ARRB awarded Sustainability Victoria grant

The Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) has been awarded a $200,000 Sustainability Victoria grant to trial recycled crushed glass asphalt on local roads.

The grant was issued to ARRB in collaboration with Vic Roads and Brimbank City Council in Melbourne’s west.

According to ARRB project lead Doctor James Grenfell, over 250,000 tonnes of glass is recovered in Victoria every year.

“Using finely crushed glass in road pavement materials has the potential to create viable markets for the vast amounts of glass collected in Victoria, especially that which is low-value and not easily recycled back into other glass products,” Dr Grenfell said.

“ARRB has done significant research in this space – much of which was showcased at its recent Smart Pavements Now masterclass event in Melbourne.”

Dr Grenfell said the trial will specifically look at repurposing low-value glass that is not easily recycled back into other glass products.

“The potential for use of recycled glass in asphalt offers great opportunities for councils, especially in helping deal with Australia’s current recycling issue,” Dr Grenfell said.

“The other exciting aspect is the engagement with a local city council, and to have the ability to monitor a field trial for an extended period of time.”

The ARRB grant is one of nine issued under Sustainability Victoria’s research, development and demonstration grants program.

Sustainability Victoria interim CEO Carl Muller said the grants are designed to support Victoria’s growing circular economy.

“We need proven recycled content products and markets for those products to make recycling viable,” Mr Muller said.

“This will build confidence and market demand.”

The grant proposal was developed by Dr Grenfell and ARRB colleagues Melissa Lyons and Lydia Thomas.

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Waste projects win at the Premier’s Sustainability Awards

This year’s Premier’s Sustainability Awards showcased projects across a diverse range of categories, from e-waste recycling to food waste and repurposed asphalt material.

Hosted by actor Stephen Curry and presented by Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the awards recognise individuals, organisations and businesses working to create a more sustainable Victoria.

Ms D’Ambrosio said the nominees illustrated how industry and government could work together to position Victoria as a state of the future.

“These projects and initiatives are brought together by very important frameworks — frameworks that really set the direction and demonstrate what we want to be as Victorians, where we want to go and how we want to get there,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“We should all rejoice in making our state sustainable and much of that is brought about by the people in this room — tonight you should celebrate and acknowledge this achievement,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

In a video message, Premier Daniel Andrews congratulated and thanked all the finalises for their hard work helping achieve sustainability across diverse sectors.

Melbourne company Enable Social Enterprises won the top honour of the night, the Premier’s Recognition Award, for their work employing disadvantaged people in a successful e-waste business.

Enable works to break unemployment cycles by helping jobseekers connect with community and environment via commercial ventures including Enable IT Recycling, an online shop, fulfilment and storage services.

In 2018, Enable’s IT Recycling business created 10 employment pathways, while diverting 133,046 kilograms of e-waste from landfill.

Enable Founder and Managing Director Julie Mackay said the award was an incredible acknowledgment for a small enterprise out of Broadmeadows, and congratulated the Victorian Government on their recent e-waste to landfill ban.

“Hats off to the Victorian Government for banning e-waste from landfill, it has had a significant and immediate impact on our enterprise — to say we’re getting pummelled is an understatement,” Ms Mackay said.

“We’re all here as a growing sector and tonight is an example of that — let’s not underestimate the massive potential and leadership that we can all play in supporting jobs for the future. From everyone at Enable, I promise you that we will lead that fight and hope you will join us.”

Enable also took out the Innovative Products and Services award.

In the Health Category, Melbourne Health was recognised for its Reducing Hunger and Food Waste in Our Community program.

Melbourne Health, through a partnership with OzHarvest, collect surplus patients meals for processing and redistribution.

Since February 2018, over 4000 meals have been redistributed each month, removing nine tonnes of food from landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 tonnes.

In the Large Business category, Downer was awarded for its recycled asphalt product Reconophalt, which incorporates non-traditional repurposed materials such as soft plastics, glass, toner and reclaimed road.

Downer General Manager Strategic Development Michael Jackson said Downer is on a journey to change the way society deals with waste.

“We have invested significantly in our research and development, and over a long period of time, we’ve been able to bring game changing and market leading products to light such as Reconophalt, which even after it has been laid on the road, is perpetually recyclable, providing a truly circular solution,” Mr Jackson said.

“It takes courage to make change, and we’re starting to see this courage across all levels of government, to this end, the Hume City Council needs to be called out and applauded for their first use of Reconophalt on their road network”

Sustainability Victoria interim Chief Executive Carl Muller said the awards showed that environmental management was a growing concern for all Victorians.

“Each year, the Premier’s Sustainability Awards continue to discover the best and most inspiring Victorian individuals, organisations and businesses who are developing and implementing new sustainable practices,” Mr Muller said.

“Congratulations to all of this year’s winners. Your contributions will have positive long-term benefits for all.”

The 2019 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards winner are: 

Built Environment

Gillies Hall by Monash University: Monash University’s new Gillies Hall is a six level, 150-bed residential accommodation complex, the first large scale building in Australia to achieve Passive House certification.

Community

Hepburn Z-NET by Renew: Partnering with Renew, the Hepburn Shire has a bold plan to be the first zero-net energy shire in Australia and to reach zero-net emissions in 10 years.

Education

Sustainability across VCAL Curriculum by River Nile School: The River Nile School offers programs delivering the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning curriculum to re-engage refugee and asylum seeker school-aged women, embedding the topic of sustainability.

Environmental Justice

Working Beyond the Boundaries by AMES Australia and Parks Victoria: Migrant and refugee settlement agency AMES Australia partners with Parks Victoria to regenerate an historic garden, providing work opportunities, social, physical and mental health benefits to refugee and other local communities.

Environmental Protection

Greening the West One Million Trees Project: Greening the West is a massive collaboration that aims to deliver positive health, social and liveability outcomes in Melbourne’s west by a project to plant one million trees.

Environmental Volunteering

Electrifying Industry by Electrifying Industry Volunteer Working Group: Electrifying Industry is a report by Beyond Zero Emissions’ expert volunteers – a world’s first that shows how to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing.

Government

Victorian Renewable Energy Target Reverse Auction by Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning: Victoria’s first renewable energy auction is supporting the development of more than 900 megawatts of new clean energy and will ensure that 25 per cent of our electricity generation comes from renewable sources by 2020, 40 per cent by 2025 and 50 per cent by 2030.

Health

Reducing hunger and food waste in our community by Melbourne Health: Melbourne Health’s surplus patient meals are collected and delivered to community food hub, Northpoint Centre, helping people in need and mitigating food waste.

Innovative Products or Services

Enable IT Recycling by Enable Social Enterprises Limited: An innovative social enterprise integrates environmental, social and economic impact, creating employment opportunities and positive customer results through an e-waste recycling business.

Large Business

Reconophalt by Downer: This project has created an asphalt pavement material that incorporates non-traditional repurposed materials to reduce environmental impact without compromising product performance and is perpetually recyclable.

Small and Medium Enterprises

E.S.P. Wool Production by BP, SS, JP & N Finnigan Kia Ora: E.S.P. or Ethical, Sustainable, Profitable wool production is now a feature of this family farm and features practices such as reducing chemical use, changing the genetic selection of sheep and sowing permanent pastures.

Premier’s Regional Recognition Award:  E.S.P. Wool Production by BP, SS, JP & N Finnigan Kia Ora

Premier’s Recognition Award: Enable IT Recycling by Enable Social Enterprises Limited

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Grants available for bioenergy infrastructure

Grants worth $750,000 are now available to support bioenergy infrastructure projects, as part of Sustainability Victoria’s Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund.

The Bioenergy Infrastructure Fund is open to industry, social enterprises, community groups and government entities working on bioenergy technology that will increase sustainable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO Carl Muller said the grants are aimed at projects that will boost the collection and reuse of organics across the state.

“Victoria’s commercial and industrial sector generates more than 900,000 tonnes of organic waste every year, with over a quarter of that being food, and around ten per cent is recovered,” Mr Muller said.

“There is great potential for increased recovery of organics as a valuable fuel source, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Previously funded projects include the Western Region Water Corporation, which received $802,784 to collect food waste and generate energy, and the East Gippsland Region Water Corporation, which received $209,765 to enhance an existing bio-digester to process septic tank waste, food waste, fats, oils and greases.

“Bioenergy can play an important role in the mix of renewable energy, supporting not only our transition towards a renewable energy generation network but also a circular economy,” Mr Muller said.

Proposals are open for bioenergy infrastructure or feasibility and technical studies.

Grant applications close 28 October 2019.

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Balancing the good and the bad of plastics

There is a raft of potential changes and interventions that can be made to better position plastics as the remarkable material that it is, writes Matt Genever, Director Resource Recovery, Sustainability Victoria.

I recall not too long ago seeing a 1950s TV advertisement from the United States promoting the virtues of disposable plastics. A typical American family seated around the dinner table, enjoying a meal on plastic tableware – off the plaid orange and brown tablecloth (classic 50s!) – and sweeping the whole lot into the bin when they’re done…plates, bowls, knives, forks…all of it.  Selling the dream of a “hassle-free” life.

Thankfully things have changed, somewhat, since then. We saw the first global plastic waste revolution in the 80s – then in the 90s, with the move away from traditional glass packaging spurring the creation of the first kerbside recycling programs. More recently, the focus has been on the significant impact of poorly managed plastic entering our marine environment and the accumulation of microplastics.   

It is fair to say that the balance isn’t quite right yet. This useful, flexible, malleable and now ubiquitous material can play an infinitely useful role in our world, from lightweight prosthetic limbs to 3D models printed seemingly from mid-air. On the flipside, its use has also become a pervasive vehicle to feed our throwaway culture.

In Australia, we generate around 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, that’s around 100 kilograms of plastic waste for every person in the country. Despite the options for reuse and recycling, almost 2.2 million tonnes (87 per cent) are sent to landfill (National Waste Report 2018). However, recently shoots of new growth have emerged, signalling a dramatic change in the way we use, recover and, ultimately recycle plastic globally.

There is a raft of potential changes and interventions that can be made to better position plastics as the remarkable material that it is.

Demand and supply both need a kick start

There has been a good deal of talk on the role of government procurement in stimulating growth in the recycling sector, and rightly so. This is a fundamental step we need to get right in order to grow a healthy recycling ecosystem.

One of the things that strikes me is the fragmented nature of our current secondary manufacturing market for recyclables. On one side, there are materials that have well developed markets that need little or no intervention at all – like the use of recycled aggregates in roadbase and other civil construction. On the other side, there are markets that, even if government sent a strong procurement signal, would not necessarily be ready to respond immediately.

Plastic is a great example of this. The emerging opportunities are endless, from compressed plastic railway sleepers to companies like Advanced Circular Polymers who are producing food-grade recycled rPET and rHDPE. But in reality, there are only a handful of companies currently producing domestic, market-ready recycled products at scale in Australia.

So, it is important for government and industry to work together to make sure that the supply side is getting the support it needs to scale up as the demand grows through procurement mechanisms.

Industry has the momentum in its supply chain

One of the key factors that helped the United Kingdom to turn around its recycling system was a shift in the supply chain.

Specifically, the major supermarket chains like Tesco and Sainsbury’s moved to control more of the waste and recycling flows in and out of their businesses, in some cases becoming quasi-recyclers in their own right.

In recent months, reflecting on the meetings I’ve had around investment in plastic recycling, it’s encouraging to see how many of these are from the packaging industry and food and beverage supply chain itself rather than from traditional recycling businesses. The convergence of public attitude toward plastic, new national packaging targets and the diminishing export market for mixed plastics is generating huge momentum.

You can’t spell circular economy without “jobs”

It is equal parts frustrating and astonishing that collectively we have not made a stronger link between recycling and the creation of new “advanced manufacturing” jobs in Australia. With a minimum wage of almost $19 and hour and wholesale energy prices sitting around 300 per cent higher than the US, it’s unlikely that we’re going to be a country that goes back to low margin mass-producing widgets. There is a huge opportunity for high-margin, bespoke plastic products to be made locally from recycled materials and exported internationally.

In its Advanced Manufacturing Roadmap, CSIRO notes that Australia could position itself as a sustainable manufacturing hub, focusing on high-value advanced materials and applications. At the core of these materials and products will be polymers, both natural and synthetic.  The options are there for us to either feed from energy-intensive virgin materials or plug in directly from a well-developed, domestic Australia recycling sector.

This paradigm isn’t new. Ten years ago, it was concrete. Five years ago, it was glass. We’ve built businesses, infrastructure and end-uses for these materials and we’ll do the same for plastics.

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Premier’s Sustainability Awards finalists announced

Sustainability Victoria has announced finalists for the 2019 Premier’s Sustainability Awards, after a record number of entries.

The awards celebrate sustainability in 11 categories, as demonstrated by educational institutions, businesses in every sector, health organisations, government and community groups.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO Carl Muller has congratulated finalists, describing the 2019 entrants as exceptional.

“Not only is the quality impressive, but we’ve had the largest number of entries in the program’s 17 year history,” Mr Muller said.

“As sustainability becomes increasingly important for communities, businesses, industries and governments, the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards has never been more significant to share learnings and inspire us all.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will personally select two winners for the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award and the Premier’s Recognition Award, to be presented at a ceremony on 10 October in Melbourne.

Waste finalists include:

Education category: Ballarat Tech School for their Precious Plastic Program, which empowers students, other schools and businesses in the battle against plastic waste, encouraging them to consider the long-term effects of waste on our environment and to use circular economy thinking.

Large Business category: Veolia for their Waste Pioneers Program, which teaches school students about waste and recycling in an interactive way, covering waste hierarchy and circular economy principals, environmental stewardship and community leadership.

Innovative Products or Services category: Hotel to Hands by Soap Aid, which collects discarded soap from hotel and travel industry partners, then sorts, cleans, and reprocesses it into fresh, hygienic soap bars. In 2018, Soap Aid distributed over 301,440 bars of soap to communities without adequate sanitation in Cambodia, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda and the Philippines, as well as remote Australian Indigenous communities.

Community, Environmental Justice and Innovative Products or Services categories: Enable Social Enterprises, whose mission is to break unemployment cycles by enabling disadvantaged jobseekers to connect with community and environment, improving their prospects of participating in gainful employment through supportive work and learning programs. In 2018, their IT Recycling business created 10 employment pathways while diverting 133,046 kilograms of e-waste from landfill.

Small and Medium Enterprises category: Smart Recycling, which has been operating on a 35-acre former landfill site in Dandenong South for the past 22 years, recycling roughly one million tonnes of waste. It has developed a Smart Pallets App, used by their fleet of collectors to locate timber pallets from building sites all over Victoria, ensuring that pallets are collected efficiently, repaired effectively and returned for re-use.

Small and Medium Enterprises category: retub, a modern reusable take-away food container that reduces waste in up to three different ways and uses a unique, built-in container exchange program, Reswap. It endeavours to eliminate single-use take-away food-containers through product and process design with a focus on supply chain and marketing.

Health category: Drukshini Dissanayake, for her role as Associate Nurse Unit Manager and leader of the Green Team at the Alfred Hospital, where she established a successful program saving 45-60 kilograms of pure aluminium from disposal into landfill via free collection bins and hospital pick-ups in a dedicated waste recycling program.

Melbourne Health, for tackling food waste by having surplus patient meals collected daily by OzHarvest, who deliver them to community food hub Northpoint Centre for processing and distribution, helping community members in need. Since February 2018, over 4000 meals per month have been redistributed, removing nine tonnes of food from landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 tonnes CO2 per year.

Western Health for its Equipment Reissue Program for Hardship, which re-homes potentially useful second-hand pieces of allied healthcare equipment, such as crutches and shower chairs, to patients who would have struggled to obtain them otherwise.

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Alex Fraser awarded resource recovery infrastructure grant

Alex Fraser’s Clarinda Recycling facility is among 13 recipients of the Victorian Government’s $4.67 million Resource Recovery Infrastructure Grants program.

The fund, administered through Sustainability Victoria, aims to increase Victoria’s capacity to recycle locally generated waste materials into high value commodities.

Alex Fraser will use their $336,500 grant to build a new glass additive bin within their Clarinda facility recycling plant, which will allow reprocessed glass waste to be blended into a range of high quality recycled construction materials.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said the grant would help divert thousands of tonnes of glass from landfill, while increasing the supply of material needed to build green roads.

“Glass is a high-density waste stream, so it is imperative its recycling facilities are well located, close to the point of generation and close to end-markets,” Mr Murphy said.

“This minimises truck traffic, reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions.”

Mr Murphy said the project would reduce the landfilling and stockpiling of problematic glass by 38,500 tonnes each year.

“By reprocessing this priority waste into high quality sand, we’re able to supply rail and road projects with a range of high-spec, sustainable materials that cut costs, cartage, and carbon emissions, and reduce the strain on natural resources,” Mr Murphy said.

“We’re pleased to be working with the Victorian Government to overcome one of the state’s biggest recycling challenges.”

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Shaping the sector

Waste Management Review catches up with Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan to discuss his achievements in waste over the past decade as he moves on to Solar Victoria.

Stan Krpan has immersed himself in the waste sector for more than 10 years, mobilising organisations and stakeholders towards structural and environmental reform.

His work at statutory authority Sustainability Victoria (SV) has been instrumental to shaping the agency’s decade-long shift towards resource recovery.

Earlier this year, Stan announced he would leave his position as CEO of SV after being appointed inaugural CEO of Solar Victoria.

Waste Management Review caught up with Stan to discuss his future plans with Solar Victoria and past achievements at SV.

While he has held senior legal positions at WorkSafe Victoria, CEO of the Victorian Cladding Taskforce and the Chair of social enterprise Infoxchange, over time Stan discovered his true passion in sustainability.

“I was a lawyer by training and had a strong background in regulation, but I’d worked out towards the end of my time at WorkSafe that I really wanted to be a part of making the future in terms of sustainability and climate change,” he says.

Between 2009 and 2010, the EPA Victoria commissioned Stan, the former Director of Legal Services and Investigations at WorkSafe Victoria, to conduct an independent review into the EPA.

More than 119 recommendations were made, including a need for the EPA to make more transparent decisions to tackle human health and refocus its priorities on supporting duty holders with compliance.

“It was from that moment that I walked in the door I thought this is something that I want to be a part of,” Stan says.

From there, Stan ended up at SV in 2011 assuming the CEO’s chair a year later.

He says that it was a difficult decision to leave SV after just over eight years.

“The opportunity for me around Solar Homes is really on the renewable energy transition. Although SV set it up, I really wanted to be a part of that transition,” he says.

“We will reach three quarters of a million households in Victoria to bring the total of solar homes to well over a million. We’re now leading the country for the last couple of months in terms of installation.”

Solar Victoria is a new “portfolio” entity which will commence within the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning after being transferred from SV.

Tasked with delivering the Victorian Government’s 10-year $1.3 billion Solar Homes Package, Solar Victoria forms part of the government’s target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030.

The Victorian Government’s key election commitment in 2018 was to expand its Solar Homes package to 770,000 households from July 1.

Eligible households can claim a rebate of up to $2225 on the cost of a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system or a $1000 rebate for replacing hot water systems.

The next step for Stan will be to ensure that regulation and policy keep pace with the 10-year rollout.

As he moves to Solar Victoria, his core focus will be helping Victorians with the transition to renewable energy.

Ultimately, all of Stan’s experiences have culminated in joining Solar Victoria, with a significant career background in health, safety, environment and climate change and renewable energy.

SV EVOLUTION

When he arrived at SV, the agency had been the subject of a critical report from the Victorian Auditor-General which found it had lost its way on waste and had not delivered on its statutory obligations in waste planning.

“We led a review for the then-minister around that focus on resource recovery. Essentially we’ve gone from that really being just a side project to actually being pretty much the core of the organisation and focused on delivering our statutory responsibility on statewide planning,” Stan says.

Stan says the review precipitated the country’s first ever waste infrastructure plan in 2015 – the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP).

Through a network of hubs and spokes, the model identified a move to increase transfer stations, reduce landfills, including in Melbourne’s south-east, and replace them with a network of resource recovery facilities.

The SWRRIP paved the way for developers and waste managers to work together on long-term planning. Its focus was on mobilising stakeholders in the waste sector and government and partnering with other state-based agencies across Australia.

Plans have since been generated in SA and committed in WA and NSW.

On his proudest achievements, Stan says that partnering with industry on better outcomes for the community along with market development and developing a waste education strategy are top of the list.

“One thing I particularly liked is the way we used the SWRRIP as a way of providing policy certainty to potential investors. We set up an investment facilitation service which essentially worked with proponents of new technologies and helped them enter the market,” Stan says.

Over the years, SV significantly expanded its role in resource recovery, including establishing a Market Development for Recovered Resources Strategy and programs.

The strategy supported the practical use of materials, including recycled glass on major projects such as Melbourne’s Tullamarine Freeway.

It also led to improved product specifications for recyclables in pavements, while accelerating product procurement in organics and partnering with product stewardship organisations for tyres, paint and PV systems.

“The figures are really compelling. Over the last three years we’ve invested $40 million on behalf of the government into resource recovery infrastructure, but we’ve leveraged over $100 million of private sector investment,” Stan says.

“Government procurement is obviously an area we still feel is unfinished business and we’re getting closer to finalising our first systematic assessment of state government procurement categories to understand where the opportunities might be.”

Stan points out that the Victorian Government last year adopted the Social Procurement framework.

As a result of SV’s advocacy, it includes a requirement that very large projects over $10 million consider recycled content.

“There is still more work to be done to understand the emissions profile of the sector, but one of the things I feel is unfinished business, particularly for local government procurement is that we could do more to encourage innovation and investment in low emissions transport or technologies.”

As government is the largest procurer of some materials, a common discussion by industry groups is whether mandatory procurement of recyclables is needed.

Stan points out that this is a topic also being discussed in other jurisdictions such as California and Scotland, while there are a number of targets already for specific applications such as roads.

On the subject, he says he is reluctant to make recommendations for a set target on mandatory recyclate due to the technical nature of the end use, with product safety essential.

“I am attracted to things like the EU target around green procurement which essentially says that you should incorporate criteria around recycled content even though it’s not quantified,” he says.

TAKING IT FORWARD

He says that now that SV is well established in infrastructure, the goal for the agency going forward will be to work upstream in manufacturing and new product, and materials and upcycling.

This year’s state budget included an additional $35 million for waste and recycling to build onshore processing and remanufacturing.

Stan says that Victoria’s 67 per cent recycling rate is a positive step, given the growth in population and economy, but more work is needed to raise the bar.

According to the Victorian Recycling Industry Annual Report 2016-17, solid waste diversion rose by 10 per cent to 67 per cent between 2007-08 to 2016-17. That’s despite a 1840-tonne increase in waste generation over the same period.

He says that SV has been an important part of adding an extra two million tonnes of extra capacity over the last 10 years supported by government grants and investment.

“I’ve been delighted to see the level of investment in organics processing grow in Victoria during my time since 2012 with very large companies investing in Victoria as a stable place.

“That’s very different to when I arrived at the EPA in 2010 where effectively the failure of the waste sector was attributed to the challenge of regulating and supporting the organics sector and developing new markets.”

Stan says the sector has come a long way over the past 10 years, but there is still more work to be done locally given the exposure to global commodity markets.

“To see SV grow its footprint in waste and resource recovery even though we know there’s so much more needed with the change in global commodity prices and dynamics, I’ve loved being a part of growing it,” he says.

Last year was another growth spurt for SV, increasing to over 200 staff.

One of the areas Stan says can be improved is thinking of resources in the context of the broader economy, including imports, extractive industries and eliminating waste at the design stage.

From a circular economy perspective, he says manufacturers need to partner with waste collectors and recyclers to reduce food waste, use recyclate for new packaging and eliminate unnecessary packaging from the supply chain.

Stan says that concepts such as extender producer responsibility can also be better understood and supported in Australia, as community sentiment is shifting.

SOLAR PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY

Extended producer responsibility lifespan will become ever increasingly important for solar PVs as many installed at the beginning of the millennium reach their end of life.

SV, on behalf of the state government, is leading a national investigation into extended producer responsibility options for solar PVs and batteries.

Stan is pleased with the level of engagement from peak bodies such as the Clean Energy Council and manufacturers and suppliers of solar PVs and household batteries, with consideration to a scheme to be given later this year through the meeting of environment ministers.

“Certainly something that I’m now well placed to explore in Solar Victoria is whether we can use that program to stimulate stewardship and recycling of solar panels.

“We know there are technologies in Germany and Singapore that are already doing this.”

Stan says that SV will also be looking towards the Federal Government’s review of the Product Stewardship Act once released to help accelerate the development phase.

While extensive efforts have gone into increasing SV’s involvement in waste, Stan is pleased with the input of stakeholders to make many of the agency’s achievements over the past decade a reality.

“The thing that I’ve been most proud of is the level of support and engagement that we’ve had from the waste and resource recovery sector. We couldn’t have done any of this without them.”

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Sustainability Victoria announces $4.7M RRIF grants

Sustainability Victoria have announced the recipients of 13 new grants, administered via the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund (RRIF).

A total of $4.7 million has been awarded to projects that will increase Victoria’s capacity to recycle locally generated waste materials into high value commodities.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO Carl Muller said RRIF funding supports the recovery of recycled materials, the expansion of recycling facilities for kerbside, construction and demolition, commercial and industrial waste and improvement in the quality of collected and sorted materials suitable for commercial use.

“We cannot deny the importance of the waste and recycling industry. These grants will boost the resource recovery industry, creating jobs and driving investment in the sector,” Mr Muller said.

“The Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund facilitates change to support industry growth and development, in tandem with Victoria’s growing population.”

Mr Muller said investment in recycling infrastructure is vital to increasing the recovery valuable materials, for use in other manufacturing sectors.

“These exciting and innovative projects will drive a strong circular economy that maximises the reuse and recycling of materials and reduces waste,” Mr Muller said.

“Collective action from industry, government and the community can ensure Victoria remains a great place to live and operate in.”

Recipients include: 

Alex Fraser Group: $336,500 to install an additive bin at its Clarinda facility, which will divert low-value recovered glass that is unfit for reuse from landfill.

Repurpose It : $500,000 to install new infrastructure and improve the recovery and washing of glass fines sourced from materials recovery facilities.

Cleanaway: $500,000 to install optical sorting equipment for plastics from e-waste processing.

Pipeconnex: $500,000 for a new facility production line that will recycle up to 5246 tonnes of plastic each year.

Close the Loop: $500,000 for infrastructure that will recover 5,000 tonnes of soft plastics annually, for use in asphalt road base.

Boral: $500,000 to upgrade its asphalt plant to receive plastic, glass and crumbed rubber for asphalt production.

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V/Line installs recycled plastic sleepers

Recycled plastic railway sleepers have been installed on Victoria’s regional train network for the first time, with funding assistance from Sustainability Victoria.

According to a Sustainability Victoria statement, the recycled sleepers are an innovative replacement for the V/Line’s current concrete sleepers.

“V/Line trains are heavier and tend to run faster than metro trains, so they need incredibly sturdy sleepers. Concrete has always been the most reliable option – until now,” the statement reads.

“Testing shows the recycled plastic sleepers won’t melt, crack or flake off under pressure. They won’t leach into the environment and are much less carbon intensive to make.”

The product was installed near Wyndham Vale train station in late July.

“Made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural plastic waste, the recycled sleepers are an environmental alternative,” the statement reads.

“For every kilometre installed, the sleepers use 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would’ve otherwise gone to landfill.”

The result of two years of development and testing at the Monash Institute of Railway Technology and Integrated Recycling, the sleepers were partly funded though Sustainability Victoria’s Research, Development and Demonstration grants and the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund.

The product will last up to 50 years, with low maintenance requirements meaning fewer servicing closures on V/Line services.

“The sleepers can be recycled once it’s time to replace them – a great example of how a circular economy can work,” the statement reads.

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Enforcing e-waste

With Victoria’s e-waste ban commencing 1 July, Waste Management Review explores what supporting infrastructure has been put in place and some of the uncertainties surrounding compliance.

Read moreEnforcing e-waste

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