SA single-use plastic taskforce meets

A taskforce, with representation from 15 different organisations, has meet to help inform the next steps towards banning single-use plastics in South Australia.

The state government asked the taskforce to consider what impacts legislation might have on businesses and the community, and provide advice on what a phase out of single-use plastic straws, cups, drink stirrers and food service items might look like.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the taskforce is made up of a range of interested stakeholders, including environmental groups, business representatives, the hospitality industry and disability advocates.

“The group will discuss solutions and alternatives as part of any move to phase out single-use plastics, to ensure South Australians can transition smoothly,” Mr Speirs said.

“The taskforce will also seek presentations and meetings with those with a stake in any future changes to legislation, and will assist communication with the community and business.”

According to Mr Speirs, South Australia leads the nation in issues of environmental responsibility.

“The issue of our plastic use and plastic pollution is one of the most pressing topics of our time, and we won’t be left standing on the sidelines watching the impact on our environment go unchecked,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know that our interstate colleagues are eagerly awaiting the outcomes from our taskforce and from our plastic free precinct trials. We want South Australia to again lead the way nationally and provide a blueprint for how to reduce single-use plastics.”

Legislation banning single-use plastics in South Australia is expected to be introduced into parliament in the first half of 2020.

Members of the single use plastics task force include:

Australian Food and Grocery Council

Australian Hotels Association (SA)

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation

Conservation Council SA

Environment Protection Authority

Green Industries SA

KESAB environmental solutions

Local Government Association of SA

National Retail Association

JFA Purple Orange

Disability Elders of All Ages

Restaurant and Catering Industry Association

SA Independent Retailers

Waste Management Resource Recovery Association

Woolworths Group

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SA single-use plastic initiative begins

Single-use plastics will be removed from multiple South Australian businesses, following the state government’s plastic free precincts announcement.

The Adelaide Central Market, The Parade (Norwood) and The Jetty Road Brighton Traders are the first three locations, with a fourth precinct encapsulating all 21 Surf Life Saving South Australia clubs across the state.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the Boomerang Alliance, who have run similar trials in Noosa in Queensland and Bassendean in Western Australia, will be working closely with traders, cafés, restaurants and retailers in these locations.

“It’s so exciting to see how some of our destination shopping precincts and the iconic Adelaide Central Markets commit to going ‘plastic free,” Mr Speirs said.

“I’m especially pleased that Surf Life Saving South Australia has put their hand up to be part of the trial. They are among the most motivated of volunteers, as our surf life savers are confronted every day with the impact of single use plastics on our coasts and beaches.”

Surf Life Saving South Australia Chief Executive Officer Damien Marangon said his organisation was thrilled to be one of the first single-use plastic-free precincts.

“As custodians of South Australia’s coastline, our organisation sees first hand the impact single-use plastics can have on our beaches and waterways,” Mr Marangon said.

“When the state government called for applications to become a plastic-free precinct, we jumped at the opportunity.”

Earlier this year, the state government called for expressions of interest to become a plastic-free precinct, as well as join the stakeholder taskforce.

Mr Speirs said the stakeholder taskforce would provide input and advice to assist in making the precinct trail as successful as possible.

“The taskforce will make sure the views and opinions of all South Australians are heard when it comes to the next steps for banning single-use plastics in our state,” Mr Speirs said.

“We’ve invited 13 representatives from across South Australia including local government, businesses, the hospitality sector and disability advocates to form the first stakeholder taskforce.”

Mr Speirs said the the government expected more plastic free precincts would follow, given the high quality of applications across the state.

“Our government is seeking a wide range of input on what any future phase out or replacement for single use plastic might look like, and the stakeholder taskforce will play an important role in our decision making,” Mr Speirs said.

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Peats Group opens new composting and renewable energy site

Organics recycling, composting and renewable energy manufacturer Peats Group have opened a fourth compost and renewable energy site in South Australia.

The site, located in the Upper Spencer Gulf Region, is the first of many planned for the region as part of the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages grant incentive – awarded to Peats Group in September 2017.

Peats Group Managing Director Peter Wadewitz said the site will produce renewable energy and valuable soil improvement products.

“Redirecting organic recyclable materials from homes and businesses away from landfill means ozone depleting methane gas is redirected into captured biogas for renewable energy production, without affecting the production of the valuable soil improvement products,” Mr Wadewitz said.

“The official opening aims to be a celebration of both growth in renewable energy technologies in the Upper Spencer Gulf region and the expansion of a proud South Australian company with a great vision for the future.”

Mr Wadewitz said the new site will also expand the company’s practice of converting grease and liquid waste into biodiesel fuel.

“The biodiesel plant installed at Peats Brinkley site separates fats from water using Peats proprietary technology and converts it into biodiesel to fuel its vehicles,” Mr Wadewitz said.

“Call it a mix of old fashioned “Flintstones” basics with futuristic “Mad Max” fossil fuel.”

The production of compost product has commenced, with the renewable energy plant expected to be fully operational by 30 June 2020.

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SA joint waste collection tender authorised by ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorised a group initiative of SA councils to jointly procure kerbside waste collection services.

The councils of Adelaide, Charles Sturt, Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield have been authorised to appoint a single provider for kerbside waste collection services.

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In the context of procuring waste services, councils may be considered to be each other’s competitors, which is why authorisation from the ACCC was required.

Broadly, the ACCC can grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any detriment.

Interim authorisation was granted on 20 July 2018, which allowed the councils to commence the tender processes. The tender closes on 12 December 2018 and will cover around 180,000 rateable properties.

According to the ACCC, it is common practice throughout Australia for local councils to jointly tender for waste services to reduce transaction costs, pool resources and expertise and achieve economies of scale. The ACCC has authorised 30 of these agreements so far, after concluding they were likely to benefit the public.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said a joint tender process is likely to improve the four councils’ purchasing power and encourage more competition from suppliers than if each council conducted a separate tender process.

“It is common for groups of local councils to jointly procure waste services. The ACCC has authorised many such arrangements across Australia over the years,” she said.

“The joint tender process is likely to result in cost savings through encouraging more competitive bids, reducing transaction costs, and other efficiencies. These cost savings can be passed on to Adelaide residents in the form of lower costs or improved services,” Ms Court said.

The ACCC considered information both for and against the joint tender arrangement.

“Some suppliers raised concerns that the size of the proposed contract would deter some suppliers from tendering, resulting in a worse deal for ratepayers,” Ms Court said

“While there may be some companies that choose not to participate, the larger tender is also likely to attract additional bidders, and overall we consider most of the potential suppliers which would bid if the councils contracted separately are also likely to compete for the joint contract.”

“The councils have the experience and incentive to decide whether running a single tender process for a larger volume of work or four smaller, separate tenders, is likely to deliver the best outcomes for their respective communities.”

The ACCC also considered the longer-term impact of the joint tender on competition for waste collection services in Adelaide and found unsuccessful applicants will continue to have other opportunities to provide waste management services in other parts of the city.

SA Govt invests $3.2M into recycling infrastructure

More than $3.2 million in funding has been approved by the South Australian government for 17 recycling infrastructure projects.

It is part of the state government’s $12.4 million support package announced in May in response to China’s National Sword Policy.

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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.

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SA EPA disrupts illegal waste operations

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia, with the assistance of South Australia Police (SAPOL), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and local government have disrupted illegal waste operations in late May.

The crackdown involved a number of search warrants executed at businesses and residential premises across metropolitan and regional SA in relation to the illegal activities.

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EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this has been a complex investigation with significant outcomes and serves as a warning to those who operate illegally in the waste industry

“The lawful South Australian waste industry provides an essential service for our community and businesses managing around 4.5 million tonnes of waste annually and being responsible for around 5,000 jobs. The legitimate industry works to meet required environmental standards and supports our leading recycling culture,” Mr Circelli said.

“The EPA is committed to maintaining confidence in existing and planned investments by ensuring that unlawful operations are brought to account and do not undercut sound operations.”

Mr. Circelli said the four-month long investigation involved extensive surveillance and resources, and required the EPA to draw on special powers warrants introduced in 2017.

“This law allows the EPA to better regulate waste generated from construction, demolition and earthworks to ensure appropriate and safe transport and disposal,” he said.

The investigation identified more than 1000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste, including material containing asbestos.

“This operation is a great demonstration of the new powers and collaboration across multiple agencies working together to target the illegal operators and support the legitimate waste industry,” Mr Circelli said.

The Waste and Recycling Industry Association of SA (WRISA) President Jim Fairweather said there is no place in the waste, recycling and resource recovery industry for illegal or poor-quality operators that tarnish the reputation of the industry.

“WRISA supports the work of the EPA in upholding environmental standards and licence conditions as steps towards helping to maintain a waste and recycling industry that has the public’s confidence,” Mr Fairweather said.

SA EPA begin Operation Cover-Up

The SA Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has begun a targeted operation on truck drivers who aren’t properly covering their waste in transport.

Operation Cover-Up has observed 25 travelling on Port Wakefield Road on the first day of action, all of which were found to be compliant.

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SA EPA Acting Manager Investigations and Waste Tania Kiley said it is promising that these transporters are adhering to the law.

“This is a positive sign that truck drivers and waste companies are getting the message. Failing to properly cover waste while transporting material to waste management facilities poses a health and safety risk to the community,” Ms Kiley said.

“The type of waste found in waste vehicles includes demolition material amongst other waste items.”

“This can create a hazard for other road uses, the community, and can also lead to waste ending up in our stormwater and local waterways,” she said.

The maximum penalty for the offence is $30,000 or an expiation fee of $160.

“The EPA will be continuing Operation Cover-Up in coming weeks and those that do not comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection Act will be issued an expiation notice,” Ms Kiley said.

“We began our operation on Port Wakefield Road this year in response to numerous community complaints about litter on public roadways,” she said.

“Other areas across metropolitan Adelaide will also be targeted to ensure compliance with general waste transport provisions of the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010,” she said.

The SA EPA has encouraged anyone who sees transporters failing to cover their load while travelling, to call the EPA Hotline on 08 8204 2004.