Lighting Council Australia relaunch product stewardship scheme

Lighting Council Australia (LCA) is relaunching the industry-led battery recycling program, Exitcycle, with support from the Queensland Government to improve the recycling rates of emergency and exit lights.

The voluntary product stewardship initiative developed by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and LCA was launched in 2015 as a 12-month pilot project to provide guidance on issues impacting recycling batteries from metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

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Commercial users commit to recycling at least 95 per cent of their end of life emergency and exit lighting batteries as part of the program, while facilitators commit to promoting the scheme to users of these batteries.

LCA National Marketing and Environment Manager Roman Gowor said the program brings industry, government, and community together to improve environmental outcomes, noting that there are approximately 30 million emergency and exit lights across the country.

“The majority of the green-emergency lights we see across all buildings are powered by a combination of older battery technologies, which often use cadmium, nickel metal hydride or sealed lead acid,” Mr Gowor said.

“In the coming years, newer generation batteries will use more sustainable components, however multiple sectors—government, industry and end users— must work together to find the best way of increasing recycling rates.”

The program will be launched at the Queensland Parliament House in Brisbane, with attendees including recyclers, government officials and the lighting industry.

“The Exitcycle approach is successful because it is very well suited at addressing the specific waste issue,” Mr Gowor said.

“Unlike a great proportion of batteries used across the economy, emergency and exit lights are not typically used in households and, by law, can only be serviced by electrical contractors. The Exitcycle program is more targeted than other programs and focuses on electricians and facility and building managers,” he said.

ACOR call for $150M into regional recycling

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.

The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.

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ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.

“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.

“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”

Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.

ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.

Lomwest build wall of used tyres in WA

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accredited recycler, Lomwest Enterprises of Western Australia, has created a high-performance wall system made from baled used tyres contained within concrete skins.

These walls can be used as retaining walls, sound barriers, sea and blast walls, cyclone shelters and race track impact barriers.

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TSA said in a statement that the modules for the flexible use wall system (called C4M) are manufactured offsite, allowing quick, easy and safe onsite construction. They can also have their outer surfaces architecturally modified to fit in with or enhance their environment.

Each C4M module contains 100 tightly baled used car tyres, sandwiched between precast panels and can be up to 2.4 metres in height. They also meet Australian and New Zealand stability, durability and relevant load standards, including for cyclone shelter construction and as fire rated partition walls.

Lomwest is just one of the many TSA accredited recyclers focused on developing, commercialising and promoting new uses for old tyres. The common feature of such new product development is a focus on creating better solutions for existing needs.

The TSA Market Development Fund is supporting a Curtin University independent assessment of the C4M walls. The objective being to fully quantify the benefits of the innovative wall system in a wide range of applications and therefore to expand the opportunities for beneficial use of end-of-life tyres.

“We are very pleased to be working with Lomwest and Curtin University on this exciting research,” said TSA Market Development Manager, Liam O’Keefe. “Developing the market for end-of-life tyres requires multiple outlets providing for a diverse range of applications. That includes a balance of refined-process powder and crumb using products and high-volume, low-process applications such as the C4M wall system.”

Albury City receive close to $2.5M for recycling boost

Albury City’s Waste Management Centre will receive almost $2.5 million from the NSW Government to boost the city’s recycling capabilities.

A $2 million grant will enable the council to build a construction and demolition recycling plant at the Albury Waste Management Centre to recycle waste that would have ended up in landfill.

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An additional $445,840 will go towards funding new pallet shredding and de-nailing technology for the recycling plant.

The machinery is expected to be able to recover more than 5100 tonnes of timber from discarded pallets every year, which will then be potentially used as an industrial fuel or for projects requiring a wood product.

The funding package will also help pay for the development of a local recovery centre to recover steel and textiles from an estimated 3200 mattresses a year.

Albury City Mayor Kevin Mack said the new construction and demolition recycling centre would be an important boost to the community’s efforts to halve the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“As a community, we’re leading the way in recycling and reuse of goods at the Waste Management Centre and this new facility means we can find new uses for thousands of tonnes of commercial waste such as masonry, timber and metals,” he said.

“It will not only provide a social and environmental benefit, it will also turn rubbish into valuable products that can be used for new construction projects, such as road building.”

The council expect to reach its target of halving the amount of waste sent to landfill by 2020 with the help of the new facilities and the community.

OECD urges global governments to improve plastic recycling

Plastic recycling is being held back by low recovery rates, poor quality of recycled plastic and a lack of price incentives according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses report urges governments around the globe to act fast to encourage more recycling at a better quality.

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It attributes the lag in plastic recycling to the fact it is cheaper to create products from new plastic than it is to recycle plastic. The report also said primary plastics can be priced higher than recycled plastic, due to it usually being better quality.

Hazardous chemical additives can also survive in recycling plastics, which the report says weighs on secondary markets.

It estimates the world produces around eight times as much new plastic compared to recycled plastic.

The OECD report calls for stronger incentives to be provided for better designed plastic goods, as well as an investment in waste collection infrastructure and source separation. A product label system that shows how much recycled content is in a product was suggested to create consumer driven demand.

Heavier taxes on the manufacture of new plastics was also suggested to reduce the demand in items such as single use bags, cutlery or drinking straws.

Barriers to recycling identified by the report include the view that recycled plastics are substitutes, prices of recycled plastics being driven by oil costs instead of collection, sorting and processing, a smaller and fragmented plastics recycling sector, the market being concentrated in a few countries, and technical challenges associated with the variety of polymers and additives.

Waste plastics often remain in the environment, posing a threat to wildlife and marine creatures. Only 15 per cent of plastic waste is recycled globally, with 25 per cent being incinerated and the remainder sent to landfill according to the report.

The report will be presented at the Global forum on Environment: Sustainable Plastic Design in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Vinyl Council calls for stronger local recycling

The Vinyl Council has called on industries and manufacturers to support and strengthen the local recycling industry.

It follows the announcement that the Vinyl Council’s PVC Recycling in Hospitals program has been unaffected by China’s National Sword policy.

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The National Sword policy restricts the amount of recycled waste exports that can be sent to China.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Officer Sophi MacMillan said the Vinyl Council is proud of its flourishing industry program which has remained unaffected by the changes in international waste management strategies.

“We would like to see greater support and incentives from government to encourage local design and manufacturing of products that use recyclate to drive demand for recyclate use in Australia,” Ms MacMillan said.

“This example-setting program is growing precisely because it is supported by the local vinyl manufacturing industry and the healthcare sector as product consumers. It is a clear demonstration that circularity within Australia can work,” she said.

PVC Recycling in Hospitals has diverted almost 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals from landfill to recycling across more than 130 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand.

PVC recycled from hospital waste is turned into products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

“We seek to assure the healthcare sector and its staff that the PVC Recycling in Hospitals is strong and not affected by China’s ban on unsorted materials,” Ms MacMillan said.

“All the medical waste collected under the program has always been, and continues to be, reprocessed and used here in Australia or in New Zealand.”

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.

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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.

Survey shows support for Gov assistance towards recycling

A recent survey has shown 88 per cent of Australians support government action to assist the recycling sector.

The survey, conducted by polling firm Crosby|Textor, found groups most in favour of government action were older than 65, weekly recyclers and Coalition voters.

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It found 58 per cent of responses strongly support and 33 per cent supported specific measures to improve recycling through a national plan. Similar support was also found for government purchasing of recycled content products, compulsory changes for all packaging to be recyclable, national education to reduce kerbside recycling contamination, and compulsory recycled content in all packaging.

The survey found that 51 per cent of Queenslanders supported the introduction of waste levies in their state.

96 per cent responded they regularly participated in recycling and 50 per cent were aware of China’s restriction on Australian recyclate exports.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said the survey shows the Australian public overwhelmingly supports leadership by governments to reboot recycling.

“Across all states, age groups, city and country, and social and political lines, Australians are resoundingly saying to Ministers: act now for domestic recycling in Australia to survive and thrive,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Australians especially support: having a first-ever national plan for recycling; governments buying more recycled content products, and; making it compulsory for the packaging industry to produce goods that are both recyclable and contain recycled content.”

Crosby|Textor Chief Executive Officer Yaron Finkelstein it is uncommon to see very high figures of overwhelming support for policy changes like what was revealed on this issue.

The nationwide survey selected 1000 people at random of representative Australians from 16 to 18 April, and was commissioned by ACOR, with an margin of error of 3.1 per cent.

Ipswich Council change stance on recycling

UPDATE: Ipswich City Council has reversed its decision to send stop recycling household waste.

Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli told ABC News the council was looking to utilise a provision in the Local Government Act which would allow the employment of a short-term recycling contract.

“We have been upfront with the people of Ipswich, and we have proudly sparked a national debate on council waste management practice. This is an issue of global significance, and our position is strong,” he told ABC News.

“The existing methodologies of recycling are not working — they’re short-term, they’re not sustainable — we need some long-term strategies.”

Cr Antoniolli said the council would run a campaign to better educate residents about what can and can’t be recycled.

“The cost is not the issue — the issue is contamination,” he told ABC News.

“If we can’t meet a certain level of contamination, they won’t accept it — it’ll go to landfill.

“At present there are quite simply too many pizza boxes, plastic bags, burger wrappers and other items not fit for recycling.”


ORIGINAL STORY BELOW:

Ipswich City Council has announced all contents from household recycling waste will be sent to landfill.

The council also aims to focus its efforts on green energy and intends to call tenders to bid on waste to energy projects by mid 2018.

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The move comes in response to the recycling price surge nationwide. Ipswich City Council said recycling contractors notified the council that the current rate being paid to them would skyrocket if recycling was to continue in the order of $2 million per year, which could potentially lead to a 1.5 to 2 per cent rate rise.

Additionally, the current contamination levels in the city’s recycling was said to be unacceptably high, according to the council, which said about half of everything collected from household recycling bins was not able to be recycled.

Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antoniolli said Ipswich was the latest domino to be affected by a nationwide issue – one which required a three-tier government solution.

“As a city, we need to move forward,” Cr Antoniolli said.

“We want to become a leader in the waste-to-energy space, which will in the medium to long-term provide us with an environmentally-friendly energy source, jobs and a better economic outcome for Ipswich.

“We’ve actually been looking at waste as an energy source for some time, and this gives us the ideal opportunity to be ahead of the game in that space.”

Deputy Mayor Wayne Wendt said the move is a fundamental shift in how we as a community think about waste.

“The focus on recycling will now be very much about waste reduction. Everybody plays a role in the protection of our environment, and ways to reduce waste now become even more important to our daily lives,” Cr Wendt said.

“Under the current and previous rates of contamination waste experts advise it would be almost unachievable even with the best and well-intentioned community education program to lower the rate of contamination to acceptable levels.

“In a nutshell, this means we were left with no other choice but to send yellow lid bin contents to landfill. Importantly, it is worth repeating that this does not change the way household rubbish is collected. There will still be the same number of trucks, the same number of staff, and we anticipate a similar level of waste,” he said.

Ipswich City Council is advising residents to continue sorting their waste as normal and that green waste would continue to be recycled.