Bastille Festival announces sustainability plan

The Bastille Festival in Sydney has teamed up with SUEZ to transition into a more environmentally sustainable event.

Director Vincent Hernandez said the festival welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors over four days, generating an estimated 20 tonnes of waste.

“Tonnes of rubbish – plastic wine cups, food packaging, food waste, cigarettes buds and more. How can we do better?

“That’s precisely the question I asked myself after the success of last year’s festival but I needed an expert to lead us and SUEZ accepted the challenge to help us make a difference,” Mr Hernandez said.

SUEZ will implement the festival’s waste collection system to ensure waste is minimised and diverted from landfill.

SUEZ NSW General Manager Tony Grebenshikoff said simple changes such as installing appropriate recycling bins and raising awareness about what is and is not recyclable will make a significant difference.

Other changes include a plastic ban, and requirement that all stall holders use energy-saving LED lights.

Re-usable glasses and compostable cutlery and plates will be mandatory for food stall holders, and non-recyclable packaging will be eliminated for food consumed at the festival.

Wastewater and cooking oil will be collected separately and treated appropriately, and public transport will be encouraged.

The festival will also attempt to minimise the contamination of recyclable material and food waste by using separate organic and co-mingled bins, with a target of 75 per cent diversion rate from landfill.

Power generators will be shared by stall holders, operating on energy saver mode to optimise the use of electrical resources as well as using electricity generated from solar panels.

To support the effort, the festival will be working with local organisations, communities and individuals to help implement and manage the new policy.

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WSROC calls on NSW Government to reinvest waste levy funds

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to direct waste levy funds collected in the region to sustainable waste management programs for western Sydney.

According to WSROC President Barry Calvert, the NSW Government has reinvested only $20 million of the $225 million collected from western Sydney waste levies over the last five years.

“Each year councils pay the NSW Government a significant levy on waste sent to landfill, the aim of the levy is admirable – to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and reuse – however, only a small percentage is actually used for this purpose.

“Government should be using waste levy money for the purpose it was collected – to promote a more sustainable waste sector,” he said.

Levy rates for NSW are $81.30 per tonne in regional areas and $141.20 per tonne in metropolitan areas like western Sydney.

Mr Calvert said given that western Sydney processes the majority of the cities waste, improving recycling and resource recovery in the area is critical.

“We should be seeing $234 million invested in helping councils adapt to the new market conditions caused by the China National Sword Policy, investing in the development of local recycling markets and waste processing infrastructure, and implementing measures to reduce waste generation,” Mr Calvert said.

The state governments half yearly budget review, released late last year, showed the treasury collected $769 million in 2017-18.

At the Save Our Recycling Election Summit earlier the year Local Government NSW voiced similar concerns, calling for 100 per cent of waste levy funds to be re-invested into sustainable waste management initiatives for the state.

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SUEZ propose six-year expansion to Sydney landfill

SUEZ has proposed to expand its Elizabeth Drive Landfill at Kemps Creek in Sydney.

The expansion would increase the current height of the landfill by up to 15 metres which could increase by around 5 million cubic metres. No changes to the existing cell design, cap design or waste disposal methods are involved in the project plan.

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Proposed changes to the capacity of the landfill are estimated to extend the life of the landfill by approximately six years to 2030.

The proposal comes in response to an anticipated increase in waste generation from Sydney’s growing population and several large infrastructure projects in the areas.

Elizabeth Drive Landfill is one of the only sites in the Sydney Basin that is able to receive general construction and demolition waste, according to SUEZ.

SUEZ is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the approval that will assess the likely impacts of the construction and operation of the project.

It will focus on topics including waste management, air quality, hazards and risks, noise and vibration, soil and water, traffic and transport, biodiversity, fire and incident management, visual amenity and heritage.

The EIS is expected to be put on public display for comment in late 2018 or early 2019 by the Department of Planning and Environment.

Approval from the Sydney Western City Planning Panel is required following this step before SUEZ can proceed with construction.

Project approval is expected to be decided by mid 2019 with construction aimed to begin in late 2019.

Sydney ranked as Australia’s most sustainable city

Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.

The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.

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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.

All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.

However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.

London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.

The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.

Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.

“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.

“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.

Australians believe recyclables going to landfill: research

Most Australians across all states and demographics believe the recyclables they put into their council bins are ending up in landfill, according to new research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The series of surveys has also found that 49 per cent of people believe that green and eco-friendly efforts will not have an effect in their lifetime, with 63.8 per cent of those older than 65 seeing no benefits being realised.

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Key findings also report that 72.4 per cent of people would recycle more of the material if it was reliably recycled.

Confusion also surround which level of government is responsible for residential waste and recycling services, with some people thinking industry instead of government is responsible for waste management.

UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Director Veena Sahajwalla said rising stockpiles and increasing use of landfill, in the absence of a coordinated government solution to a waste problem, had not been lost on consumers.

“Each council is fending for themselves right across Australia and while the meeting of federal and state environment ministers earlier this year made an important announcement about a new National Waste Policy stating that by 2025 all packaging will be re-usable, compostable or recyclable, we don’t have to wait another seven years for this decision to come into effect,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“It is clear on this issue that people want action, and they want governments to invest and do something now.

“A number of councils and private business are interested in our technology but unless there are incentives in place, Australia will be slow to capitalise on the potential to lead the world in reforming our waste into something valuable and reusable.”

UNSW’s SMaRT Centre launched a demonstration e-waste microfactory in April, which is able to recover the components of discarded electronic items for use in high value products.

UNSW is also finalising a second demonstration microfactory, which converts glass, plastics and other waste materials into engineered stone products, which look and perform as well as marble and granite.

“Rather than export our rubbish overseas and to do more landfill for waste, the microfactory technology has the potential for us to export valuable materials and newly manufactured products instead,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“Through the microfactory technology, we can enhance our economy and be part of the global supply chain by supplying more valuable materials around the world and stimulating manufacturing innovation in Australia.”

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.