ECU to phase out single-use plastics

Edith Cowan University (ECU) will begin phasing out single-use plastic water bottles and straws across all of its campuses from the start of semester two.

It follows initiatives on the east coast from the Universities of Canberra, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Monash University.

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ECU said it believes it is the first Western Australian University to limit the use of plastic water bottles on campus.

The phase out will be done as part of a staged approach to restrict single-use plastic water bottles. Beginning with around 40 events it holds on its campuses, ECU will instead provide water refill stations.

The university is also investigating solutions including an increase to the number of water fountains on campus, offering free or discounted multi-use water bottles on campus and discussing with commercial tenants for alternatives to single-use bottles.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said it was a big step forward for the University.

“With around 30,000 students and 1800 staff, we can make a huge difference by taking this first step to limit single-use plastic water bottles at our campus events,” Professor Chapman said.

“It’s also financially responsible. More than 90 per cent of the cost of bottled water can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label.

“This is not a ban. This is about education and providing alternatives. By offering high quality, convenient options to students, staff and visitors, we are confident we can reduce the demand for single-use plastic water bottles on our campuses.

New app links cafes and charities to fight food waste

A smartphone app that links food businesses with charities is aiming to reduce food waste by donating excess food.

Researchers from Edith Cowan University (ECU) have trialled the ReFood app in Perth council City of Swan to connect local restaurants and cafes with community not-for-profit organisations that redistribute excess food to those in need.

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The app fills a gap in the market for smaller businesses to give away food and divert it from landfill.

The app was developed by ECU PhD candidate Ele Stojanoska thanks to a $12,798 grant from the Waste Authority WA’s Community Grants scheme.

“The main aim of the ReFood app is to both reduce the amount of food waste going into landfill and also making it much easier for small businesses to link up with not-for-profits to share food,” Ms Stojanoska said.

“The app is very simple to use. All a business has to do is download the app, then when they have excess food they can enter it into the app along with a time that it can be collected. Then a not-for-profit organisation can see what’s available and if the food is suitable for their needs, come and collect it.

“It even shows what food has been donated so businesses can have a record of what they have given away.”

Ms Stojanoska said she was currently analysing data collecting in the pilot of the app to continue the rollout across Perth.

Waste Authority WA Acting Chair Jenny Bloom said the ReFood app would help to achieve the target of diverting 65 per cent of municipal solid waste from landfill by 2020.

“Initiatives like the ReFood app can help increase awareness and education around our understanding of the benefits of waste avoidance, reuse and recycling,” she said.

Owner of the Crooked Spire Coffee House café Mike Matich said the best thing about the app was how easy it was to use.

“No one likes the idea of food being thrown away, so when I heard about the ReFood app and how it could help us link up with local not-for profits I was stoked to take part,” he said.

“It’s super easy to use, all I have to do is enter what type of excess food I have, how much I have and what time it can be collected then wait for it to be picked up.”

TIC Mattress Recycling passes the baton to Soft Landing

TIC Mattress Recycling has announced national social enterprise, Soft Landing, will become the new operator of the company’s mattress recycling business, effective 1 June.

TIC Mattress Recycling commenced its mattress recycling processed four years ago and built Australia’s first automated deconstruction plant for end of life mattresses in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Soft Landing was established in 2009 to train and provide jobs people experiencing barriers to employment in Illawarra NSW. The organisation now has sites in Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle, Melbourne, ACT and WA.

Soft Landing has recycled over 600,000 mattresses, created employment for over 300 people and saved 440,000 cubic metres of landfill space.

Soft Landing team members Kane, Adam and Corey at the Bellambi facility in NSW

A cross-sector partnership between Soft Landing and TIC Mattress Recycling was established in 2016 to improve growth, efficiency and innovation in the mattress recycling industry.

TIC Mattress Recycling Managing Director Michael Warren said Soft Landing is the right organisation to take mattress recycling to the next level.

“TIC Group is confident Soft Landing will keep Australia at the forefront of global innovations that support people, planet and the integration of leading technology,” he said.

Soft Landing Executive Officer Community Resources John Weate said the cross-sectional partnership with TIC Group has been a great step in Soft Landing’s Journey.

“We thank all the team at TIC for their commitment to this partnership, and look forward to welcoming those employees joining the Soft Landing team in this transition,” he said.

“We also look forward to ongoing relations with the broader TIC Group given their leading expertise in reverse logistics and saving disused retail items from landfill.”

Featured Image: TIC Group CEO, David Harris; TIC Mattress Recycling General Manager, Michael Warren; Soft Landing National Manager, Andrew Douglas; TIC Director, Mark Gandur; Community Resources CEO, John Weate

Lomwest build wall of used tyres in WA

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accredited recycler, Lomwest Enterprises of Western Australia, has created a high-performance wall system made from baled used tyres contained within concrete skins.

These walls can be used as retaining walls, sound barriers, sea and blast walls, cyclone shelters and race track impact barriers.

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TSA said in a statement that the modules for the flexible use wall system (called C4M) are manufactured offsite, allowing quick, easy and safe onsite construction. They can also have their outer surfaces architecturally modified to fit in with or enhance their environment.

Each C4M module contains 100 tightly baled used car tyres, sandwiched between precast panels and can be up to 2.4 metres in height. They also meet Australian and New Zealand stability, durability and relevant load standards, including for cyclone shelter construction and as fire rated partition walls.

Lomwest is just one of the many TSA accredited recyclers focused on developing, commercialising and promoting new uses for old tyres. The common feature of such new product development is a focus on creating better solutions for existing needs.

The TSA Market Development Fund is supporting a Curtin University independent assessment of the C4M walls. The objective being to fully quantify the benefits of the innovative wall system in a wide range of applications and therefore to expand the opportunities for beneficial use of end-of-life tyres.

“We are very pleased to be working with Lomwest and Curtin University on this exciting research,” said TSA Market Development Manager, Liam O’Keefe. “Developing the market for end-of-life tyres requires multiple outlets providing for a diverse range of applications. That includes a balance of refined-process powder and crumb using products and high-volume, low-process applications such as the C4M wall system.”

City of Swan saves $400,000 on recycling

The City of Swan has announced it is on course to save up to $400,000 after implementing a new recycling strategy.

Bullsbrook Recycling Centre (BRC) was opened by the council to reduce illegal dumping and make recycling more accessible.

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After opening in July of 2017, the BRC has demonstrated exceptional savings according to the City of Swan.

The latest figures have shown that illegal dumping has been reduced by nine per cent and has provided $205,747 in savings to date, with an estimate to save $400,000 annually. The city also reported that it is estimated to save 2281 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually.

It also saves money by avoiding waste levies, based on the amount of waste that would normally end up in landfill. The City of Swan said the landfill levy savings in the first eight months of operation amounted to $196,592.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said the Centre offers significant cost savings and makes a major contribution towards protecting the environment.

“The BRC has performed exceptionally well since it opened,” he said.

“I’m delighted that we’re reaping the rewards of our investment. Cost savings and revenue generated will be reinvested to improve services across the city.”

Recyclable goods can be dropped off at the center for free, which the City of Swan says reduces the need for further investment in additional staff and equipment.

Additional revenue is earned from disposal charges on specific items like tyres and the resale of scrap metal.

Pearce Ward Councillor Kevin Bailey said the recycling strategy encourages active participation from residents.

City of Swan recognised for waste management

The City of Swan in WA has been recognised for its efficient delivery of waste management and other essential services.

A major survey of local governments has found the City of Swan’s waste management cost per resident was less than the WA and national average.

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Residents living in the area were also fond to dump 14 per cent less rubbish than the average council in WA.

Data was collected from 133 participating councils throughout Australia and New Zealand.

The results were published in the Australasian LG Performance Excellence Program 2017 by PwC Australia and Local Government Professionals NSW.

The survey found the cost per tonne of actual waste collected per 10,000 residents $265, nearly 32% below the average rate of $389.

The City of Swan has been identifying ways in which it can reduce waste, and has diverted more than 180 mattresses from landfill, and operates its own waste collection service using shared resources, labour and plant between the various waste services.

City of Swan Mayor David Lucas said he is proud of the city’s performance.

“Waste management has become a global issue and I’m really pleased with how the city performed in this major survey,” he said.

“We will continue our efforts to improve this service and encourage responsible waste management and recycling throughout the city.”

Swan Valley/Gidgegannup Ward Councillor Rod Henderson congratulated residents on their role in contributing to the city’s performance in the survey.

“The city collected less waste compared to other WA councils and credit must go to residents for their role in achieving this.”

WA exempts waste levy to promote recycling

The WA Government has amended regulations to ensure sites that accept only clean fill and uncontaminated fill, that meet environmental and health threshold after testing, are not licensed as landfill premises or liable for the waste levy.

The changes have been made to promote recycling, increase diversion from landfill and provide certainty for development, according to the WA Government.

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The amendments to the Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2018 and the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (as amended 2018) were undertaken by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) in consultation with experts, industry and the community.

Definitions of clean fill and uncontaminated fill have been amended to The Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 and include threshold limits for physical and chemical contaminants.

“The Environmental Protection Amendment Regulations 2018 gazetted today ensure that clean fill and uncontaminated fill can be used without being licensed as landfill premises or being liable for the waste levy,” WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said.

“This decision provides certainty, minimises regulation and promotes recycling of materials that would otherwise be waste.

“This is a win for business, a win for the waste industry and a win for the environment,” he said.

The consultation summary reportsubmissions and the Landfill Waste Classification and Waste Definitions 1996 (as amended 2018) are available on Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s website.

WA community want plastic bag ban

Community consultation in WA has found that more 95 per cent of comments on banning plastic bags have been positive.

The ban will affect lightweight plastic bags from 1 July 2018 in order to reduce litter and protect the environment. The ban also includes biodegradable, degradable or compostable – with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less, often found in supermarkets and retail stores.

More than 4400 people responded by the close of consultation and 90 per cent were also in favour of banning biodegradable, degradable or compostable plastic bags which continue to persist in the environment as microplastics.

The consultation reported a need for a transition period for retailers to prepare customers for alternatives to plastic bags. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has announced it will assist retailers in this process.

A WA-wide education campaign will also aim to ensure consumers are encouraged to use reuseable bags.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he wants to work with the community to make the transition towards a plastic bag free WA as easy as possible.

These initiatives reflect the community’s desire to work together to reduce the significant impact of plastic bags, and other waste and litter on our environment,” Mr Dawson said.

“Banning plastic bags is just one of a number of strategic waste reform initiatives demonstrating this Government’s commitment to reducing waste. We have also committed to introducing a container deposit scheme,” he said.

Veolia to deliver water treatment plant at Talison Lithium Mine, WA

Veolia Water Technologies has been selected to deliver a water treatment plant at the Talison Lithium Mine in WA.

The mine, located in Greenbushes, is the biggest hard rock lithium mine in the world. The Greenbushes Lithium Mine Water Treatment plant will be constructed utilising some of Veolia Water Technologies products.

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Veolia Water Technologies will provide a water treatment plant solution based on ACTIFLO clarification, CeraMem ultrafiltration, high recovery RO and two stage EVALED thermal evaporation.  The plant is designed to treat a maximum feed flow of 150 metres cubed and hour to recover the most water as possible.

It aims to double the output from the Greenbushes Operations and satisfy environmental requirements to reduce lithium contained in onsite mine water before it is discharged into environment.

Veolia Water Technologies specialises in water and wastewater treatment solutions to the private and public sector and design, build, operate and maintain wastewater treatment facilities.

Lithium from the mine is used in batteries, busses and passenger vehicles, aerospace allows, wind turbines, glass and ceramics.

Preliminary activities have commenced, and the construction of the water treatment plan is expected to be completed and operational in 2019.