Vic gov announces $37M recycling package

A $37 million package has been announced for Victoria’s recycling industry to develop new markets.

The Recycling Industry Strategic Plan aims to increase the quality of recycled materials and provide a blueprint for a safe, reliable and resilient recycling system in the medium to long term.

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It will include an $8.3 million expansion to the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which is estimated to improve the quality of up to 100,000 tonnes of recycled material.

A further $2 million will go towards the current market development program for recycled materials by identifying new uses, bringing the total to around $4.5 million.

The Victorian Government also aims to drive demand for products containing recycled materials through procurement.

Sustainability Victoria, in consultation with the Department of Treasury and Finance, will assist the government departments and agencies to identify opportunities and develop their own targets to increase procurement of recycled content.

An education program will attempt to improve understanding of what can and can’t be recycled to reduce the contamination level of kerbside recycling, which the state government says has the potential to reduce the amount of recycling sent to landfill by 40,000 tonnes each year.

The Landfill Levy Relief Program will also receive an $800,000 boost to ensure the National Association of Charitable Recyclers can continue focusing their efforts on charity.

It also includes the $13 million temporary relief package announced in February for councils and industry to support the ongoing kerbside collection of household waste following China’s National Sword policy.

The plan will be delivered by consumers and waste producers, the resource recovery industry and manufacturers and all levels of government.

Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the government is delivering a new plan for the future of recycling in Victoria, to reduce waste and build a more resilient recycling sector.

“This plan will create a more stable and productive recycling sector, improving the quality of recycled materials and developing new markets for them,” she said.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the announcement and said that further work is necessary to future proof Victoria’s recycling industry.

It identified four key objectives that needed to be addressed as part of the long term solutions the state government should explore, which include contractural models for waste and resource recover, unlocking the sustainability fund, stimulating local markets through state and local government procurement and community education.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said recycling is one of the easiest things Victorians can do to support the environment and the economy.

“Engagement with the community about how to recycle correctly is important and a shared responsibility. The private sector shares that responsibility but we need consistency and commitment to messaging that we’ve had a part in shaping,” Mr Smith said.

“The Victorian Government’s $37 million investment shows commitment and long-term thinking. However, we must maintain an open and ongoing dialogue on these challenges to ensure public confidence is restored.”

“The waste and recycling sector has suffered a lot of damaging publicity over the last 12 months. Further discussion with the sector will be required to target public engagement to help rebuild public confidence back into this essential service,” he said.

The government has released an overview about recycling and what it is being done to respond to international market changes here.

Half a million dollars awarded to Vic regional composting facility

A proposal to develop a regional Victorian composting facility has received $500,000 in funding from the state government.

Organic waste management company Pinegro are developing a $5 million project to use an enclosed tunnel system for the composting of food and organic green waste from local councils in the Morwell region.

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Currently, Pinegro composts using an open windrow method but this process can be affected by weather conditions.

By implementing the new system, the company will be able to compost within a contained, temperature-controlled environment to deliver a better product, faster.

Pinegro’s grant will go toward the construction of a waste receival building, composting tunnels and air and water filtration systems.

It is expected to divert 18,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill each year.

The funding was part of the second round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which is supporting 13 projects across regional Victoria.

These projects are expected to divert more than 85,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills.

Victorian Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said food waste from homes accounts for around 250,000 tonnes a year in Victoria.

“These upgrades to the composting system will increase Pinegro’s capacity to process food waste and absorb more from local councils,” she said.

Applications for the third round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund are now open. For more information, click here.

Vic gov set date of bag plastic bag ban for 2019

The Victorian Government has announced it will ban single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags from late 2019 to fight plastic pollution.

The ban will come into effect from late next year and will include all plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness. It also includes shopping bags made from biodegradable and compostable plastic.

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It follows a public consultation which received more than 8000 submissions, with more than 96 per cent supporting a ban.

The Victorian Government said it will use feedback over the next 12 months to develop a plastic pollution plan to reduce other types of plastic contaminants in the environment.

A reference group will also be established to help develop the plan, with representatives from the government, industry, retailers and community environment groups.

The state government also announced it will support an education campaign for both retailers and the community to ensure the ban is effective.

It also said a transition period will be required to help consumers and businesses adapt to the changes alongside co-operation with other states and territories on a national, voluntary phase-out of thick plastic bags.

Victorian Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said banning single-use plastic bags will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s waters.

“We know Victorians want to do more to reduce pollution in our environment – we’ve received an enormous amount of feedback and they’ve told us loud and clear they want us to deliver this ban,” she said.

“The Government will continue to work closely with Victorian communities and businesses to design the ban – to ensure it works for all Victorians and our environment.”

Australia’s first lithium battery recycling plant opens

Australia’s first lithium battery recycling plant has opened in Victoria in the lead up to the state’s ban on sending e-waste to landfill.

Envirostream Australia has opened its $2 million facility at New Gisborne, north of Melbourne and recycled 240,000 kilograms of batteries last year.

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Before the facility was opened, most lithium batteries were sent overseas for recycling. Victoria’s e-waste is projected to rise from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to about 256,000 tonnes by 2035.

The Victorian government announced an election commitment to enact a ban on sending e-waste to landfill, which takes effect on 1 July 2019. More on the government announcement here.

Sustainability Victoria is rolling out $16.5 million e-waste infrastructure development and awareness program to prepare for the ban.

This includes $15 million in grants to Victorian councils and state government entities to upgrade infrastructure at more than 130 collection sites and a $1.5 million awareness campaign to educate Victorians about how to properly dispose of e-waste.

The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Melburnians are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point, and regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive of one.

Envirostream received $40,000 from Sustainability Victoria to buy equipment to increase the recovery of valuable materials in batteries.

The 2017 Commodity Research Book Battery Raw Material Review says global consumption of lithium carbonate is expected to grow from 184,000 tonnes in 2015 to 534,000 tonnes in 2025, chiefly through the rapid adoption of electric vehicles, e-bikes and energy storage systems.

Sustainability Victoria Chief Executive Officer Stan Kpran said Envirostream Australia is one of the country’s trailblazers in reprocessing electronic waste and is helping to keep valuable resources out of landfills.

“Envirostream is showing how opportunities can be developed in Australia’s resource recovery sector, create jobs in regional communities and capture valuable chemicals, copper, steel, nickel, lithium, other metals and graphene captured so they can be sent to South Korea to be used in new batteries,” Mr Kpran said.

“Only three per cent of Australian batteries are currently recovered. It’s the lowest rate in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).”

Envirostream Director Andrew McKenzie said recycling batteries at New Gisborne would create five new jobs over the next year and help build Victoria’s recycling capacity.

“We have a nationally coordinated partnership to increase Australia’s low recovery rates of batteries and mobile phones and want to make sure these recoverable resources are not just thrown away or sent offshore for recycling,” Mr McKenzie said.

“We’re working with Planet Ark and MobileMuster to increase used mobile phone and battery recovery and to educate the community about the need to recycle electronic waste onshore.”

“We’re in an increasingly mobile world. Lithium batteries are now the dominant mode of energy storage for domestic and industrial uses, and like other e-waste, their use is growing fast,” he said.

Pictured: Sean O’Malley from Planet Ark, Spiro Kalos from Mobile Muster, Andrew McKenzie and John Polhill from Envirostream and Sustainability Victoria’s Shannon Smyth.

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.