South Australian councils sign procurement MOU

In an Australian-first, nine South Australian councils have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prioritise the purchase of products made from recycled materials.

According to Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) President Sam Telfer, the MOU is the beginning of a circular procurement pilot project led by the LGA, with the assistance of a $96,500 Green Industries SA grant.

Mr Telfer said the goal is to increase local demand for recycled materials, support the development of a circular economy in SA and reduce waste and recycling costs for councils.

“China’s National Sword Policy has made waste and recycling significantly more expensive for South Australian councils,” Mr Telfer said.

Mr Telfer said it was vital to develop new markets for recycled materials in South Australia, and to support this, councils should prioritise the use of recycled materials in their procurement processes.

“This MOU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability,” Mr Telfer said.

Through the MOU, councils have committed to prioritising the purchase of recycled-content products through the procurement process, and tracking and reporting on recycled-content purchasing by weight.

According to a LGA statement, most will also adopt a rolling target for the purchase of recycled plastic products, and work towards eventually buying back recycled materials equivalent to half the weight of plastics collected in council areas.

“Examples of products made of recycled materials that can be purchased by councils include road and construction materials, street furniture, bollards, office stationery and compost,” the statement reads.

“The MOU was signed on-site at Advanced Plastic Recycling (APR); a leading manufacturer and designer of recycled wood plastic composite products made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste. Products produced by APR include bollards, boardwalks, fencing and street furniture.”

APR CEO Ryan Lokan said that by using materials sourced locally from kerbside recycling, APR prevent 1500 tonnes of plastic and 1500 tonnes of wood from entering landfill each year.

“The greatest benefit coming from mandatory buy back is the demand created,” Mr Lokan said.

LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar and LGA President Sam Telfer.

“Demand drives innovation and it is companies like ours that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled material.”

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said improved recycling and resource recovery not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, but also supports the state’s economy.

“This project will help drive local demand for recycled materials, supporting local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

Participating councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the circular procurement pilot project highlights councils working together to find positive and long-term solutions, to issues facing recycling in South Australia and across the country.

“This announcement builds on our plans – and those of other SA councils – to establish new material recycling facilities in our communities,” Ms Thompson said.

“Exciting projects like this help us become more self-sufficient, create circular economies and reduce our reliance on recycling companies, delivering major benefits to the environment and local economy.”

Adelaide Hills Council Acting Mayor Nathan Daniel said the program will lead to improved knowledge and understanding of circular procurement, through the increased purchase of products with recycled content.

“This will in turn provide stability and ongoing markets for recyclable material placed in the kerbside recycling bin. Adelaide Hills Council is committed to providing leadership in transitioning to a sustainable future that prioritises the use of recycled material,” Mr Daniel said.

“It’s essential that we continue to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Council hopes the pilot project will help develop local markets for recyclable materials by increasing market demand for recycled content products and materials.”

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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 releases Recycling Activities Report

South Australia has achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia, according to the newly released Recycling Activities Survey Report.

Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia diverted 4.49 million tonnes of material from landfill between 2017-18.

“The state has once again achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia. The increase in our diversion rate is driven by an increase in state infrastructure projects,” Mr Speirs said.

“While all of the long-term key indicators are trending in the right direction, we actually saw a slight increase in waste to landfill from 2016-17 to 2017-18, as well as an increase in waste generation per person, showing we need to remain vigilant.”

According to the report, 87 per cent of the states recovered material is recycled locally.

“Despite considerable impact on recycling as a result of China’s National Sword policy, South Australia’s recycling industry is transitioning by implementing measures to improve the quality of the materials recovered and diverted, and by educating the public on the importance of recycling,” Mr Speirs said.

“Our recycling results are world leading, however, we still have room to improve. South Australia set an ambitious target in 2003 to reduce waste to landfill by 35 per cent by 2020 and we’re at 29 per cent.”

Over 118 individuals from South Australian organisations involved in resource recovery were surveyed for the report.

The survey asked participants to provide the value per tonne of each material stream reprocessed by their organisation.

Using this data, the report lists metal as the greatest contributor to the market value of resource recovery at $177 million, followed by organics at $101 million and cardboard and paper at $40 million.

The overall market value of the South Australia resource recovery sector is estimated at $356 million.

Additionally, the survey highlights masonry and soil as the highest recovered material streams at 30 per cent, followed by organics at 24 per cent and metals at seven per cent.

The report was prepared by Rawtec for Green Industries SA.

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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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SA to ban single-use plastics

The South Australian Government is set to ban a range of single-use plastics, under proposed legislation to be introduced into state parliament.

Environment Minister David Speirs has released, Turning the Tide on Single Use Plastics: The Next Steps, which outlines how the legislation will ban products including plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers.

Mr Speirs said a range of other products including takeaway coffee cups, plastic bags and other takeaway food packaging would be considered for future intervention, following further consultation.

“To help inform the development of the legislation, a stakeholder taskforce will be established – comprising representatives of selected business, industry, local government and interest groups to ensure that impacts are mitigated and appropriate time is given for transition,” Mr Speirs said.

“The banning of single-use plastic products will also be piloted through voluntary business/retailer led ‘plastic-free precincts’, which will identify opportunities and challenges associated with transitioning away from single-use plastic products and inform the legislation.”

Mr Speirs said a discussion paper released earlier this year received strong feedback from South Australians.

“It is clear from the more than 3500 submissions that there is significant community and industry support for increased measures to address a range of single-use plastic products and other items,” Mr Speirs said.

“Nearly 99 per cent of respondents recognised the environmental problems associated with single use plastics, and nearly 97 per cent supported government intervention.”

Mr Speirs said draft legislation would be released for further public consultation later this year, with the intention of introducing it to the parliament in 2020.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan has welcomed the state government’s announcement.

“South Australia will be the first state in Australia to ban multiple single-use plastic items such as plastic straws, cutlery, and stirrers. Takeaway polystyrene containers and cups are next on the chopping board,” Ms Sloan said.

“SA is once again ahead of the pack, and the hope is that other jurisdictions will follow suit and take similar action against single-use plastics.”

Ms Sloan said she hopes the initiative will improve the quality of recyclable materials recovered by eliminating contaminants.

“Eliminating single-use items that have readily available re-useable alternatives is a great step in reducing waste generation and challenging the convenience paradigm that we have towards consumption,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR looks forward to continued engagement with the South Australia Government as it develops legislation for the ban.”

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Industry responds to SA waste levy increase

The South Australian Government’s decision to increase the solid waste levy from $100 to $140 from 1 January 2020 has left the waste industry ‘blindsided’, according to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR.)

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said while industry supports government action that promotes resource recovery and market development, progress is not as simple as increasing landfill levies.

“Industry was prepared for the original $3 increase, however it has been blindsided by this new amount of $40, which is far greater than planned,” Ms Sloan said.

“The timing and notice of this new levy increase is completely unsatisfactory and does not allow businesses and local government with locked in 2019-20 budgets to prepare for the additional cost.”

According to Ms Sloan, South Australia was previously leading the way in resource recovery, though a blend of policy, guidelines and levy drivers that precluded the requirement for excessive cost structures.

“Part of the reason for South Australia’s success is the strong working relationship between all sectors of industry and the existence of a high-level advisory group to government,” Ms Sloan said.

“The fact that the levy increase was not discussed with this advisory group is extremely disappointing.”

According to Ms Sloan, the levy increase comes in addition to a raft of new and increased costs including increased licensing fees and new financial assurance requirements.

“South Australia should look to Queensland as a model for implementing such a rapid change in levy amount,” Ms Sloan said.

“The Queensland government also looked to implement such a change on 1 January, however this was moved and a years notice given, with mechanisms put in place to manage such a large impact on councils and households.”

Ms Sloan said while WMRR agrees landfill levies are an integral part of a successful waste and resource recovery policy framework, it cannot be the only response from government.

“Such a large increase, without policy support, has a real potential to lead to unintended outcomes such as illegal dumping,” Ms Sloan said.

“A good levy is a certain levy, with telegraphed changes that industry can plan for and respond to.”

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SA budget allocates $12 million to waste and resource recovery

The 2019-20 South Australian budget has delivered $12 million over four years to help councils and industry transition from the effects of China’s National Sword Policy.

The Waste and Resource Recovery Modernisation and Council Transition Package aims to boost recycling and resource recovery, and keep waste out of landfill through investment, infrastructure, education and modernisation of council and industry collection services.

Environment Minister David Speirs said through better collection systems, infrastructure and education, South Australia aims to see a 35 per cent reduction in waste sent to landfill by 2020.

Of the $12 million waste management package $10 million will be provided through Green Industries SA.

Councils and industry have been allocated $5.5 million to upgrade and standardise waste collection and recycling services, as well as expand education aimed at improving recycling knowledge in the community.

An allocation of $4 million will also be available to enable investment in modern infrastructure, improve processing, increase efficiency and boost jobs.

An additional $500,000 will be available to help local governments implement new waste management strategies.

“The waste management and resource recovery industry is a major player in South Australia’s economy, with approximately 4800 people employed and we want to this number to grow,” Mr Speirs said.

The EPA has received the remaining $2 million – $1.6 million for compliance and audits to ensure the integrity of the waste and resource recovery sector and $400,000 to enable a review of the state’s container deposit scheme.

Mr Speirs said the package would help councils modernise their waste management practices and reduce the amount of rubbish sent to landfill.

“This funding package will lead to less waste sent to landfill, a reduction in emissions and will also provide vital stimulus to our world-leading waste management and resource recovery sector, leading to more than 200 jobs here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

“We know that landfill is one of the most significant contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and that councils and industry need to have the tools to divert more for resource recovery and continue moving South Australia towards a truly circular economy.”

Mr Speirs said the funding package comes on top of the $12.4 million support package announced in 2018 to help the recycling industry and local government in response to China’s National Sword Policy.

“China’s National Sword Policy has provided the industry with a challenge, but this funding package on top of support already provided in last year’s state budget will help modernise and transition our resource recovery sector.”

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Which Bin launches in South Australia

The South Australian government has launched a campaign urging residents to consider what they put in their household recycling and organics bins.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the Which Bin campaign was launched to raise awareness of kerbside recycling contamination and bin restrictions.

“South Australians are great recyclers and we have a proven history in waste management,” Mr Speirs said.

“However, we can all do much better when it comes to knowing what should, and should not go in the recycling and green organics bin.”

Mr Speirs said food and green organic waste represents roughly half the contents of the state’s general waste bins.

The campaign aims to divert this waste for landfill and drive traffic to the newly developed Which Bin website, according to Mr Speirs.

The Which Bin website provides residents with a definitive recycling guide irrespective of local council.

“Education is a vital tool in improving the way South Australians approach waste management, and we feel the new campaign will inform the community in an easy to understand way,” Mr Speirs said.

A suite of resources for local government has also been developed, including calendars, bin stickers, signage, posters and customisable social media assets.

“The more we can divert from landfill to recycling and composting the better, for both the environment and reducing costs for local councils while creating jobs,” Mr Speirs said.

“We can support the local recycling industry by ensuring the correct recyclable items are placed in the correct bin and that these are clean and contaminant free.”

Which Bin is funded through the state government’s $12.4 million support package for the recycling industry.

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SA Govt to review CDS

South Australian Government Environment Minister David Spears has announced a review of the state’s more than 40-year-old Container Deposit Scheme (CDS).

A scoping paper has been released to spark a conversation on how to improve the CDS, with comments and submissions open to the government until Friday, 22 February 2019.

The paper indicates that much has changed since the start of the CDS, including the types of containers, consumer choices, technology and markets for recycling. The government is seeking to improve the CDS’ role in recycling and litter reduction.

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Some of the questions raised to improve the scheme are: what should be the objectives of the CDS and how well is its achieving these objectives currently? Should more types of containers be included in the CDS and are there containers that could be removed from the scheme? It also asks if the refund amount could be revised and what research is required to inform a review?

Introduced in 1977, the CDS has significantly reduced litter and improved resource recovery for the state. In 2017-18, almost 603 million containers were recovered by collection depots for recycling.

South Australia leads the nation in recovering and recycling beverage containers with an overall return rate of 76.9 per cent.

The scheme operates with beverage suppliers establishing a contract with a super collector and paying a fee to cover the 10 cent refund and handling of containers to the super collector to establish a collection system to recover containers.

Beverage suppliers are able to cover the price of the product when selling to retailers and retailers than pass this cost onto consumers. Beverage containers are sorted and returned to the super collector for recycling which reimburses the refund amount and pays a handling fee to the collection depot. Containers up to and including three litres are covered by the scheme, including soft non-alcoholic drinks, beers, ales and stouts, water, wine-based and spirit beverages and most other alcoholic beverages.

For more information head to the SA EPA website.