and teaching them how to save money through sustainability initiatives.

“We hope to see more Bundaberg businesses take advantage of free coaching, training, education and tools to improve their environmental sustainability and lower operating costs,” she said.

“This is a great example of government and industry working together to take some of the pressure off businesses while supporting the environment.”

For more information, click here.

Paintback opens landmark amount of collection sites

The Paintback product stewardship scheme has opened its 100th collection site as 10 new sites are launched across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

A 15 cent a litre levy on paint products helps support the scheme, which aims to reduce the amount of pain and containers which end up in landfills.

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Paintback repurposes valuable materials into recycled packaging, alternative energy fuel and water resources. It also helps fund research on new methods of recycling unwanted paint waste.

The scheme is backed by companies such as Dulux, Taubmans, Haymes, Resene, Rust-Oleum and Wattyl, and accounts for more than 95 per cent of all architectural and decorative paint sold in Australia.

“We now have 34 sites in Queensland and 30 sites in Victoria where there’s very strong support for the concept.” Ms Gomez said.

Paintback Chief Executive Officer Karen Gomez said Australians throw away 15 million kilograms of unused paint with containers every year

“Since we began a little over two years ago, we’ve been able to collect in excess of 6 million kilograms for safe disposal,” she said.

Paintback accepts a range of decorative and architectural paints, stains and varnishes secured in their original containers op up to 20 litres.

National Retail Association launch campaign for plastic bag ban

The National Retail Association (NRA) has launched a campaign that calls on Queenslanders to get behind the state government’s 1 July ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said retailers had long-supported the idea of industry-wide action to combat toxic plastic bag pollution.

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“Our industry is behind the State Government for making this a non-negotiable for all stores right down to the smallest takeaway outlets, local markets and online stores, as it’s a crucial step toward changing overall consumer behaviour,” Ms Lamb said.

Global plastic bag pollution has reached with around 5 trillion plastic bags used every year, an estimated 160,000 every second according to statistics from Oceanwatch Australia.

“We know we’ve reached a tipping point and the retail industry is right in the thick of it as consumers demand more transparency into how the products they buy are produced, so they can support brands with ethical production methods and environmentally sustainable practices. Banning lightweight plastic shopping bags is another important step in creating a future-proof industry,” Ms Lamb said.

From 1 July, no retailer in Queensland will be allowed to give out single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags under 35 microns thick, risking fines of up to $6000 per offence.

Ms Lamb has asked shoppers to be patient with retailers during the transition period.

“Consumers will need to prepare by either bringing their own reusable bags and should expect to pay a small fee of around 15 to 20 cents for a basic reusable option, through to as much as five dollars for locally-made jute or hessian bag,” she said.

It’s up to all of us to do our bit. It’s a small change in our routine for a big impact on Queensland’s environment.”

QLD Gov announce $100M resource recovery fund

The Queensland Government has announced a $100 million resource recovery fund, more information on the waste levy and a plan to reduce plastic pollution in its state budget.

The government revealed a further $2 million will go towards implementing a Container Refund Scheme, along with its ban on single-use plastic bags.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that by funding initiatives and programs that push for positive environmental change, the government is delivering a budget firmly focused on the future.

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“To help transition to a low carbon, clean growth economy, there will be $5.6 million in this coming budget to help Queensland adapt to the impacts of a changing climate,” Ms Enoch said.

“These major plastic-reducing initiatives are not far away, with the ban on plastic bags coming into effect in less than a month, and Container Refund Scheme coming into effect in November.”

The budget also revealed the already announced waste disposal levy, more information on that here, which will begin in the first quarter of 2019 and apply to 38 local government areas, covering more than 80 per cent of the state’s population. It will be set at $70 a tonne for general waste and increase by $5 per annum, with the process going to waste programs, environmental priorities and community purposes.

There will also be $100 million allocated over three years to support the resource recovery and recycling industry through its Resource Recovery Industry Development Program.

An annual advance will be provided on levy charges to local governments disposing of municipal waste in the levy zone, with $32 million in 2018-19 for this.

The budget also includes $5 million to go to waste to energy and $5 million over two years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders communities to remove metal waste and vehicle stockpiles in areas which comprise the Torres Strait Island Regional Council, Palm Island Aboriginal Shire Council and Torres Shire Council.

It will also offer $3.9 million over for years to continue to deliver its ecoBiz program, that helps small to medium-sized businesses identify and achieve financial savings and eco-efficiency in energy, water and waste.

 

Retailers urged to prepare for QLD plastic bag ban

With less than 50 days until the Queensland plastic bag ban comes into effect, the state government has reminded retailers to be prepared.

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said Queenslanders use almost one billion plastic shopping bags each year.

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“This figure is astonishing. If you laid out all of these bags, end to end, they would reach from Coolangatta to the top of Cape York more than 160 times,” Ms Enoch said.

“And sadly about 16 million plastic bags end up in our environment every year.

“The ban will also help keep our state beautiful for generations to come and reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our treasured environment and wildlife.”

The Queensland Government is aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastic items in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.

From 1 July, retailers will no longer be able to supply single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness to customers, for free or at a charge.

Ms Enoch said it was pleasing to see some retailers already replacing plastic shopping bags in preparation of the ban.

“It’s also an important time for households to starting planning of how they can use reusable shopping bags when visiting the shops.

“Most household are likely to already have alternative bags they can use such as reusable ‘green’ bags or bags they use every day, like a backpack. Make sure you take them with you when you go shopping or to collect a takeaway, and keep them by the front door, in your car or in your bag.

“Regardless of which reusable shopping bags you use, to maximise the environmental benefit it’s very important that you use them over and over again and recycle them at their end-of-life, where possible,” Ms Enoch said.

The plastic bag ban applies to all retailers which supply single-use light weight plastic shopping bags.

Retailers that continue to supply banned bags after 1 July could face a fine of up to $6,300 per offence. A similar fine also applies to any person, such as a supplier, who provides misleading information about banned bags.

New upgraded waste facility opens in Moranbah, QLD

A $7 million upgraded waste management facility in Moranbah will cut cost, increase revenue and guarantee safe, reliable, long-term waste disposal for the region according to the Queensland Government.

Minister for Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said at the opening of the centre that it would inject $1.4 million into the local economy in the coming years.

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“This new landfill cell and modern refuse transfer station will allow for the bulk handling of waste and provide users with a safer and more reliable means of waste disposal to meet the demands of the community and industry for the next two decades,” Mr Dick said.

“This facility guarantees a reliable means of waste disposal for the seven resource companies depositing 16,000 tonnes of construction, demolition, commercial and industrial waste per annum, and the 8900 permanent residents of Moranbah and surrounds,” he said.

“The facility’s improved efficiency will reduce double handling, cut council’s costs by an estimated 20 per cent and provide improved recycling separation from landfill.”

Isaac Region Mayor Anne Baker said the Moranbah Resource Recovery Centre Improvement and Expansion Project had been an important initiative for the area.

“This project was vital to meeting the continuing demand for waste disposal from residential, commercial and industrial sources across the region and enhancing environmental outcomes,” Cr Baker said.

“Without this project, the capacity of the current landfill had been expected to be exhausted this year.”

“The new refuse transfer station delivered as part of the project provides residents with a modern and purpose-built facility including a four-bay covered waste drop off area,” she said.

The Moranbah Resource Recovery Centre is jointly funded with $3.58 million from the state government and $3.58 from the Isaac Regional Council.

Queensland CDS timeframe extended

The Queensland Government in February extended the timeframe for its Container Deposit Scheme from 1 July to 1 November 2018.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said it was important to get the scheme right from day one so that its full community, environmental and recycling benefits are realised.

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“We know Queenslanders want a container refund scheme and we have industry and community support for it. We also recognise it takes time and effort to ensure this is done efficiently and effectively,” she said.

Legislation to extend the start date of the Container Deposit Scheme was introduced into parliament in February.

Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland Chief Executive Officer Rick Ralph said the new timeframe would give industry time to establish the right systems and make investments to ensure the scheme was accessible to all Queenslanders from the beginning.

“Queensland’s complex demographics, coupled with recent changes in terms of markets for recovered products globally, prove the decision is right and important in making the program the very best it can be,” Mr Ralph said.

A new not-for-profit company Container Exchange (CoEx) has been appointed as the product responsibility organisation (PRO) to administer and run Queensland’s container refund scheme.

CoEx will be governed by a board of nine directors, made up of beverage industry and independent representation, and will include an independent chair.

As the PRO, CoEx will work with the government to ensure the scheme is a success, and that it remains efficient and delivers positive outcomes for the public, community groups and the environment.

“I am pleased that two of our largest beverage manufacturers – Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion – are involved in CoEx,” Ms Enoch said.

“This is fitting as these entities represent around half of the beverage brands on the Queensland market.

“This approach has the support of environment and community groups, as well as the beverage sector, and will provide balance, transparency and equity in how CoEx and the scheme itself is run.”

Ms Enoch said CoEx was required to ensure an adequate number of container refund points were in place when the scheme started so its benefits would be available across Queensland.

She said the government is looking to have more than 200 refund points across Queensland ready to operate by 1 November this year, and CoEx will ensure they are located where as many people as possible in our de-centralised state can access them.

“CoEx has already started this process by putting a request for proposal into the market, seeking interest from individuals and organisations that want to run container refund points,” she said.

“CoEx will also work to ensure the scheme’s running costs are minimised, with as small an impact as possible on the beverage industry and the community.

“As we move towards the scheme’s 1 November start date, the public will be kept informed of container refund point locations and other relevant information through public information sessions, industry workshops, media announcements and online content.”

The refund scheme will see most drink containers between 150ml and 3L eligible for a 10 cent refund, although some containers are exempt.

Information on the scheme, including eligible containers, is available via the Queensland Government website.

Queensland Forum to discuss China waste ban

The Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) is hosting the Queensland Secondary Resources Forum to address issues impacting kerbside recycling and international challenges.

The forum aims to discuss the Chinese Government’s decision to restrict the amount of waste being imported and how it effects Queensland domestic recycling capabilities.

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It also will attempt to highlight how Queensland can lead the nation in recycling rates to grow the sector locally and increase investment.

Keynote speakers and industry experts will be presenting at the forum and sharing insights and outcomes that outline how Queensland can deliver a new recycling business environment.

In particular, the presentations will address the impacts of the National Sword policy and how local recycling can be improved. Presenters of day one (afternoon) include speakers from the energy, metals and plastics industries as well as material recovery facility operators. Day two (morning) will focus on the state government policy updates and includes a workshop that will discuss and produce solutions and opportunities to deliver back to the Queensland Government for its policy consideration.

The event is supported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and the Bundaberg Regional Council.

The forum takes place on the 26-27 April and will be hosted in the Bundaberg Multiplex Centre, 1 Civic Street, Bundaberg West.

Tickets are $195 until 15 April and $220 standard (not including GST). Click here to register. 

QLD researching new waste to turn to fuel

A Queensland biofuels plant is researching whether they can convert plastic, tyres and an invasive weed into diesel and energy.

The Southern Oil plant currently has been able to turn softwood plantation waste and macadamia nut shells into a renewable fuel source.

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Environment and Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said the facility had so far used four waste-based products and refined it into fuel, and that another seven waste products would be tested.

“This project is amazing, and is leading the way to a sustainable fuel future for Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

“Now they are going test another seven waste-based products, and woody material from an invasive plant known as the prickly acacia – also a Weed of National Significance – has been prioritised as the next feedstock to be refined into saleable kerosene and diesel products,” she said.

“Other products the Plant are planning to convert into renewable diesel and energy include plastics, wood waste and tyres.”

Laboratory research has begun to refine the renewable crude into jet fuels and lubricants.

Queensland’s Biofuture Envoy Professor Ian O’Hara complemented Southern Oil on the technical advancements taking place.

“To be able to produce renewable biocrude generated from different waste streams, and then apply pilot scale distillation and hyrdotreatment on site to create a certified fuel is a great accomplishment,” Professor O’Hara said.

Southern Oil’s Managing Director Tim Rose said Queensland’s emerging renewable fuel industry was not just good for the environment but also good for Queensland’s economy – with significant benefits flowing through to regional Queensland.

“While we have invested heavily in a world class laboratory and cutting edge technology to produce a certified fuel, we have also invested heavily in independent economic modelling around the availability, aggregation and logistics of available waste streams in Queensland,” he said.

“We intend to establish regional hubs where the waste is generated, to produce our renewable crude. The crude will then be transported from across Queensland to the Gladstone Renewable Fuel Refinery.

“So new regional industries creating new jobs and new market opportunities. The numbers add up. It’s a viable and scalable business proposition.”