Transport’s macroeconomic headwind

When the world’s biggest consumer of raw materials decided it would no longer accept imports of 24 categories of solid waste, it sent a shock through Australia’s transport and waste industry. 

In July of this year, China notified the World Trade Organization that it plans to ban the import of 24 different types of solid waste from Japan, USA, Australia and other source countries, in a bid to reduce pollution. The ban is expected to take full effect by the end of 2017.

When looking at plastic waste alone, in 2016, China imported 7.3 million metric tons of plastic waste worldwide worth $3.7 billion, accounting for more than half of global imports, according to figures from the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The Economist reported that China imported 45 million tonnes of scrap metal, waste paper and plastic from overseas countries in 2016, which together is worth more than $18 billion. Locally, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found in its 2013 Waste Account data that China received 32 per cent of the total value of Australia’s waste exports in 2011-12. That same financial year, Australia’s main export to China was metal, which account for 31 per cent of all materials, while China received 64 per cent of its Australian from paper and cardboard.

The decision to ban the 24 categories sparked concern from the Australian Peak Shippers Association (APSA), which is still grappling with the consequences as it collaborates with the federal government on trade issues. A report by the Freight & Trade Alliance indicates that the list of some of the affected products in Australia includes plastic waste from living sources, unsorted waste paper, vanadium and waste textile raw materials. China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection has indicated it will still allow some kinds of steel and non-ferrous scrap, while items to be completely banned include tyres, textiles, plastic, glass and old medicines.

ASPA Secretariat Travis Brooks-Garrett says that although the ban does not extend to all waste products, it is the most severe move to date under China’s anti-foreign garbage campaign. He says the ban could have significant consequences for the way Australia treats waste domestically, in increasing our landfill task, but may also signal further bans on imported waste products. Travis says that any such move would need to be closely scrutinised against China’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations.

He says APSA has been working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in response to the announcement, alongside the major waste industry bodies. Travis says that the Federal Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade held a roundtable with industry representatives in August and will follow up with the relevant Chinese authorities to seek further information regarding the many questions raised.

“The response from both the office of Steve Ciobo (the Federal Minister for Trade) and from the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, was immediate and reflected the concerns of industry, and for that they should be commended,” he notes.

Industry consultant, Mike Haywood, says he was able to foresee the ban. The writing was on the wall, he says, with previous crackdowns on plastic waste through policies such as National Sword 2017. The policy was launched earlier this year, as China’s General Administration of Customs announced an intention to reduce and eliminate the illegal smuggling of foreign waste. For years, China had already been clamping down on its inspection of secondary commodities. From February 2013 to November 2013, the national custom agency launched Operation Green Fence, a plan to prohibit the import of unwashed and contaminated materials from entering China.

“We are pushing down the track of a circular economy and while we’re doing that the main market for our commodities is slowly but surely closing up,” Mike says.

Read the full story on page 59 of Issue 14. 

International Congress for Battery Recycling holds survey

An international forum for global decision makers in the battery recycling chain has reported positive news from an industry survey.

This year’s International Congress for Battery Recycling (ICBR) in Lisbon released the findings of a recently conducted survey. It found the majority of participants see both the current situation and the business outlook for battery recycling in a favourable light.

According to the survey, industry representatives say they’re satisfied with the volumes being generated and the majority perceive the current economic situation as positive.

Participants at the ICBR 2017 evaluated volumes being generated and the overall business situation. The results show around 70 per cent of responses were in the category positive with regards to volumes. The remaining 30 per cent view the situation as unchanged. None of the participants said volumes being generated had reduced.

The results of the survey also show 40 per cent described the current economic situation as favourable, while 30 per cent described it as unchanged and 28 per cent saw it as unfavourable.

A further 85 per cent stated they expect volumes to increase and 56 per cent expect economic developments to be positive.

 

ATA calls for service standards

Improving the customer service experience for road users needs to be a central focus for governments’ management of the road network, according to Australian Trucking Association (ATA) Chair, Geoff Crouch.

Crouch was speaking following the release of a research report on measuring infrastructure asset performance and customer satisfaction from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

“This timely report on developing an infrastructure and customer satisfaction framework identifies service quality attributes that should be measured to improve the customer service of infrastructure,” said Crouch.

“Additional economic gains from infrastructure relies on its efficient management, operation and use.

“The report identifies the importance of cost, access, safety, reliability, timeliness, user amenity and information for how customers interact with infrastructure, including roads,” he said.

Critically, performance monitoring of roads should also be extended to privately run toll roads, according to the ATA.

“Australia is experiencing ever-increasing, unsustainable, and unfair toll increases on heavy vehicles but without any measurement of this funding better services to the users paying these costs,” said Crouch.

The ATA has said that focusing on outcomes would build on the trucking industry’s recommendations to the Australian Government on the priorities for improving Australia’s supply chains.

“The ATA has made detailed recommendations to Government on improving supply chains for the wider economy by improving our road network,” said Crouch.

“We need to set service standards for roads which establish the service that users can rely on, including standards on safety, access for heavy vehicles, mobile data access, and the provision of rest areas.

“There also needs to be fair and competitive supply chain costs, with independent regulation of heavy vehicle charges, toll road charges and landside port charges.

“Governments should establish independent management and funding of our roads that are focused on improving customer service for road users through better safety, access, reliability and cost.”

Vik Bansal, Clenaaway's CEO, talks about NWRIC

Cleanaway’s response to Four Corners

Last month’s Four Corners report on the waste industry raised a number of topical issues, including interstate waste transport (to avoid landfill levies), and the stockpiling of glass.

Waste Management Review recently covered the issue in detail speaking with MRA Consulting’s Mike Ritchie.

In August, Cleanaway released its statement in response to the program, with a focus on dispelling any associations with some of the issues raised in the investigation.

“We do not stockpile glass, nor do we transport waste from New South Wales to Queensland to avoid landfill levies, as others are reported to be doing. Cleanaway is committed to transparency and integrity in the way it operates,” the company said.

“We remain committed to our mission of making a sustainable future possible and to our Footprint 2025. Our entire value operating model is built around extracting the maximum value from waste, which means recovering more recyclables each year and exploring ways to continually reduce the volume of waste going to landfill.”

Below is the company’s response to some key questions arising from the program:

On the transfer of waste between NSW and QLD

Does Cleanaway transfer waste from NSW to QLD?

No. Cleanaway does not transfer waste from NSW to QLD.

We made a conscious decision at the time the landfill levy was abolished in Queensland to not transfer waste from New South Wales to Queensland.

Why doesn’t Cleanaway transfer waste from NSW to QLD?

This decision was made for two main reasons: first, because there are unacceptable risks associated with moving large volumes of waste across very long distances and, second, because we’re simply not prepared as a matter of principle to undermine the spirit of the legislation.

We remain committed to this and do not transfer waste from NSW to QLD.

On the stockpiling of glass and other recyclables

Does Cleanaway stockpile glass?

Cleanaway does not stockpile glass. In fact we have been exploring different options to more efficiently recycle and reuse glass across our network.

What is Cleanaway doing to avoid having glass stockpiles like some of the other operators in the report?

At our new Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Perth, we have invested in new glass crushing and clean up technology which allows us to create a glass sand product on site, which is ready for immediate use in civil construction as a sand/aggregate replacement.

Our Commodities Trading Desk remains focused on exploring new markets for recycled commodities to ensure the ongoing economic sustainability of our recycling operations.

We remain committed to our mission of making a sustainable future possible, and to our Footprint 2025. Our entire value operating model is built around extracting the maximum value from waste which means recovering more recyclables each year and exploring ways to continually reduce the volume of waste going to landfill.

On the risk of fire at landfills

How does Cleanaway manage the risk of fires from the coal seams when landfilling old coal mining sites?

All Cleanaway landfills are highly engineered and work to stringent licencing and environmental regulations.

Strict regulations specifically cover the disposal of waste in old coal mining areas. During cell construction, any coal seams must be removed.  As a further precaution, a metre of clay is laid along the bottom and the sides of the cell to act as a thermal barrier between the cell and the waste.

Was the fire at New Chum caused by the coal seams?

There was a fire at our New Chum landfill in July 2017. The fire was on the surface level of the open face of the landfill which suggests that it was the result of waste material being hot at the time of disposal.

Fire is a risk during the process of disposing of waste in any site, although it is rare.

We take the safety of our people and the community seriously, so all Cleanaway sites have stringent processes to detect and manage and mitigate the risk of fire. The fire at New Chum was detected and extinguished quickly – highlighting the effectiveness of our processes.

EPA Victoria releases 2016-2017 Annual Report

Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s (EPA) 2016-2017 Annual Report has been tabled in the Victorian Parliament.

Upon its release, the EPA described the year as the beginning of its most comprehensive reform and transformation program since its establishment in 1971.

EPA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Tim Eaton said the reform program would ensure EPA was equipped to deal with emerging challenges such as growing pressure on Victoria’s landscape, waterways and air from population growth, our changing economy and climate change.

“In 2016-17, we developed a five-year plan – Our environment, our health, to guide our work and ensure we deliver the greatest possible service for Victorians and their environment. This plan sets our strategic direction and will help EPA become a more modern and agile organisation and a world-class regulator of pollution and waste.”

Mr Eaton said that in 2016-17 EPA continued to provide a strong frontline response to local pollution and waste issues and emergency incidents.

Over the past year, the EPA received more than 10,000 pollution reports and almost 200 emergency notifications. The EPA also implemented a new incident response system that integrates its environmental public health function, and further developed Victoria’s incident air monitoring service.

It can now deploy indicative air monitoring equipment to an incident anywhere in Victoria within four hours of notification, improving community access to air quality and health information during emergency incidents.

Some of the EPA’s initiatives in 2016-17, include:

Hazelwood recovery

EPA continued to implement the recommendations from the 2014 Hazelwood Mine Fire Inquiry and deliver on its commitment to support the Latrobe Valley community through recovery. In September 2016, EPA initiated a co-design process to work with the community on a new air monitoring network for the region. This process enabled members of the community to design network enhancements with support from air quality experts. The new network is expected to be operational by June 2018.

Environmental public health function

The EPA became responsible for providing Victorians with environmental public health advice after this function was transferred from the Department of Health and Human Services. This fulfilled one of the Victorian Government’s early EPA reform commitments and created a consolidated and enhanced environmental health capability for Victoria within EPA.

Victoria’s first Chief Environmental Scientist

EPA’s new environmental public health function was further strengthened through the appointment of Victoria’s first Chief Environmental Scientist, Dr Andrea Hinwood, in May 2017.

Contamination at shooting ranges

The agency began investigating potential environmental and human health risks posed by outdoor shooting ranges. This work followed the discovery of lead contamination above the health limits for recreational levels in soil at the North Wangaratta Recreation Reserve in April 2016.

Emerging contaminants

Emerging contaminants are an increasing focus for EPA. In 2016-17, the agency hosted a summit of international environment experts and regulators on per-and polyfluorinated alkyl substances (PFAS) and is now leading the development of a PFAS National Management Plan.

Mr Eaton noted that figures showed an increase in pollution reports in 2017 and he urged the public to continue to use the 1300EPA VIC (1300 372 842) 24-hour hotline to report suspected pollution events

“The public are our eyes and ears and the best resource we have to detecting and responding to pollution and waste incidents in real-time,” he said.

Total pollution reports

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

Pollution reports from community

10,577

9,201

9.376

10,490

10,400

Emergency reports

195

246

342

309

305

Business notifications

647

1,565

1,454

1,393

1,014

T otal

11,419

11,012

11,172

12,192

11,719

Total pollution reports by region

Metro

South Metro

South West

Gippsland

North West

North East

Not assigned

Total

Odour

1,801

1,260

455

198

293

147

34

4,188

Noise

942

248

193

70

47

50

63

1,613

Waste

582

322

151

107

135

115

63

1,475

Water

942

322

181

120

94

110

62

1,831

Dust

247

281

175

82

54

44

24

907

Smoke

125

120

182

60

28

27

21

563

Emergency reports

92

29

14

14

4

25

17

195

Business notifications

144

54

148

111

67

116

7

647

TOTAL*

4,875

2,636

1,499

762

722

634

291

11,419

*291 pollution reports were not allocated by 30 June 2017. Source: EPA Victoria 

A full copy of the EPA 2016-2017 Annual Report is available on their website. 

Waste Expo Australia showcases line-up

Waste Expo Australia has revealed the latest Australian and global technology innovations to be featured at Waste Evolution, a feature showcase that will be on display at next month’s event.

Waste Evolution will showcase new technologies, prototypes, products and processes set to change waste management and resource recovery in Australia. A series of hands-on demonstrations and case study-led seminar sessions will feature:

  • Deakin University’s 3D printer, which is bringing clean water to the Pacific and cleaning up plastic waste
  • Green Eco Technologies’ new WasteMaster waste processing system, which aims to reduce the weight and volume of food waste by up to 80 per cent
  • Newtechpoly’s home-grown Aussie technology PolyWaste, which economically turns plastic litter such as what is washed up on beaches, into furniture and value-added plastic products
  • The first solar generation system of its kind on an Australian landfill, designed and implemented by Joule Energy
  • Alter NRG’s Plasma Gasification, which enables conversion of multiple waste streams into gas turbines, liquid fuel technologies, fuel cells and renewable hydrogen
  • WastAway’s patented processing system, which works to sustainably handle municipal solid waste using a unique hydrothermal system to achieve zero landfill growth
  • Replas’ sustainable solution to the major issue of plastic use increasing worldwide
  • Bioelektra Group’s waste treatment technology, which unveils resource potential in waste by achieving a diversion rate of more than 96 per cent from landfill

John Gorton, Executive Director, Reed Exhibitions Australia, said Waste Expo Australia brings together pioneering companies and solutions in the waste industry that are helping to drive a greener economy.

“The event gives visitors the chance to learn about and see firsthand the latest innovations in the business of waste management,” he said.

“Exhibitors also have the opportunity to share their knowledge and educate the industry on waste-related technologies with thousands of potential customers, investors, collaborators and contacts.”

Waste Expo Australia will feature more than 70 exhibitors, with more that 50 of these companies presenting their latest innovations for the first time at a major event in Victoria this year, including Caterpillar, Bost Group, Cleanaway and Manitou Group.

Visitors at next month’s exhibition and conference will have the opportunity to hear from more than 35 of the sector’s most reputable leaders as part of the seminar program – Waste Summit. The program is the largest free-to-attend waste management conference in Australia, with 30 topical and informative sessions, offering keynote presentations, practical case studies, panel sessions and white paper discussions.

The Waste Summit provides an opportunity for attendees to learn from industry peers and stay informed across areas including policy, legislation, circular economy, waste-to-energy, solid waste management, new technologies and advancements.

Speakers include Grant Musgrove from the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), Max Spedding from the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), and senior representatives from the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

Waste Expo Australia is free-to-attend and will be co-located with All-Energy Australia 2017, the largest clean energy and renewables event in Australia, as part of Australian Sustainability Week. To register, visit Waste Expo Australia.

Waste Expo Australia will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 October.

Victorian Government supports Ballarat waste to energy project

A Ballarat community energy group has received $71,000 from the Victorian Government to determine whether waste wood and sawdust can be used to make briquettes for commercial and industrial use.

The Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emissions (BREAZE) project is valued at $143,480 and will deliver a business case to determine the viability of diverting waste wood and sawdust from landfill to make briquettes.

BREAZE will look at the manufacture, distribution and transport of briquettes, with the aim of demonstrating how existing heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems can be converted to run on briquettes.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio announced the funding today as part of the second round of the Government’s $20 million New Energy Jobs Fund (NEJF) grants.

The NEJF allows for grants of between $20,000 and $1 million to support new energy technology projects that support the uptake of renewable energy, reduce emissions, and assist community groups to develop their own projects.

Over 50 applications were received in round two of the New Energy Jobs Fund, resulting in 21 successful projects receiving a total of $6.7 million in grants.

More information on the NEJF at: http://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/future-industries/new-energy-technologies.

Global food waste market to grow by six per cent

The global food waste management market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of six per cent and is projected to reach US $42.37 billion by 2022, according to a new report. 

The report estimates the market value of the industry at $31.71 billion. It pinpoints the primary factors driving the global food waste market as a need to reduce greenhouse emissions and increase the usage of organic waste for the production of animal feed and fertilisers.

A major barrier to projects, it notes, is landfill and incineration techniques causing adverse effects on the environment.

Fruit and vegetables, by waste type, is projected to grow at the highest compound annual growth rate during the forecast period, while the food service providers segment, by end user, has the highest growth. According to the report, the North American region will hold the largest market by 2022 and generates a major amount of the total world’s food waste.

Internationally, the key players in the food waste management market include:
• Veolia Environnement (France)
• SUEZ (France)
• Waste Management, Inc. (US)
• Republic Services, Inc. (US)
• Stericycle, Inc. (US)
• Covanta Holding Corporation (US)
• Advanced Disposal Services, Inc. (US)
• REMONDIS SE & Co. KG (Germany)
• Waste Connections, Inc. (Canada)
• Clean Harbors, Inc. (US)
• Biffa Group Limited (UK)
• Rumpke Consolidated Companies, Inc. (US)
• Advance Disposable Services, Inc. (US)

 

$2 million boost for SA’s waste industry

Sixteen projects have received government grants of $2.17 million to improve the infrastructure of South Australia’s waste industry, creating more than 48 new jobs.

Priority has been given to projects which recover materials banned from landfill, such as vegetative matter collected by councils and plastic packaging.

Some of the grants will fund equipment and systems such as:

  • Advanced sorting equipment/system or technology to reduce processing residuals and increase the range of materials recovered
  • Equipment to remove contamination through automated systems for higher value compost and fertiliser products from organic waste processing;
  • Balers and other equipment to enable compacted materials to be more efficiently transported.

The $2.17 million in grants announced includes 16 projects with a total value of $8.79 million.

The funding, offered by Green Industries SA, is from a four-year $26 million investment of waste levy funds in programmes that will increase the capacity of recycling systems and reprocessing infrastructure, the management of household hazardous waste and innovative solutions for problematic waste.

“South Australians are great recyclers and our state continues to lead the country in resource recovery and waste diversion, achieving the highest diversion rate in Australia,” Environment Minister Ian Hunter said.

Projects funded:

Local Government

Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority – $150,000 for in-vessel composting on Kangaroo IsIand
Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority – $83,500 for an autobaler on Kangaroo Island
Mid Murray Council – $47,600 for a transfer station at Bowhill
District Council of Elliston – $70,000 for a Resource Recovery Centre at Elliston
District Council of Lower Eyre Peninsula – $32,250 for a mobile baler at Cummins transfer station
District Council of Streaky Bay – $16,600 for a salvage shed at the existing Streaky Bay transfer station

Private sector

Adelaide Hills Recycling – $150,000 for a ballistic separator (Strathalbyn)
Agricycling – $150,000 to improve recovery rates of agricultural plastics (Mallala)
Jeffries Group – $272,500 for an organics granulating fertiliser project (Buckland Park)
Peats Group Ltd – $150,000 for recovery of organics from packaged waste (Langhorne Creek)
Peats Group Ltd – $300,000 resource recovery facility for Upper Spencer Gulf (Port Augusta)
Polybags Pty Ltd – $145,000 for Bio Plastics manufacturing in SA (Netley)
Reclaim PV – $79,000 for a pyrolysis furnace to recycle photovoltaic panels (Dudley Park)
SA Group Enterprises – $150,000 for e-waste and mattress recycling (Underdale)
Trident Plastics – $150,000 for a plastic recycling and palletisation plant (Kilburn)
VISY Recycling – $225,000 for optimised glass recovery and recycling (Wingfield)

TCA Weigh-in-Motion Forum a success

Transport Certification Australia (TCA) has deemed its Weigh-In-Motion (WIM) Forum a success, with over 70 delegates in attendance.

“Attendees included road managers, policy makers, regulators, researchers, transport operators, WIM suppliers, On-Board (OBM) suppliers and telematics providers,” said TCA Chief Executive Officer and President of the International Society for Weigh-In-Motion (ISWIM), Chris Koniditsiotis.

The Forum explored how mass data is being collected from a variety of in-road and in-vehicle systems, the growing dependence on mass information for infrastructure management, maintenance and investment planning, and compliance management, and how WIM and OBM systems are being used to support productivity and safety reforms.

Speakers from Department of Transport and Main Roads Queensland, New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services, VicRoads, Austroads, the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB) and the National Transport Commission (NTC) delivered presentations, highlighting the diversity of the theme.

The common theme from the Forum was that mass data has multiple sources, and multiple uses, and how a standardised approach for the collection and exchange of data can further optimise road infrastructure utilisation and planning, TCA said.

The Forum also reportedly highlighted how On-Board Mass (OBM) Systems are driving improved productivity outcomes for heavy vehicle freight, following the recent release of the Australian Standard for Bridge Design Loads (AS 5100.2:2017).

“The bridge design standard specifically recognises how the use of OBM Systems, when used with the Intelligent Access Program (IAP), allows infrastructure managers to reduce load factors for bridges,” Koniditsiotis said.

“By having a better understanding of vehicle loads (through OBM Systems) and the number of vehicle movements (through the IAP), bridges are now effectively being ‘re-engineered’ for higher mass loads, without capital investment or maintenance expenditure.”

Forum participants developed a shortlist of initiatives to progress the use of WIM and OBM technologies, TCA said.

“A strong theme from the Forum was the need to have national standardisation of data and interoperability of mass data, to support the growing use of data for the compliance management functions by regulators and road managers, but also planners, pavements and bridge engineers, policy analysts, and transport operators – and more beyond,” Koniditsiotis said.

“A summary of actionable items will be published, and will form the basis of collaborative work programs to potential partner organisations, beneficiaries.”