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.”
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.
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.
Australia’s largest plastics recycling plant, with a processing capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year, has opened in Victoria.
Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million facility will recycle large quantities of low-value contaminated mixed plastic into material suitable for manufacturing new products
Advanced Circular Polymers Founder Harry Wang said the plant’s 70,000 tonne capacity is equivalent to almost half the plastics currently recovered in Victoria.
“Previously, Australia relied heavily on China to process recovered plastics. This new advancement provides a local solution, right here in Victoria, to the challenges posed by China’s import restrictions imposed last year,” Mr Wang said.
“Rather than plastic being collected, sent overseas, reprocessed then sent back to Australia, we saw an opportunity to close the loop and find a sustainable solution.”
The plant, which has been part-funded by the Victorian Government and a $500,000 Sustainability Victoria grant, will be powered by renewable energy produced from Goldwind Australia’s wind farm near Ballarat.
The facility will use advanced technology to sort and clean plastic by polymer type and to specific customer requirements.
Mr Wang said the resulting plastic flake would be sold and repurposed into new plastic products such as packaging.
“We are big supporters of reducing plastic pollution as a first step, but while there is still plastic to be recycled we should be doing our best to capture what we can,” Mr Wang said.
“We should treat plastic like gold. It is a precious resource that can be used in production again and again.”
Trains travelling through Melbourne’s Richmond station are now running on railway sleepers made from recycled plastic as part of an 18-month trial.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne were at Richmond train station on Monday to see the first of 200 sleepers being installed.
Produced in Mildura by Integrated Recycling, the Duratrack sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste, including cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers all sourced in Australia.
The recycled sleepers have a potential lifespan of up to 50 years, are half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and require far less maintenance.
The Victorian Government has invested $630,000 through grant programs delivered by Sustainability Victoria to make the project a reality.
For every kilometre of track installed, 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill will be recycled.
The product is the result of more than two years of research and product development led by Integrated Recycling and Monash University, with the sleepers already up and running at four Victorian tourist railways including the iconic Puffing Billy.
Introducing the new sleepers, approved for use on Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, are part of environmental requirements included in the Victorian Government’s current contract with Metro Trains.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the project is a great example of the circular economy created through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday.
Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne said it’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations.
Previous entrants in the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards say that their participation has helped their organisations build better customer and community relationships.
Previous winners and finalists in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards say that their involvement has led to better staff morale, improved profiling with their customers and stronger community relationships.
Recent research by Sustainability Victoria says that entrants not only demonstrate increased energy efficiencies and reduced bills through their sustainability projects, by telling their stories through the awards they enjoy a range of other benefits.
The diverse array of historical entrants has comprised councils, government organisations, not-for-profits and businesses across categories such as innovative products and services, environmental protection, government and health. Many of these organisations document their sustainability performance as part of their standard operations, so developing an entry can be a streamlined process.
Last year’s winner of the Premier’s Recognition Award was Yume Food – Australia’s first online platform that connects producers of quality surplus food with buyers. The platform enables food suppliers, such as manufacturers, primary producers and importers to sell their products at a discount to commercial buyers in the food service industry comprising caterers, wholesalers, restaurants, hotels and event centres.
Yume won three awards in total, including Innovative Products or Services and the Small and Medium Enterprises categories.
The company’s exceptional results will lead to nearly 850,000 kilograms of food diverted from landfill; 1,682,000 kilograms of CO2 saved, 58 million litres of water saved and more than 23,000 kilograms of food donated to rescue organisations.
Yume’s Founder and CEO, Katy Barfield said that the organisation is asked to enter a lot of awards’ programs but have to be quite selective and the Premier’s Sustainability Awards program was appealing.
“One of the reasons why we go for a small amount of awards is because as a start-up we have limited band
width and put our energy to awards that will further our mission of creating a world without waste,” Ms Barfield said.
She added that the Premier’s Sustainability Awards was simple to enter for multiple categories.
“One of the best results for us has been the recognition. Through our hard work and acknowledgement of programs like this, we have a respected voice in media.
“I’m often asked to speak at conferences and other industry events. It gives us a great opportunity to spread the word even further,” Ms Barfield said.
She said the prestigious awards recognise the groundbreaking innovations emerging out of Victoria and provided Yume Foods with an audience in front of government – the largest procurer of food in the country.
She advised others to put forward nominations and enjoy the benefits of the evening such as networking with important stakeholders, as Yume was able to connect to IKEA the previous year.
“Enjoy the night because it can be a hard road being in this space and the opportunity to celebrate are few at times.”
Last year, the Department of Justice and Regulation was a finalist in the government category, after developing a Recycle, Reuse, Donate Woodwork Program for offenders serving Community Correction Orders. The program was established as an environmentally sustainable project that contributes to waste avoidance, while teaching offenders valuable new skills and creating an avenue for them to give back to the local community.
IKEA Richmond won the Large Business category after conducting a refurbishment of its store and rebuilding its showroom, installing a café and improving its in-store navigation, leading to about 85 per cent of all construction materials recycled.
In 2017, Western Health won an award for its single-use metals instruments program, with around 500 kilograms of steel recycled in 2016, representing about 80 per cent of all single-use metal instruments.
In 2016, the City of Booroondara on behalf of the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action Councils, a network of seven councils in Melbourne’s east, won the government award for its work with a variety of organisations to develop and trial a framework for monitoring biodiversity.
Sustainability Victoria (SV) assists entrants throughout the nomination process, then finalists and winners are provided with media releases, social media graphics, professional photos and other promotional collateral.
SV Interim Chief Executive Officer Carl Muller said the 2018 finalists and winners demonstrate that the awards process improves engagement and marketing opportunities at every stage.
“From the time they complete their entries through to the announcement of finalists, then at the prestigious ceremony to announce winners and beyond, entrants report a really positive experience,” Mr Muller said.
“Now is the time for any group doing good sustainability work to highlight their sustainability through the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.”
In the awards’ 17-year history, businesses, schools, organisations and community groups have enjoyed the chance to not only demonstrate their sustainability success, but to promote it.
Stan Krpan will leave his position as CEO of Sustainability Victoria after being appointed inaugural CEO of Solar Victoria.
Mr Krpan said it was a privilege to lead Sustainability Victoria and watch its impact grow.
“I am enormously proud to have been able to work with so many passionate people across projects which inform, educate and deliver tangible outcomes for Victorians to act on climate change and improve the way we manage waste and recycling,” Mr Krpan said.
“I am particularly grateful to the many and varied stakeholders, who have been the key ingredient to our success and share our passion to position Victoria for a sustainable future.”
Mr Krpan said the position at Solar Victoria will present an opportunity to transform the way Victorians generate residential power from renewable sources.
“In less than a year since Solar Victoria was established, we have seen the huge demand for household solar energy by Victorians,” Mr Krpan said.
“This program is a cornerstone of the Victorian Government’s target to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy in the state by 2030.”
Sustainability Victoria Board Chair Heather Campbell thanked Mr Krpan for his service.
“On behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge and thank Stan Krpan for his dedicated leadership of Sustainability Victoria since 2012,” Ms Campbell said.
“Under Stan’s leadership Sustainability Victoria delivered Australia’s first statewide waste infrastructure plan, growing investment in waste and resource recovery infrastructure, market development and education to their highest levels.”
Ms Campbell said the board wished Mr Krpan all the best in his new role as CEO of Solar Victoria, which will deliver the state government’s $1.2 billion Solar Homes package from 1 July.
“In August 2018 Stan led the establishment of Solar Victoria as a dedicated business unit under Sustainability Victoria,” Ms Campbell said.
“This will be a seamless transition for both Stan and Solar Victoria, as that organisation moves to become a standalone entity reporting to the Environment Department and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said Solar Homes would cut Victoria’s carbon emissions by four million tonnes – the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.
“Household solar is expected to generate 12.5 per cent of Victoria’s 40 per cent target for renewable energy by 2025,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“Mr Krpan has a strong record in this sector and the right experience to lead the delivery of our landmark Solar Homes package.”
Sustainability Victoria Director Corporate Services Carl Muller will act as interim CEO while a full recruitment process is underway.
The Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards is now open for entries and features a new category to celebrate outstanding contributions made by volunteers.
The new environmental volunteering category will recognise the impact made by thousands of dedicated individuals and groups who give their time to sustainability projects and environmental protection.
Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said as the most prestigious program of their kind in Victoria, the awards are a terrific showcase of leading edge sustainability practices.
“Through these awards we proudly showcase the businesses, government, schools, institutions and community groups that are leading the way helping to stop the effects of climate change, developing more integrated circular economies and creating a more liveable, engaged, prosperous community for us all,” Mr Krpan said.
According to Mr Krpan, recent research shows that while sustainability remains an important concern for most Australians, only half believe they are doing enough.
“Joining the program’s existing ten categories, the new environmental volunteering category will make the awards more accessible to more people who take environmental action in real, practical and tangible ways,” Mr Krpan said.
The Premier’s Sustainability Awards includes the categories built environment, community, education, environmental justice, environmental protection, environmental volunteering, government, health, innovative products or services, small to medium sized businesses and large business.
2018 winners include small business Yume Food, who won for building a marketplace exclusively for surplus food, the Caulfield to Dandenong level crossing removal project and a campaign by Zoos Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks that addressed the threat of plastic debris to marine life.
Entries in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards close on Thursday 13 June.