Millions of tyres could soon be used in Australia’s roads

New national specifications for Crumbed Rubber Modified (CRM) asphalt could see millions of waste tyres being used in Australia’s road infrastructure.

The Australian Asphalt Pavement Association (AAPA), Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), Main Roads Queensland, Main Roads WA, Sustainability Victoria and the Australian Road Research Board have worked together to develop and analyse research and development data to achieve cohesive national standards.

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The new national specifications could see nearly 10 per cent of the accessible feedstock for Australian tyre-derived crumb rubber used in domestic road manufacturing, which adds up to almost 4 million end-of-life tyres every year.

The document was published by the AAPA national technology and leadership committee to facilitate the construction of demonstration trials of CRM gap graded asphalt (GGA), and to promote the use of CRM open graded asphalt in Australia.

The crumb rubber binder technology is based on the technology used in the US, with the first demonstration section of CRM GGA in the Gold Coast placed in late June.

CRM Asphalt can offer better drainage, reduced noise, improved rut and crack resistance and reduced maintenance cycles.

Engineers and road contractors are now able to work within parameters of the new national specifications to take advantage of CRM asphalt and spray seal.

TSA Market Development Manager Liam O’Keefe said reaching a national standard has been a critical part of increasing the potential market for crumb rubber use in Australian roads.

“To fully realise this potential for that use we must continue to work with industry partners to ensure the delivery of better roads and better environmental outcomes for all,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“The important next phase of the task is ensuring that the new specifications are used. As utilisation of the new specifications grows, so too will the benefits to the end- of-life tyre industry.”

AAPA Director of Technology and Leadership Erik Denneman said this is a great outcome that has come from the close collaboration between industry and road agencies in Australia.

“For AAPA this initiative fits our objective of encouraging the efficient use of available resources and promoting the use of sustainable products,” Mr Denneman said.

The new national specifications can be found here.

BioPak and Perth cafes combine to compost coffee cups

Cafe customers in Perth will be able to sustainably dispose of their coffee cups as part of Australia’s first national composting program for food service packaging.

Sustainable packaging company BioPak has partnered with Perth cafes to divert food scraps and packaging from landfill.

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Under the service, used coffee cups and compostable takeaway food packaging can be disposed of in specially designed collection bins placed in local cafes and workplaces.

The bins are collected weekly and sent to commercial facilities to be composted over eight weeks.

BioPak founder Richard Fine said the aim of the service was to ensure that the environmental benefit of compostable, single use disposable packaging could be maximised, helping customers in reducing the environmental impact of their business.

“In Australia, we send more than eight million tonnes of organic waste to landfill every year, including 1.5 million tonnes of food waste,” Mr Fine said.

“The problem with this is that when food waste decomposes in landfills, it releases methane, which is a greenhouse gas 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide, resulting in enormous damage to our environment.

“Switching to compostable food service packaging, including compostable coffee cups, can divert much of this material from going to landfill.”

Café owner Mike Pond has signed up to the service and said it would allow patrons to enjoy the convenience of disposable takeaway packaging, including coffee cups, while doing the right thing by the environment.

“This is a fantastic initiative, which we believe will help divert potentially tonnes of waste away from landfills and turned into composting that can be used for commercial-level agriculture – at no cost to our customers,” Mr Pond said.

“In fact the composting service will save us more than 20% a year in waste bills.”

“We are big supporters of the concept of a truly circular economy, using rapidly renewable and sustainably sourced material that return nutrients back into the soil at the end of their life.

Recycling grants worth $3.6M awarded by NSW EPA

More than $3 million in grants has been awarded by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to increase recycling rates across the state.

Eight organisations have been granted around $3.6 million to invest in new infrastructure to increase municipal recycling rates in NSW to 70 per cent and divert 75 per cent of waste from landfill by 2020.

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As part of the Resource Recovery Facility Expansion and Enhancement grant, Albury City Council will install a shredder and de-nailing pallet processing equipment at its Waste Management Centre to recover more than 5100 additional tonnes of timber from pallets every year.

Weston Aluminium has been awarded $1 million to expand its facility to incinerate medical and hazardous waste, improving the facility to be able to process 8000 tonnes a year and diver 90 per cent from landfill.

Shoalhaven City Council was also awarded around $350,000 to expand and enhance Nowra and Ulladalla’s waste management facilities operations by installing infrastructure to process, consolidate and transport soft plastics, polystyrene and cardboard. The council estimates that through this, more than 300 tonnes of plastics and carboard will be recovered and diverted from landfill each year.

For more information about the Resource Recovery Facility Expansion and Enhancement grants, click here.

Vic gov announces $37M recycling package

A $37 million package has been announced for Victoria’s recycling industry to develop new markets.

The Recycling Industry Strategic Plan aims to increase the quality of recycled materials and provide a blueprint for a safe, reliable and resilient recycling system in the medium to long term.

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It will include an $8.3 million expansion to the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which is estimated to improve the quality of up to 100,000 tonnes of recycled material.

A further $2 million will go towards the current market development program for recycled materials by identifying new uses, bringing the total to around $4.5 million.

The Victorian Government also aims to drive demand for products containing recycled materials through procurement.

Sustainability Victoria, in consultation with the Department of Treasury and Finance, will assist the government departments and agencies to identify opportunities and develop their own targets to increase procurement of recycled content.

An education program will attempt to improve understanding of what can and can’t be recycled to reduce the contamination level of kerbside recycling, which the state government says has the potential to reduce the amount of recycling sent to landfill by 40,000 tonnes each year.

The Landfill Levy Relief Program will also receive an $800,000 boost to ensure the National Association of Charitable Recyclers can continue focusing their efforts on charity.

It also includes the $13 million temporary relief package announced in February for councils and industry to support the ongoing kerbside collection of household waste following China’s National Sword policy.

The plan will be delivered by consumers and waste producers, the resource recovery industry and manufacturers and all levels of government.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the government is delivering a new plan for the future of recycling in Victoria, to reduce waste and build a more resilient recycling sector.

“This plan will create a more stable and productive recycling sector, improving the quality of recycled materials and developing new markets for them,” she said.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the announcement and said that further work is necessary to future proof Victoria’s recycling industry.

It identified four key objectives that needed to be addressed as part of the long term solutions the state government should explore, which include contractural models for waste and resource recover, unlocking the sustainability fund, stimulating local markets through state and local government procurement and community education.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said recycling is one of the easiest things Victorians can do to support the environment and the economy.

“Engagement with the community about how to recycle correctly is important and a shared responsibility. The private sector shares that responsibility but we need consistency and commitment to messaging that we’ve had a part in shaping,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government’s $37 million investment shows commitment and long-term thinking. However, we must maintain an open and ongoing dialogue on these challenges to ensure public confidence is restored.”

“The waste and recycling sector has suffered a lot of damaging publicity over the last 12 months. Further discussion with the sector will be required to target public engagement to help rebuild public confidence back into this essential service,” he said.

The government has released an overview about recycling and what it is being done to respond to international market changes here.

Bingo Industries become ACOR member

Australian Paper Recovery, Bingo Industries, Closed Loop and Northern Adelaide Waste Management Alliance have become members of the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).

The new additions have grown ACOR to 36 members, worth $20 billon and employs around 50,000 people across the collection, sorting, processing, remanufacturing, and product stewardship activity streams.

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A 10-point plan for results-based recycling is also being planned by the ACOR board to develop industry accreditation and system standards.

ACOR has also states it will provide stronger policy and innovation forums for business active in stewardship, including for packaging containers, e-waste, batteries, oil, solar related equipment and tyres.

“As ACOR aims for smart solutions in resource recovery policy and leadership in industry innovation, it’s pleasing to have new members like APR, Bingo, Closed Loop and NAWMA join ACOR and contribute,” ACOR President David Singh said.

“Our Board understands it’s time for our industry to stand up, put forward new ideas and positively partner for results-based recycling.

“Results-based recycling is about more jobs, broader environmental gains and continued community confidence via a mature industry. We get there through sound and accountable policy, technological and digital innovation, closed loop teamwork, and urban growth management,” he said.

Half a million dollars awarded to Vic regional composting facility

A proposal to develop a regional Victorian composting facility has received $500,000 in funding from the state government.

Organic waste management company Pinegro are developing a $5 million project to use an enclosed tunnel system for the composting of food and organic green waste from local councils in the Morwell region.

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Currently, Pinegro composts using an open windrow method but this process can be affected by weather conditions.

By implementing the new system, the company will be able to compost within a contained, temperature-controlled environment to deliver a better product, faster.

Pinegro’s grant will go toward the construction of a waste receival building, composting tunnels and air and water filtration systems.

It is expected to divert 18,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill each year.

The funding was part of the second round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which is supporting 13 projects across regional Victoria.

These projects are expected to divert more than 85,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills.

Victorian Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said food waste from homes accounts for around 250,000 tonnes a year in Victoria.

“These upgrades to the composting system will increase Pinegro’s capacity to process food waste and absorb more from local councils,” she said.

Applications for the third round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund are now open. For more information, click here.

JAX Tyres commits to TSA Accreditation

Tyre retailer JAX Tyres has gained accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), which has increased the number of TSA accredited retailers to more than 1500.

By gaining accreditation, JAX Tyres has committed to ensuring any end of life tyres they dispose of across its 84-store network are managed within the TSA scheme and support the public education and market development methods of TSA.

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It joins retailers such as Beaurepaires, Bob Jane T-Marts, Bridgestone Service Centres and Bridgestone Select stores, K Mart Tyre & Auto Service, Goodyear Auto Centres, Tyres & More, Tyrepower, TyrePlus and selected Continental and independent retail outlets in achieving TSA Accreditation.

Australia currently generates more than 56 million end-of-life tyres each year. TSA is heavily involved in tyre retail, collection, recycling and research and development of tyre-derived products.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Dale Gilson said there were several consumer options available within the scheme.

“The JAX Tyres decision to join the nationwide list of accredited retailers is both a welcome development and an indication that the Australian tyre retail sector is comprehensively behind the efforts to ensure we deal with the environmental challenge of end-of-life tyres,” Mr Gilson said.

“For consumers, the addition of JAX Tyres adds further comfort that their chosen tyre retailer is committed to doing the right thing for our environment and the development of a viable future circular economy.”

JAX Quickfit Chief Executive Officer Jeff Board said that becoming a part of the TSA accreditation scheme was a step in the direction of ensuring all of its future operations were environmentally sustainable.

“We have continually reviewed operations to ensure the most environmentally sensitive processes and policies possible and we look forward to working with TSA on further addressing the challenge of managing the Australian waste tyre challenge,” Mr Board said.

Image credit: Tyre Stewardship Australia

APCO conduct brand audit for 2025 recycling target

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will conduct a brand audit of several thousand Australian businesses about the need to comply with sustainable packaging obligations.

The National Environmental Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 (NEPM) has set the target for packaging to be 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

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It was announced by Australia’s Environment Ministers in April 2018, with APCO developing a national roadmap to deliver on these targets. The brand audit is one of APCO’s initiatives designed to ensure businesses are meeting their sustainable packaging obligations.

The audit will incorporate businesses from a range of sectors, including food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, printing, and toy and sporting goods wholesale.

Businesses liable under the NEPM include any organisation with an annual turnover of $5 million or more that is either in the supply chain of consumer packaging or a retailer that is a manufacturer, wholesaler or importer, or offers its branded products to customers.

APCO Chief Executive Brooke Donnelly said businesses play a crucial role in making this target a reality.

“Reaching the landmark target set by Environment Ministers will require a complete transformation of the way our society thinks about packaging – recognising it as a valuable resource and not just waste that is destined for landfill. We know we can do it, but we can’t do it alone,” Ms Donnelly said.

“There are a number of basic packaging requirements that all Australian businesses are required to meet – and these are outlined in the NEMP. One of our responsibilities is to notify the businesses who aren’t meeting these basic obligations and provide them with the tools, resources and pathways to track and improve their packaging sustainability,” she said.

APCO will begin a two-month consultation process with APCO Members and key stakeholders to improve understanding about what the industry is required to do to reach the target.

NSW EPA open $9.5M grants to counter National Sword

The NSW Government has announced it will provide $9.5 million in grants for better waste recycling projects to counter the effects of China’s National Sword policy.

The support package is being funded by the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative and will aim to provide a range of short, medium and long-term initiatives to ensure kerbside recycling continues.

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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said China’s enforcement of its policy restricts the types of recycled material that China will accept.

“As China is the largest importer of recyclable products from Australia, this policy threatens NSW’s kerbside recycling system and the options for recycled material currently produced in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

Ms Upton has urges local councils to team up with industry to seek funding to improve recycling in NSW.

“A new grant, called the Product Improvement Program, provides $4.5 million for projects that reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the recycling process,” she said.

“Another $5 million is available for programs that identify new uses for recyclable materials and increase the production and use of recycled products.

“This includes $2.5 million under the Civil Construction Market Program and $2.5 million under the Circulate Program,” she said.

Ms Upton said the NSW Government is committed to working with councils and industry to improve and strengthen our recycling systems in NSW.

“The NSW Government has consulted with industry and local government to develop the grant programs and I encourage the state’s recycling sector to apply for this funding,” she said.

“An inter-government taskforce has been established to urgently progress a longer-term response to National Sword in partnership with industry and councils.”

Applications to the grants are now open through the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

For more information, click here.