Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre launches

A new national research effort is aiming to reduce food waste in all stages of the product, from production to final disposal.

The $133 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre program is a partnership between 57 industry and research participants from Australia and internationally.

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Food waste costs Australia $20 billion a year, with significant amounts of it being sent to landfill.

To reduce food waste throughout the value chain, the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre aims to transform unavoidable waste into high value products and engage with the industry and consumers to deliver behavioural change.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said $150,000 from SV’s Love Food Hate Waste program will be used to fund research on consumer behaviours concerning food waste and reducing food waste in the supply chain.

“As Victoria is one of the nation’s major food producers and processors, this is a particularly important issue,” Mr Kpran said.

“The CRC ticks boxes in terms of how we can do more to efficiently produce and process food and deal with waste,

“The University of Melbourne’s 2016 Melbourne Foodprint report found Melbournians wasted more than 200kg of food per person every year. It‘s not just a waste of resources along the food production and processing chain; it’s a major producer of greenhouses gas emissions as the food decomposes,” he said.

Mr Krpan said the project would help primary producers, food processors, retailers, food rescue agencies and technology and service providers.

“It will also help local government to contain the cost of operating landfills and long-term, that’s good for everyone. It will also reinforce Sustainability Victoria’s work to reduce the production of waste or all types.”

“There are many opportunities to develop and use products derived from primary production that is otherwise wasted.

“We already have a composting industry which uses some food waste, and there is the potential to feed it into digesters which breaks it down, creates gas to drive electricity and reduces what goes to landfill,” Mr Kpran said.

VWMA call for VIC Gov to build resilient waste system

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has called on the state government to develop an industry led initiative that tackles challenges facing the Victorian waste and recycling system.

The organisation’s position is to set up a VWMA initiative to make sure the Victorian waste and recycling is working in the same direction.

The VWMA said in a statement that the waste sector is facing higher insurance costs, recent import and trade restrictions, urban planning, increased regulations and a negative public perception of the industry.

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It also mentioned China’s National Sword policy and how the restrictions have impacted the entire sector as a whole.

More than 11 million tonnes of waste are generated in Victoria a year, and the waste industry generates over $2.2 billion in revenue for the economy.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said there is an opportunity to establish Victoria as Australia’s most resilient state with regard to waste and recycling management.

“The private sector owns and operates the bulk of waste and resource recovery infrastructure and services in Victoria and should be front and centre in proposing solutions,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government has had a closed door/invite only approach with regard to formulating responses to the current recycling issues. We’d like to make things more transparent.”

Recycling Industry Transition Support grants open: SV

Victoria’s recycling industry has been provided a $1 million funding package as part of the state Government’s response to China’s National Sword policy.

The move is part of the Victorian Government’s $13 million package towards councils and industry to support the ongoing collection of household recyclable waste.

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Funding will be available to companies that recover and reprocess plastics, paper and cardboard, with work needing to be completed within one year of signing with Sustainability Victoria.

Funding will be available for:

  • Infrastructure, equipment and process upgrades at Material Recovery Facilities to support greater sorting of paper and plastic
  • Infrastructure and equipment upgrades to process paper, cardboard and rigid plastic (wash, granulate, pelletise) to allow material to be used by domestic manufactures and allow for re-entry to export markets
  • Storage and consolidation infrastructure (sheds/shipping containers/temporary cover) to allow for the short-term safe storage of recovered paper, cardboard and plastic while processing capacity and/or end markets is developed.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said grants of between $50,000 and $500,000 were available on a 1:1 funding ratio to Victorian-based projects that recover, handle and process plastics, paper and cardboard waste.

“The Recycling Industry Transition Support grants will help to fast-track development of new infrastructure that improves the quality of recovered plastics, paper and cardboard,” Mr Krpan said.

Mr Krpan said project proposals for work costing more than $1m would also be considered as Victoria had many opportunities to expand its recycling sector.

“If there are projects that exceed the million-dollar funding envelope, we also want to hear about them.”

“China’s policy change is serious, but it gives us an opportunity to more-quickly expand our reprocessing capacity and improve the quality of the end-product so it can be made into new products.

“In the 2015/16 financial year, councils collected 590,000 tonnes of recyclables and recycled 95 per cent of this was recycled, but with a growing population we need to look for ways to recycle a greater range of products, not just from households, but across the wider community.”

Mr Kpran said there are many opportunities to build on Victoria’s long-established recycling and re-processing sector which provides the raw material for paper and cardboard, many types of plastic, metal, and glass products.

“Board rooms and investors are also looking for commercial projects that demonstrate their sustainability credentials and reduce risks in their supply chains,” he said.

“Despite the current market volatility, smart, responsible investment and the ongoing maturation of our resource recovery sector and emerging markets for our waste, we should look forward with confidence.”

Applications for the first round of the of Recycling Industry Transition Support grants close on 8 May 2018.

Big Bottle Tour of regional Victoria for container deposit scheme

A three-metre-long soft drink bottle will tour regional Victoria to call for a statewide container deposits scheme.

The Boomerang Alliance, representing 47 community groups and local government organisations, aims to rally thousands of Victorians and local MPs to encourage the state government to install a container deposit recycling scheme.

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Currently, Victoria and Tasmania are the only two states that do not have a scheme planned or implemented in Australia.

The ‘Big Bottle Tour’ will begin in Stawell on Saturday 31 March and continue for two weeks travelling from Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Melbourne, Mildura, Echuca, Beechworth, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat.

The tour will collect drink containers along the way and deliver them to the premier, along with a message from regional Victora about the importance of waste and littering issues in regional communities.

Landcare, Coastcare, Boomerang Bags and Plasticwise groups, and the Scouts have joined the Boomerang Alliance to highlight the benefits of these types of schemes in local communities.

“With the recycling industry in Victoria on the brink of collapse due to contaminated kerbside collections, the Victorian Government needs to act quickly to implement a viable long-term solution that will deliver clean material acceptable for recycling and grow domestic reprocessing,” said Director of Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel.

“Victoria could lead on the circular economy around plastics but only by closing the loop and maximising the quality of reclaimed resource – container deposits schemes continue to prove their effectiveness in achieving this objective,” he said.

“As Victoria drowns in a sea of contaminated kerbside recycling, the time to act is now. Can the Andrews’ Government continue to ignore the evidence and oversee not only the destruction of Victoria’s recycling industry, but also the ongoing damage to its iconic environment?”

Port Fairy Sea Scouts Group leader Michelle Arnold welcomes the campaign and its three-metre large bottle to Port Fairy in a bid to get others to support the initiative.

“We see how well this scheme works for the scouts in South Australia. We have the setup to receive containers, we have eager scouts to go collecting and if you look at our scout hall, we certainly could put the funding to good use,” she said.

Bingo Industries release FY18 half yearly report

Bingo Industries has announced its half year results for the 2018 financial year, reporting strong net revenue growth of 43 per cent.

The company’s net revenue has increased to $142.4 million compared to this time last year, which according to its1H FY18 half-year results, reflects business momentum and increased market share.

The acquisition of National Recycling Group and Patons Lane Recycling Centre, announced in December, 2017, are noted as performance highlights in its half-year results.

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CEO of Bingo Daniel Tartak said he was pleased to deliver another strong result.

“We have successfully executed several acquisitions in accordance with the strategy outlined at the time of our listing. These acquisitions have facilitated our entry and expansion in Victoria and consolidated our position in New South Wales, ahead of schedule.

“We have grown our network capacity by 70 per cent since listing in May 2017 to 1.7 million tonnes per annum and remain on track to double our footprint by 2020, to meet growing demand for recycling,” he said.

“This demand is underpinned by population growth, major infrastructure programs in Sydney and Melbourne, growing waste volumes together with diminishing landfill capacity. Meanwhile, we remain firmly committed to delivering a recycling recovery rate across the network in excess of 75 per cent, the highest in the industry.”

Broken down by segment, revenue in its collections sector increased by 29.1 per cent to $78.5 million and pro forma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 18.9 per cent to $18 million, primary driven by increased market share in the NSW building and demolition and commercial and industrial waste streams.

The number of collection vehicles was boosted from 173 to 253 over the year, after taking into account the fleet acquired with the acquisitions in the first half.

Its post-collections revenue went up by 53.4 per cent to $81.8 million and pro forma EBITDA increased by 53.2 per cent to $24 million as Bingo saw further market share in NSW.

In terms of the outlook, the results note the positive business momentum has continued into the second half of financial year 2018. The company concluded it remains on track to deliver its recently upgraded FY 18 pro forma earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation guidance of approximately $93 million. Completed acquisitions are expected to contribute more materially in the second half of FY18.

“Our work in hand with and pipeline provides strong revenue visibility and we remain confident of achieving our upgraded earnings guidance for the year. Our focus is now firmly on bedding down our recent acquisitions to deliver our targeted synergies and leverage the scale advantage we have across our markets,” Mr Tartak said.

Vict Govt responds to China waste ban

In response to China’s National Sword decision, Victorian councils and industry will be provided a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.

The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts.

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The Victorian Government has also moved to establish a recycling industry taskforce to develop a plan for industry transition.

The decision comes not long after the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) called for a suite of measures to improve the situation.

The VWMA in a statement welcomed the opportunity to represent its member base on any proposed taskforce and said it has been assured by relevant government agencies that it will have a seat at the table. It advocated for the taskforce to have fair representation of the waste and resource recovery sector, including small and medium operators and the waste transport sector. It said the taskforce should be steered by principles such as a competitive resource recovery sector and circular economy principles that prioritise local jobs over exports or landfilling.

China has not banned the importation of waste entirely but new restrictions on the contamination rate means that they require a cleaner and more processed version of these materials.

“While recycling is ultimately a matter for local councils, we’re stepping in to help councils and industry affected by China’s new import rules,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.

“This is about protecting jobs and ensuring Victorians have confidence to continue recycling.”

Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.