Burn notice

Introducing the Mercedes-Benz Actros 2653 into its fleet has shifted expectations for linehaul specialist ABS Transport. Not only has the European truck helped to facilitate major gains in fuel efficiency, it’s been instrumental in shaping a new mindset. Read more

NSW crackdown targets illegal waste transporters

The NSW EPA has partnered with police, the ACT Government and local councils to target rogue operators supplying waste soil from construction sites advertised as clean fill to property owners.

Compliance and road side checks were part of the crackdown to ensure fill going to a site had the appropriate council approval to accept it.

Related stories:

By targeting rogue operators during transport, the NSW EPA aims to stop contaminated and non-compliant materials being illegally dumped or passed off as clean fill to innocent land owners.

Accepting large amounts of fill can create potential dust issues and pollute waterways.

NSW EPA Senior Officer Janine Goodwin said in some of the worst cases, operators are providing unsuspecting residents with soil cheaply or for free that is contaminated with construction and demolition waste, heavy metals or even asbestos.

“Councils require landholders to apply for development approval to bring larger volumes of fill onto private property. If a property is used to accept this material without proper council approval, both the landholder, the owner of the waste and the transport contractor may be fined and the landholder may discover they have to pay to have the material removed,” Ms Goodwin said.

“We have been checking things like documentation to make sure the waste is correctly classified and going to a site that has consent to accept it.”

ACT EPA’s Narelle Sargent said waste being transported between the ACT and NSW needs approval.

“Transporters and builders are on notice that the illegal transport and disposal of waste will not be tolerated in the ACT region, and large penalties apply,” Ms Sargent said.

ACCC to reauthorise levy raise for container recycling scheme

The ACCC has proposed to allow product stewardship organisation AgStewardship to increase its levy on the sale of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemicals by participating manufacturers.

Funds raised from the levy are used in the drumMUSTER and ChemClear programs to collect and recycle agvet chemical containers and safely dispose of agvet chemicals.

Related stories:

AgStewardship intends to increase the levy from four cents per litre of kilogram to six cents, to keep pace with increased expenses and to fund improvements to its programs.

This is the first increase in the levy since it began in 1998 and the ACCC is proposing to reauthorise the collection of the levy at the higher level for a further five years.

Over the lifespan of the programs, drumMUSTER has diverted more than 32 million containers from landfill and ChemClear has resulted in more than 661,000 litres of agvet chemicals being collected for safe disposal and recycling.

ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said the programs mean collection and recycling services are provided at no further cost to purchasers of agriculture and veterinary chemicals included in the scheme.

“As a result, many more containers and chemicals are returned and safely disposed of, which reduces the negative environmental, health and safety consequences of improper disposal, leading to better outcomes for farms and the environment,” Mr Featherston said.

Currently 116 manufacturers of agvet chemicals participate in the scheme, which AgStewardship estimates covers more than 90 per cent of Australian agvet chemical manufacturers.

“This is an impressive level of coverage, but if more manufacturers can be encouraged to participate in the scheme, then it should achieve even greater environmental and other public benefits,” Mr Featherston said.

Potential emergency plastic tax by 2021: report

The plastic waste crisis is expected to deepen, potentially leading to a federal response in the form of an emergency tax by 2021, according to global wealth manager Credit Suisse.

It argues that reactionary policy measures are highly likely in the short term and could include a tax on virgin resins or additional tariffs placed on imported plastic goods in its report, The age of plastic at a tipping point.

Related stories:

With too much plastic waste domestically and with no large export markets available, Credit Suisse estimates there will be a sharp increase in plastic being sent to landfill and illegal dumping.

“Our headline view is that things will get worse before they get better: the policy initiatives in the National Waste Strategy won’t take hold until FY20/21,” the report said.

Credit Suisse expects bans on single use-plastics to be extended to the six most common plastic packaging and tax incentives to be provided to help hit the 2025 target of 30 per cent recycled content in packaging.

The long lead time from policy approval to implementation is problematic, particularly for new waste infrastructure, which the company said will likely lead to a more supportive project approval environment for waste infrastructure.

Waste managers are expected to benefit from this scenario, with short term potential from council re-negotiations and long-term potential to fast-track waste infrastructure approvals, according to the report.

“Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of human life. It is the most prolific material on the planet, growing faster than any commodity in the last 33 years,” the report said.

“Plastic packaging has become one of the most intractable environmental challenges of our age. None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable; they accumulate in landfills or the natural environment rather than decompose.

“To curtail the situation in the short run, it is a matter of when, not if, we see reactionary policy measures,” the report said.

QLD waste levy start date pushed back

The start date to the Queensland waste levy has been pushed back to 1 July 2019 and will have a higher price per tonne.

Originally scheduled to start on 4 March 2019, the waste levy will now start at $75 per tonne with the date of levy increments proposed to be moved to 1 July each year.

Related stories:

Consultation about the waste levy was undertaken by the Queensland Government over several months, which found that stakeholders and local governments have asked for a later start date.

It has also committed 70 per cent of revenue raised through the levy will go towards councils, the waste industry, scheme start-up and environmental programs.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said delaying the start of the levy and changing the increment dates required the state government to adjust the waste levy rate to ensure it doesn’t fall behind other states.

“We are a consultative government and want to ensure the implementation of the waste levy is as smooth as possible for local councils, industry and for Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.

Ms Enoch also ensured Queenslanders would not have to pay more for their weekly council collections, as advanced payments would be provided to councils.

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam said the state government has worked cooperatively with the association and is pleased to have reached a pragmatic outcome to ensure local governments are ready for the waste levy.

“A 1 July start date, even if that means a slightly higher rate, is exactly what we asked government for, and it’s good news for Queensland councils,” Mr Hallam said.

“The waste levy will help us advance toward a zero-waste future by 2035 and we thank the government for listening to our concerns about timing.”

Waste and Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said he understood that more time for councils also means more time for industry to be ready and for the right regulatory structures to be put in place.

“The waste and recycling industry is getting on with the job of preparing for the waste levy and we’ll continue to work closely with the government to ensure the levy is implemented well,” Mr Ralph said.

The Queensland Government has also announced it will provide $6 million in extra funding to expand the Community Sustainability Action Grants Program to cover waste.

An additional $1 million will go towards a resource recovery Industries Roadmap and Action Plan and $6 million for a regional recycling transport assistance program.

NWRIC calls for regulatory battery product stewardship scheme

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called for a regulated product stewardship program for batteries by 2020.

It has called on the Federal Environment Minister to broaden the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS) to include all types of handheld batteries up to five kilograms.

Related stories:

Under the NTCRS, more than 1800 collection services are available to the public which could be used to include batteries, according to NWRIC.

Lithium ion batteries pose hazards in kerbside recycling bins, potentially leading to spontaneous combustion if pierced due to mechanical handling in waste collection trucks and recycling facilities.

Lithium, nickel, lead and cadmium are finite resource in waste batteries that can be highly recyclable if correctly separated.

According to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative only three per cent of batteries are recycled, with 70 per cent being sent to landfill.

NWRIC said that such a low recycling rate means regulator intervention is the only option.

“With a combination of sensible regulation, targeted investment and consumer education, almost all of Australia’s used batteries can be safely recycled. This would reduce the risk of fires at recycling facilities and minimise the contamination of compost,” NWRIC said in a release.

WA Infinity Award winners announced

Champions of waste reduction and recycling have been recognised at this year’s Infinity Awards.

The annual Waste Authority awards showcase the contributions of Western Australians who are leading the way to a lower waste future.

Workpower’s Balcatta Re-use Shop, which provides employment opportunities for people with disability, took out two titles – Waste Initiative of the Year and Waste Team of the Year.

The shop, which turns trash to treasure, diverts almost 5000 tonnes of waste from landfill every year.

Former Port Hedland mayor and founder of the Care for Hedland Environment Association, Kelly Howlett was awarded the WA Waste Award for 2018 for her hands-on work promoting a litter free community and encouraging recycling and sustainability.

Related stories:

Carnarvon-based environmental entrepreneur Joanne Bumbak was named 2018 Waste Champion – producing preserves and ice cream from 36 tonnes of ‘rescued’ fruit and vegetables which would otherwise have been dumped in landfill.

Plastic Free July Foundation took out the Community Waste Award for its Plastic Free July Challenge, which this year saw 3.4 million people worldwide pledge to live without plastic for a month.

Mindarie Regional Council won the Waste Innovation of the Year title for its Face Your Waste transparent kerbside bin campaign showing the scale of household waste.

Other winners included Subiaco-based, waste-free restaurant New Normal Bar + Kitchen and Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and the City of Melville for the successful rollout of its trial of a food organics and garden organics three-bin recycling system.

Schools were also recognised for their significant contribution to waste education throughout the state.

Hillcrest Primary School was named Waste Wise School of the Year, and Year 12 Presbyterian Ladies’ College student Sacha Winter was recognised for leading sustainability initiatives to dramatically reduce the amount of waste produced by her school.

ABC journalist Lisa Morrison won the Media Award for a series of reports that localised the popular War on Waste national campaign.

2018 Infinity Award recipients:

WA Waste Award 2018

Winner: Kelly Howlett

WA Waste Initiative of the Year 2018

Winner: Workpower – Balcatta Reuse Shop

Category 1: Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award

Winner: Plastic Free July Foundation (Plastic Free July Challenge)

Highly commended: Total Green Recycling

Commended: City of Cockburn

Category 2: Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award

Winner: New Normal Bar + Kitchen

Highly commended: Crown Perth (Recycle 90 Program)

Commended: Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (Operating Theatre ‘Anaesthetic Waste Showcased’)

Category 3: Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award

Winner: Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and City of Melville (Three-bin Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) Trial)

Highly commended: Waste and Recycling Industry Association of WA, Cleanaway WA, Southern Metropolitan Regional Council, SUEZ WA and Western Australian Local Government Association (Statewide Guidelines for Kerbside Recycling)

Commended: Shire of Collie (FOGO Kerbside Collection System)

Category 4: 2018 Waste Champion

Winner: Joanne Bumbak

Highly commended: Pam Van Effrink

Commended: Lindsay Miles

Category 5: 2018 Young Waste Achiever

Winner: Sacha Winter (17) – Presbyterian Ladies’ College

Highly commended: Nina Prado (8), and Amelie Harrison (8) – Perth College Junior School

Category 6: Waste Team of the Year

Winner: Workpower Balcatta Reuse Shop Team

Highly commended: Wasteless Pantry

Highly commended: City of Cockburn Waste Team

Category 7: Waste Innovation of the Year

Winner: Mindarie Regional Council (Face Your Waste Clear Bins)

Highly commended: City of Joondalup (Ocean Reef Fish Cleaning and Waste Management Station)

Highly commended: SpiderWaste Collection Services

Category 8: Waste Wise School of the Year

Winner: Hillcrest Primary School

Highly commended: Lynwood Senior High School

Highly commended: Santa Maria College

Category 9: Media Award

Winner: Lisa Morrison

Highly commended: Emma Young

Initiative recycles 2M kg of agricultural plastic waste

Almost two million kilograms of bulk fertiliser bags have been recycled as part of an environmental stewardship initiative that has partnered with fertiliser companies, farmers and local councils.

The Farm Waste Recovery program began in 2015 and collects fertiliser bags made out of woven polypropylene at council depots, resellers and farmers to recover the material.

Related stories:

After collection, the bags are then processed and recycled for use in other plastic items such as garden furniture and traffic bollards to divert the material from landfill.

Managing Director of Farm Waste Recovery Stephen Richards said the initiative has saved the community more than $1.25 million in landfill and waste management costs over three years.

“We are very grateful for the proactive support provided by our key stakeholders and they should feel very proud of their recycling efforts as we celebrate National Recycling Week for 2018,” Mr Richards said.

“The time is right to expand the Farm Waste Recovery program as we develop new processing plants for the recovered material to ensure that recycled plastics are used in the manufacture of new products.”