Deakin project uses plastic dialysis waste to produce durable concrete

Dialysis patients could inadvertently improve sustainability in the construction industry, thanks to an innovative Deakin University recycling project that’s turning hospital waste into longer-lasting concrete.

A team at Deakin’s School of Engineering is behind the new project, which could ultimately save from the scrap heap the thousands of tonnes of plastic waste created in Australia each year through dialysis treatment.

Project leader Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri, a senior lecturer in structural engineering, said the project could solve two problems in one, with corrosion of steel bars used in concrete construction a major issue for the industry.

The project is a collaboration between Dr Al-Ameri and nephrologists Dr Katherine Barraclough from the Royal Melbourne Hospital and Professor John Agar from Barwon Health’s University Hospital Geelong, and came about when the specialists approached Deakin to find a practical solution to their waste issue.

Dr Al-Ameri said his project team was hoping to use the shredded plastic waste to help better protect structural concrete from corrosion.

“Concrete can crack and damage the internal bond, which can then lead to water penetration and corrosion of the steel bars, critical for providing the strength and integrity of concrete structures.

“If we are able to facilitate production of new types of concrete that will offer better protection, give structures longer life and better performance, as well as help recycle plastic waste, that will be a great achievement.”

Dr Barraclough said each dialysis treatment created between one and three kilograms of plastic waste, and with more than 12,000 Australians on dialysis, that added up to about 5,100 tonnes of plastic waste per year.

“Haemodialysis (the most common type of dialysis) involves making a circuit where blood is pumped from a patient’s bloodstream through a machine then back to the patient. This removes toxins and excess water and is life sustaining for patients with kidney failure,” she said.

“For safety reasons, both the tubes that carry the blood and the dialyser (the part of the machine that cleans the blood) are made of plastic designed for single use only. The result is large amounts of plastic waste generated from each dialysis treatment.

“Because the waste is potentially infectious, it must be either burnt or sterilised before being thrown away. This not only costs a lot of money, but also causes significant harm to the environment.”

As part of some initial testing, Dr Al-Ameri’s team added the shredded plastic waste to a concrete mix at concentrations of 0.5 per cent and 1 per cent by weight of concrete, with results showing this made a product that was more durable and significantly more water-proof.

Going forward, Dr Al-Ameri and his team hope to conduct more rigorous testing to see if this new concrete mix can stand up to harsh conditions.

“We will use our accelerated weather corrosion tanks in the concrete lab to simulate a marine environment,” Dr Al-Ameri said.

“One month in the lab is equivalent to approximately one year outside, so we can observe the behaviour of the material quickly and efficiently.

“Wet and dry cycles can have a big impact on the durability of the concrete, and sea water has chloride, which is very harmful to both concrete and steel reinforcement.

“So we’re looking for innovations that will help concrete construction of off shore rigs for oil and gas, observation towers, concrete buildings in coastal areas that are exposed to humidity, and marine structures such as retaining walls that are in contact with water.”

Pictured: Deakin University School of Engineering PhD candidate Aifang Wei and project leader Dr Riyadh Al-Ameri.

Photo credit: Donna Squire

Victorian EPA issues works approval for e-waste recycling

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has issued a works approval to a Campbellfield company for a facility that will allow it to recycle electronic waste (e-waste).

MRI (Aust) Pty Ltd was granted the works approval for the proposed Sydney Road facility, to manually disassemble e-waste, including nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries, into raw materials for resale.

EPA Development Assessments Manager Tim Faragher said the e-waste stream is growing up to three times faster than general municipal waste in Australia.

“The Victorian Government has committed to banning e-waste from landfill in Victoria and the number of e-waste re-processors is predicted to grow following the ban’s introduction,” Mr Faragher said.

“Both e-waste and processed e-waste materials must be handled and stored with due care in order to avoid leakage and the release of hazardous substances into air, water or soil.”

Mr Faragher said EPA’s assessment of the proposal had focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions and land and stormwater contamination.

“EPA’s assessment of the proposal focused on key environmental issues including potential dust emissions, land and stormwater contamination and ensuring that suitable controls were put in place,” Mr Faragher said.

Mr Faragher said more than 90 per cent of e-waste and batteries received by the site would be recycled with any residual waste sent to a facility licensed to receive it.

Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

The company required an EPA works approval as under new regulations, e-waste treatment facilities with the capacity to reprocess more than 500 tonnes of specified electronic waste per year are considered scheduled premises.

The application was referred to City of Hume Council, Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), WorkSafe Victoria and Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB) for assessment and comment.

The winners of the Premiers Sustainability Awards 2017

This year’s Premiers Sustainability Awards has seen winners across a diverse range of categories, from medical recycling to the recovery of shellfish reefs and water recycling.

Hosted by comedian Charlie Pickering and presented by Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the awards recognise individuals, organisations and businesses working to create a better world.

In the area of waste management, The Nature Conservancy’s Shuck Don’t Chuck took out the Community category, while Western Health’s Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program was recognised in the Health category. Kingfield Galvanizing won the Small and Medium Enterprises category for the development of a large, automated galvanising plant with some of the lowest emissions of any similar plant in the souther hemisphere.

Melbourne company, eWater Systems, won the night’s top honour – the Premier’s Recognition Award – for developing water splitting technology which was used to clean and sanitise facilities such as hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants chemical free.

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Sustainability Victoria’s interim Chief Executive, Stephanie Ziersch, said the Premier’s Sustainability Awards recognised Victorians who had made a difference to the environment by implementing measures to better manage their waste, water and energy.

“Victoria has an excellent track record of delivering innovative projects that benefit our environment and the community, particularly in relation to efficient waste management, resource recovery and new technologies for clean energy.”

The 2017 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards winners are:

Built environment

Nightingale Housing – Nightingale 1 (Brunswick)

The Nightingale model is a new housing development system that enables like-minded architects to develop design-led, multi-residential housing that is environmentally, financially and socially sustainable.


The Nature Conservancy Australia – Shuck Don’t Chuck Recycling Project (Greater Geelong)

A reef restoration project that is regenerating the natural environment by rebuilding shellfish reefs with leftover oyster shells collected from local seafood restaurants.


CERES – Sustainability and Alternative Pathways (East Brunswick)

This sustainability leader celebrates 35 years of community-based learning and action. CERES’ work aims to benefit the environment, remain socially just, economically and culturally satisfying and helps to deliver better ways of living together.

Environmental Justice

Friends of the Earth – Coal and Gas Free Victoria (Collingwood)

An awareness campaign run across regional Victoria through more than 100 forums alerts communities to the potential threat of fracking and addresses the question of unconventional gas drilling.

Environmental Protection

Moonlit Sanctuary Wildlife Conservation Park – Orange-bellied Parrot Breeding for Recovery Program (Mornington Peninsula)

Development of a 20-aviary complex for up to 40 breeding birds resulted in 25 offspring from 12 pairs in the first season. This project is helping to save this endangered species from extinction.


Moreland City Council – Moreland Urban Heat Island Effect Action Plan (Moreland)                            

The council’s 2016–2026 maps out vital projects needed for Moreland to transition to a cooler, greener and more resilient and liveable city.


Western Health – Single Use Metal Instruments Recycling Program (St Albans)                                

This program recycles single-use metal instruments (SUMIs) which a waste of high-quality metals. The program has recovered around 500kgs of recycled steel, representing approximately 80 per cent of all SUMIs purchased. This project can be used in any hospital.

Innovative Products or Services

eWater Systems – eWater Systems (South Yarra)                                                                            

eWater Systems is a world-recognised company that has developed a water-splitting technology that is used to clean and sanitise facilities like hospitals, schools, manufacturing businesses and restaurants.

Large Business

Exemplar Health (NBH) Partnership – New Bendigo Hospital (Bendigo)

Victoria’s largest regional hospital integrates sustainable thinking into all elements of its design, construction and systems to create a healing and therapeutic environment.

Small and Medium Enterprises

Kingfield Galvanizing – Sustainable Hot Dip Galvanizer (Somerton)

A large, sustainable and highly automated galvanizing plant produces significantly low emissions through a fully enclosed facility that re-uses waste, reclaims furnace heat and recycles.

Pictured: Catherine O’Shea, Sustainability Officer, Western Health, Victorian Government Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Andrew McGavin, Operations Manager Engineering Services, Western Health,

Battery recycling market worth $21.04 billion by 2025: report

The global battery recycling market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of 10.4 per cent to reach $21.04 billion by 2025, according to a report by Grant View Research, Inc.

The report predicts tighter government regulation is expected to have a positive impact on the market growth over the next eight years.

In its October newsletter, the Australian Battery Recycling Battery Initiative, which represent a range of stakeholders across the industry, asked the question: “Will Australia follow suit with a national framework for battery stewardship, or will we watch from the sidelines as the rest of the world takes action?”

Transportation application is also expected to see rapid growth in the battery recycling market. This growth is anticipated to lead to growing demand for lithium-iron batted in electric vehicles and portable devices due to their high efficiency, long life and low maintenance.

Grand View Research segment the industry in terms of chemistry, application and region. Chemistry is divided into lithium-ion; lead acid, nickel and others, while application looks at transportation; consumer electronics and industrial. Regions looked at cover North America, Europe, the Asia Pacific, Central and South America and the Middle East and Africa.

It notes most recyclers use similar technologies, which is why price is a differentiating factor. International companies are attempting to make the industry more competitive by setting up collection centres and recycling plants, as new processes are developed to bring down the cost.

Key findings suggest the lithium-ion sector is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 11.3 per cent from 2017 to 2025, due to the demand from the electric vehicle industry. Lead acid was a leader in the market in 2016, expected to grow 10.5 per cent from 2017 to 2025.

Europe held revenue share of 36.8 per cent in 2016 and will see a compound annual growth rate of 9.8 per cent from 2017 to 2025 due to strict government regulations. The Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest growing market from 2017 to 2025 due to rapidly growing end-use industries, including automotive, consumer electronics and industrial application.


Victorian Government launches waste to energy discussion paper

The Victorian Government has released a discussion paper on waste to energy to support the development of new technologies, including anaerobic digestion and thermal treatment of waste.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Action Lily D’Ambrosio released the paper today during a visit to Shepparton, where she also announced five grants from the $2.38 million Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund.

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The grants will help businesses and water corporations upgrade waste management practices and support projects that will deliver almost 1MW of renewable energy capacity per annum:

  • Western Region Water Corporation will receive $802,784 to collect organic waste material and generate energy
  • Diamond Valley Pork will receive $284,929 to install an anaerobic digester to improve waste management and generate energy and nutrient rich digestate
  • East Gippsland Region Water Corporation will receive $209,765 to enhance an existing bio-digester to process septic tank waste, food waste, fats, oils and greases
  • Nestle Australia will receive $182,510 to create a system where organic waste from starch based soft confectionery is used for bioenergy
  • Resource Resolution will receive $900,000 to help it build an anaerobic digester to divert local commercial food waste and other organics from landfill

The emissions saved through this program is equivalent to removing 16,500 cars from the road or the energy consumption of 7,000 homes.

The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund was announced in the 2016 State Budget as part of the Government’s Climate Change innovation and Jobs Initiative.

Feedback received on the discussion paper will help inform the Victorian Government’s development of a waste to energy policy, to be released in 2018.


EPA approves Rural City of Wangaratta organic waste processing application

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has granted a works approval to the Rural City of Wangaratta (Council) to construct an organic waste processing facility at its existing EPA-licensed landfill in the Victorian north-east region of North Wangaratta.

Council will construct a new facility within a 1.4-hectare portion of the Bowser landfill site that will compost up to 5200 tonnes per year of organic garden and food wastes.

The facility will operate Monday to Friday between 8am and 4.30pm.

The development includes the construction of:

  • A roofed waste receival/shredding area;
  • Seven concrete compost bunkers;
  • A maturation area;
  • Leachate collection and stormwater management infrastructure;
  • Compost aeration management infrastructure;
  • A 1.3 mega litre leachate storage pond; and,
  • Connection of the leachate pond to the existing Bowser landfill for disposal to sewer.

The EPA said all works will be undertaken on a surface that prevents any escape of wastewater to the environment.

EPA Manager of Development Assessments Tim Faragher said the facility required an EPA works approval before construction works on the facility could occur.

Works approvals are issued by EPA Victoria under the Environment Protection Act 1970. They are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact,” Mr Faragher said.

Mr Faragher said EPA completed a comprehensive assessment of council’s application that looked at possible noise, dust, wastewater and composting impacts that could occur as a result of the facility.

“It was determined that the site is suitably located with sufficient buffer and the application met all the requirements of the Environment Protection Act 1970 and relevant environmental policies,” Mr Faragher said.

Mr Faragher said the application was made publicly available and received two submissions, both of which were considered in EPA’s final decision.

Renault revs up for MEGATRANS2018

Commercial vehicle manufacturer Renault has signed on as an exhibitor for MEGATRANS2018.

The business, well known for its light commercial vehicles within the wider Australian commercial sectors, joins the growing number of manufacturers and leading vehicle brands to join the inaugural supply chain event, including Isuzu – the show’s Platinum Sponsor.

Connecting the Australian and international supply chain, MEGATRANS2018 will bring together those who plan, implement and control the efficient and effective forward flow and storage of goods, services and related information between the point of origin and point of consumption.

MEGATRANS2018 takes over the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 10-12 May 2018 and will play host to an array of delegates involved in the wider national and international supply chain industries.

Waste Management Review is an official media of MEGATRANS2018. 

Waste and recycling industry in Australia submissions close

A number of major stakeholders have put forward their submissions to a federal government inquiry into Australia’s waste and recycling industry.

The inquiry looks to investigate issues related to landfill, markets for recycled waste and the role of the federal government in providing a coherent approach to the management of solid waste. Submissions have now closed for the inquiry, which will report its findings by November 29.

The diverse range of stakeholders range from recycling companies such as Envorinex and TIC Group, to industry figureheads such as the Australian Landfill Owners Association and the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. Local and state governments from across the nation have also put forward submissions.

Brisbane City Council in its submission commented on the landfill levy issue. Queensland currently has no landfill levy in place, and has faced issues of interstate waste transport from NSW where the levy is more than $70 a tonne. With several views on the matter, Brisbane City Council argued a levy must be at least $50 per tonne to change behaviour.

“Any landfill levy introduced in Queensland (orregions within the State) will have a net cost to ratepayers. Council is reluctant to act as a tax collector for the Queensland Government,” they noted.

“Funds collected through a landfill levy must be hypothecated to the waste and resource recovery sectors (including local government) in the first five to 10 years post levy introduction to ensure the sector is robust and able to provide genuine alternatives to landfill.”

The council also added a levy is likely to increase the risk of illegal dumping and levy funds would need to be allocated to manage activities such as clean-up, waste education and enforcement.

The Australian Landfill Owners Association responded to the terms of reference by advocating its support for the diversion of solid waste for recycling when an improved environmental outcome is derived. It also noted all waste that is landfilled should be directed to well managed and environmentally compliant activities, while also calling for the federal government to harmonise legislation to prevent the unnecessary transportation of waste across state borders.

“ALOA wishes to re-iterate the role that appropriately managed, environmentally compliant and properly licenced landfills perform within a broad waste management system serving a modern society,” the submission read.

“Landfills of this type are key pieces of essential infrastructure serving a vital role in the safe and efficient disposal of a wide range of wastes.”

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council in its submission argued for the returning of funding to the Australian Bureau of Statistics Waste Accounts program – discontinued in 2014. The council also focused on high standards for the accreditation and management of landfills, the harmonisation of landfill levies and suggestions to improve resource recovery and recycling, among a host of other recommendations.

You can read all of the industry’s submissions in full here. 


Veolia and Northern Midlands Council unite against domestic violence

Veolia Australia and New Zealand has joined Tasmania’s Northern Midlands Council in the Ending Men’s Violence Against Women Campaign, an initiative by White Ribbon Australia, unveiling a specially branded waste services truck this week.

Martin Robinson, Veolia’s General Manager of Business Development/Marketing – Tasmania, said he was pleased to collaborate with the council and support a serious social issue affecting one in three Australian women.

“Veolia is committed to doing what it can to raise awareness of domestic violence prevention across the communities in which we operate, as well as supporting affected staff,” Mr Robinson said.

“We want the message to have an impact and the custom-made truck decal will be seen by hundreds of drivers, commuters, and residents each day.”

Northern Midlands Council recently rallied support from its waste contractors around the state.

“The Northern Midlands Council is dedicated and determined to raise awareness regarding the White Ribbon Australia campaign. Domestic violence in any form is not acceptable and by working together we can build a future where men’s violence towards women is preventable,” said Northern Midlands Council Mayor David Downie.

As part of its commitment to support the campaign, Northern Midlands Council had signage fitted to its street sweeper which spends countless hours on main roads and residential streets.

The campaign is in support of White Ribbon Day which will be held from 25 November and 6 December 2017.