Queenslanders recycle 50M containers in four weeks

More than 50 million drink containers have been returned during the first month of Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change, with almost $5 million in refunds being refunded.

Within the first four weeks, more than 60,000 Queenslanders have signed up to receive the 10-cent refund, alongside the creation of more than 500 jobs to support the scheme across the state.

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Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the scheme has been a smash hit and helps reduce the number of containers that end up in landfill or as litter.

“This is a phenomenal result in only four weeks and we have to remember this is just the very beginning for Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change,” Ms Enoch said.

“Queenslanders use nearly three billion containers every year and sadly they are the second most commonly littered item in the environment, despite the fact they can be easily recycled.

“Charities and community groups are also getting involved with over 1000 having registered with the scheme, sharing in the donation of refunds, to support vital community services,” she said.

Ms Enoch also praised the efforts of the container refund operators and said the results of their work speak for themselves.

“Many of these operators are small family-run businesses and I want to congratulate these operators for their hard work in getting the refund points up and running and Queenslanders for their support,” she said.

Container Exchange CEO Ken Noye said the scheme provides opportunities for organisations to help their communities.

“It provides unprecedented opportunities for these bodies to raise funds for much-needed resources, especially smaller organisations which have to compete for funding in the not-for-profit-sector,” Mr Noye said.

“Queensland will benefit from the 500 new jobs being created around the state to implement and operate the scheme, and that’s good news for people who want to work within the scheme.”

APCO appoints three directors to its board

Three new directors have been appointed to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Board at the organisation’s Annual General Meeting.

Chair of the Australian Council of Recycling and owner of Re.Group, which oversees the container deposit schemes in the ACT and Queensland, David Singh was one of the new directors appointed to the board. His selection is part of APCO’s efforts to collaborate with the waste and recycling industries and its support for the rollout of container deposit schemes nationally.

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CEO, Director and Company Secretary of the Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia and Board Director of the Banksia Foundation, Andrew Petersen was also selected to be a director.

Fellow of the Australian Institute of Packaging Keith Chassell was appointed to the board. Mr Chassell has around 50 years of experience in the packaging, fast moving consumer goods and the food and beverage sectors.

The Board of Directors for 2019 includes Sam Andersen, Andrew Petersen, Keith Chessell, David Singh, Trent Bartlett, Jacky Nordsvan, Anne Astin, Jason Goode and Renata Lopes.

APCO Board Chair Sam Andersen said the board is delighted to welcome the new board members who bring a wealth and diversity of industry experience at a critical time for Australia’s waste and recycling, packaging and sustainability sectors.

“This has been a remarkable year of growth and progress for APCO, and we look forward to an even more productive year in 2019 with the support and guidance of the new Board Directors,” Ms Andersen said.

QLD State of the Environment report highlights interstate waste

The Queensland Government has released its 2018 State of the Environment report, highlighting interstate waste as a pressure on the state’s landfills.

Relatively low costs of landfill disposal in Queensland are said to be the motivator for cross-border flow of waste in the report.

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More than 1.26 million tonnes of domestic waste, 2.146 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&D), and 1.443 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17.

Of this, 53,000 tonnes of domestic waste, 640,000 tonnes of C&D waste and 23,000 tonnes of C&I waste was generated interstate and transported to Queensland landfills.

The amount of trackable waste received from interstate also increased from around 13,000 tonnes in 2011-12 to 52,200 tonnes in 2015-16.

Littering and illegal dumping is also highlighted as a serious environmental pressure, with reports suggesting the problem as widespread throughout Queensland.

The average number of litter items was found to be higher in Queensland than other Australian stats, particularly at beaches, retail strips and recreational areas.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the increase in the amount of interstate waste was proof that that Queensland needed a waste levy.

“The state government’s waste management strategy will stop interstate waste and increase investment in the industry to encourage more recycling and create jobs,” Ms Enoch said.

QLD Environment Minister opens Future Waste Resources Convention

Queensland’s Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch officially opened the Future Waste Resources Convention in Ipswich, speaking to waste and recycling industry representatives from across the state.

The minister told businesses and local councils that the state government’s priority is to work with the community and industry to reduce landfill and encourage resource recovery.

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“I’m delighted to see that industry leaders are looking to the future, and preparing to make the most of the opportunities ahead,” Ms Enoch said.

“We are in a fortunate position to have internationally competitive businesses right here in Queensland, using cutting-edge technologies and processes for turning waste into valuable and profitable, products and services.

“We want to build on that competitive advantage,” she said.

The convention, located at Ipswich’s Workshops Rail Museum, focuses on realistic solutions to current challenges.

“Changing how we manage waste in Queensland will create jobs and drive significant economic growth as we make better use of resources and develop new industries,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the convention has brought together more than 250 attendees from across the industry, and state and local government.

“This is the largest convention of its kind in Queensland history, focussing on future waste and recycling solutions for the state,” Mr Ralph said.

“It is wonderful the convention is being held at one the oldest manufacturing centres to show the possibilities for the future.”

REMONDIS intends to develop $400M QLD waste to energy facility

REMONDIS Australia has announced its intention to develop a $400 million waste to energy (WtE) facility at its Swanbank landfill in Queensland.

The company has advised the state government that it will make an application to develop the recovered energy through the State’s Coordinated Project process, with the project expected to begin construction in 2020.

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The proposed plant aims to generate 50 megawatts of baseload electricity for Queensland households and business by redirected 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year. This energy would be able to power 50,000 average homes and be available every day of the year.

REMONDIS Group has operated and built WtE plants for 24 years and operates 52 facilities which recover more than 4.2 million tonnes of waste per year in Europe.

REMONDIS Australia General Manager QLD Operations and Business Development Bret Collins said the WtE proposal does not rely on additional waste streams coming to the Swanbank site – instead it will divert existing waste streams to a beneficial use.

“REMONDIS has been encouraged by recent comments from governments across Australia that WtE technology could provide some relief to the challenges facing the waste management and recycling industry,” Mr Collins said.

“There is an opportunity for Australia to benefit from REMONDIS’ global experience, and other successful European and UK facilities, and incorporate waste to energy as part of the solution to sustainable, best practice waste management.

“Adopting WtE technology will ensure that wastes with recoverable value are not sent to landfill and, instead, are put to beneficial use,” he said.

Mr Collins said that while Australians may not be familiar with WtE technology, it is used throughout Europe and considered a tried and trusted contributor to best practice waste management and energy generation.

“WtE plants are constructed to the strictest European Union environment, emission and health standards and this is the technology we would bring to Australia,” Mr Collins said.

“There are hundreds of WtE plants throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, and many are part of the fabric of suburbs and communities – there are WtE plants in Paris, London, Copenhagen, Cologne, Zurich, Vienna, Palm Beach and Singapore, just to name a few.”

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick welcomed the news and said it establishes Queensland as a major player in the waste‑to‑energy market.

“The introduction of our government’s waste levy provides a real incentive for projects like this, building a new industry as an alternative to landfill,” Mr Dick said.

“This project could create up to 200 jobs during construction and some 70 jobs during operations.”

Mr Dick said REMONDIS Australia is expected to submit an application to Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to declare the project a ‘coordinated project’.

“If the Coordinator-General decides to declare this project a coordinated project it will help streamline approvals and fast-track delivery of this significant project,” he said.

“A coordinated project approach also means that all the potential impacts and benefits of the project are considered in an integrated and comprehensive manner.”

Industry input sought for VWMA economic report

Victorian waste and recycling companies are being called on to contribute to an industry report on the economic and social contributions the sector provides.

The report, commissioned by the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), aims to provide specific metrics the waste and recycling industry generates for local, regional and national communities.

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It will also aim to help improve communication between the industry, government and community to help build confidence and trust in the sector.

The VWMA aims to highlight the importance the environmental and health benefits of the sector to the community as well as the economic contributions from jobs and investment.

Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions Economist Nick Behrens is working with VWMA to complete the project, which is similar to work carried out in Queensland and currently in the Northern Territory.

A survey is currently open until 14 September to gather data to create anonymous, aggregated high level industry statistics which will be drawn upon to prepare various positions, communications and policy formation in the future.

The survey also includes questions about insurance to, general questions about government guidance and accessing government support.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said it is important for the waste sector to come together and start to shape its own story for the government.

“An important element in that story involves the contribution made to the Victorian economy,” Mr Smith said.

“Most industry sectors publish their own data sets and reports into economic contribution and employee numbers to communicate and express their importance to local and state government and to the community. It is important our industry does the same.

“With an election this year and a new four year-term state government elected, this report will be a useful resource for our sector in advocating for industry support, regional development and regulatory and insurance challenges into the future.”

To complete the survey, click here. Results are anticipated to be released in the first week of October 2018.

Queensland opens $100M funding program for waste and recycling

A new $100 million program has been opened in Queensland that aims to improve the state’s recycling, resource recovery and biofutures industries.

The Resource Recovery Industry Development Program is designed to encourage removing waste from landfill, with the Queensland Government calling for interested parties to come forward with project proposals.

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Three streams are offered to capture projects across a variety of scales and levels of support.

Stream one is a rounds-based capital grants scheme with dollar-for dollar grants available up to $5 million to provide funding for infrastructure projects in new processing and technological capabilities.

The second stream is a broad incentives stream to attract or expand major resource recovery operations to divert waste from landfill.

A third stream will involve funding towards capital-intensive, long lifecycle projects which require support for investigations for final investment decisions.

Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the funding was made available over three years to develop a high value resource recovery and recycling industry.

“Our aim is to make Queensland a world leader in projects involving resource recovery, recycling and the re-manufacturing of materials to turn waste to energy,” Mr Dick said.

“Economically, we know such projects have the potential to generate new jobs for our communities and build confidence for business to invest in Queensland, and we know encouraging investment and innovation in the waste industry will also deliver long-term benefits environmentally.

“This program is another demonstration of the State Government supporting investment in Queensland through reducing waste going to landfill, and another leap forward in our journey towards a zero-waste future.”

Mr Dick said the projects will also create new products from waste, growing industry and reducing the impact on the environment.

“This funding will be available to support local governments and existing businesses and will attract new major projects to Queensland,” he said.

“Applications are also welcome from consortia: businesses or local governments working together on plans to deliver integrated projects.”

Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said this program was part of the Queensland Government’s long-term vision to attract investment, develop new industries and grow jobs.

“We have a real opportunity to improve waste management practices in Queensland,” she said.

“Research indicates that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that goes to landfill, less than three jobs are supported. But if that same waste was recycled, more than nine jobs would be supported.

“That is why our Government is moving towards a comprehensive waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste disposal levy. Last week we introduced legislation into Queensland Parliament and we are now one step closer to stopping interstate waste being dumped here in our state and encouraging more investment in industry,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the funding announcement is critical to investment decisions proceeding.

“It now provides Queensland industry the opportunity to develop and create new jobs by driving economic growth that in turn will reshape the state as Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling capital.”

Expressions of interest for stream one will remain open until 5 October, with funding through streams two and three available through application. The Queensland Government aims to have the first projects funded within the first half of 2019.

For more information, click here.