Harmonisation avoids ‘perverse’ outcomes

Waste Management Review speaks to Alex Serpo, Policy Officer at the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, about the harmonised government policy required to grow the waste and recycling industry. Read more

Coles to halve food waste by 2020

Coles has announced it will halve food waste across its supermarkets by 2020, make all packaging of Coles Brand products recyclable and reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and vegetables.

The company has pledged to divert 90 per cent of all supermarket waste, including food, cardboard and plastic, from landfill by 2022 and donate the equivalent of 100 million meals to people in need by 2020 by redistributing surplus food.

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The supermarket giant is also planning to begin phasing out the use of single use plastic bags in its stores on 1 July.

Removing double plastic packaging for fruit, selling bunched vegetables like kale and silver beet without plastic and removing plastic packaging from Coles Brand bananas are among the initiatives planned to reduce plastic waste.

Replacing the packaging for meat and poultry products with recycled and renewable materials and replacing single use fresh produce bags with 30 per cent recycled content are also part of Coles commitments.

The company will also provide its customers with an option to recycle soft plastics at every Coles supermarket across Australia, which can be turned into outdoor furniture and road base.

Coles Managing Director John Durkan said Coles wanted to lead the way in its commitment to the environment.

“We know that 69 per cent of customers say that we need to actively reduce waste and landfill through recyclable packaging and find alternative uses for waste,” he said.

“We are delighted to be the only Australian supermarket to sell own brand water bottles that are both 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent made from recycled materials. Now we are the first major food retailer in Australia to announce a target to make all of our own brand packaging recyclable by 2020, ahead of the Federal Government’s target of 2025.”

The company also plans to connect every Coles store with Food rescue program SecondBite, meaning surplus edible food from supermarkets will be redistributed to people in need.

Mr Durkan said connecting an additional 130 supermarkets to SecondBite will also divert further waste from landfill.

“By 2020, we want to provide the equivalent of 100 million meals to Australians in need. Since 2011, we’ve donated around 72 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank so we’ve still got 28 million meals to go.”

Coles has also pledged that it will label all Coles Brand products with recycling information to assist consumers when it comes to disposing of their waste.

TIC Mattress Recycling passes the baton to Soft Landing

TIC Mattress Recycling has announced national social enterprise, Soft Landing, will become the new operator of the company’s mattress recycling business, effective 1 June.

TIC Mattress Recycling commenced its mattress recycling processed four years ago and built Australia’s first automated deconstruction plant for end of life mattresses in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Soft Landing was established in 2009 to train and provide jobs people experiencing barriers to employment in Illawarra NSW. The organisation now has sites in Sydney, Illawarra, Newcastle, Melbourne, ACT and WA.

Soft Landing has recycled over 600,000 mattresses, created employment for over 300 people and saved 440,000 cubic metres of landfill space.

Soft Landing team members Kane, Adam and Corey at the Bellambi facility in NSW

A cross-sector partnership between Soft Landing and TIC Mattress Recycling was established in 2016 to improve growth, efficiency and innovation in the mattress recycling industry.

TIC Mattress Recycling Managing Director Michael Warren said Soft Landing is the right organisation to take mattress recycling to the next level.

“TIC Group is confident Soft Landing will keep Australia at the forefront of global innovations that support people, planet and the integration of leading technology,” he said.

Soft Landing Executive Officer Community Resources John Weate said the cross-sectional partnership with TIC Group has been a great step in Soft Landing’s Journey.

“We thank all the team at TIC for their commitment to this partnership, and look forward to welcoming those employees joining the Soft Landing team in this transition,” he said.

“We also look forward to ongoing relations with the broader TIC Group given their leading expertise in reverse logistics and saving disused retail items from landfill.”

Featured Image: TIC Group CEO, David Harris; TIC Mattress Recycling General Manager, Michael Warren; Soft Landing National Manager, Andrew Douglas; TIC Director, Mark Gandur; Community Resources CEO, John Weate

Queensland Government releases waste directions paper

The Queensland Government has released a directions paper for public consultation to inform the development of its new waste strategy, proposing the cost structure of its new landfill levy and its application.

The directions paper proposes that a general waste levy will commence in the first quarter of 2019 and initially will be set at $70 per tonne of general waste sent to landfill. It says it will increase by $5 per year. According to the directions paper, the rate has been suggested to avoid the high rate in the Sydney metropolitan area of $138.20.

“A high levy rate would create a shock to the market and the current resource recovery infrastructure capacity may struggle to meet high demand to divert material from landfill disposal,” it says.

“However, $70 per tonne is still considered to be high enough to send an appropriate price signal to the market and will act as an immediate incentive to divert heavier materials, such as concrete, from landfill.”

“It is broadly in line with the rates in Victoria and South Australia, and would provide a strong market signal to divert waste from landfill without the market shock of a rate in line with NSW.

“It provides a disincentive to transport a significant proportion of interstate waste to Queensland.”

According to the paper, the legislative and regulatory framework, including a detailed levy model, needs to be drafted, consulted on with stakeholders and progressed through the required approval processes. It notes landfill infrastructure, such as weighbridges and security fencing, needs to be made ‘levy-ready’. The paper goes on to say that industry and government information technology systems need to be redeveloped and made able to ‘interface’ with each other so waste can be measured and the levy owed to be calculated. Furthermore, staff training and broader awareness and education needs to be developed and delivered. Stakeholders will be consulted throughout the process.

The report highlights that local government will be a beneficiary of the proposed levy with funding available for waste disposal infrastructure upgrades, education and awareness and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The operator of a waste disposal facility will be required to collect the levy when the waste is presented to the facility for disposal,” the paper says.

“A waste disposal facility may be operated by, or on behalf of, a local government or by a private company. The operator of the facility is required to remit the amount of levy owed, at a timing, and through a process, to be determined in legislation. Operators will also be required to submit data in relation to the waste received at the site for disposal and what was received and segregated for recovery.”

It says that to be effective, the levy will need to apply to all waste. It recognises special circumstances may require some waste to be exempt, including waste from a natural disaster, wastes where disposal is required by a regulation, such as asbestos, quarantine waste or fire ant infested material, litter and illegally dumped waste collected by a council, community group or other organised participant, in an initiative, such as Clean Up Australia Day. Waste received as part of donations will also be exempt.

A Stakeholder Advisory Group is currently in the process of contributing to the development of the waste strategy and is reviewing the directions paper. It will continue to provide input and advice to government.

The Stakeholder Advisory Group consists of representatives from across the waste industry and key business groups, including Local Government Association of Queensland, Australian Council of Recycling, Waste Recycling Industry Association (Queensland), Waste Management Association of Australia, Sustainable Business Australia, Australian Industry Group, Chamber of Commerce Industry Queensland and Master Builders Association Queensland.

Acting Premier Jackie Trad said the directions paper would inform the development of its new waste management strategy – underpinned by a waste levy.

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Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the directions paper set out the Queensland Government’s long-term vision to attract investment, develop new industries and grow jobs across the state in the waste and recycling sector.

Ms Enoch said that, as well as encouraging recycling, the waste levy would facilitate job creation and market development, particularly in regional areas.

“While every 10,000 tonnes of waste disposed into landfill supports less than three full time jobs, the same amount of waste being recycled supports more than nine jobs.

“This price signal will give industry the confidence to invest in alternative and innovative recycling technologies to grow the sector and create jobs.

“This new strategy marks the start of the journey towards a zero waste future.”

The directions paper also proposes the following targets:

• 20 per cent avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2030
• 10 per cent avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2040
• Zero avoidable waste disposed of to landfill by 2050

The paper indicates the department has already undertaken preliminary work to identify waste that may be feasible for landfill disposal bans, including tyres and e-waste.

“Landfill disposal bans on these waste streams will support the objectives of existing product stewardship programs that already have well-established collection and recovery networks,” it said.

The Queensland Government also plans to look at waste to energy, according to the paper.

The Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry directions paper is available here, with public comment open until 28 June 2018.

Lomwest build wall of used tyres in WA

Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accredited recycler, Lomwest Enterprises of Western Australia, has created a high-performance wall system made from baled used tyres contained within concrete skins.

These walls can be used as retaining walls, sound barriers, sea and blast walls, cyclone shelters and race track impact barriers.

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TSA said in a statement that the modules for the flexible use wall system (called C4M) are manufactured offsite, allowing quick, easy and safe onsite construction. They can also have their outer surfaces architecturally modified to fit in with or enhance their environment.

Each C4M module contains 100 tightly baled used car tyres, sandwiched between precast panels and can be up to 2.4 metres in height. They also meet Australian and New Zealand stability, durability and relevant load standards, including for cyclone shelter construction and as fire rated partition walls.

Lomwest is just one of the many TSA accredited recyclers focused on developing, commercialising and promoting new uses for old tyres. The common feature of such new product development is a focus on creating better solutions for existing needs.

The TSA Market Development Fund is supporting a Curtin University independent assessment of the C4M walls. The objective being to fully quantify the benefits of the innovative wall system in a wide range of applications and therefore to expand the opportunities for beneficial use of end-of-life tyres.

“We are very pleased to be working with Lomwest and Curtin University on this exciting research,” said TSA Market Development Manager, Liam O’Keefe. “Developing the market for end-of-life tyres requires multiple outlets providing for a diverse range of applications. That includes a balance of refined-process powder and crumb using products and high-volume, low-process applications such as the C4M wall system.”

Albury City receive close to $2.5M for recycling boost

Albury City’s Waste Management Centre will receive almost $2.5 million from the NSW Government to boost the city’s recycling capabilities.

A $2 million grant will enable the council to build a construction and demolition recycling plant at the Albury Waste Management Centre to recycle waste that would have ended up in landfill.

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An additional $445,840 will go towards funding new pallet shredding and de-nailing technology for the recycling plant.

The machinery is expected to be able to recover more than 5100 tonnes of timber from discarded pallets every year, which will then be potentially used as an industrial fuel or for projects requiring a wood product.

The funding package will also help pay for the development of a local recovery centre to recover steel and textiles from an estimated 3200 mattresses a year.

Albury City Mayor Kevin Mack said the new construction and demolition recycling centre would be an important boost to the community’s efforts to halve the amount of waste sent to landfill.

“As a community, we’re leading the way in recycling and reuse of goods at the Waste Management Centre and this new facility means we can find new uses for thousands of tonnes of commercial waste such as masonry, timber and metals,” he said.

“It will not only provide a social and environmental benefit, it will also turn rubbish into valuable products that can be used for new construction projects, such as road building.”

The council expect to reach its target of halving the amount of waste sent to landfill by 2020 with the help of the new facilities and the community.