Discussions at the forum focus around waste and resource recovery settings for Tasmania, waste avoidance and reduction, innovations in waste management and bringing a circular economy to Tasmania.
Held by the Waste Management Association of Australia, the forum follows consultation by the Tasmanian Government on its new waste strategy – the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan.
The state government has outlined several commitments and targets to reduce packaging waste, boost consumer awareness through industry, increase recycling capacity and boost demand though market development.
Other targets include making Tasmania the tidiest state with the lowest incidence of litter in Australia by 2023 by increasing penalties for illegal dumping, expanding the reporting of litter offences through an illegal rubbish app, providing additional support for Keep Australia Beautiful Tasmania and using Community Service Orders for rubbish removals from public areas.
The draft of the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan is expected to be released for public consultation in early 2019.
European Parliament has endorsed a proposition to ban 10 single-use plastic products which are commonly found on Europe’s beaches and seas, including drinking straws, cutlery and abandoned fishing gear.
The 10 products targeted also include plastic cotton buds, plates, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons and form up to 70 per cent of all marine litter items.
Single-use drink containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached.
Under the rules proposed in May, member states will be obliged to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drink cups. This can be done through national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale or ensuring that there is a charge attached to single-use plastic products.
Certain products will require clear and standardised labelling that includes how to dispose of the waste, the negative environmental impact of the product and the presence of plastics in the product.
The European Commission has also teamed up with the United Nations Environment Programme to launch a coalition of aquariums to fight plastic pollution.
Aquariums around the world will organise permanent activities and be invited to change their procurement policies for their canteens and shops to eliminate all single-use plastic items.
The coalition aims to have at least 200 aquariums on board by 2019 to raise public awareness about plastic pollution.
EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella said the European Commission has been working for 18 months to instigate and build this global coalition.
“Aquariums are a window to our ocean. With their collections and their educational programmes, they show us what we need to protect, and they inspire the ocean lovers of tomorrow,” he said.
“Millions of people visit aquariums around the world every year. This will mobilise them to rethink the way we use plastic.”
Minimising the consumption of finite resources by replacing raw materials with recovered and recycled products is one of the main principles of the policy.
Additionally, the policy aims to decouple economic growth from resource consumption by maximising the value of resources through keeping materials in use for as long as possible.
Product design will also play a role to implement a circular economy with an aim of creating long lasting products that are able to be easily re-used, remanufactured and repaired.
The draft aims to extend the life of existing landfills to reduce the demand for new landfills along with a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Local market for high quality post-consumer recycled materials will be developed to keep them materials use for longer to reduce dependency on international markets. It also aims to improve the quality of collected materials through better sorting.
To move away from the “take, make and dispose” status quo, the policy recommends innovating technologies that increase resource recovery efficiency and referencing higher value re-use opportunities.
Creating new jobs in manufacturing, service and resource recovery sectors is listed as a main principle behind the delivery of a circular economy.
The draft sets out certain focus areas to guide future government action which involve supporting innovation, encouraging sustainable procurement practices for businesses and government, improving recycling systems and making the most of organic resources through food donation or composting.
Mainstream product stewardship will also aim to provide incentives for producers to take responsibility for the management of products at the end of their lives.
To establish this framework, the NSW Government aims to incorporate circular economy principles in the revision of the NSW Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy in 2019. A Circular Economy Implementation Plan to be developed by 2020 will also aim to provide timing and direction for the implementation of circular economy principles.
Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the policy draft is the beginning of a better way for NSW to manage its waste and resources.
“Achieving a circular economy will minimise our waste, reduce our impact on the environment and is an opportunity to boost the NSW economy,” Ms Upton said.
“It’s an antidote to the current “linear economy”, where we make things, use them and then throw them away. Instead, we can use items for as long as possible, through repair, re-use and recycling, rather than being thrown away.
“At the same time NSW is working with the Federal Government on the development of national circular economy principles,” she said.
The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has welcomed the release of the draft, however it says there is more work to be done on the policy.
The association has urged the NSW Government to set up an organisation similar to Sustainability Victoria or Green Industries South Australia to implement in the final policy.
WMAA CEO Gayle Sloan said that all states are preparing or implementing similar strategies, so it is vital that they align and work together.
“WMAA supports the paper’s proposal that the NSW Government will investigate opportunities to incorporate circular economy principles into the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy as part of the five-yearly review process,” Ms Sloan said.
“WMAA commends the government for its support for broadening and strengthening stewardship schemes. This has been discussed time and again and it is pleasing to see that industry’s feedback has been heard,” she said.
“We are also calling on government to consider how the waste levy should look like in a circular economy environment, including how collected monies are re-invested in industry to further boost processing and jobs.
The funding aims to assist councils prepare for the state’s ban on e-waste which will come into effect in July 2019.
The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point and 98 per cent of regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive from a disposal point.
Councils will receive discarded electronics which will then be stripped of components for reprocessing or sold on the second-hand goods market.
Applications will also open in November for a share of $790,000 to deliver local education campaigns, with councils able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding.
E-waste is defined as anything with a plug or a battery that has reached the end of its useful life, including phones, computers, white goods, televisions and air conditioners.
The amount of e-waste generated in Victoria is projected to increase from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to 256,000 tonnes in 2035.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will ensure the state has one of the best e-waste collection infrastructure networks in Australia.
“We’re delivering on our promise to maximise recycling and minimise the damage e-waste has on our environment,” she said.
Recycling education programs, youth sustainability networks, community resources sharing initiatives and sustainable gardens are some of the successful projects that have secured funding.
Since it began in 2014, the SUEZ Community Grants Program has provided more than $740,000 to Australian organisations contributing to stronger communities and healthier environments.
SUEZ Australia and New Zealand CEO Mark Venhoek said the company sees supporting grassroots organisations and projects as crucial in helping communities and their local environments thrive.
“Every year we are inundated with applications from right across the country, from Western Australia to the east coast, for an incredibly diverse range of sustainable projects,” Mr Venhoek said.
“It’s inspiring and heartening to see such dedication to building strong and connected communities, creating a groundswell for sustainable living practices and supporting the circular economy. We look forward to seeing how this year’s recipients put the grants to work to grow the impact of their initiatives.
“We are always blown away by the depth of what’s happening out there in our communities, and it’s a real privilege to be able to continue to support that important work,” he said.
An estimated one million tonnes will be diverted from landfill into the recycling stream, which would eliminate the equivalent of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxides by 2028.
Closed Loop Fund provides cities and recycling companies access to funding to build recycling programs and aims to invest $100 million USD by 2020 to create economic value for cities and build circular supply chains.
The fund aims to improve recycling for more than 18 million households and save around $60 million USD for American cities.
Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark said the investment will help build local capabilities needed to make it easier for Amazon customers and their communities to recycle.
“We are investing in Closed Loop Fund’s work because we think everyone should have access to easy, convenient kerbside recycling,” he said.
“The more we are all able to recycle, the more we can reduce our collective energy, carbon, and water footprint.”
Closed Loop Fund CEO Ron Gonen said Amazon’s investment is an example of how recycling is good business in America.
“Companies are seeing that they can meet consumer demand and reduce costs while supporting a more sustainable future and growing good jobs across the country,” he said.
“We applaud Amazon’s commitment to cut waste, and we hope their leadership drives other brands and retailers to follow suit.”
Veolia has signed a $450 million 25-year operations and maintenance service agreement on a large-scale waste to energy facility in Kwinana, WA, capable of producing 36 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 50,000 homes.
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will commit up to $90 million towards towards the $688 million and will be able to process 400,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial residual waste per year.
Operations and maintenance of the facility will commence in 2021. Veolia operates 61 thermal waste to energy facilities around the world.
Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy Australia are co-developing the Kwinana plant, with co-investment by the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF). Infrastructure company Acciona has been appointed to design and construct the facility. The project has been approved by the WA Environmental Protection Authority.
It is expected to produce cost-competitive base load power by processing household waste from local councils and contribute to grid stability in WA’s South West Interconnected System.
Technology that has been previously used in Europe will be implemented in the plant, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking 85,000 cars off the road.
The plant will use the Keppel Seghers grate technology, which has seen use in more than 100 waste to energy plants across 18 countries. Metals recovered in the process are then able to be recycled, with the facility producing an ash byproduct that is commonly used as road base or for construction.
CEFC’s funding is part of a $400 million debt syndicate that includes SMBC, Investec, Siemens, IFM Investors and Metrics Credit Partners. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing a further $23 million in grant funding.
Veolia Australia and New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Danny Conlon said the project is an exciting development for Veolia in Australia.
“Adding to Veolia’s existing infrastructure in NSW and QLD, where we generate enough electricity to power 35,000 homes per year from waste, the Kwinana Project is another example where we will extract value from waste materials, delivering a clean energy source,” Mr Conlon said.
At a time when Australian businesses and households are seeing energy shortages and rising costs, Veolia is proud to be working with innovative partners to help deliver new, environmentally sustainable energy from waste”.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project provides a renewable energy solution for reducing waste going to landfill.
“The use of combustion grate technology is well established in Europe and North America but has not yet been deployed in Australia,” Mr Miller said.
“More than 23 million tonnes of municipal solid waste is produced annually in Australia and this project could help to divert non-recyclable waste from landfill and recover energy in the process.”
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the landmark project was the CEFC’s largest investment in WA to date.
“Creating energy from waste is an exciting and practical way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, while also delivering cleaner low carbon electricity,” Mr Learmonth said.
“The average red lid wheelie bin contains enough waste to produce up to 14 per cent of a household’s weekly power needs. This investment is about harnessing that energy potential, while safely diverting waste from landfill.
“We are pleased to be working alongside Phoenix Energy Australia, Macquarie Capital and DIF in bringing this state-of-the art technology to Australia. We congratulate the Western Australian government and the participating councils in embracing this 21st century approach to waste management,” he said.
Macquarie Capital Executive Director Chris Voyce said the Kwinana plant is expected to employ around 800 workers, including apprentices, during its three-year construction phase, and some 60 operations staff on an ongoing basis.
“Macquarie Capital is pleased to be contributing to the supply of sustainable and secure renewable power to Australia’s overall energy mix,” Mr Voyce said.
“As an adviser to, investor in and developer of renewable energy projects around the world, we see waste-to-energy as an effective example of adaptive reuse: reducing the pressures on landfill by diverting it toward the generation of clean energy,” he said.
CEFC Energy from Waste lead Henry Anning said the CEFC is pleased to play a role in demonstrating the business case for large-scale waste to energy investments in Australia in the future.
“Australians produce almost three tonnes of waste per person per year. While the priority is always a strong focus on recycling and organic waste management, there is still a considerable amount of household waste from red-lidded bins ending up as landfill, where it produces a large amount of emissions,” Mr Anning said.
“Energy from waste investments such as the Kwinana plant are about creating new clean energy opportunities for Australia, while offering councils and households a practical and innovative way to manage waste. Just as importantly, they can significantly cut methane emissions produced by landfill.”
With the addition of the Kwinana facility, the CEFC has now made six large scale investments to reduce waste-related emissions.
The contract also includes 25 new vehicles which have Cleanaway’s integrated data platform installed. The system uses on board cameras to track collections and service events like missed pick-ups, broken bins and can be used for single-call customer service response. Cameras can also provide insights that aim to reduce contamination, improve recycling and increase truck safety.
Cleanaway’s education team will also provide the City of Sydney with sustainability training which aims to reduce waste sent to landfill and improve recycling rates.
Cleanaway Regional Manager – Sydney Metro Michael Sankey said the company looks forward to bringing its expertise to Sydney.
“As part of the contract, Cleanaway will be setting up a new facility and implementing new operational teams and some educational resources,” he said.
“Over the next seven years we’ll be working closely with the council’s waste management team to add value for the community and help the City of Sydney achieve their sustainability goals.”
The Australian Council of Recycling has released a 10-point plan for results-based recycling, which has been submitted to the consultation process for the new National Waste Policy.
It aims to assist the industry and government reaching the goal of 100 per cent recovery of recyclable, compostable, reusable or recoverable materials and their diversion from landfill.
The plan details public policy measures such as reforming waste levies to focus on increasing recycling rates with an exemption of recycling residuals across each state.
It also recommends a $1.5 billion investment of waste disposal levy funds into recycling, with transparency and allocation to resource recovery objectives. This funding could potentially be used to invest in recyclate market development and commercialisation projects, improving infrastructure and technology used for sorting and reprocessing, investment into data collection for decision making, and investment into the cost of kerbside recycling.
A landfill ban for batteries, e-waste, and other potentially hazardous materials is recommended in the report as a way of making end of life producer responsibility the way to pay for recycling.
It also recommends a national recycling infrastructure audit, development of new metrics for waste, recycling and resource recovery activity beyond tonnes diverted, the examination of trends and how to optimise parallel container deposit schemes to build a sustainable domestic recycling sector through national industry development.
The plan includes the introduction of a resource recovery incentive for industry with different tax levels for virgin and recycled material in packaging and road construction.
Improving contestability in the recycling sector, creating a dedicated Clean Energy Finance Corporation funding initiative to support recyclate materials collection and sorting, and using more energy recovered from residual waste to generate sustainable energy are key measures to improve recycling according to the report.
The plan also outlines standardising recycling methods and improving government approaches to planning, regulation and enforcement.
The funding was delivered through Green Industries SA and covers a range of recycling, waste management and resource recovery projects.
More than $600,000 has been invested into infrastructure that deals directly with recovering and recycling plastic waste.
Around $424,000 has been invested into improving Material Recovery Facilities in Mt Gambier and $357,000 for end of life vehicle recycling.
Projects that improve the infrastructure to recycle post-consumer paper in the Australian market have also received $250,000.
SA Environment Minister David Speirs said China’s National Sword policy was a catalyst to increase the range of our recycled materials and develop local markets as a priority.
“This funding supports a range of projects in both the private sector and local government, across metropolitan and regional South Australia,” he said.
“This investment in the remanufacturing, re-use, and recovery sector helps maintain our world leading diversion results, where 83.4 per cent of all our waste is diverted from landfill.
“The State Government funding of more than $3.2 million has been matched by the applicants, unlocking more than $7.9 million of investment for 17 projects that support an estimated 36 full time jobs,” Mr Speirs said.
The next round of grant funding to support and develop recycling infrastructure is now available.