Fines for Western Australia plastic bag ban in action

The WA State Government has implemented its state-wide plastic bag ban as of 1 January, dishing out fines of up to $5,000 for retailers.

The ban also incorporates biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags, as long as there are handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.

Acting WA Environment Minister Simone McGurk said the ban is making significant environmental improvements, with reusable bags leading the change.

“Since July 1, 2018, we have stopped around 225 million lightweight plastic bags ending up in landfill–or worse still–in our oceans,” Minister McGurk said.

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The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is partnering with the National Retail Association to assist in educating both the public and retailers on how the ban will work.

Small businesses were given six months to prepare for the change, however that grace period ended with the new year.

“Be prepared–always have your reusable bangs on hand… whether you’re picking up milk from the deli, bread from the bakery or takeaway food from your favourite restaurant,” Minister McGurk said.

Penalties extend to plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers who will face similar fines to retailers if found to be misleading clients about their products.

The National Retail Association will follow-up on all complaints submitted to their website; where retailers and the public are encouraged to report those supplying lightweight plastic bags.

WA CDS legislation enters state parliament

Container deposit scheme laws have been introduced into the Western Australian Parliament, with the scheme expected to start in early 2020.

The move is a major milestone for the scheme, which is projected to result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered over the next 20 years.

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It also aims to increase recycling throughout the state and is expected to reduce the number of containers sent to landfill by 5.9 billion.

The scheme is expected to deliver a net positive benefit of around $152 million over the next 20 years and follows the state government’s waste reduction methods, which includes a ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags and a review of the WA waste strategy.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said Western Australians have been supportive of the scheme, with more than 3000 people supporting it during the public consultation period.

“The introduction of this legislation to Parliament marks a major milestone in bringing a container deposit scheme to Western Australia,” he said.

“Not only will we be diverting waste from landfill, this scheme is likely to create as many as 500 jobs as part of the new container sorting and processing facilities, and refund points across the state.”

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he is confident the container deposit scheme will reduce litter and increase recycling.

“It will also be designed to provide business opportunities for social enterprises and help charities and community organisations raise money to fund vital community work,” Mr Dawson said.

“This scheme will be a win for the environment and a win for the local economy.”

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WA Govt release potential network models for CDS

Two potential strategies for WA’s container deposit scheme (CDS) have been released, with the preferred option aiming to establish a full-time refund point for every 20,000 people.

A draft released by the WA Department of Water and Environment Regulation’s (DWER) highlights two options to achieve minimum service standards for approximately 98.8 per cent of the population.

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DWER’s preferred option is expected to deliver a net present value of $152 million, with a benefit-cost ratio of 1.31. It will involve establishing one full time refund point for major regional centres with populations between 10,000 and 20,000 and at least two full time refund points for major regional centres above 20,000. A population threshold of 500 is set for flexible refund points.

Modelling from Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census data suggests this will require a minimum of 196 refund points, made up of 111 full time refund points and 85 flexible refund points.

The alternative option is to provide a full-time refund point for every 15,000 people, which would mean a minimum of 228 refund points, made up of 143 full time refund points and 85 flexible refund points. This option is expected to deliver a net present value of $123 million, as a benefit-cost ratio of 1.28.

The draft aims to balance the cost and convenience of the container deposit scheme and has been released during the Request for Proposal for the scheme coordinator to inform the respondents in the development of their offers.

DWER will analyse submissions and make recommendations to the Minister for Environment and form the part of the development of the state-wide collection network as stage two of the Request for Proposal period.

Submissions close on 6 December. For more information, click here.

WA’s plastic bag ban enforcement to start in 2019

The Western Australian Government will begin enforcing its lightweight plastic bag ban will from January 1, 2019, with fines of up to $5000 for retailers that continue to supply plastic bags.

Plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers that provide misleading information when selling bags to retailers also risk prosecution and fines.

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The ban includes any bag made of plastic with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the state’s plastic bag ban has been well supported by the community.

“From January 1, 2019 it will be an offence for retailers to supply lightweight plastic bags – this includes small retail shops, takeaway food outlets and markets,” Mr Dawson said.

“Consumers can help by remembering to take their own reusable bags when they go shopping.

“Taking lightweight plastic bags out of the litter stream is a significant step towards protecting our environment.”

WA Infinity Award winners announced

Champions of waste reduction and recycling have been recognised at this year’s Infinity Awards.

The annual Waste Authority awards showcase the contributions of Western Australians who are leading the way to a lower waste future.

Workpower’s Balcatta Re-use Shop, which provides employment opportunities for people with disability, took out two titles – Waste Initiative of the Year and Waste Team of the Year.

The shop, which turns trash to treasure, diverts almost 5000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year.

Former Port Hedland mayor and founder of the Care for Hedland Environment Association, Kelly Howlett was awarded the WA Waste Award for 2018 for her hands-on work promoting a litter free community and encouraging recycling and sustainability.

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Carnarvon-based environmental entrepreneur Joanne Bumbak was named 2018 Waste Champion – producing preserves and ice cream from 36 tonnes of ‘rescued’ fruit and vegetables which would otherwise have been dumped in landfill.

Plastic Free July Foundation took out the Community Waste Award for its Plastic Free July Challenge, which this year saw 3.4 million people worldwide pledge to live without plastic for a month.

Mindarie Regional Council won the Waste Innovation of the Year title for its Face Your Waste transparent kerbside bin campaign showing the scale of household waste.

Other winners included Subiaco-based, waste-free restaurant New Normal Bar + Kitchen and Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and the City of Melville for the successful rollout of its trial of a food organics and garden organics three-bin recycling system.

Schools were also recognised for their significant contribution to waste education throughout the state.

Hillcrest Primary School was named Waste Wise School of the Year, and Year 12 Presbyterian Ladies’ College student Sacha Winter was recognised for leading sustainability initiatives to dramatically reduce the amount of waste produced by her school.

ABC journalist Lisa Morrison won the Media Award for a series of reports that localised the popular War on Waste national campaign.

2018 Infinity Award recipients:

WA Waste Award 2018

Winner: Kelly Howlett

WA Waste Initiative of the Year 2018

Winner: Workpower – Balcatta Reuse Shop

Category 1: Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award

Winner: Plastic Free July Foundation (Plastic Free July Challenge)

Highly commended: Total Green Recycling

Commended: City of Cockburn

Category 2: Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award

Winner: New Normal Bar + Kitchen

Highly commended: Crown Perth (Recycle 90 Program)

Commended: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Operating Theatre ‘Anaesthetic Waste Showcased’)

Category 3: Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award

Winner: Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and City of Melville (Three-bin Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) Trial)

Highly commended: Waste and Recycling Industry Association of WA, Cleanaway WA, Southern Metropolitan Regional Council, SUEZ WA and Western Australian Local Government Association (Statewide Guidelines for Kerbside Recycling)

Commended: Shire of Collie (FOGO Kerbside Collection System)

Category 4: 2018 Waste Champion

Winner: Joanne Bumbak

Highly commended: Pam Van Effrink

Commended: Lindsay Miles

Category 5: 2018 Young Waste Achiever

Winner: Sacha Winter (17) – Presbyterian Ladies’ College

Highly commended: Nina Prado (8), and Amelie Harrison (8) – Perth College Junior School

Category 6: Waste Team of the Year

Winner: Workpower Balcatta Reuse Shop Team

Highly commended: Wasteless Pantry

Highly commended: City of Cockburn Waste Team

Category 7: Waste Innovation of the Year

Winner: Mindarie Regional Council (Face Your Waste Clear Bins)

Highly commended: City of Joondalup (Ocean Reef Fish Cleaning and Waste Management Station)

Highly commended: SpiderWaste Collection Services

Category 8: Waste Wise School of the Year

Winner: Hillcrest Primary School

Highly commended: Lynwood Senior High School

Highly commended: Santa Maria College

Category 9: Media Award

Winner: Lisa Morrison

Highly commended: Emma Young

WA to launch cigarette butt litter campaign in 2019

The Western Australian Government is planning to roll out a campaign that targets littered cigarette butts and packaging after it was found they made up more than a third of the state’s litter.

Keep Australia Beautiful WA’s 2017-18 National Litter Index (NLI) has found discarded butts were responsible for pushing up the state’s litter statistics with a 21.9 per cent increase in cigarette litter. The butts and packaging accounted for 3376 of the 9550 litter items recorded by the count.

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Littering had increased by 2.6 per cent across WA compared to the previous year’s results, but overall littering was still 21 per cent lower than what had been recorded in 2015-16. Takeaway packaging litter in WA had been reduced by 11.3 per cent, according to the NLI with beverage containers also down by seven per cent.

The NLI is measured twice each financial year each state and territory. Litter across 151 sites within 50 kilometres of Perth’s CBD is measured as part of the index, looking at highways, beaches, retail and shopping areas, car parks, recreational parks and residential and industrial areas.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.

“Littered cigarette butts do not break down and are often washed into waterways, causing contamination,” Mr Dawson said.

“They can be mistaken for food by our wildlife and are a blight on the beauty of our state’s natural environment.

“The efforts of the majority are being undermined by the selfish acts of the few who litter. If you are a smoker, please dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly into waste bins. Failing to do this is an offence,” he said.

Tenders open for WA container deposit scheme coordinator

The WA Government is seeking applications for a scheme coordinator to implement its container deposit scheme (CDS).

A scheme co-ordinator will establish and operate the collection network and will be responsible for managing the scheme’s finances.

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The successful applicant will be a not-for profit company and be appointed by WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

New refund points and container sorting and processing plants will create 500 jobs across regional and metropolitan WA.

The scheme is part of the state government’s undertaking to reduce waste, which includes a ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags and a review of the state’s waste strategy.

Applications are open on the Tenders WA website and will close on 5 December 2018. The scheme will commence in early 2020.

Mr Dawson said Western Australians are overwhelmingly in favour of a container deposit scheme with 97 survey respondents supporting the scheme.

“Appointment of the scheme co-ordinator is a crucial step in the rollout of this container deposit scheme, and I look forward to working with the successful candidate to deliver the best scheme for all Western Australians,” he said.

Main Roads WA boosts funding for roadside litter program

A litter prevention program will receive a $400,000 funding boost after it successfully reduced roadside litter by around 70 per cent in some roadside locations.

Main Roads WA will contribute the funding towards extending Keep Australia Beautiful Council’s “Put your rubbish in the bin. WA naturally thanks you” campaign.

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The program installs anti-litter roadside signage, bin stickers, and provides 300,000 free car litter bags which are available from roadhouses along selected routes.

The program has been rolled out on the Forrest Highway, Great Eastern Highway and Brand Highway.

Funding from Main Roads WA will enable further enable the rollout of anti-litter signage on WA’s freeways and highways.

Sustainable car litter bags and posters will also be distributed to roadhouses to encourage road users to dispose of their rubbish correctly.

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said Main Roads WA spends around $6 million each year to remove litter from roadsides, with proactive measures far more cost effective at tackling the issue.

“The National Litter Index indicates that roadsides are one of the most littered areas in WA,” she said.

“I am pleased that, through this campaign, we have been able to decrease the amount of litter at some locations by up to 70 per cent.”

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the successes of the campaign has resulted in a reduction of funding needed for roadside clean ups.

“This is about making motorists think twice before they litter and to take some pride in WA’s precious natural environment,” he said.