WMRR releases EfW factsheet

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) and Bioenergy Australia have released the first in a series of energy from waste (EfW) factsheets.

The factsheet references the waste hierarchy, outlining EfW as only suitable when waste can’t otherwise be reused or recycled.

“In Australia general waste is normally disposed of to landfill, without additional value being recovered,” the factsheet reads.

“It is at this stage that diverting the material to an EfW plant for energy recovery can provide for better environmental outcomes.”

WMRR NSW EfW Working Group Chair Miles Mason said interest was building on the role and benefits of EfW in an integrated waste management system.

“There is a growing dialogue around waste issues and media coverage is increasing. However, there is also a lot of misinformation out there,” Mr Mason said.

“The fact sheet answers some of the common questions that often stem due to a lack of easy-to-understand information such as does EfW smell? Is it safe? Does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions? And how does EfW fit in a circular economy? This document is a good starting point in the conversation.”

According to the factsheet, EfW facilities use technology to control emissions by removing chemical contaminants and further filtering the air to remove particulates from gas.

“As part of the planning and permitting process, a comprehensive air quality and human health risk assessment is carried out,” the factsheet reads.

“During operations, exhaust emissions from these facilities are continuously monitored using gas measuring equipment, to ensure they comply with even the most stringent environmental standards.”

WMRR NSW EfW Working Group Vice Chair Shaun Rainford said there are varying levels of understanding around the terms, concepts, suitable waste types and costs.

“There are different definitions and policies across jurisdictions, adding to the complexity of EfW,” Mr Rainford said.

“As the peak body of the waste management and resource recovery industry, it is WMRR’s role to assist in education and provide factual elements to the conversation.”

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Government to release procurement targets

Federal Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans will reportedly unveil ambitious new targets for sustainable procurement by all state governments.

Mr Evans said he would seek agreement on proposed procurement targets at the next Meeting of Environment Ministers, adding the Federal Government would offer funding support to develop Australia’s remanufacturing sector.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, who said WMRR had been calling for procurement targets for over 18 months, meet with Mr Evans to discuss what the next steps would be.

“WMRR welcomes the minister’s announcements and it is pleasing to see movement on the federal level, after years of industry advocating for federal leadership on a number of fronts, sustainable procurement being one of them,” Ms Sloan said.

“It became very clear early in the meeting that the minister understands the significance creating demand and markets for recycled products has on driving our industry forward.”

According to Mr Sloan, Mr Evans’ work in the retail industry, as CEO of the National Retail Association, has given him much-needed perspective and experience in supply chain management.

“Mr Evans has a wealth of knowledge on the roles, responsibilities and market demands within a supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of national leadership in creating a level playing field and developing a common approach to levies and industry development as Australia, despite having seven jurisdictions, is one common market.”

Mr Sloan said WMRR also discussed the federal government’s role in driving resource recovery and remanufacturing through harmonised, effective and appropriate regulatory, policy and market settings.

“WMRR looks forward to our continued engagement with the minister and all levels of government, as we look forward and keep our eyes on the circular economy ball,” Ms Sloan said.

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QLD releases energy from waste policy

The public is being invited to comment on the Queensland Government’s Energy-from-Waste policy discussion paper, released earlier this week.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said finding alternative uses for waste was becoming more important than ever.

“The discussion paper is giving Queenslanders a chance to contribute to the development of a new policy, provide feedback on the types of technologies and help us plan for the future,” Ms Enoch said.

“The paper is an important action under the government’s new waste strategy.”

Ms Enoch said the government’s waste strategy outlined priorities and actions to help grow the recycling and resource recovery sector.

“We have set ambitious targets to recover 90 per cent of the waste we generate by 2050 and recycle at least 75 per cent of that waste,” Ms Enoch said.

“But we acknowledge that some wastes cannot be recycled, and it is better to retain the value of these wastes by recovering energy than it is to dispose of them to landfill. This is all part of our broader transition to a circular economy.”

Waste Recycling Industry Queensland (WRIQ) Executive Officer Rick Ralph said WRIQ and its members welcomed the new waste strategy.

“Energy from waste will play an important role in helping to achieve the objectives and targets of the strategy,” Mr Ralph said.

“The release of the Energy-from-Waste discussion paper is a step in the right direction. Industry looks forward to having this discussion with the government in this important initiative.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said energy from waste was a vital part of a sustainable waste and resource recovery system.

“Its technologies are also proven globally, with more than 2000 energy from waste facilities operating safely across the US, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, many having operated for decades,” Ms Sloan said.

“We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to leverage the technical expertise of our industry to develop a policy that promotes investment in, and growth of, an integrated waste management and resource recovery system that includes energy from waste.”

Public consultation is open until 26 August.

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Tasmania releases Waste Action Plan

Tasmania’s draft Waste Action Plan, released 29 June, sets a framework to develop the state’s recently announced CDS and a statewide landfill levy.

Acting Environment Minister Elise Archer has opened the draft for public consultation.

In a cabinet reshuffle last week, it was announced Treasurer Peter Gutwein would soon replace Ms Archer as Environment Minister.

“With a growing population and the recent restrictions of recycling product exports to China, it is important Tasmania takes a more strategic approach to the way it manages waste into the future,” Ms Archer says.

“Dealing with our waste is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and the community.”

According to Ms Archer, the proposed state wide levy is set to replace multiple council levies already in place, with funds to be reinvested in waste and recycling infrastructure and programs.

“The draft plan also contains a series of ambitious, but achievable, waste management, litter and recycling targets that align with targets in the recently approved National Waste Policy,” Ms Archer says.

Other proposed measures include ensuing 100 per cent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, reducing waste generation by 10 per cent per person by 2030 and achieving an 80 per cent average recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030.

Additionally, the plan outlines efforts to ensure Tasmania has the lowest incidence of littering in the country by 2023.

The state government will also work with local government and businesses to phase out problematic plastic by 2030 and reduce the volume of organic waste sent to landfill by 50 per cent by 2030.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel said the draft illustrated smart and progressive reform.

Mr Shmigel highlighted the CDS, waste reduction goals and the commitment to a new administrative structure for waste management as particularly positive.

“ACOR also thinks it’s terrific innovation that the Treasurer Peter Gutwein will also be Environment Minister,” Mr Shmigel said.

“It helps recognise that recycling is a great way to combine ‘green’ and ‘gold’ as it is both an economic and environmental positive.”

Mr Shmigel is calling on government to set the new levy at a sufficient level to drive positive results and industry investment, and make commitments to the positive procurement of recycled content products to boost local manufacturers.

Additionally, Mr Shmigel has encouraged state government to ensure the proposed resource recovery management body involves both local government and industry experts.

“This new plan can start turning the Apple Isle from a recycling laggard to a recycling leader, and that’s something our industry and no doubt the people of Tasmania support,” Mr Shmigel said.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the plan shows a strategic approach to tackling waste, and highlighted its framework for addressing identified priorities.

“WMRR is pleased that Tasmania finally has a waste and resource recovery strategy and in releasing the plan, the minister has acknowledged that waste management is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and community,” Ms Sloan said.

“The minister should also be congratulated for listening to industry about the importance of a levy as an economic tool for prioritising resource recovery, as well as working with industry and the community to design and set the levy. This is a show of great leadership.”

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Industry responds to SA waste levy increase

The South Australian Government’s decision to increase the solid waste levy from $100 to $140 from 1 January 2020 has left the waste industry ‘blindsided’, according to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR.)

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said while industry supports government action that promotes resource recovery and market development, progress is not as simple as increasing landfill levies.

“Industry was prepared for the original $3 increase, however it has been blindsided by this new amount of $40, which is far greater than planned,” Ms Sloan said.

“The timing and notice of this new levy increase is completely unsatisfactory and does not allow businesses and local government with locked in 2019-20 budgets to prepare for the additional cost.”

According to Ms Sloan, South Australia was previously leading the way in resource recovery, though a blend of policy, guidelines and levy drivers that precluded the requirement for excessive cost structures.

“Part of the reason for South Australia’s success is the strong working relationship between all sectors of industry and the existence of a high-level advisory group to government,” Ms Sloan said.

“The fact that the levy increase was not discussed with this advisory group is extremely disappointing.”

According to Ms Sloan, the levy increase comes in addition to a raft of new and increased costs including increased licensing fees and new financial assurance requirements.

“South Australia should look to Queensland as a model for implementing such a rapid change in levy amount,” Ms Sloan said.

“The Queensland government also looked to implement such a change on 1 January, however this was moved and a years notice given, with mechanisms put in place to manage such a large impact on councils and households.”

Ms Sloan said while WMRR agrees landfill levies are an integral part of a successful waste and resource recovery policy framework, it cannot be the only response from government.

“Such a large increase, without policy support, has a real potential to lead to unintended outcomes such as illegal dumping,” Ms Sloan said.

“A good levy is a certain levy, with telegraphed changes that industry can plan for and respond to.”

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VIC budget allocates $35 million to waste and resource recovery

The 2019-20 Victorian budget has injected $35 million into the waste and resource recovery industry, using funds raised from the municipal and industrial landfill levy.

According to the offical budget website, proceeds from the levy are first used to fund core activities of environmental agencies, with the remaining balance going towards the sustainability fund.

The budget has allocated an additional $68.8 million in levy proceeds including $15 million to strengthen the EPA, $30 million for the Lara stockpile site rehabilitation and $3.7 million to combat illegal stockpiling and hazardous waste mismanagement.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said Victoria was leading the way in its financial commitment to assisting the waste industry in developing markets.

“It’s been more than 18 months since China implemented its National Sword policy and its impacts, along with other ongoing challenges, have brought to the fore the need to build and grow domestic remanufacturing,” Ms Sloan said.

“This week’s $35 million announcement is on top of the almost $37 million Victoria provided to industry in 2018 in the wake of China.”

Ms Sloan said developing a sustainable remanufacturing base was dependant on robust government regulation, and policy that supports market development and demand for recycled material.

“With the recent appointment of two federal ministers in the environment portfolio, including for the first time an assistant minister for waste reduction, WMRR is hopeful that Australia will finally have the much-needed national coordination and leadership it requires to grow its domestic remanufacturing sector and develop a consistent policy approach,” Ms Sloan said.

“We know that for every 10,000 tonnes of product recycled we create 9.2 jobs, so this is good news for Victoria.”

Ms Sloan said it was an exciting time to be working in the waste and resource recovery industry.

“WMRR looks forward to continuing its positive collaboration with the Victorian Government, as it fixes and builds its essential waste and resource recovery industry to create a circular economy and build a local remanufacturing industry,” Ms Sloan said.

“We will continue to work closely with Victoria’s leaders to provide feedback and input on the projects, policies, and investment priorities that will drive the sector forward.”

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Waste 2019 hosts industry leaders forum

Waste 2019’s industry leaders forum invited senior industry representatives to discuss their vision for the future of waste management in Australia.

The forum, held on day two of the three day conference, was facilitated by Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association CEO Gayle Sloan.

Ms Sloan said the outcome of the discussion was a unanimous agreement that talk needs to make way for action.

The panel included Re.Group National Business Development Manager Garth Lamb, Cleanaway NSW State Manager David Clancey, Veolia General Manager Resource Recovery NSW Christine Hodgkiss, SUEZ NSW/ACT General Manager Tony Grebenshikoff and Bingo Industries’ CEO Daniel Tartak.

During the discussion Ms Sloan said the waste industry should consider changing the waste management hierarchy to the resource management hierarchy.

“Another area that industry has been calling for is the establishment of national specifications that mandate recycled content, and development of procurement processes that mandate the use of locally-made recycled product,” Ms Sloan said.

“Including the use of glass in road base, which would go a long way in solving the numerous glass challenges Australia is facing.”

Ms Sloan said the panel showed an industry wide desire to continue investing in new technology and facilities.

“Industry is more than willing to collaborate with all stakeholders to drive waste and resource recovery forward,” Ms Sloan said.

“But the next important step comes down to creating value and developing markets.”

According to Ms Sloan, with the federal election only three days away, a potential new Environment Minister was on all panelists minds.

“When asked what was on their federal wish list, everyone on the panel agreed a national approach to waste and resource recovery was key, particularly the harmonisation of the waste levy,” Ms Sloan said.

“It’s time for the government to get on with the job and acknowledge that you can’t regulate your way to success and clearly, business as usual is no longer acceptable.”

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Industry associations respond to 60 Minutes recycling report

Waste management industry associations have released a statement contesting claims made in the 60 Minutes Sunday night program, Plastic not so fantastic.

Liam Bartlett’s 60 Minutes report claims much of Australian plastic waste is not being reused or recycled, but rather dumped, buried or burned in illegal processing locations in South-East Asia.

The program refers to Australia’s recycling industry as a ‘con,’ which according to industry associations doesn’t paint a full picture of the Australian recycling industry or its capacity, and includes a false claim that much of Australia’s plastic waste is being disposed of incorrectly.

Recycling groups including the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), the Australian Organics Recycling Association, Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW and National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) contributed to the statement — urging greater investment, regulatory reform and policy support from governments.

According to the 2018 National Waste Report, Australia generated 67 million tonnes of waste last year, 37 million tonnes of which was recycled.

The report also shows 33 million tonnes of that recycling was undertaken within Australia, with plastic exports decreasing by 25 per cent.

It is estimated in the report that between 10 and 15 per cent of kerbside recycling cannot be recycled because it is contaminated with nappies, soft plastics, garden hoses, bricks and batteries.

ACOR CEO Peter Shmigel said the program should not discourage the vast majority of Australians who regularly recycle.

“Australian recycling is highly successful despite some ill-conceived claims in the broadcast, in fact up to 90 per cent of material collected for recycling is made into new products,” Mr Shmigel said.

Plastic not so fantastic claims 71,000 tonnes of Australian recyclable plastic has been exported to Malaysia.

In response, Mr Shmigel said 71,000 tonnes represents less than two per cent of the 4 million tonnes that is actually exported and less than 0.2 per cent of the 37 million collected for recycling.

“If the claim that all these materials are not being properly processed is accurate, this is very concerning, as there are also legitimate processors in Malaysia,” Mr Shmigel said.

According to the statement, in response to the impacts of restrictions across Asia, the local recycling industry which employs more than 50,000 Australians and generates up to $15 billion in value, is currently making some of the most advanced recycling investments in the world.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said the industry is investing in high-tech infrastructure to improve sorting and processing in order to produce high quality materials from recovered waste.

Ms Sloan is also advocating for a stronger domestic recycling system through a new labelling scheme to build community confidence.

“We need a Made with Australian Recycled Content label which will do two key things – empower the community to take action and ownership of the materials they consume, and incentivise manufacturers and brand owners to include recycled content in their packaging and products,” Ms Sloan said.

“This will create new markets for recycled materials and ensure a sustainable future for kerbside recycling, local resource recovery, and remanufacturing.”

Ms Sloan said the local industry is investing heavily and working collaboratively to upgrade local processing capacities which in the past were, to some extent, built to meet China’s previous specifications.

A recent Reachtel survey commissioned by ACOR found that almost 93 per cent of people said reducing waste and recycling products into new products was important to them and 87 per cent supported increasing recycling and reducing landfill by processing food and garden material from rubbish bins into useful products.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said the community continuously votes in favour of recycling through its strong participation.

“We encourage householders to continue to separate and sort their recycling correctly to reduce contamination and realise the environmental and economic benefits of recycling,” Ms Read said.

Prime Creative Media has contacted 60 Minutes for comment.

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WMRR releases election plan

Ahead of the 2019 federal election on 18 May, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) has released a five-point election plan.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said that as China, India and Indonesia enforce stricter contamination levels of imported commodities, the Australian waste management and resource recovery industry needs 1.2 million tonnes of remanufacturing capacity.

“China’s National Sword policy brought to the fore the need for Australia to focus on domestic processing and remanufacturing. It showed everyone where the gaps were and what issues we needed to fix,” Ms Sloan said.

“While industry is willing and ready to up recovery and remanufacture materials, and community has expressed a hunger for resource recovery, we need support and collaboration from all stakeholders, we especially need leadership from the Federal Government.”

WMRR is calling on everyone from industry, government and the community to support an ‘Made with Australian Recycled Material’ label to highlight and support the use and purchase of Australian recycled material.

Ms Sloan said Labor’s waste and recycling policy offers a ray of hope for the industry, highlighting its commitment to mandate recycled content targets, stimulate demand for recycled materials and develop a $60 million National Recycling and Circular Economy Fund.

“We need all government departments to mandate sustainable procurement of goods that include Australia recycled content, and to be held accountable for their procurement decisions,” Ms Sloan said.

“This is what government leadership looks like and with a top down approach, manufacturers will follow suit. Further, we need support for domestic remanufacturing not later, but now.”

WMRR’s five-point election plan:

1. Leadership in sustainable procurement and market development, creating a strong remanufacturing sector and supporting Australian job creation. Mandatory targets should be set to ensure a 30 per cent government procurement of recycled goods by 2020.

2. Strengthening product stewardship and extended producer responsibility schemes, including the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation implementing the “Made with Australian Recycled Material” label for all packaging. To create jobs and investment in Australia, the Federal Government needs to strengthen the laws and framework around extended producer responsibility and move to a mandatory scheme for recycled content in packaging

3. A national proximity principle to enable certainty, market development and investment in local jobs and infrastructure. The Federal Government needs to clarify the constitutional interpretation of the proximity principle and seek advice from the Commonwealth Attorney General on this matter as a priority.

4. A common approach to levies and industry development (with a minimum 50 per cent reinvestment.) WMRR is calling on the Federal Government to drive coordination across jurisdictions to harmonise policies and regulations, including a common approach for resource recovery exemptions and orders.

5. A whole-of-government approach to circular economy, including considering tax reform and import restrictions to support the sector. The Federal Government must use the levers unique to it in relation to areas such as taxation and importation to encourage the use of recycled materials.

WMRR has opened design submissions for a “Made with Australian Recycled Material” Label.

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WMRR Landfills and Transfer Stations Conference opens

More than 300 waste management and resource recovery operators have descended on Brisbane this week to discuss landfill and transfer station innovation, design, operation and regulation at the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia’s (WMRR) 2019 Australian Landfills and Transfer Stations Conference.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said the organisation and its sponsors invested in the conference because they recognise that landfills play an important role and are integral to both environment and community safety.

“We must continue to ensure that Australia’s landfills are world’s best practice in order that we continue to maintain a network of high-quality engineered facilities that effectively manages our residual waste while ensuring human health and the environment are protected at all times.

“The role of landfills goes beyond the responsible disposal of residual waste. Landfills and transfer stations play a fundamental role during periods of service and economic disruption and post-disaster emergency waste management,” Ms Sloan said.

Queensland Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch, who opened the conference, noted the groundswell of community support for effective waste management and resource recovery, and reiterated the Queensland Government’s commitment to transitioning to a circular economy.

“Queensland now has a waste levy after years of getting by without an effective market signal. The levy will bolster the recycling and resource recovery sector without a cost impact on community. It will lead to job creation and new industries that manufacture products using recycled content.

“The levy is just one vital component. The draft waste management and resource recovery strategy, which is currently out for consultation, sets the course for Queensland to become a zero-waste society where the waste we produce is reused and recycled as much as possible,” Ms. Enoch said.

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