Plant waste to power planes

Plant waste from agriculture and timber harvesting could be converted into high-density aviation fuel according to the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics in China.

The research, published in scientific journal Joule, comes at a time when international bodies and governments begin to invest more resources into the issue of organic waste streams, and provides an interesting case study for the future of the industry.

Scientists at the Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics have converted cellulose, a polymer formed on plant cell walls, into a high density fuel that can be used as a wholesale replacement or an additive to improve the efficiency of other jet fuels.

While chain alkanes derived from cellulose such as branched octane, dodecane, and hexadecane have previously used for jet-fuel, researchers believe this is the first study to produce more complex polycycloalkane compounds that can be used as high-density aviation fuel.

Author of the study research scientist Ning Li said the new biofuel could be instrumental in helping aviation “go green.”

“Our biofuel is important for mitigating CO2 emissions because it is derived from biomass and has higher density (or volumetric heat values) compared with conventional aviation fuels.

“As we know, the utilisation of high-density aviation fuel can significantly increase the range and payload of aircraft without changing the volume of oil in the tank,” Li said.

Li and his team said the process’ cheap, abundant cellulose feedstock, fewer production steps, and lower energy cost and consumption mean it will soon be ready for commercial use applications.

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Victoria first recycled concrete trial in Hoppers Crossing

In a Victoria first trial, a two-hundred-metre long concrete footpath made with 199,000 recycled glass and plastic bottles has been laid in Hoppers Crossing.

The new concrete, developed by Sustainability Victoria and Swinburne University of Technology, was funded through the Victorian Government’s Research, Development and Demonstration grant as part of the $4.5 million Resource Recovery Market Development Program (RRMDP).

RRMDP was announced last year and aims to develop Victorian markets for recyclable waste, boost research and increase the use of recovered glass fines and flexible plastics in products and processing techniques.

The Swinburne University of Technology research team worked with recycled content supplier PolyTrade, Wyndham City Council and concrete contractor MetroPlant to develop the material.

The aggregate contains 2600 kilograms of shredded recycled plastics between four and eight millimetres and 5500 kilograms of glass fines —leftover glass particles typically between three and eight millimetres in size.

The glass fines and plastic are bound directly into the concrete through a technique similar to that used for traditional aggregate materials.

Approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics and over 60,000 tonnes of glass fines, which are too small to be recycled by standard process, end up in Victorian landfills every year.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan said the development of innovative new products helps encourage government to invest in building better waste systems that divert materials from landfill, consume fewer natural resources and reduce carbon emissions.

“Sustainability Victoria has been thinking circular for a long time, we can create more value from our waste by designing for reuse, keeping products circulating in the economy at their greatest value for as long as possible.

“A circular economy requires commitment from industry, government and the community, which is why we apply the principles to our program design and delivery,” Mr Krpan said.

The footpath will be closely monitored to confirm durability and performance, and if, or how, any plastics could potentially be released from the solid bound pavement.

The aggregate blend meets required strength and standards for footpath construction, with tests showing similar wear resistance to control samples.

Information from the project will be captured and used to improve recycled concrete technology to inform future projects.

Sustainability Victoria will continue to work with councils, Local Government Victoria and the Municipal Association of Victoria to increase the uptake of recycled content in infrastructure.

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Better Bins to be implemented in 370,000 new households

Over the next 12 months the Western Australian Better Bins program will be implemented in more than 370,000 households in the City of Joondalup, City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle, plus additional households in the City of Melville.

The City of Melville trialled a full FOGO system in 2017-18, returning positive results for the diversion of household organics from landfill.

In its Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, the Western Australian Government outlined food organics and garden organics collection (FOGO) as a priority for waste avoidance and minimisation.

Run by the Western Australian Waste Authority, the Better Bins program aims to ensure that all Perth and Peel households have a third kerbside bin for FOGO by 2025.

Better Bins runs on the principal that more waste separation at the source leads to less contamination and therefore greater recycling and reuse rates.

Under the three-bin FOGO system, food scraps and garden organics are separated from other waste categories at kerbside and reused to create high-quality compost.

The system also functions to keep other waste streams clean and uncontaminated, therefore making them easier to recycle, reprocess and remake into products, reducing the need for extraction of new materials

Currently 16 local governments participate in the program and of these, five are providing a full FOGO service.

After the 370,000 new additions the rate of household participation across the state will stand at 37 per cent.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation will soon start consulting with key stakeholders on how to promote and encourage local governments’ adoption of FOGO systems, hoping to increase material recovery to 75 per cent by 2030.

WA has extended the funding application period until 30 June 2019.

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National Food Waste Baseline report released

The Federal Government has announced the key findings of Australia’s National Food Waste Baseline report.

Last year, the Federal Government appointed a steering committee to support the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy, which has a goal to halve the nation’s food waste by 2030.

The Food Waste Steering Committee provided guidance and advice to Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) as it developed plan in 2018 that clearly sets out the actions to be taken to reduce Australia’s food waste over the short, medium and long term.

A National Food Waste Baseline was developed in order to measure and monitor progress towards the food waste reduction goal.

In a statement, Environment Minister Melissa Price said that findings from the National Food Waste Baseline report will be used to develop measurable baselines, food waste datasets and targeted strategies to meet the target.

The National Food Waste Baseline report shows Australia generated 7.3 million tonnes of food waste across the food supply and consumption chain in 2016-17, the equivalent of 298 kilograms per person.

The report, commissioned by the Federal Government, shows that while Australia recycled 1.2 million tonnes of total food waste and recovered 2.9 million tonnes through alternative uses, it still disposed of 3.2 million tonnes over the period.

Consulting with industry organisations, the report found 2.5 million tonnes (34 per cent) of food waste was generated by households, 2.3 million tonnes (31 per cent) by primary production and agricultural pursuits and 1.8 million tonnes (25 per cent) by the manufacturing sector.

Sugarcane fibre (bagasse) was excluded from the baseline as the report identifies it as already well utilised, with mill-generated bagasse primarily combusted to generate on-site power.

Ms Price said targeted research and the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy by Food Innovation Australia will strengthen the rigour of the governments food waste datasets and its capacity to further reduce food waste.

Findings were released by the Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre in Adelaide with a full report to be published on the Federal Government website in the coming weeks.

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Victorian State of the Environment report lists recommendations

The Victorian State of the Environment 2018 report says the Victorian Government needs to align its institutional planning and procurement processes to support the delivery of its planned circular economy strategy.

The report, commissioned by Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Dr Gillian Sparkes, says five out of six waste indicators are stable.

Indicators used were total waste generation, generation of municipal waste per capita, total food waste generated, diversion rate, littler and illegal dumping and total hazardous waste managed and reported.

While most indicators are stable, except litter and illegal dumping which is improving, the report says the total amount of waste generated is poor and offers two key recommendations to improve the waste situation in Victoria.

First, in 2019 Sustainability Victoria need to develop indicators and implement a comprehensive monitoring and reporting framework to measure delivery of the statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan against circular-economy design principals.

Recommendations suggest that from July 2020 this progress should be expanded and a reporting framework that tracks progress put in place, with a public report released annually.

Second, the Victorian Government needs to align its institutional planning and procurement processes to support the delivery of the circular economy strategy and clarify which agencies will be responsible for delivering policy, procurement, program, reporting and regulatory roles.

The report says this alignment should be adopted statewide to enable an orderly transition to a circular economy in Victoria by 2030, with the initial focus being reducing consumption and contamination levels in kerbside recycling.

Recommendations also note that the Victorian Government needs to commit to long-term, systemic, statewide community education to support these transitions and improve long-term system outcomes.

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Mixed reactions

How is the NSW EPA’s decision to ban mixed waste organics affecting the industry months on? Waste Management Review investigates.

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Veolia and Nestlé partner to tackle plastic waste

Veolia and Nestlé have announced a partnership to work on waste collection and sorting, and recycling plastic material with an emphasis on flexible plastic packaging.

Projects will focus on eleven priority countries across Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe.

The collaboration will explore technologies to establish viable models of recycling in different countries, including chemical recycling technologies like pyrolysis which is capable of producing virgin quality plastic.

These potential technologies will help Nestlé increase the recycled content of its bottled water packaging to 35 per cent and its overall product packaging to 15 per cent by 2025.

Nestlé Executive Vice President, Head of Operations Magdi Batato said plastic waste is a challenge that requires an ecosystem of solutions that work simultaneously.

“This partnership is another specific step to accelerate our efforts in addressing the critical issue of plastic waste.

“Leveraging on Veolia’s technology and expertise, we will start with pilot projects in multiple countries with the intention of scaling these up globally,” he said.

In late 2018 Nestlé committed to making 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025.

Veolia Senior Executive Vice-President for Development, Innovation and Markets Laurent Auguste said the company welcomed the partnership as part of Veolia’s quest for a more circular economy of plastics.

“Our expertise in resource recovery and recycling has positioned us to tackle this issue with global brands and other value-chain actors across all continents.

“We believe it is time to move towards more recycling of materials, and we are happy to help our clients be ever more inventive so they can keep improving our quality of life, whilst protecting our planet and its resources,” he said.

The partnership follows a series of initiative’s taken by both companies to accelerate action to reduce plastic waste.

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Tyre export markets audited

According to Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA), used tyres are being sent overseas with little regard for environmentally sound recycling processes.

TSA Chief Executive Officer Lina Goodman said a recent audit into where some Australian recyclers are sending tyres revealed multiple red flags.

These include selling to businesses with poor health and safety practices, poor storage conditions and companies involved in environmentally harmful burning.

“Whilst it is inevitable that some used tyres will be sold overseas, we want Australian tyre recyclers and collectors to be more vigilant and responsible about where they send their product.

“Although TSA does not have the authority to regulate these markets, we do want to help our participants make informed choices – choices that are safer for the environment and society,” Ms Goodman said.

TSA have engaged multinational assurance company Intertek to assist with the verification of downstream end-of-life tyre processes and review its product stewardship scheme with the aim of greater transparency.

The guiding principal of the product stewardship scheme is that all members must use accredited TSA collectors and recyclers, and if they don’t comply membership can be revoked.

Intertek General Manager Australasia Benjamin Rieck said the company is committed to working with TSA to ensure responsible and environmentally sound outcomes over a range of areas including distribution, environmental, health and safety, modern slavery and broader social responsibility and compliance.

TSA has to date committed $4 million to the development of sustainable end markets for tyre-derived products within Australia.

“We are working hard to support these emerging markets but in the meantime, we need to do more to help our participants find and use reputable overseas recyclers,” Ms Goodman said.

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