Sophisticated sensor technologies are helping Australian material recovery facilities improve their sorting capacities beyond what is possible with manual sorting.
Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.
A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
- Return and Earn sees half a billion containers returned
- Return and Earn’s resounding numbers
- NSW consumers return and earn with TOMRA app
Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.
“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.
“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.
“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.
Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.
“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.
“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”
More than half a billion containers have been returned to Return and Earn reverse vending machines in NSW, eight months after the scheme launched.
The container deposit scheme aims to improve recycling rates and reduce the volume of litter in the state by 40 per cent by 2020.
- Return and Earn’s resounding numbers
- Return and Earn donates to Tathra Bushfire recovery
- NSW consumers return and earn with TOMRA app
Each eligible container is worth 10 cents when returned to a reverse vending machine or depot.
Drink containers litter currently makes up 44 per cent of the volume of all litter throughout NSW and costs more than $162 million to manage, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority.
The University of New South Wales (UNSW) was the first educational institution to install a reverse vending machine as part of the scheme.
UNSW Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability Will Syddall said that while this initiative helps to reduce littering and improve recycling rates, it is just one step in improving the way we create and manage waste.
“In the waste hierarchy, reducing and reusing resources is better than recycling them. We encourage the community to use reusable water bottles and coffee cups so that they can avoid disposable cups and bottles altogether,” Mr Syddall said.
“We also recognise that we have more work to do to reduce the amount of single-use plastic and other consumables used on our campuses.”
According to the World Bank, half of the plastic ever manufactured was made in the last 15 years.
TOMRA’s Markus Fraval highlights the early successes of Return and Earn, logistical challenges and lessons learnt less than a year out from the launch of the scheme.
The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) is urging the federal government to grow regional Australia’s recycling industry with a one-off investment of $150 million.
The investment would go towards better sorting, increased reprocessing, community education and government procurement of recycled content product.
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ACOR Chief Executive Officer Peter Shmigel said recycling has a good base in regional Australia, which can be grown for more jobs and economic value in country areas.
“It’s one of the readily accessible ways to diversify regional economies and make them more resilient against droughts and global market forces,” he said.
“Our industry already has a good place in the bush including lube oil recycling, battery recycling, tyre recycling, industrial plastics recycling and consumer packaging recycling in country areas.”
Mr Shmigel said an independent report from MRA Consulting showed investment in local recycling could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“We can use waste plastics and glass that can’t go back into bottles as part of asphalt in government-funded road projects,” Mr Shmigel said.
“Roads are the biggest asset in country areas and they can be recycled content rather than virgin materials at competitive cost and quality – if governments positively procure for that,” he said.
Mr Shmigel said using recycled content materials in the Snowy 2.0 scheme alone would massively contribute to more jobs and deliver on the community’s recycling expectations.
ACOR members with operations in regional areas include Southern Oil Refinery, Kurrajong Recycling, Re-Group, Visy, Envirostream, Tomra, SIMS Metal Management, ResourceCo, O-I and Downer Group.
More than 100,000 people have downloaded TOMRA’s recycling app linked with the NSW Return and Earn scheme.
The free app, called myTOMRA, shows the status with Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) in NSW and has partnered with digital payment provider PayPal.
- Return and Earn donations to help Tathra Bushfire Appeal
- Almost 100 million containers collected by NSW Return and Earn
- Return and Earn collection points mapped out
Users can scan their personal barcode at the RVM and claim money from returned containers electronically.
The app shows whether a RVM is open, almost full, temporarily unavailable, or in sleep mode during out of hours periods. It also includes a map which can direct users to the nearest RVM.
The Return and Earn scheme was implemented in NSW on 1 December and has seen more than 310 million containers returned since it launched. It aims to reduce the amount of litter across NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.
Consumers are able to claim a 10-cent refund when they return an eligible drink container to a collection point in NSW. Most 150 millilitre to three-litre drink containers made from plastic, glass, steel, liquid paperboard and aluminium are returnable.
TOMRA Cleanaway is the network operator for the scheme, with TOMRA providing the RVM technology and Cleanaway delivering the logistics and sorting for collected containers.
Melbourne-based company SKM Recycling has selected TOMRA Sorting Recycling to supply its 3D laser technology for three new sorting facilities.
The 40 AUTOSORT units will be used across the three plants to process more than 350,000 tonnes of kerbside collected material per annum.
The primary focus of the new SKM Recycling plants will be to process paper, plastics, metals and glass and sort them into high quality products. The plants are expected to be operational in the beginning of 2018.
SKM’s Laverton plant aims to become the most automated recyclables processing plant on the continent by integrating multiple steps of TOMRA Sorting technology into the sorting of paper and other recyclables.
The new sorting technology is also working to extract a greater percentage of recyclable product from the residential recycling stream, facilitate the development of new recyclable grades to meet the demands of a changing market and reduce waste to landfill.
“Our confidence in their (TOMRA) technical knowledge and support is unwavering and is backed by TOMRA’s guarantee to perform. We are proud to be developing the most advanced materials recovery facilities in Australia,” said Robert Italiano, Business Manager of SKM.
Tom Jansen, Sales Manager at TOMRA Sorting Recycling, added that winning such a large contract means SKM Recycling have placed a lot of trust in the company and its newest technology.