New appointments for VIC Waste and Resource Recovery Groups

The Victorian Government has appointed 25 directors to the state’s seven Waste and Resource Recovery Groups.

The directors, including nine reappointments, commenced their roles on 1 August.

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They bring a broad range of experience to their roles with diverse backgrounds including energy, engineering, resource efficiency, local government, infrastructure development, sustainability, waste management and environmental policy.

The appointees will aim to ensure the Groups have the skills and experience needed to deliver a safe, resilient and efficient recycling system.

Waste and Resource Recovery Groups are a part of the state government’s Recycling Industry Strategic Plan with local councils across Victoria.

Appointees have increased board representation of women, people with disabilities and Victorians from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds.

More than $100 million has been invested by the state government over the last four years to improve the Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio congratulated the appointees and said she looks forward to working with them to strengthen the state’s waste and recycling sector.

“We’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the people and resources it needs to reduce waste and costs to households,” she said.

A list of the appointments and directors can be found here.

Victorian e-waste ban to landfill breakdown

The Victorian Government has announced it will ban e-waste to landfill on 1 July, 2019. William Arnott investigates how the ban will affect the state and what it means for the industry and local government.

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VWMA 2018 State Conference wrap-up

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association State Conference addressed all the key issues impacting the state’s waste and resource recovery sector, including changes to the EP Act and the government’s stockpiling taskforce.

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VWMA announces package to tackle rising insurance

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is developing a package to support members in the face of rising legal and insurance costs across the country.

Launched at this week’s VWMA State Conference, the conference saw attendees which included Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio who addressed delegates about the government’s waste agenda, including the recently announced $37 million Recycling Industry Strategic Plan, the broader challenges for the sector and Environment Protection Authority reform.

In a statement, the VWMA said it was responding to member’s concerns on staggering increases to insurance premiums and navigating the increasingly complex and changing regulatory environment. It said it had begun work to develop a package of support to tackle rising insurance costs for their members.

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“Experts across a range of disciplines including regulation, social research, insurance and communications and marketing endorse an approach led by associations and speak to the benefits in tackling these challenges as a collective, which is one of the ways industry associations can provide greatest benefit to its members,” the statement said.

“Currently, the sector is reacting to the changing regulatory environment around fire risk and management. However the VWMA proposes to build capacity and capability across the sector so that collectively these risks can be managed together. It will be an approach that is about translating the complicated regulatory environment to “what does this mean for my business or my site?”.

The package will include four core components:

Training, tools and resources:

  • Focused on building the capability and capacity of VWMA members to identify and manage risks at their sites. This will include fit for purposes approaches based on the size, material types or other considerations specific to a site.

Information, webinars and access to experts:

  • Provide information, workshops and webinars on topics and issues of relevance or emerging threats/challenges to the sector.

Legal packages:

  • Ongoing support around legal compliance to help navigate an increasingly complicated regulatory environment.

Communication and engagement package:

  • Engagement with stakeholders outside the sector about what we are doing to tackle issues around stockpiling and fire management, including engagement with insurance companies, landlords and industrial parks.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the state conference heard from insurance experts who advocated for industry approaches to the challenges facing the sector.

“Rising insurance costs are currently a universal problem plaguing operators across the country,” Mr Smith said.

“We do have a path forward on how we can tackle these problems. The role of the association over the coming months will be to socialise and build support for the package and we are keen to hear from anyone who wants to add value to this discussion.”

Mr Smith said the VWMA has been engaged with other state associations and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council around this package and received support for the proposal.

“If successful, the package is something that could be rolled out nationally, benefiting waste and recycling operators in other states. Perceptions are that we don’t manage stockpiles effectively, which we don’t believe is true. These are complicated problems and many stakeholders outside our sector have a role to play, including landlords, councils and insurance companies. We need talk and work with others to change perceptions of our sector. This package is going to meaningfully start those conversations,” he said.

“We are optimistic the government sees value in industry-led approaches to tackling these challenges. It’s about a shared responsibility and we’ll take this formally through relevant government agencies.”

Pictured: VWMA President Chris Ryan, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith.

Sustainability Victoria launch e-waste campaign ahead of ban

In the lead up to Victoria’s ban on e-waste to landfill, the state government has launched a $1.5 million public education and awareness campaign.

The campaign aims to help Victorians better understand e-waste and reduce the amount sent to landfill ahead of the 1 July 2019 ban.

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Regulatory measures were made in late June to update existing statutory policies to include e-waste as a material banned from landfill and an amendment which specifies how it should be managed safely.

Current practices show that at least 90 per cent of a computer, television or mobile phone can be recovered and reused.

Victoria currently has a range of collection points for e-waste, but there is the potential to develop new collection sites and expand the range of electrical, electronic and battery powered items to be recycled.

Managers of e-waste in Victoria have a year to adapt to the new regulatory measures and gives time for Victoria’s e-waste collection network to be operational.

Victorian councils can also apply for $15 million in grants to upgrade or build collection and storage facilities in 130 areas where need has been identified. Funding applications close 14 September.

Sustainability Victoria acting CEO Jonathan Leake said Electronic waste is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia.

“Australians are high users of technology and among the largest generators of e-waste in the world,” he said.

“It’s estimated the country’s e-waste will increase more than 60 percent, to a predicted 223,000 tonnes in 2023–24.”

“Recycling captures valuable metals like copper, silver, gold, aluminium and other metals, as well as plastics and glass so they can be re-used in the next wave of technology rather than mining or making new materials,” Mr Leake said.

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.

Vict Govt launches Resource Recovery Market Development Fund

The Victorian Government has announced a new $2.5 million fund to help develop markets for Victoria’s recyclable waste, and boost research and development into recycling.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio on Tuesday launched the Resource Recovery Market Development Fund in Craigieburn, Melbourne where major road builder Downer is trialling an asphalt mix containing recycled plastic bags, printer cartridges and glass in road surfacing.

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Downer received $67,000 from the fund, which will be managed by Sustainability Victoria and support researchers and industry in finding new ways to use recovered resources.

Downer estimates that up to 15 per cent of asphalt could contain soft plastics and that up to 10 million tonnes of recyclable waste could be diverted from landfill every year using their new approach.

Sustainability Victoria provided Close the Loop with $40,000 for equipment to develop the plastic additive used in the asphalt mix.

The fund builds on $80 million over four years invested by the Victorian Government into waste and resource recovery.

Applications for the Resource Recovery Market Development Fund will open in July.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the new fund will help support new industries and stimulate a circular economy for recyclable material.

 

MRI E-cycle Solutions calls for product stewardship expansion

Australian-owned e-waste recycling company MRI E-cycle Solutions has called for all types of e-waste with a plug or a battery to be included under the Product Stewardship Act.

The news follows the meeting of Environment Ministers commitment to fast track the development of new product stewardship schemes for solar panels and batteries. The federal government is also reviewing the Product Stewardship Act 2011, with the findings and recommendations to be provided to Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg by mid-2018.

MRI E-cycle Solutions said in a statement that it was eager to see regulatory reform across all states and territories that facilitates and encourages electronics and battery reuse. It said it hopes to see policies that maximise resource recovery and help local government manage e-waste without being economically penalised.

The company argued that it believes the upcoming Victorian e-waste ban presents an opportunity to synchronise the state ban with an expanded national electronics stewardship scheme. The Victorian Government’s e-waste to landfill ban is expected to commence on 1 July, 2019.

MRI E-cycle Solutions said in its statement that the new start date of 1 July 2019 will better prepare the community and local councils through public education and infrastructure upgrades.

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The statement said that while Australia has made significant steps through the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) and voluntary programs like MobileMuster, the take-back, and recycling, of many other categories of electrical and electronic goods, have gone unfunded due to a lack of stewardship schemes. It noted that this means that e-waste still continues to flood into landfills at the cost of local government and the community.

“It is essential that the NTCRS be expanded to include the same types of electronic products that will be covered under Victoria’s landfill ban to avoid shifting the cost of their recovery and recycling from producers and retailers to local councils,” the company said.

MRI E-cycle Solutions Managing Director Will LeMessurier said that Victoria’s definition of e-waste was the most appropriate way to better manage the recovery, reuse and recycling of absolute electrical goods. However, he noted that without a national electronics stewardship scheme, local governments would feel the brunt of the cost.

“There are still many categories of e-waste that fall outside the NTCRS, including mobiles, photovoltaic solar panels and batteries that will go straight to landfill in the absence of a comprehensive national electronics stewardship scheme to collect, reuse and recycle anything with a plug or a battery,” he said.

MRI E-cycle Solutions in its statement also argued that a mismatch between Victoria’s comprehensive definition of e-waste and the federal regulations will also create confusion for councils and the public as to what can be recycled.

“Expanding industry funded co-regulated and/or voluntary programs under the Product Stewardship Act to cover all types of e-waste will significantly improve economies of scale for industrial processing and create new employment opportunities.”

“It will also contribute to higher recycling rates nationwide and ensure the cost burden is shared equitably among producers, retailers, consumers and local government. Australia will then truly have a best practice model to the envy of other countries battling the challenge of e-waste.”

 

 

Victorian Government announces $16.5 million e-waste investment

The Victorian Government has announced a $16.5 million investment to help upgrade more than 130 e‑waste collection and storage sites across Victoria.

It comes as the Victorian Government seeks to implement its ban on e-waste to landfill. The government released a policy impact statement for consultation last October. It is now responding to feedback to develop a preferred policy package. Non-regulatory measures will be implemented until June 2019, with a legislative process to occur between now and June. Regulatory measures are scheduled to be implemented from July 2018, with a commencement date of 1 July, 2019.

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Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Member for Macedon Mary-Anne Thomas this week visited Australia’s first lithium and hand-held battery recycling facility at Envirostream Australia in Gisborne.

Sustainability Victoria is rolling out a state government $16.5 million program which includes $15 million to help councils and state government entities upgrade e-waste collection facilities and a $1.5 million awareness campaign to educate Victorians about e-waste.

Starting the ban mid next year aims to allow extra time for new infrastructure to be in place, for the statewide education campaign to reach more people, and for those managing e-waste – particularly local councils – to prepare for the new arrangements.

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

The upgrades will ensure 98 per cent of Victorians in metropolitan areas will be within a 20-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point, and 98 per cent of Victorians in regional areas will be within a 30-minute drive of an e-waste disposal point.

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.