Downer and Close the Loop build NSW road from recycled plastics

Plastic from around 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and glass from around 55,000 bottles has been diverted from landfill to build New South Wales’ first road made from soft plastics and glass.

Downer and Sutherland Shire Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police to build the road in the Sydney suburb of Engadine.

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Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.

“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.

“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.

“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.

“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”

Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing 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 our natural environments.

“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.

The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police 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 NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.

Planet Ark partner with Bingo Industries to divert coffee grounds

A new trial aims to divert spent coffee grounds from landfill and repurpose them into higher value uses.

Planet Ark will begin the Coffee 4 Planet Ark trial in September in Sydney, in collaboration Bingo industries and with leading coffee roasters and members, such as Lavazza. Tata Global Beverages via its Map Coffee brand will collect spent coffee grounds from limited corporate businesses in Melbourne.

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The program aims to roll out around the country in 2019 after it identifies the best and most cost-effective collection method.

Planet Ark undertook a 2016 feasibility study that found almost 2800 tonnes of spent coffee grounds are sent to landfill in Sydney alone.

Once in landfill, the grounds would begin to break down and produce methane. Diverting the spent grounds from Sydney would save approximately 1600 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually, according to the study.

To develop new end uses for coffee grounds, Planet Ark has begun working with the SMaRT centre at the University of New South Wales. It has also secured a partnership with Circular Food to produce a nutrient rich soil fertiliser called Big Bio, which will utilise the collected grounds.

Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko said the Coffee 4 Planet Ark program was an important step in ensuring spent coffee grounds were being used to their greatest potential rather than entering landfill.

‘Currently, the vast majority of coffee grounds produced after extracting your coffee are going to landfill. Planet Ark believes in creating a circular economy where all resources are used to their greatest potential,’ Mr Klymenko said.

‘We are thrilled to be working with some of Australia’s leading coffee roasters to trial a collection and repurposing system for coffee ground waste.’

Western Sydney Councils release four year plan for waste

Western Sydney councils have joined up to reduce waste, increase recycling and prevent illegal dumping under a newly launched four-year strategy.

The Western Sydney Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2017 – 2021 is a blueprint for a cleaner and more sustainable future.

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The Regional Waste Strategy has received $120,000 in funding from the NSW EPA under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which uses funding gathered from the waste levy.

Blue Mountain, Blacktown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Hawkesbury, The Hills, Liverpool, Parramatta and Penrith councils have all committed to participating in the plan.

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) Vice President Barry Calvert said waste, like water and electricity, is a critical service for any city, delivered almost solely by local government in partnership with industry.

“Councils are constantly working to deliver safe, sustainable and affordable waste services to the community. This is no easy task in a region experiencing rapid growth, increasing household waste generation, and changing recycling markets,” he said.

“Working together allows councils to share knowledge, find efficiencies and work strategically to meet these challenges.”

Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC)
WSROC CEO Charles Casuscelli and WSROC Vice President Cr Barry Calvert.

Western Sydney’s first regional waste strategy was developed in 2014, which has helped local councils cut the percentage of household waste going to landfill from 49 per cent to 43 per cent.

“Our goal is to reach 30 per cent by 2025,” said Cr Calvert.

“Landfill space in Sydney is filling up fast. At the same time, we have a million additional residents moving into the region.

“We must reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill if council waste services are to remain affordable and sustainable well into the future,” he said.

Cr Calvert said the WSROC is working closely with the community to reduce the amount of waste created and to increase the rates of recycling.

“At the regional level councils will work with industry and the state government to identify and support new recycling methods, investigate new technologies and plan for future waste needs,” he said.

Industry, government and community tackle plastic waste

Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.

Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.

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The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.

Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.

A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.

Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.

“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.

Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”

Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.

“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.

Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.

Waste and recycling receive $196M in NSW Budget

The NSW Government has received $162 million more than expected from its waste and environmental levy, while at the same time committing $196 million reduce waste, strengthen recycling and protect the health of the environment in its 2018-19 state budget.

According to the budget papers, the government received a revised $727 million from its waste and environment levy, which it attributes to strong construction sector activity.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority budget for 2018-19 includes $70 million to improve waste management and resource recovery, $8 million for the management of contaminated land and $5 million for asbestos management and emergency clean-up.

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NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the budget provides support for programs and initiatives to reduce litter and waste, while also strengthening recycling and tackling illegal dumping.

“Diverting waste from landfill is a key priority and the NSW Government has set targets to increase the diversion of waste from landfill from 63 per cent in 2014-15 to 75 per cent by 2021,” Ms Upton said.

“The Premier has also made it a priority to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 2020, achieved through Return and Earn, Hey Tosser and council and community litter prevention grants.”

In March, a $47 million support package was also announced for the local government and industry to respond to China’s National Sword policy.

“The support package provides a range of short, medium and long-term programs to ensure kerbside recycling continues and to promote industry innovation.”

Ms Upton said there is also funding for the emergency clean-up of asbestos, managing James Hardie Asbestos legacy sites at Parramatta and support for the Broken Hill Lead program and the management of PFAS.

TIC Mattress Recycling passes the baton to Soft Landing

TIC Mattress Recycling has announced national social enterprise, Soft Landing, will become the new operator of the company’s mattress recycling business, effective 1 June.

TIC Mattress Recycling commenced its mattress recycling processed four years ago and built Australia’s first automated deconstruction plant for end of life mattresses in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Soft Landing was established in 2009 to train and provide jobs people experiencing barriers to employment in Illawarra NSW. The organisation now has sites in Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle, Melbourne, ACT and WA.

Soft Landing has recycled over 600,000 mattresses, created employment for over 300 people and saved 440,000 cubic metres of landfill space.

Soft Landing team members Kane, Adam and Corey at the Bellambi facility in NSW

A cross-sector partnership between Soft Landing and TIC Mattress Recycling was established in 2016 to improve growth, efficiency and innovation in the mattress recycling industry.

TIC Mattress Recycling Managing Director Michael Warren said Soft Landing is the right organisation to take mattress recycling to the next level.

“TIC Group is confident Soft Landing will keep Australia at the forefront of global innovations that support people, planet and the integration of leading technology,” he said.

Soft Landing Executive Officer Community Resources John Weate said the cross-sectional partnership with TIC Group has been a great step in Soft Landing’s Journey.

“We thank all the team at TIC for their commitment to this partnership, and look forward to welcoming those employees joining the Soft Landing team in this transition,” he said.

“We also look forward to ongoing relations with the broader TIC Group given their leading expertise in reverse logistics and saving disused retail items from landfill.”

Featured Image: TIC Group CEO, David Harris; TIC Mattress Recycling General Manager, Michael Warren; Soft Landing National Manager, Andrew Douglas; TIC Director, Mark Gandur; Community Resources CEO, John Weate

World first e-waste recycling microfactory launches at UNSW

A world first microfactory capable of transforming components from e-waste which may reduce the amount sent to landfill has been launched at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The microfactory uses technology developed after extensive research at UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre) and is able to reduce the issue of e-waste from discarded phones and laptops causing environmental harm when sent to landfill.

NSW Minister for the Environment Gabrielle Upton said it was exciting to see new technological innovations that could transform waste management and recycling.

“I am very pleased to launch the UNSW e-waste microfactory today, a NSW home-grown solution to the waste challenges facing communities all over the world,” Ms Upton said.

“It is exciting to see innovations such as this prototype microfactory and the potential they have to reduce waste and provide a boost to both the waste management and manufacturing industries in NSW,” Ms Upton said.

The micro factory is able to operate on a site as small as 50 square metres and can be located at anywhere waste is stockpiled. It functions as a series of machines and devices that use technology to perform one or more functions in the reforming of waste products.

The UNSW microfactory is able to reform computers, mobile phones and printers, and has a number of modules for the process. The devices are first broken down, then a robot identifies useful parts, which sends them to a small furnace which transforms them into valuable resources using precise temperatures and processes developed by extensive research.

SMaRT Centre Director Professor Veena Sahajwalla said the e-waste microfactory was the first of a series of microfactories under development and in testing at UNSW that can also turn many types of consumer waste streams such as glass, plastic and timber into commercial materials and products.

An example of this is turning computer circuit boards into valuable metal allows such as copper and tine. Glass from devices can also be converted into micrometrical used in industrial grade ceramics and plastic filaments for 3D printing.

“Our e-waste microfactory and another under development for other consumer waste types offer a cost-effective solution to one of the greatest environmental challenges of our age, while delivering new job opportunities to our cities but importantly to our rural and regional areas, too,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“Using our green manufacturing technologies, these microfactories can transform waste where it is stockpiled and created, enabling local businesses and communities to not only tackle local waste problems but to develop a commercial opportunity from the valuable materials that are created.”

Dr Sahajwalla said microfactories presented a solution to burning and burying waste items that contain materials which can be transformed into value-added substances and products to meet existing and new industry and consumer demands. This was a truly sustainable solution to our growing waste problem which also offers economic benefits available to local communities, she said.

“We have proven you can transform just about anything at the micro-level and transform waste streams into value-added products. For example, instead of looking at plastics as just a nuisance, we’ve shown scientifically that you can generate materials from that waste stream to create smart filaments for 3D printing,” she said.

“These microfactories can transform the manufacturing landscape, especially in remote locations where typically the logistics of having waste transported or processed are prohibitively expensive. This is especially beneficial for the island markets and the remote and regional regions of the country.”

The technology was developed with support from the Australian Research Council and is now in partnership with a number of businesses including e-waste recycler TES, mining manufacturer Moly-cop and spectacle company Dresden.

The SMaRT Centre is expanding its partnerships with industry, investors and local councils. The centre aims to commercialise and create incentives for the industry to use this technology and to encourage sustainable behaviours.

Tyre Stewardship Australia host second Tyre Industry Conversation

Tyre Stewardship Australia is hosting the second tyre industry conversation to focus on international factors that influence Australian markets.

In particular, the event will discuss how the Australian resource and recovery and recycling industry has been affected by recent change and disruption.

It will also provide an update on the international state of play from European and New Zealand end-of-life tyre markets, which aim to provide insight for the Australian tyre recycling industry.

The event will include presentations from international speakers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Secretary General of the UK Tyre Recovery Association Peter Taylor will be a keynote speaker, who will bring experience from the largest market-based best practice program in Europe for scrap tyres. He was also awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to the tyre industry.

Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry for the Environment Meg Larken will also provide a keynote presentation, bringing her experience from four years at the Ministry and from the recent policy for end-of-life tyres.

The Tyre Industry Conversation will take place on 11 April at 9am – 1pm. It will be hosted at The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney. Attendees are asked to RSVP by 29 March.