Melbourne opens waste reduction grants

The City of Melbourne is offering grants worth $100,000 to projects aimed at waste reduction and growth in recycling capacity.

According to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the City of Melbourne has this week reached an agreement to resume the processing of household recycling.

“The short-term arrangement to process household recycling was reached while Kordamentha seeks to finalise the sale of SKM,” Ms Capp said.

“We urge the community to continue separating their waste and recycling. It’s vital that general waste not be mixed in with recycling to ensure recycling services are sustainable and viable.”

To aid the transition, grants are available to groups located in the City of Melbourne that help reuse, recycle and divert waste from landfill.

“We’re looking for projects that could help reduce food waste, prevent litter or deliver local solutions to household waste,” Ms Capp said.

Grants up to $5000 are available for community groups, schools and non-profit organisations, while social enterprise startups and university researchers can accesses grants up to $25,000.

City of Melbourne Environment portfolio Chair Cathy Oke said it was important for council to support residents and community groups that are trying to avoid waste.

“Residents and businesses are overwhelmingly telling us they want reduce their environmental impact, and we want to respond to their goodwill,” Ms Oke said.

“Whether it’s home composting and using worm farms to reduce organic waste, or coming up with a solution for glass recycling, we can all have an impact.”

Applications close 16 October 2019.

ABC’s War on Waste sparks reduction initiatives

An ABC and University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures report has found the War on Waste inspired many waste reduction initiatives across public, private and community sectors.

The report identified 452 high-impact initiatives including Woolworths’ decision to remove plastic straws from stores in Australia and New Zealand, the Western Australian Government’s ban on single-use plastic bags and schools introducing commingled recycling and e-waste collections.

Other reported impacts include a rise in cafes offering discounts to customers with reusable cups, and hospitals replacing single-use polystyrene with reusable products.

According to a statement from the ABC, almost half the 280 organisations in the report reduced waste in their operations, services or products based on ideas from War on Waste.

Institute for Sustainable Futures Research Lead and report co-author Jenni Downes said widespread adoption of the ‘war on waste’ slogan demonstrated a new consciousness in communities and raised expectations.

ABC Impact Producer and report co-author Teri Calder said the program had provided foundations for policy change.

“The biggest impact of the program has been inspiring those with the power to make changes in businesses, governments, education institutions and community organisations,” Ms Calder said.

“The ABC is proud to have sparked a national conversation and inspired action to reduce our collective waste footprint.”

The report found that while many public education campaigns struggle to shift behaviours, viewers responded well to War on Waste’s ‘motivating’ format and ‘solutions-focused’ approach.

More than two-thirds of the 3.3 million viewers of the second series reported changes in waste behaviours, according to separate ABC audience data.

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Qantas Group to cut 75 per cent of waste to landfill by 2021

The Qantas Group has announced a plan to become the world’s first airline to reuse, recycle and compost at least three-quarters of its general waste by the end of 2021.

As part of this, more than 100 million single-use plastic items per annum will be removed from flights and lounges by the end of 2020.

Qantas and Jetstar generate more than 30,000 tonnes of waste annually. A new Frequent Flyer initiative has also been announced to increase voluntary carbon offsetting.

Announcing the plan as part of the national carrier’s half-year results, Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said that business had a responsibility to lead on environmental issues.

“It is quite literally a waste and we have a responsibility to our customers, shareholders and the community to reduce it,” he said.

“We’ve already removed plastic wrapping on our pyjamas and headsets, as well as plastic straws. Even plastic Frequent Flyer cards are going digital. It adds up to millions of items a year because of our scale and there’s a lot more we can do.”

Some examples of changes to be implemented across Qantas, QantasLink and Jetstar from later this year include:

  • Introducing coffee cups that can be recycled or composted.
  • Effectively eliminating single-use plastics by switching to alternative packaging.
  • Removing unnecessary paper, such as boarding passes and operational manuals, by going digital.
  • Increasing donation or composting of food.
  • Recycling of old uniforms.

In targeting the removal of 100 million single use plastic items per annum, the group will replace 45 million plastic cups, 30 million cutlery sets, 21 million coffee cups and four million headrest covers with sustainable alternatives by end-2020.

The group has an existing target to reduce waste to landfill by 30 per cent by 2020, which it’s on track to reach through recycling and other programs. The 75 per cent goal now takes its place. Separate targets exist for fuel, water and electricity consumption, and Qantas has the largest carbon offset scheme of any airline in the world.

Airlines are legally required to dispose of some materials permanently, such as quarantined food from international flights and hazardous materials. With support from industry and regulators, the group believes it can ultimately reduce the volume of this regulated waste as well.

Similarly, there are some single-use plastics used by airlines (such as wrapping for hygiene purposes and some heat resistant containers for meal preparation) that don’t currently have a practical alternative. Qantas and Jetstar are working with manufacturers and other airlines to innovate in this space to further reduce waste to landfill.

“Few industries can eradicate waste completely, but with this program we’re saying that avoidable waste should no longer be an acceptable by-product of how we do business,” Mr Joyce said.

“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it is good for business and will put us ahead of legislative requirements in the various countries we operate in, where there is an end-date on various single use plastics.”

 

2018 SA State of the Environment Report released

The Environment Protection Authority has released 2018 South Australia’s State of the Environment Report, indicating in the report that the prospects of achieving the government’s waste generation reduction target seems unlikely.

The report shows South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2015-20 set a target to reduce waste generation per capita by more than five per cent by 2020 from the 2015 baseline, equating to a reduction of 400 kilograms per person from the volume generated in 2016-17 by 2020. It notes that given the current upward trend, this seems unlikely.

The report shows the average amount of waste generated in SA rose by just over 2000 kilograms per capita per year in 2003-4 to 3000 kilograms in 2016-17 – an increase of 42 per cent.

It highlights that current priority actions to meet the target are to promote green purchasing, waste avoidance, collaborative consumption and production, product refurbishment and behaviour change.

“Given strong competing influences on consumer behaviour in the form of marketing, fashion and social norms, a targeted program is needed to encourage production (for example, design, durability and packaging), marketing (for example, labelling) and consumption (for example, product selection) choices that reduce waste generation,” the report says.

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“There is also a major opportunity for government to take the lead in increasing the strength of a circular economy, including through green procurement.”

To tackle these issues, the report recommends coordinated national action to reduce waste, including through regulation of packaging, providing leadership in the strengthening of the local resource recovery industry through green procurement and strengthening education and behaviour change initiatives aimed at reducing waste.

“While we continue to get better at diverting most of this waste away from landfill to resource recovery, the most efficient solution remains that of avoiding generation of the waste in the first place,” the report says.

“However, it also remains imperative to keep getting better at reusing recovered resources locally to reduce the risk of reliance on other markets.”

The key recommendations of the report are to review the state’s climate change response to ensure that climate risks are adequately embedded into planning and investment by government agencies, review environmental reporting in the state, including trend and condition report cards, prioritise water management and onground land stewardship initiatives and a range of other areas.

Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said the state government was considering the EPA’s important report in detail.

“This report provides a wealth of information about the challenges facing our state, that can be used to help shape government policy and actions in the future,” Mr Speirs said.

Environment Protection Authority Board Presiding Member Catherine Cooper said that the report assesses the state and condition of SA’s major environmental resources and identifies significant trends in environmental quality, and shows that, while South Australia was doing reasonably well, in some areas there are serious challenges to be met.

To read the report in full, click here.

 

Downer and Close the Loop build NSW road from recycled plastics

Plastic from around 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and glass from around 55,000 bottles has been diverted from landfill to build New South Wales’ first road made from soft plastics and glass.

Downer and Sutherland Shire Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police to build the road in the Sydney suburb of Engadine.

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Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.

“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.

“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”

Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.

“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.

“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”

Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.

“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”

“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.

The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.

“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.

Melbourne City waste forum’s top 10 ideas

Around 80 retail and hospitality businesses have gathered for the City of Melbourne’s first waste forum, which looked at ways to assist medium sized businesses could reduce waste.

The forum resulted in more than 200 practical ideas and concepts which will be compiled and reviewed by the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s ongoing programs to assist small and medium businesses in the city.

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The top 10 ideas for waste reduction were identified in the forum and included installing more recycling bins across the city, installing additional organics recycling facilities and providing incentives for businesses to reduce their waste.

Additional ideas for businesses to reduce waste included the introduction of grants or loans and education to improve waste management.

Collaboration between businesses and waste collectors was also identified as a way of improving recycling.

Other ideas identified included the collection of unwanted office or shop fit out furniture for reuse and investigating a city-wide coffee/tea cup exchange system.

Participants included businesses involved in the council’s initial pilot program, which saw 27 businesses receive a $2000 grant to embark on waste reduction activities.

City of Melbourne Councillor Susan Riley recognised the need to look at ways to help small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses to reduce waste.

“Reducing waste does so much more than just help to clean up the environment, it also can reduce costs, increase sales and even cut the number of garbage trucks on the city streets,” Cr Riley said.

“The level of insight and the number of opportunities for businesses to work together to reduce waste is inspiring.”

“Nothing is being ruled out, we’re open to all ideas and we want retailers and businesses to share their thoughts as we plan for a rapidly growing city.”

Image Credit: City of Melbourne

ecoBiz program receives $4M for local business waste reduction

The Queensland Government has allocated around $4 million to extend the ecoBiz program until 2022 to help local businesses reduce waste and improve water and energy efficiency.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said six local businesses have received one on one coaching sessions with a locally-based sustainability consultant and an action plan to start saving.

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“It is a win-win for business operators and the environment,” Ms Enoch said.

“Since 2013, ecoBiz partners across Queensland have also taken practical steps to reduce waste in their business like ditching disposable coffee cups, reducing food loss and going paperless.

These quick wins have helped to save 24,785 tonnes of waste from ending up in landfill and support Queensland’s waste and recycling strategy.

She said the program is helping local businesses understand energy, water and waste costs and teaching them how to save money through sustainability initiatives.

“We hope to see more Bundaberg businesses take advantage of free coaching, training, education and tools to improve their environmental sustainability and lower operating costs,” she said.

“This is a great example of government and industry working together to take some of the pressure off businesses while supporting the environment.”

For more information, click here.

Waste reduction projects clean up at VIC Sustainability Awards

The team from TIC Group-owned Solvup with Minister Lily D'Ambrosio, who presented the Sustainability Award
Solvup, Melbourne Health and Crown Melbourne were among the big winners at this year’s Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards.

Read moreWaste reduction projects clean up at VIC Sustainability Awards

Waste Less, Recycle More funded to 2021

Encouraging recycling of organics and general recyclables is key to Waste Less, Recycle More
The NSW Government has committed to invest $337 million from 2017 to 2021 in litter reduction and waste management projects across the state under the Waste Less, Recycle More program.

Read moreWaste Less, Recycle More funded to 2021

Caravan maker capitalises on waste reduction

Concept Caravans boosted by sustainability aims
An Australia caravan manufacturer has boosted productivity while cutting waste by 20 per cent.

Read moreCaravan maker capitalises on waste reduction

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