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.

City of Mitcham uses waste tyres in asphalt trial

Around 850 used tyres have been recycled to pave a 335 metre stretch of road as part of a crumbed rubber asphalt trial in the City of Mitcham, South Australia.

The asphalt trial is funded by Tyre Stewardship Australia to support research and development into ways of improving local markets for tyre-derived products.

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A specific warm mix of dense-graded crumb rubber modified asphalt was used on the trial, which has been laboratory tested and found to be suitable for use in challenging underlying soil conditions, such as reactive clay.

The test will focus on a range of performance factors including cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability. The results of the test are expected to increase the specification of such roads across Australia.

If successful, the trail aims to contribute to doubling the use of recycled tyre rubber in Australia’s roads, leading to an increase in the percentage of annual used tyres consumed from around five per cent to 10 per cent.

Australia generates around 56 million end-of-life tyres each year, however only around 10 per cent of that volume is recycled domestically in all uses. Crumbed rubber asphalt and rubberised road surface spray seals can provide a potentially benefit of increasing recycling rates and improving roads.

City of Mitcham Mayor Heather Holmes-Ross said there was not only a sustainability dividend, as the asphalt will also have the potential to directly lower maintenance costs as it is less prone to cracking and rutting.

“We are trialling the crumb rubber asphalt because of the significant environmental benefits as well as the opportunity to improve the quality and life of road pavements, particularly in areas of reactive clay soils,” Ms Holmes-Ross said.

Acting CEO of Tyre Stewardship Australia Steve Clifford congratulated the council for conducting the test.

“The work done in South Australia will play an important role in creating valuable domestic recycling outcomes for end-of-life tyres. Outcomes that can also deliver new green jobs,” Mr Clifford said.

Ongoing testing is scheduled to run for two years, with results monitored on a regular basis to assess the key performance parameters.

First SA road built with plastic bags and glass

The first South Australian road built with soft plastics and glass at Happy Valley in the City of Onkaparinga will utilise plastic from approximately 139,000 plastic bags and packaging and 39,750 glass bottle equivalents.

Downer and City of Onkaparinga have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop and RED Group for the project, following similar projects in NSW and Victoria.

Along with soft plastics and glass, toner from about 3200 used printer cartridges and more than 50 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 265 tonnes of asphalt used to construct the road along Caribbean Crescent in Happy Valley.

Downer Executive General Manager Road Services Dante Cremasco said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in natural environments.

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“Together with City of Onkaparinga and our partners, we have proven that with thought leadership and the tenacity to make a positive difference, we have set a new benchmark in the state when it comes to sustainability by creating new avenues to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste,” Mr Cremasco said.

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product called Reconophalt has enhanced properties of improved strength and resistance to deformation making the road last longer, andallowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Cremasco added.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said this is an exciting South Australian first and demonstrates council’s commitment to working with industry on innovative and cost-effective solutions to a changing operating environment.

“The City of Onkaparinga manages and maintains over 1350 kilometres of sealed roads and works hard to ensure they’re well maintained as cost effectively as possible and in line with leading asset management principles,” Mayor Thompson said.

“We also collect approximately 14,000 tonnes of recyclables every year. Major disruptions in international markets for recyclables over the last 12 months present significant challenges, as well as emerging opportunities.”

“Creating local demand for recyclables products is one such opportunity and this is a fantastic example of what can be achieved by government working with industry.”

Downer partnered closely with Close the Loop to tailor waste products such as soft plastics to suit a road construction application.

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnership with RED Group has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a SA road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.

Green future

The concrete jungles that are Australia’s major cities traditionally thrive on resource-heavy steel mesh reinforcement, but Fibercon offers a new solution by using recycled plastic fibre, Emesh, to reduce waste, costs and resources for concrete constructions.

From the footpaths that line suburbs to the sky-scraping obelisks that populate capital cities – the building blocks of concrete infrastructure are a designer’s dream, but for developers, can be a resourcing nightmare.

Although it seems concrete will continue to be a foundation of urban design for the foreseeable future, innovators like Fibercon have invested in alternative and sustainable technologies to reduce the environmental concerns that affect the construction industry.

Fibercon developed its Emesh technology in 2015, creating the plastic fibres from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene. For civil applications like drains, footpaths, bikeways and pavements, steel is still in use as a reinforcing mesh. Australian company Fibercon has found a way to replace this with recycled plastic fibres, called Emesh, to give footpaths more longevity.

It has been a five-year journey for Fibercon CEO Mark Combe, whose collaboration with Research and Development Manager Tony Collister sparked a three-year PhD program at James Cook University, leading researchers across the world to bring Emesh into reality.

Emesh has been used in a number of footpaths at the JCU campus in North Queensland and throughout some councils in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. It uses offcuts and plastics from industrial waste, which is then used to reinforce the concrete.

Using Emesh to reinforce concrete instead of traditional steel mesh has recycled 100 tonnes of plastic waste from councils along the eastern seaboard alone, but has also saved about 1588 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, 32,670 cubic metres of water and 318 tonnes of fossil fuels.

The industry award winning Emesh not only netted Fibercon recognition from Shell and the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation & Science, but also saw CEO Mark Combe named in the top 50 most innovative engineers of last year.

Mark says the project’s aim was to enter the recycling market and provide economic benefits, but sceptics were unsure it could be brought to fruition.

“It’s just good getting the recognition, knowing that we’re on the right track. We were told that it wasn’t going to be big enough and now we’re supplying huge councils all over Australia,” Mark says.

“The building industry talks about innovation, but it often doesn’t do it, so for us it’s pretty different, but it’s been a difficult road.”

As waste has become a larger issue in the Australian construction industry, Mark says that it’s not only the materials, but a waste of time, money, transport and traffic control.

“In the building industry there’s a phenomenal amount of waste, even in something simple like a footpath there’s got to be a better way. We’re trying to make things simple in a sustainable way,” Mark says.

The City of Charles Sturt in north-west Adelaide is the first council in South Australia to adopt the ‘green concrete’ alternative, after a recommendation from Hi Mix Concrete Business Development Manager Daniel Romano.

Daniel recommended the council use the Emesh concrete after construction firm Nova Group reached out to them to provide concrete for the St Clair Recreation and Adelaide Parklands Upgrade projects.

“When Adelaide based construction firm Nova Group came to us to supply concrete for a number of Charles Sturt Council projects, I recommended Emesh instead of the traditional steel reinforcement,” Daniel says.

“I called all around Australia looking for different prices because (plastic mesh) is quite expensive. Someone mentioned recycled plastic, so I started buying Emesh.

“I’m trying to push it more, once other councils hear about it, they’ll want to use it as well. It’s easier for the customer, it’s quicker and better for the environment.”

Hi Mix is a father-son operation established in 1989 and their willingness to adapt to new technologies like Fibercon’s Emesh is slowly spreading throughout Adelaide.

While Emesh has supported councils such as Charles Sturt with its $26.5 million St Clair Recreation project, Daniel says the new technology needs to be pushed further by concrete producers.

One core benefit Hi Mix found when applying the recycled plastic mesh was the time and resources saved in not having to cut steel mesh or manoeuvre mesh and bar chairs.

Mark says he was aiming to achieve something different in the construction industry.

“Usually sustainability comes at a cost, there’s the ‘green premium’, which isn’t the situation for Emesh. It actually works out cheaper and faster,” he says.

Looking to the future, Emesh is quickly becoming a big part of Fibercon’s business as they try to push their product deeper into the Australian market and into international territories.

As for the future of the company, Mark says he’d like to expand internationally as part of the vision of Emesh.

 

2018 SA State of the Environment Report released

The Environment Protection Authority has released 2018 South Australia’s State of the Environment Report, indicating in the report that the prospects of achieving the government’s waste generation reduction target seems unlikely.

The report shows South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2015-20 set a target to reduce waste generation per capita by more than five per cent by 2020 from the 2015 baseline, equating to a reduction of 400 kilograms per person from the volume generated in 2016-17 by 2020. It notes that given the current upward trend, this seems unlikely.

The report shows the average amount of waste generated in SA rose by just over 2000 kilograms per capita per year in 2003-4 to 3000 kilograms in 2016-17 – an increase of 42 per cent.

It highlights that current priority actions to meet the target are to promote green purchasing, waste avoidance, collaborative consumption and production, product refurbishment and behaviour change.

“Given strong competing influences on consumer behaviour in the form of marketing, fashion and social norms, a targeted program is needed to encourage production (for example, design, durability and packaging), marketing (for example, labelling) and consumption (for example, product selection) choices that reduce waste generation,” the report says.

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“There is also a major opportunity for government to take the lead in increasing the strength of a circular economy, including through green procurement.”

To tackle these issues, the report recommends coordinated national action to reduce waste, including through regulation of packaging, providing leadership in the strengthening of the local resource recovery industry through green procurement and strengthening education and behaviour change initiatives aimed at reducing waste.

“While we continue to get better at diverting most of this waste away from landfill to resource recovery, the most efficient solution remains that of avoiding generation of the waste in the first place,” the report says.

“However, it also remains imperative to keep getting better at reusing recovered resources locally to reduce the risk of reliance on other markets.”

The key recommendations of the report are to review the state’s climate change response to ensure that climate risks are adequately embedded into planning and investment by government agencies, review environmental reporting in the state, including trend and condition report cards, prioritise water management and onground land stewardship initiatives and a range of other areas.

Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said the state government was considering the EPA’s important report in detail.

“This report provides a wealth of information about the challenges facing our state, that can be used to help shape government policy and actions in the future,” Mr Speirs said.

Environment Protection Authority Board Presiding Member Catherine Cooper said that the report assesses the state and condition of SA’s major environmental resources and identifies significant trends in environmental quality, and shows that, while South Australia was doing reasonably well, in some areas there are serious challenges to be met.

To read the report in full, click here.

 

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.

Queensland councils receive $5M to get levy ready

In a move to get Queensland Councils levy ready, the State Government will invest $5 million before the introduction of the waste disposal levy on 4 March 2019.

Local governments can apply for funding under the 2018-19 Local Government Levy Ready Grant Program to support infrastructure improvements at waste disposal facilities.

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The program will be open for submissions between 31 August and 12 October 2018.

Possible examples of infrastructure are fencing, security cameras, traffic control, weighbridges, gatehouses, upgrading IT or signage.

The grant program is being administered by the department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs on behalf of the Department of Environment and Science.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Queensland Government want to ensure councils have efficient, accurate and secure levy collection and landfill facilities.

“Local councils with waste disposal facilities where annual disposal of more than 5,000 tonnes of waste is allowed can apply for infrastructure funding for weighbridges and gatehouses,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Queensland Government is committed to making sure there is no impact on municipal waste collection through the introduction of the waste levy.

“There will be no extra cost to putting your wheelie bin on the footpath each week, and we are keeping that commitment,” she said.

Ms Enoch said Queensland’s new waste disposal levy would also lead to the creation of jobs, local waste management and resource recovery solutions, and market development, particularly in regional areas.

“This will provide a growing incentive for the community and business to take advantage of expanding resource recovery and recycling options across the state,” she said.

“The levy will also bring Queensland in line with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, which have similar levies.

Queensland introduced a waste levy in 2011, which saw resource recovery companies investing in new recycling and processing infrastructure, however it was later repealed.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the amount of waste generated in Queensland was increasing faster than Queensland’s population was growing.

“Reintroducing a waste disposal levy is part of our broader strategy to improve waste recycling and recovery and support jobs growth,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Our local councils will play a key role in helping their communities reduce waste and increase resource recovery.”

For more information about the grant program, click here.

VWMA 2018 State Conference wrap-up

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

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