Bin services stopped for two Victorian councils

Garbage collection was suspended in two Victorian councils after Wheelie Waste revealed on Wednesday it would cease collection of rubbish and recycling bins from numerous areas northwest of Melbourne.

UPDATE: Services have resumed in Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Council following negotiations between Wheelie Waste and the two parties. Read the initial story below:

The impasse followed the recent China international waste bans, which saw a crackdown on imports of 24 different types of solid waste with contaminant levels of more than 0.5 per cent from Japan, USA, Australia and other source countries.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council comprises areas such as Kyneton, Lancefield and Gisborne, while Mount Alexander Shire Council includes Castlemaine and Maldon.

“We’ve had meetings with a number of the 22 councils that the (contractors) represent, and some have agreed to pay the difference to them this financial year and some haven’t,” Wheelie Waste spokesman David Rako told 3AW.

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“Unfortunately, the cost difference and the lost cost just can’t be borne further by some of the collection companies.”

Mount Alexander Shire Council in a statement said Wheelie Waste informed council the decision was in protest of the Victorian Government’s lack of detail regarding its rebate to address the increased cost of recycling.

Just two weeks ago, the Victorian Government a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.

The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts. Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.

“We are in contact with other local councils in a similar position, and will continue to work with the state government and industry to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Rebecca Stockfeld, Acting Director Sustainable Development, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

In a statement, Macedon Ranges Shire Council said:

“Macedon Ranges Shire Council has told its waste collection contractor Wheelie Waste that it has until 9am tomorrow to return to work and resume the service.

“Council was informed early on 7 March by Wheelie Waste that it had suspended its collection of waste, recycling and garden waste services for the shire.

“This action was taken without consultation with council and with no notice.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s Director Assets and Operations, Dale Thornton said if services did not resume at 9am tomorrow, council would consider putting in place alternative arrangements to ensure the service continued.

“The government is aware of the issue and encourages councils and industry to resolve this immediately to restore services,” Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told Fairfax Media in a statement.

 

ACOR appoint new CEO

The Australian Council of Recyclers (ACOR) has announced its new chief executive officer Peter Shmigel.

Mr Shmigel has over 25 years of experience in government, corporate, NGO and consulting roles. He has previously been CEO of Lifeline Australia and has contributed to resource recovery for more than 13 years through policy and technology development.

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ACOR Chairman David Singh said Mr Shmigel’s appointment showed the recycling industry’s determination to grow as part of Australia’s economic transition.

“Recycling has successfully expanded in recent years, and the recycling industry is now poised to go to its next level, including technological, economic and environmental contribution. Pete is a proven leader who is well placed to support us in that regard,” he said.

“We’re recycling around 60 per cent of Australia’s waste right now. As we build a circular economy that relies on urban resources rather than natural ones, it is great to have a pro-active and positive voice like Pete’s working for us”

Peter Shmigel said that it is an exciting time for recycling, as it is an innovating and growing industry.

“We need to change the conversation. We need to show governments, including their treasuries, that recycling has become more than just waste reduction. It’s now about sustainable jobs in the domestic economy in a tough global context, and cutting costly greenhouse gasses in a most affordable and proven way,” Mr Shmigel said.

“As domestic manufacturing declines and mining stabilises, let’s talk doubling the recycling workforce to one per cent of the economy as much as recovering 100 per cent of useable material,” he said.

Mr Shmigel will formally commence in the role in mid-March.

APCO Morning Tea for Global Recycling Day

To show support for recycling in Australia, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has organised a morning tea on Global Recycling Day.

APCO will be hosting a morning tea and will include presentations on design for recycling, sustainable packaging, recycling labels and designing end-of-life packaging.

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Global Recycling Day is an initiative from the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) and events will be held on the day to promote recycling in 70 countries. The BIR hopes that the day will help people make at least one change in their behaviour to encourage recycling.

APCO members that have made valuable contributions to recycling systems that minimise the impact of packaging on the environment will be recognised on the day.

The APCO Morning Tea will be held at 10am on 16 March at the APCO Office, Level 4, 332 Kent Street, Sydney.

More information can be found here.

Glass and plastics could be used to help build footpaths

End-of-life plastics and glass fines could soon be used in the construction of footpaths instead of going to landfill, according to a new study from the Swinburne University of Technology.

The research found plastics and glass fines could be incorporated into concrete footpaths while still meeting the standard requirements, and without compromising the mechanical properties.

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It is estimated that approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics end up in landfill each year, and only 48 per cent of glass waste is recovered for recycling, according to Sustainability Victoria.

The next step for this project is to include local governments and industries to increase the amount of recycled content in footpath construction.

“The use of recovered plastics and glass fines in concrete footpaths will divert significant quantities of these materials from landfill, while reducing the demand for virgin construction materials,” said Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Yat Choy Wong.

This research project is one of seven projects that investigate new ways to increase the use of recovered class and flexible plastics.

South Melbourne Market wins sustainability award

The South Melbourne Market has been recognised for its recycling efforts by the Institute of Public Administration Australia’s (IPAA) Victoria Environmental Sustainability Award.

The market also won the equally prestigious Environmental Sustainability Award at the 2017 LGPro Awards for Excellence.

Port Phillip Council owns and manages the popular South Melbourne Market, and both awards were for the market’s innovative organic waste systems.

The market’s role in recycling tonnes of food, vegetable and other waste is reducing both costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

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The market’s award-winning waste program includes two processes that recycle organic waste – a vermicomposting worm farm project and the installation of a GaiaRecycle machine that heats and dehydrates organic material.

This has seen more than a 90 per cent reduction in organic waste volume at the market and spawned the production of two nutrient-rich, garden fertiliser products sold at the market.

The market’s recycling efforts has led to the processing 400 cubic metres of green waste in 2016/17 (equivalent to 22 garbage trucks) through the worm farm. Market Magic is a mix of worm faeces and mushroom compost which is sold at the market.

An onsite bottle crusher processes 15 tonnes of glass a year, and the Gaia recycling unit turns 8.4 tonnes of food and waste into compost every week which then gets sold at the market.

Polystyrene boxes are compressed into bricks which are made into a wide range of plastic products, including CD cases, coat hangers, picture frames, toys, and pens, stapler bodies and rulers. Some are used as alternatives to wood for products, such as interior decorative mouldings, or hollow foam blocks, that can be filled with concrete to form walls with better sound and thermal characteristics than conventional concrete blocks.

SecondBite also collect leftover fresh food from the market and redistribute it to people in need. Last year, the market gave nearly 24 tonnes of fresh food, which could feed nearly 50,000 people.

The IPAA award was sponsored by statutory authority – Sustainability Victoria.

“As community expectations about environmental sustainability grows and waste disposal costs rise, it’s clear that the South Melbourne’s market is hitting the mark on both counts,” Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said.

“The South Melbourne Market’s comprehensive program could be applied to other markets and shopping centres, not just in Melbourne, but around Australia.”

“The City of Port Phillip, market management and the businesses that operate there are doing a great job to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping vulnerable people in the community.”

Port Phillip Council Mayor Bernadene Voss said the award-winning systems were proving it was possible to successfully divert organic waste from landfill at such a large scale.

“Our market is the first retail market in Australia to adopt this technology and the results really are outstanding,” Cr Voss said. “Thanks to our twin award-winning projects, we’re already diverted from landfill about 950 tonnes of green and food waste.

“Shoppers here can take a bow too, because when they choose produce here, they automatically divert more on-site organic waste from landfill. Our stallholders also deserve praise because they’ve fully supported this innovative waste management program and helped us deliver the widespread benefits.”

“I would like to congratulate Port Phillip Council for their excellent project that pushed the boundaries and demonstrated what success in public administration looks like,” said The Institute of Public Administration Victoria CEO David Ali.

“These awards are one of the few opportunities we have as a sector to acknowledge the ‘wins’ and the people who strive for excellence across our state.”

New recycling technology processes tyres into resources

Tyre processing company Pearl Global has begun commissioning its first production plant to recycle tyres into valuable secondary products.

The technology uses an applied heating process called thermal desorption, which converts waste tyres into liquid hydrocarbon, high tensile steel and carbon char, and can be sold separately or processed further.

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Pearl has constructed its first production plant, with two thermal desorption units (TDUs) in Stapylton, Queensland and initial commissioning under way. The second TDU is owned by Pearl’s intellectual property licensor and contracting partner Keshi, and will be purchased by Pearl as soon as practical.

Each TDU can process approximately 5000 tons (4536 tonnes) of shredded rubber at full production, equivalent to 50,000 car tyres. On average, this equates to a weekly output 1.5 million litres of raw fuel.

“This is the first plant of its type in Australia and we expect to be ramping up to full production over the coming months,” Pearl Executive Chairman Gary Foster said.

The materials are being developed into potential commercial products, including a degreaser product.

With assistance from The Centre for Energy at the University of Western Australia, Pearl’s degreaser products have been tested and compared to existing commercial degreasers and have surpassed the standards required for commercial degreasers, with one of them showing the best performance of all the degreaser products, according to the company.

Over 51 million used tyres get discarded in Australia a year, but only five per cent are recycled. Pearl’s technology focuses on extracting the resources from tyres instead of using them for constructing children’s playgrounds or exporting. Pearl (formerly Citation Resources Limited) in February rejoined the ASX following a reconstruction and a $5 million capital raising.

Pearl recently received planning approval from the Gold Coast City Council and has approval from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage. It already holds an environmental licence from the Western Australian Government Department of Environment Regulation.

“This is a turning point for used tyre processing in Australia. We are the first company in Australia to receive licenses for the thermal treatment of rubber, to reclaim and recover valuable products for resale,” Mr Foster said.

“Our technology is a significant advancement on other methods of processing waste tyres because it has low emissions, no hazardous by-products, requires no chemical intervention and is the only process that meets the standard emissions criteria set by the Australian regulators for this type of technology,” he said.

Mr Foster said the technology will help Australia handle a serious global environmental problem.

“We believe there is great potential in Australia to immediately deploy our technology at sites close to where tyres have been stockpiled,” Mr Foster said.

“With governments seeking or mandating solutions for waste, Pearl is well placed to offer a solution that is both environmentally sound and commercially viable.”

Pearl has applied to be an accredited member of Tyre Stewardship Australia.

Worldwide events planned for first ever Global Recycling Day

The world’s first Global Recycling Day will take place on 18 March, with cities across the globe signing on to hold events.

London, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Paris, Johannesburg, Delhi, and Dubai will host events to encourage people to change their habits when it comes to recycling.

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The Bureau for International Recycling (BIR) hopes to change the way people around the world think about recycling, changing their mindset from waste to resource.

Individuals attending the events will be invited to pledge to change their habits in at least one way and to sign the BIR’s petition for the day to be recognised by the United Nations.

The hashtag #GlobalRecyclingDay will let people on social media get involved to help people share video and pictures of them celebrating recycling.

Global Recycling Day aims to showcase how critical recycling is to people’s day to day lives.

BIR President Ranjit Baxi said the first global recycling day is a vitally important new date in the global calendar and a joint responsibility for individuals, communities, businesses and leaders.

“To truly harness the power of recycling we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use, and this Day recognises the global nature of the industry and the issue.  It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly,” Mr Baxi said.

“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live,” he said.

“We must unite with those involved in the industry – from workers on waste mountains to the world’s largest businesses – to help them to make the best use of what we dispose of, to make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products, and to stop expecting countries to simply accept recyclables which are difficult and costly to process.”