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.

 

New e-waste processing centre to open in Victoria

The Victorian Government has invested in a new e-waste processing centre in Melbourne’s outer south-east.

The new facility, located in the suburb of Officer, is expected to process 1000 tonnes of e-waste in the first year with capacity to divert 5000 tonnes from landfill.

The state government has provided $500,000 to Social Enterprise Outlook Environmental to build a new 1,000 square metre shed on land bought from Places Victoria.

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E-waste includes everything from old mobile phones, computers and related equipment, audio devices, refrigerators and other white goods, hair driers, TVs, heaters, and air-conditioners.

The new facility will receive discarded electronics, which are stripped of components for reprocessing into new technology or sold on the second hand goods market.

Moving Outlook’s e-waste operations to Officer from Pakenham expands its operation from existing facilities at Mornington, Darebin and Hampton Park.

In 2014 around 109,000 tonnes of e-waste entered Victoria’s waste and recovery system, with projections it will be more than 250,000 tonnes by 2035.

The Victorian Government plans to ban e-waste from landfill and submissions can be made on its website.

 

Victorian Government launches waste to energy discussion paper

The Victorian Government has released a discussion paper on waste to energy to support the development of new technologies, including anaerobic digestion and thermal treatment of waste.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action Lily D’Ambrosio released the paper today during a visit to Shepparton, where she also announced five grants from the $2.38 million Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund.

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The grants will help businesses and water corporations upgrade waste management practices and support projects that will deliver almost 1MW of renewable energy capacity per annum:

  • Western Region Water Corporation will receive $802,784 to collect organic waste material and generate energy
  • Diamond Valley Pork will receive $284,929 to install an anaerobic digester to improve waste management and generate energy and nutrient rich digestate
  • East Gippsland Region Water Corporation will receive $209,765 to enhance an existing bio-digester to process septic tank waste, food waste, fats, oils and greases
  • Nestle Australia will receive $182,510 to create a system where organic waste from starch based soft confectionery is used for bioenergy
  • Resource Resolution will receive $900,000 to help it build an anaerobic digester to divert local commercial food waste and other organics from landfill

The emissions saved through this program is equivalent to removing 16,500 cars from the road or the energy consumption of 7,000 homes.

The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund was announced in the 2016 State Budget as part of the Government’s Climate Change innovation and Jobs Initiative.

Feedback received on the discussion paper will help inform the Victorian Government’s development of a waste to energy policy, to be released in 2018.

 

Victorian Government implements Interim Waste Management Policy

The Victorian Government has put into place an Interim Waste Management Policy to remain in tact for 12 months.

The policy was declared in response to a significant fire at the SKM Recycling plant at Coolaroo in mid-July. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria says it is needed to ensure that stockpiles of combustable recyclable and waste material are appropriately managed, and the associated risk to human and environmental health. These include the generation of hazardous air pollutants (including smoke), oil, run-off and leachate that affect the air, soil and waterways.

The policy, which applies to waste and resource recovery facilities, will remain in place for 12 months, however during this time further solutions for improving resource recovery facilities will be developed by the state government.

The IWMP applies to operators of sites that store combustible, recyclable, and waste material and requires storage of materials in a manner that reduces the risk to human health and the environment. These materials include includes paper, cardboard, wood, plastic, rubber, textile, organic material, refuse derived fuel, specified electronic waste, metals, and other combustible material which is considered waste. The policy also gives the EPA additional powers to support local government and Victoria’s fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks.

EPA has developed Management and storage of combustible recyclable and waste materials – guideline (publication 1667) to provide practical guidance for industry on how to comply with the policy and operate in a manner that reduces potential fire risks and risks to human health and environment. This guideline will sit under the Interim Waste Management Policy.

Some of the guidelines outlined in publication 1667 include a necessity for operators to record inventory information on the types of waste stored and managed at the premises, its location and volumes. The inventory must also be maintained daily and easily accessible. Other areas of compliance range from safe working practices and infrastructure, to site selection and risk assessments. The guideline was developed in partnership with other government agencies such as Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), Country Fire Authority (CFA), local councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group. The waste industry and resource recovery representatives were also consulted.

 

Premier’s Sustainability Awards finalists outlined

The Victorian Government has announced the finalists for the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

This year’s finalists included a campaign to save the orange-bellied parrot, a project that regenerates shellfish reefs using leftover oyster shells from a local restaurant, and a highly automated steel galvanising plant that produces significantly low emissions.

The winners from 10 categories will be announced at the awards ceremony on October 26, along with two overall winners selected by the Premier of Victoria in the following categories:

  • Premier’s Regional Recognition Award for a finalist who has demonstrated notable benefits for regional Victoria and
  • Premier’s Recognition Award for a winner who showcases exemplary innovation and determination in overcoming obstacles in sustainability.

The state government is working to reduce Victoria’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15 to 20 per cent by 2020, and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

This year it unveiled a $146 million Renewable Energy Action Plan, aimed at delivering more renewable, affordable and reliable energy for Victorians.

 

Victorian Government launches waste to energy fund

The Victorian Government has launched a new $2 million program to support the development of waste to energy technologies, including anaerobic digestion and thermal treatment of waste.

The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund will boost sustainable energy production using organic and other materials and divert more waste from landfill.

As a major food producing and processing state, Victoria’s commercial and industrial sector produced more than 300,000 tonnes of food waste in 2014-15, but only 22 per cent of that was recycled.

Diverting commercial and industrial food waste from landfills means methane produced during decomposition is not released to the atmosphere where it is a major greenhouse gas.

Methane released to the atmosphere is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide which traps heat and contributes to climate change.

The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund is designed for the waste management sector, councils, water authorities and businesses with proposals for new or upgraded projects that can be commissioned by 31 December 2019.

Expressions of interest close on 3 April 2017. A full application and detailed business case assessment process will follow for eligible project ideas.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said waste to energy projects helped to reduce business costs, generating sustainable energy and reducing pressure on landfill.

“This program supports investment in renewable energy technologies that will help Victoria become a low carbon economy and reach our target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“A variety of industrial and organic waste products can be used in waste to energy projects, however thanks to our agricultural base and food-culture, Victorian farms, food processors and commercial operations are well-placed to benefit from turning waste to energy.”