WA community want plastic bag ban

Community consultation in WA has found that more 95 per cent of comments on banning plastic bags have been positive.

The ban will affect lightweight plastic bags from 1 July 2018 in order to reduce litter and protect the environment. The ban also includes biodegradable, degradable or compostable – with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less, often found in supermarkets and retail stores.

More than 4400 people responded by the close of consultation and 90 per cent were also in favour of banning biodegradable, degradable or compostable plastic bags which continue to persist in the environment as microplastics.

The consultation reported a need for a transition period for retailers to prepare customers for alternatives to plastic bags. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has announced it will assist retailers in this process.

A WA-wide education campaign will also aim to ensure consumers are encouraged to use reuseable bags.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he wants to work with the community to make the transition towards a plastic bag free WA as easy as possible.

These initiatives reflect the community’s desire to work together to reduce the significant impact of plastic bags, and other waste and litter on our environment,” Mr Dawson said.

“Banning plastic bags is just one of a number of strategic waste reform initiatives demonstrating this Government’s commitment to reducing waste. We have also committed to introducing a container deposit scheme,” he said.

Waste and Recycling Industry Association of Western Australia grows

A state-based industry advocacy body has been continually growing its support base in Western Australia – the Waste and Recycling Industry Association of Western Australia (WRIWA).

WRIWA was formed in April, 2017 in Perth with the support of Cleanaway, Veolia, Suez, Toxfree and Sims Metal Management.

Led by Waste Stream Management’s Michael Harper, a provider of waste and remediation services, the new not-for-profit organisation will act as the state’s leading advocacy body and promote the sustainable development of waste management and recycling infrastructure and services in WA.

WRIWA’s objectives are to achieve best practice environmental outcomes from collection, processing, recycling and disposal of waste. It is also to ensure markets are fair and transparent and ensure competition occurs on a level playing field, driving value for customers and a return on investment for its members.

WRIWA members include the large nationally based waste collection and recycling companies, landfill owners and operators, along with WA-based companies including waste, recycling, demolition and associated services.

WRIWA is the WA affiliate of the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), which represents the interests of industry members across Australia. The organisation will be canvassing its views to help inform the new Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy – which is currently under review by government.

“WRIWA is committed to working with state government, the Waste Authority, local government and our colleagues in industry to achieve much needed reform of the state’s waste strategy and its implementation,” said the organisation’s president Michael Harper.

“We can bring to the process skilled professionals with extensive state and national experience in key subject areas raised in the consultation paper, including the Container Deposit Scheme, the landfill levy and specifications for construction and demolition aggregates.”

WRIWA’s response focuses on the following key areas:

• Planning: Waste processing and recycling facilities require substantial capital investment by private industry. WRIWA argues that to continue to innovate and introduce technologies that will increase resource recovery, industry need the surety that planning laws will not allow residential and other commercial development to encroach on sites suitable for waste processing.
• Levy Avoidance: WRIRA’s focus is on improving regulatory systems to detect and stop avoidance. It argues avoidance is damaging honest operators who are complying with the regulations. It notes the current level of avoidance is well known within the waste sector and there is an increasing awareness within the NGO environmental sector and the general community. WRIWA believes a failure to bring it to an end risks undermining public confidence in the state’s waste avoidance and resource recovery strategies.
• Levy Anomalies: WA has resource recovery companies which operate in world markets. Consideration needs to be given to levy exemptions for companies which can demonstrate that the levy is damaging their ability to compete internationally.
• Acceptance of construction and demolition (C&D) aggregates: WRIWA believes there is a very low level of acceptance and take up of C&D aggregates by both the local government and state government agencies. C&D waste is successfully being diverted from landfill and is being recycled into aggregates suitable for road base. However, market uptake is lagging far behind output, and placing the sustainability of the waste strategy at risk.
• Container Deposit Scheme: WRIWA supports this proposed scheme. There needs to be strong liaison between regulators and industry particularly industry members operating Material Recovery Facilities as the details of the scheme are planned and rolled out.
• China National Sword: The Chinese Government has altered its criteria for acceptable contaminant levels in imported post-consumer products. WRIWA believes this has had an immediate effect on all sectors of the recycling industry. It is estimated that costs of processing recyclables will rise by up to $100 per tonne in Western Australia. Industry is seeking urgent assistance from the state government to address this issue.

Bingo and Planet Ark renew partnership

Planet Ark has announced it will renew its partnership with Bingo Industries Limited to continue the companies’ commitments to diverting waste from landfill and moving towards a circular economy.

The partnership will now focus on making Bingo the most sustainable company on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) by creating a solar power network through the installation of solar panels on the rooftops of Bingo’s recycling and recovery facilities.

The partnership originally began in 2011 and has seen Planet Ark and Bingo collaborating on sustainability initiatives including a waste education program for primary schools aimed at building awareness and encouraging positive environmental practices.

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Bingo Chief Executive Officer Daniel Tartak said the seven-year partnership with Planet Ark has been invaluable.

“What we have been able to achieve together is something I am very proud of and with our renewed partnership we will be striving for even bigger, more ambitious sustainability goals,” Mr Tartak said.

“Our aim is to lead the industry in sustainable business practices and be a steward of change by increasing the diversion of waste from landfill and investing in new state of the art technology to increase recovery rates,” he said.

Planet Ark Chief Executive Officer Paul Klymenko said Planet Ark is proud of the partnership and relationship with Bingo Industries.

“It’s been very rewarding to work with what was once a small family owned skip bin company and see it grow to become an exemplar for others in the recovery and recycling of building and demolition waste,” Mr Klymenko said.

“They are major disruptors in the industry and together we are shaping the way forward for the waste industry.”

“For the next phase of our partnership, we’re excited to help make Bingo the most sustainable company on the ASX. We will achieve this by installing solar and smart battery energy systems across their sites, improving their energy and water efficiency and reducing the environmental impact of their truck fleet,” he said.

Bingo is a major sponsor of Planet Ark’s updated Recycling Near You website, to help millions of Australians find recycling drop off locations.

PVC AUS 2018: Shaping the Future Conference

Advances in technology, sustainability and product stewardship over the last 20 years have helped to transform the PVC sector across Australia and turn vinyl into a sound choice of material, according to a 2018 Vinyl Council of Australia event.

The two-day Sydney event, which took place in March, titled PVC AUS 2018, shared the latest developments in PVC formulations and best practice manufacturing.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan said the organisation is driving continuous improvement through the industry in Australia for both locally-made and imported products. She said this is driving change through PVC product supply chains.

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“One of the longest standing product stewardship programs in Australia, our PVC Stewardship Program is leading in many areas. These include its life-cycle approach, specific and measurable commitments, transparency, and focus on continuous improvement across the value chain.”

Currently 47 companies are signatories to the program, representing the majority of the Australian PVC industry. These companies include manufacturers of PVC resin, additives and end-products, PVC compounders and product importers. Major PVC applications represented in the program include companies manufacturing or importing packaging, cables, windows, flooring, pipes, formwork, medical products, and profiles.

Among the industry successes highlighted were a 99.45 per cent reduction in lead additive use since 2002, the signatories’ 90 per cent compliance with the PVC Industry Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Charter and several PVC recycling initiatives covering advertising banners, commercial vinyl flooring and medical devices.

In his US perspective on Vinyl for a Purpose-Driven Sustainable Development, Cristian Barcan, VP Sustainability & Industry Affairs at the Vinyl Institute covered key sustainability progress. This included a 90 per cent reduction in VCM (vinyl chloride monomer) emissions since 1983 and the elimination of lead and cadmium stabilisers. More than 450,000 tonnes of PVC are recycled annually in the US.

“Unprecedented challenges lie ahead, we have to change. We don’t have three planets of natural resources; doing more with less is needed to address the needs of the next generation,” Mr Barcan said.

Dr Tracy Wakefield, of Plustec Pty Ltd, outlined the benefits of uPVC Tilt n Turn windows and how their functionality, in terms of low-maintenance, ease-of-cleaning, security and superior ventilation are the future of windows in Australia – and crucially, suit its climate.

With 85 per cent of windows installed in Australian homes still single-glazed, Gerhard Hoffmann, of Greiner Extrusion, emphasised how the insect-proof, thermally-efficient, 100 per cent recyclable and corrosion-resistant properties of uPVC windows represent a cost-effective fenestration opportunity.

Advances in formulations were a key topic with Dane Tallen of stabiliser manufacturers Baerlocher, exploring how calcium-based solutions could provide cost-effective and sustainable solutions for injection-moulding applications. Dexter Chan, from Arkema, discussed the improved performance merits of acrylic impact modifiers in replacing chlorinated polyethylene (CPE) in rigid PVC.

Several updates on technology developments in the Australian PVC sector included a new chemical technology to separate PVC and laminated materials. Dennis Collins from PVC Separation explained how their two-stage chemical and environmentally-friendly process works for a variety of materials recycling, from PVC construction products to shoes, medical and food packaging items.

Summing up, the event Ms MacMillan concluded: “With a high calibre of speakers and content, our conference attracted nearly 150 people and has been a huge success. It has demonstrated that PVC, as a durable, low-carbon plastic with the potential for circularity, can contribute to shaping a more sustainable future for all.”

Opportunity for 500 jobs: ACOR/MRA Consulting report

Investment in the local Australian recycling industry could lead to the creation of 500 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from MRA Consulting.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) Chief Executive Officer Pete Shmigel said the report shows that remanufacturing half of the material domestically would lead to job creation and reduce as much greenhouse gases as taking 50,000 cars off the road. It comes as China clamps down on its exports of interstate waste with a contaminant level of more than 0.5 per cent.

ACOR recently joined the Waste Management Association of Australia in calling on state ministers to implement its Australian Circular Economy and Recycling Action plan at the Ministerial Council – supported by a $150 million injection.

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“To check the China challenge, we are ready to reboot recycling as a self-sufficient sector that enables employment and prevents pollution. Ministers can support this by agreeing to a National Circular Economy & Recycling Plan that makes a one-off investment in the three ‘i’s’ of recycling: infrastructure, improvement and innovation,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The promise of recycling is that what punters put in the bin becomes new products not lumps in landfill. Our political leaders, through the policy targets they have set, are part of delivering on that promise and should continue to do so on 27 April.”

“We need to make and buy more recycled content products here in Australia. Closing the loop is what’s needed for community confidence, job growth and environmental results,” he said.

Mr Shmigel said other industries are regularly supported in transition and crisis, and the recycling sector needs the same support, otherwise jobs could go including in country towns.

“While state governments have rightly focussed on the system’s short-term survival, it’s time for all governments to jointly act for recycling’s future success,” he said.

The report, titled The China National Sword: the role of Federal Government highlights:

  • New technology to support more Australian reprocessing of mixed paper, mixed plastics and glass cullet;
  • Enhanced methods and machinery at recyclate sorting centres;
  • Support for government and corporate purchasing of recycled content products;
  • A national centre for recycled content product development;
  • Education to ensure what’s collected is clean enough for recycled content product making.

Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre launches

A new national research effort is aiming to reduce food waste in all stages of the product, from production to final disposal.

The $133 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre program is a partnership between 57 industry and research participants from Australia and internationally.

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Food waste costs Australia $20 billion a year, with significant amounts of it being sent to landfill.

To reduce food waste throughout the value chain, the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre aims to transform unavoidable waste into high value products and engage with the industry and consumers to deliver behavioural change.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said $150,000 from SV’s Love Food Hate Waste program will be used to fund research on consumer behaviours concerning food waste and reducing food waste in the supply chain.

“As Victoria is one of the nation’s major food producers and processors, this is a particularly important issue,” Mr Kpran said.

“The CRC ticks boxes in terms of how we can do more to efficiently produce and process food and deal with waste,

“The University of Melbourne’s 2016 Melbourne Foodprint report found Melbournians wasted more than 200kg of food per person every year. It‘s not just a waste of resources along the food production and processing chain; it’s a major producer of greenhouses gas emissions as the food decomposes,” he said.

Mr Krpan said the project would help primary producers, food processors, retailers, food rescue agencies and technology and service providers.

“It will also help local government to contain the cost of operating landfills and long-term, that’s good for everyone. It will also reinforce Sustainability Victoria’s work to reduce the production of waste or all types.”

“There are many opportunities to develop and use products derived from primary production that is otherwise wasted.

“We already have a composting industry which uses some food waste, and there is the potential to feed it into digesters which breaks it down, creates gas to drive electricity and reduces what goes to landfill,” Mr Kpran said.

Nestlé aim for products to be completely recyclable by 2025

Nestlé has announced its goal to make 100 per cent of it packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

The news comes in response to the company’s opinion that there is an urgent need to minimise the impact of packaging that ends up in landfill or as litter.

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To achieve this goal, the company says it will focus on eliminating non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that allow for better recycling rates and eliminate or change complex combinations of packaging materials.

Nestlé said in a statement that it is committed to playing an active role in the development of collection, sorting and recycling schemes.

The company also said it would work with chain partners and industry associations to explore different packaging to reduce plastic usage and to facilitate recycling.

Labelling products with recycling information and promoting a market for recycled plastics were also steps mentioned to develop a circular economy.

Nestlé Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider said, “Plastic waste is one of the biggest sustainability issues the world is facing today. Tackling it requires a collective approach. We are committed to finding improved solutions to reduce, re-use and recycle. Our ambition is to achieve 100% recyclable or reusable packaging by 2025.”

Waste to Energy project at NSW abattoir

ReNu Energy has been provided with $2 million to design, construct, own and operate a waste to energy facility at a NSW abattoir.

The Federal Government and Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has invested to assist the creation of the new biogas facility at Southern Meats’ abattoir in Goulburn.

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The $5.75 million project includes construction of a covered lagoon for anaerobic digestion to produce biogas from breaking down effluent.

It is estimated to produce 3800 megawatt hours of electricity per year by treating and transferring biogas to two 800-kilowatt dual fuel generators.

The lagoon can store biogas which can be used during peak times of electricity consumption during manufacturing, with the additional generators able to contribute to reduce the amount of energy from the grid when prices spike during times of peak demand.

The abattoir uses around 20,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a day.

Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg said the conversion of waste into energy is an innovative way to help combat the challenges associated with waste management and energy prices.

“Disposing abattoir waste is a major environmental challenge and processing and storing meat is an energy intensive business,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“That’s why this project is win-win, it helps reduce the need to dispose of waste from the abattoir and it provides Southern Meats with a more affordable source of energy,” he said.