1200 tonnes removed in Numurkah tyre stockpile clean-up

About one quarter of a tyre stockpile in the Victorian town of Numurkah has been removed – equating to an estimated tonnes of 1200 tyres.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) used its powers at the end of last year under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to enter the site, with the assistance of Moira Shire Council and funding from the Victorian Government.

Located in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley Highway, the stockpile on privately-owned land has a stockpile of an estimated 500,000 tyres.

EPA Victoria North East Region Manager Emma Knights said the disposal of the tyres was going well.

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“The project has been carefully planned, and the tyres removed so far have come from the sides of the stockpile where the hazards are most critical,” Ms Knights said.

“Aerial pictures taken by an EPA camera drone late last week show piles of waste tyres have been removed from the eastern side, closest to homes along the Goulburn Valley Highway. The southern side, which faces several business premises, is currently being removed,” she said.

The removal began in mid December with up to eight trucks a day leaving the site, five days a week, and the whole project is estimated to take approximately 10 weeks.

“The work is progressing well and we are on schedule, although the completion date will depend on the weather, including any days of total fire ban,” Ms Knights said.

The stockpile has been a concern to the community for some time.

“Tyre fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish and produce considerable amounts of toxic smoke. With an estimated 5000 tonnes of waste tyres at the site, CFA has already warned of serious consequences if a summer grass or bushfire spreads to the stockpile,” she said.

The clean-up was carefully planned to include fire safety, security and wildlife and vermin management. Firefighting equipment is located on site for the duration of the clean-up, and no snakes have been observed so far during tyre removal.

The waste tyres are going to a licensed facility in Melbourne for recycling. Once they have been shredded, waste tyres can be put to use in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, in the form of products such as athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres or road surfacing.

VIC councils receive $16.5M e-waste infrastructure funding

The Victorian Government has awarded 76 councils a share of $16.5 million to improve the state’s e-waste infrastructure.

Funding will go towards upgrading more than 130 e-waste collection and storage sites and help local councils to safely store and collect increasing amounts of e-waste.

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The funding aims to assist councils prepare for the state’s ban on e-waste which will come into effect in July 2019.

The upgrades aim to ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas are within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point and 98 per cent of regional Victorians are within a 30-minute drive from a disposal point.

Councils will receive discarded electronics which will then be stripped of components for reprocessing or sold on the second-hand goods market.

Applications will also open in November for a share of $790,000 to deliver local education campaigns, with councils able to apply for up to $10,000 in funding.

E-waste is defined as anything with a plug or a battery that has reached the end of its useful life, including phones, computers, white goods, televisions and air conditioners.

The amount of e-waste generated in Victoria is projected to increase from 109,000 tonnes in 2015 to 256,000 tonnes in 2035.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will ensure the state has one of the best e-waste collection infrastructure networks in Australia.

“We’re delivering on our promise to maximise recycling and minimise the damage e-waste has on our environment,” she said.

Northern QLD councils call for changes to waste levy

North Queensland councils have called on the state government to push back the introduction of the waste levy and to introduce a differential levy rate system.

The North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) has made nine recommendations in a submission to the Queensland Government, calling for the levy to be implemented on 1 July 2019 to align with the new financial year instead of the current set date of 4 March 2019.

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Another recommendation is the implementation of a differential levy rate system to account for differences in rates for metropolitan and regional areas, which the NQROC says is in line with NSW and Victoria. Alternatively, the organisation recommends the implementation of a specific regional subsidy scheme to cover any hidden costs of the waste levy.

NQROC Chairperson and Mayor of Burdekin Shire Council Lyn McLaughlin said it was important for regional councils to raise their concerns about the new waste levy.

“The need to transport waste to distant recycling markets is one of the hidden costs of the waste levy for regional councils,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“It’s less expensive for the larger metropolitan councils who have recycling facilities close to them, however transportation costs are a huge issue for regional and rural communities.

“We need a cheaper levy for the regions or the government must assist with the cost of transporting our waste to other parts of the state,” she said.

Cr McLaughlin said another recommendation related to how the waste levy zone is determined and called for Charters Towers Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council be removed from the proposed zone.

“Right now, population is the only criteria for determining if you are in the waste levy zone. Regional economies are more complex than that and it is our view other factors like local economic conditions and financial sustainability should also be considered,” Cr McLaughlin said.

NQROC Deputy Chair and Mayor of Charters Towers Liz Schmidt said Charters Towers Regional Council was an example of where a population only approach can be flawed.

“Charters Towers Regional Council is just over the waste levy population threshold, so we are included in the waste levy zone. This ignores the fact that the number of people we provide waste services for is much less than the actual population.  We have a large number of rural properties covering an area the size of Tasmania who deal with their own waste,” Cr Schmidt said.

“Then there are the costs of waste management for townships like Balfes Creek, Homestead, Pentland, Greenvale, Hervey Range, Sellheim, Mingela and Ravenswood. Waste costs for these towns are already heavily subsidised by council and are unlikely to ever be self-sustaining.

“A waste levy just adds a greater financial burden which means more cost for our communities. We aren’t like the larger councils of South East Queensland but the government doesn’t seem to realise that.” she said.

In introducing its bill in September, Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said that Queenslanders will not have to pay more to put out their wheelie bin every week, with $32 million committed in this year’s budget in advance payments to Queensland councils.

“We are providing advance payments to councils that covers 105 per cent of the cost of their municipal waste,” Ms Enoch said.

“This means councils are being paid more than the cost of what they actually send to landfill every year.

“Councils will have no reason to increase rates because of the waste levy – we are giving them more than enough funding to cover this.

“In fact, councils could choose to use the extra funds to increase their waste management services.”

 

Community comments called for Australian Paper WtE facility

EPA Victoria has called for further community consultation on Australian Paper’s proposal to develop a large-scale waste to energy facility.

The company has provided the EPA with a health impact assessment to support its application to develop the facility within the boundaries of its site in Maryvale, Latrobe Valley.

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The proposed plant would generate both steam and electricity which can be directly in the paper mill or exported to the grid. It would replace two gas-fired boilers and would produce around 30 megawatts of electricity and 150 tonnes of steam per hour.

The EPA’s assessment of the applications will consider issues such as best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, potential risks to human health and the environment from air, noise, disposal of fly ash, wastewater treatment and operational contingencies.

It follows a community public meeting held earlier in July, which found there was significant support for the proposals, with many submitters commenting the technology is already operating safely overseas, there are environmental benefits of less waste going to landfill and economic benefits of local job creation.

EPA Development Assessments Director Tim Faragher said the works approval application was originally open for public comment in June and EPA received 115 submissions.

“EPA also ran a community conference in July to hear concerns from those that made submissions. This further consultation period allows interested community members to make further comments on the new information that Australian Paper has submitted,” Mr Faragher said.

When making a final determination, the EPA will also consider all public submissions and the outcomes of the community conference.

Reusable bag campaign launches ahead of VIC plastic bag ban

The Victorian Government has launched a campaign to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags ahead of the state’s 2019 ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags.

The Better Bag Habits campaign urges Victorians to remember their bag, wallet, keys and phone when leaving the house. The campaign will run on social media and radio.

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Some tips the campaign will encourage will be to store reusable bags in the car, at home, work to ensure customers are always ready to shop. It also encourages the use of foldable bags that can easily fit into a pocket, handbag or backpack.

Research commissioned by Sustainability Victoria found around three quarters of Victorians already carry reusable bags when food shopping.

Younger Victorians and those on higher incomes have been the slowest to say no to single-use bags, particularly when shopping for non-food items.

The ban on single-use plastic bags will come apply to shopping bags less than 35 microns tick after community consultation found a 96 per cent of the 8000 submissions were for the ban.

The state government is also working with other states and territories to phase out thick plastic bags to further reduce plastic pollution.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victorians are already saying no to plastic bags, but this campaign will encourage it to become a habit.

“We’re stopping plastic pollution and ensuring Victorians are ready to live without single-use, lightweight plastic bags.”

Recycling company wins Governor of Victoria export award

Lithium battery processing company Envirostream Australia has won the Regional Exporter Award in the 2018 Governor of Victoria Export Awards (GOVEA).

The awards are open to a range of industry sectors, including the waste and recycling industry and showcase some of the state’s most successful and innovative exporters.

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The company recovers 95 per cent of the materials contained in energy storage battery and sells the steel, copper and aluminium into national markets to be manufactured into new projects.

It began operating recycling facility in the Melbourne suburb of Campbellfield which is able to recover 40 tonnes of batteries per month on each processing line.

Envirostream has partnered with Planet Ark and other stakeholders to develop a battery collection and recycling program that uses battery recycling  and high material recovery.

“We believe this model will challenge the status quo in the recycling industry by adding value in Australia before exporting. This model creates jobs, decreases the cost to recycle and increases the recycling rate of batteries,” Envirostream Australia Director Andrew Mackenzie said.

The GOVEA are open to all Victorian exporters, regardless of size or total export sales.

Winners of the awards are automatically placed as finalists in the national Australian Export Awards.

The Winners:

  • Exporter of the Year – Leica Biosystems
  • Export Award for Innovation Excellence – Sealite
  • Emerging Exporter Award – FitMyCar
  • Victorian Women in International Business Award – Dr Ewa Douroux, Business Services Manager from Leica Biosystems
  • Agribusiness Award – Hussey and Company
  • Business Services Award – OMC International
  • Creative Industries Award – FanHubMedia
  • eCommerce Award – DPP Pharmaceuticals
  • Education and Training Award – IDP Education
  • Environmental Solutions Award – GeoFabrics Australasia
  • Digital Technologies Award – Catapult
  • Health and Biotechnology Award – Leica Biosystems
  • Manufacturing Award – Bosch Australia
  • Minerals, Energy, and Related Services Award – Business For Millennium Development
  • Regional Exporter Award – Envirostream Australia
  • Small Business Award – Cornerstone Solutions

Pictured Left to Right: Victorian Trade Minister Philip Dalidakis, Envirostream National Development Manager John Polhill, Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau. 

Industry input sought for VWMA economic report

Victorian waste and recycling companies are being called on to contribute to an industry report on the economic and social contributions the sector provides.

The report, commissioned by the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), aims to provide specific metrics the waste and recycling industry generates for local, regional and national communities.

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It will also aim to help improve communication between the industry, government and community to help build confidence and trust in the sector.

The VWMA aims to highlight the importance the environmental and health benefits of the sector to the community as well as the economic contributions from jobs and investment.

Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions Economist Nick Behrens is working with VWMA to complete the project, which is similar to work carried out in Queensland and currently in the Northern Territory.

A survey is currently open until 14 September to gather data to create anonymous, aggregated high level industry statistics which will be drawn upon to prepare various positions, communications and policy formation in the future.

The survey also includes questions about insurance to, general questions about government guidance and accessing government support.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said it is important for the waste sector to come together and start to shape its own story for the government.

“An important element in that story involves the contribution made to the Victorian economy,” Mr Smith said.

“Most industry sectors publish their own data sets and reports into economic contribution and employee numbers to communicate and express their importance to local and state government and to the community. It is important our industry does the same.

“With an election this year and a new four year-term state government elected, this report will be a useful resource for our sector in advocating for industry support, regional development and regulatory and insurance challenges into the future.”

To complete the survey, click here. Results are anticipated to be released in the first week of October 2018.

Geelong launches $3M organics composting facility

The City of Greater Geelong has launched a $3 million garden organics composting facility that is able to recover 35,000 tonnes of green organics per year.

Compost from the Geelong Garden Organics Composting Facility will be used on council land, such as parks and ovals, and local farmers. It will see an abatement of 49,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

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Sustainability Victoria provided a $500,000 grant towards the facility on behalf of the Victorian Government.

Projects in regional Victoria have increased the organics processing capacity by 38,250 tonnes per year, with approximately 74,570 households now able to access kerbside collections for food and/or organic waste. With the launch of the new facility, kerbside organics collection services have resulted in an average abatement of 81,621 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said he was delighted to see the organics facility opened.

“We’ve been working closely with the City of Geelong to enable greater recovery of its valuable resources,” he said.

“Victoria’s population could reach 10 million by 2050, putting pressure to our waste recovery and disposal systems. Taking action now through creating and expanding recycling opportunities will greatly reduce the environmental impact of these resources ending up in landfill, and their economic value being lost.

“This project falls under Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan and the Victorian Organics Recovery Strategy, which plans for all viable recovered materials to be extracted from waste streams before reaching landfill,” Mr Krpan said.

The new Geelong facility is able to provide long term benefits such as processing the council’s green organics, with the potential to process additional organic materials such as food.

“Geelong is one of three large regional organics projects funded by the Victorian Government. It followed Ballarat and Bendigo which all now divert large quantities of organics from waste streams,” Mr Krpan said.

Sustainability Victoria’s Optimising Kerbside Collection Systems guide assists councils to increase recycling, improve the quality of recycled quality materials and reduce contamination

Queensland councils receive $5M to get levy ready

In a move to get Queensland Councils levy ready, the State Government will invest $5 million before the introduction of the waste disposal levy on 4 March 2019.

Local governments can apply for funding under the 2018-19 Local Government Levy Ready Grant Program to support infrastructure improvements at waste disposal facilities.

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The program will be open for submissions between 31 August and 12 October 2018.

Possible examples of infrastructure are fencing, security cameras, traffic control, weighbridges, gatehouses, upgrading IT or signage.

The grant program is being administered by the department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs on behalf of the Department of Environment and Science.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the Queensland Government want to ensure councils have efficient, accurate and secure levy collection and landfill facilities.

“Local councils with waste disposal facilities where annual disposal of more than 5,000 tonnes of waste is allowed can apply for infrastructure funding for weighbridges and gatehouses,” Ms Enoch said.

“The Queensland Government is committed to making sure there is no impact on municipal waste collection through the introduction of the waste levy.

“There will be no extra cost to putting your wheelie bin on the footpath each week, and we are keeping that commitment,” she said.

Ms Enoch said Queensland’s new waste disposal levy would also lead to the creation of jobs, local waste management and resource recovery solutions, and market development, particularly in regional areas.

“This will provide a growing incentive for the community and business to take advantage of expanding resource recovery and recycling options across the state,” she said.

“The levy will also bring Queensland in line with New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, which have similar levies.

Queensland introduced a waste levy in 2011, which saw resource recovery companies investing in new recycling and processing infrastructure, however it was later repealed.

Local Government Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the amount of waste generated in Queensland was increasing faster than Queensland’s population was growing.

“Reintroducing a waste disposal levy is part of our broader strategy to improve waste recycling and recovery and support jobs growth,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“Our local councils will play a key role in helping their communities reduce waste and increase resource recovery.”

For more information about the grant program, click here.