Malaysia sends back plastic waste

The Malaysian Environment Ministry has announced it will ship 450 metric tonnes of illegally imported and contaminated plastic waste back to countries of origin, including Australian material.

The waste, found during container inspections, originates from Australia, the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Japan, China and Bangladesh.

According to a 28 May Environment Ministry statement, once all containers are fully inspected, an estimated 3000 metric tonnes will be shipped back to origin countries.

“These containers are filled with contaminated, non-homogeneous, low quality, non-recyclable plastic waste, and are routed to processing facilities which do not have the technology to recycle in an environmentally sound manner. This practice is against the Environmental Quality Act 1974,” the statement reads.

To date, the ministry has inspected 123 containers from countries including the UK, The United States, Japan, China, Spain, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Bangladesh and Norway.

“The laborious and costly inspection process was necessary to identify the content of the containers and its exporting country – the inspection process is on-going,” the statement reads.

Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia would continue to weed out international imports.

“These containers were illegally brought into the country under false declarations and other offences, which clearly violates our environmental law,” Ms Yin said.

“Garbage is traded under the pretext of recycling and Malaysians are forced to suffer poor air quality due to open burning of plastics which leads to health hazards, polluted rivers, illegal landfills and a host of other related problems. We view the perpetrators of this act as traitors to the country’s sustainability and therefore they should be stopped and brought to justice.”

As party to the Basel Convention Malaysia imposes strict requirements on the importation of mixed plastic waste, in an effort to regulate trade and transboundary movements.

“We urge the developed countries to review their management of plastic waste and stop shipping the garbage out to the developing countries,” Ms Yin said.

“We will compile these recycling companies names and send to the respective government for further investigation.”

Related stories:

Businesses sign the Sydney Single-use Pledge

Industry leaders from the hospitality, accommodation, events and property sectors have joined forces with the City of Sydney to reduce single-use plastics.

More than 30 organisations have signed the Sydney Single-use Pledge, including the Sydney Opera House, Atlassian, Fox Studios and Star Entertainment Group.

Under the new pledge, businesses commit to implementing at least four actions that will reduce reliance on single-use plastic items.

The City of Sydney has taken a platinum pledge, committing to phasing out seven single-use items in its buildings, at its own venues and at events within local government areas.

According to Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Sydney will eliminate or reduce the use of bottled water, plastic straws, plastic serve ware, promotional flyers, single-use cups and single-use plastic giveaways.

“Studies show that up to one million plastic drinks bottles are purchased globally every minute, but less than 50 per cent are collected for recycling,” Ms Moore said.

“Plastic straws can last up to 600 years and many end up in our beautiful harbour and waterways. It is shameful that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.”

The initiative was driven by City of Sydney-led groups Sustainable Destination Partnership, Better Buildings Partnership and CitySwitch.

Ms Moore said by acting together, businesses can reduce their impact on the environment and show the world Sydney is leading the way to a zero waste future.

“The City has set bold targets to reach zero waste by 2030. We must reduce the amount of waste we produce, recycle as much as possible and treat what’s left over in the most sustainable way,” Ms Moore said.

“I congratulate the businesses who have signed this pledge, and urge others to get on board and commit to phasing out single-use plastic because it’s better for business and better for the environment.”

YHA, a budget travel accommodation provider, CEO Julian Ledger said the plastics pledge closely aligns with the organisation’s values and guests expectations.

“YHA Australia is striving towards sustainability, including a ban on the sale of bottled water at major youth hostels,” Mr Ledge said.

“By providing chilled water fountains and re-usable bottles, around 40,000 less single-use water bottles will be sold each year and travellers will be educated about how drinking tap water in Australia is safe.”

Property group GPT head of sustainability Steve Ford said organisations have a big part to play in fight against plastic.

“GPT recognises that waste is being generated at unsustainable rates. We’ve adopted a ‘closed loop’ objective to manage materials that tenants dispose of,” Mr Ford said.

“We recognise that wherever possible, it’s better to eliminate unnecessary single-use items. The single-use pledge is a call to action for all organisations to acknowledge they have a major role to play in tackling the problem of single-use items.”

Allianz Social Impact Manager Charis Martin-Ross said plastic is an issue that requires a united response.

“As businesses and as a community we need to come together to take action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics such as straws, coffee cups and plastic bags,” Ms Martin-Ross said.

“That’s why Allianz is proud to sign this pledge and join the City of Sydney and the broader Sydney community in tackling this serious issue.”

Related stories:

Think tank asks if Victoria’s ready for the e-waste ban?

With just over a month to go, Ewaste Watch questions how prepared Victoria is to realise the benefits of the e-waste landfill ban.

Victoria will become the third jurisdiction in Australia to ban e-waste from landfill on 1 July, following in the footsteps of the ACT and South Australia.

Ewaste Watch director Rose Read said while the state government has made efforts to increase the number of convenient drop-off locations, she is unsure if communities and businesses are sufficiently aware of new collection points.

Ms Read also said critical questions had not been answered, including, will householders and businesses have to pay for the recycling? What controls are in place to ensure waste is properly recycled? What will happen to data left on electronic items? And can householders and businesses take their electronic goods back to manufacturers for free recycling?

“Finally, will local councils who are left to implement the landfill ban be able to field the many questions and provide collection services that meet the expectations of residents and businesses?” Ms Read said.

“If not, there is a real risk we may see an increase in illegal dumping, problematic stockpiling and general non-compliance with the ban.”

Ewaste Watch’s second Director John Gertsakis believes the ban is only one part of the e-waste solution, and that federal government must expand the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme to include all electronic and electrical products not covered by an industry product stewardship scheme.

“Councils need the support of manufacturers, brands and retailers to ensure recycling is free, and that community-friendly options are provided for electronics reuse, repair and recycling,” Mr Gertsakis said.

“The Victorian e-waste ban is a great opportunity to adjust consumer behaviour, build a circular economy and provide a clear signal to the electronics and battery industries to produce more durable and sustainable goods.”

Related stories:

National Symposium on the Beneficial Use of Recycled Organics

The 2nd National Symposium on the Beneficial Use of Recycled Organics will be held 20 – 21 June at the Brisbane Riverview Hotel.

Hosted by the Queensland Government and Griffith University, the symposium will see over 100 delegates from universities and government agencies, as well as environmental consultants, land managers and farmers.

To better understand the beneficial use of recycled organics in our environment, the symposium will examine learnings from its application to agriculture, mining, urban environments and infrastructure.

Speakers will discuss research into the use of recycled organic products to enhance agricultural production in degraded and marginal landscapes and enable the environmental rehabilitation.

WM Waste Management introduces electric waste trucks

A new waste contract with WM Waste Management has seen the introduction of several electric waste collection vehicles in the City of Casey in Melbourne.

The trucks, produced by Superior Pak in collaboration with SEA Electric, are the first of their kind to be designed and manufactured in Australia.

City of Casey Mayor Amanda Stapledon said the vehicles represent a move towards carbon neutral hard-waste collection, less noise and more liveable streets.

Each waste truckload is estimated to save 180 kilograms of carbon dioxide, when compared with an equivalent diesel truck.

The vehicles are solely battery powered and have a charge life of five hours.

WM Waste Management Managing Director Mark Jeffs said it was vital for essential services to lead the way in going carbon neutral.

“Electric trucks are a key demonstration of our support for renewable energy as they significantly reduce our environmental footprint, and improve the sustainability of residential hard waste collection,” Mr Jeffs said.

“It’s massively important. We need to be doing this for our grandkids and for the next generation to continue living on this planet.”

Mr Jeffs said WM Waste Management hope to introduce more battery powered vehicles in the future, after evaluating their success in the City of Casey.

One truck has started collections, with two more to follow in the coming weeks.

Related stories:

Concrete jungle: Lincom Group

Lincom Group’s Concrete Washout Reclaim plant is allowing recyclers to recover sand, water and aggregates for reuse while reducing waste storage areas and handling costs. 

Recovering sand, water and aggregates for beneficial reuse and minimising waste storage and handling costs have been on the agenda of Lincom Group over the past year.

The materials processing equipment specialist recently created a new division – environment and process – to go beyond its capabilities and establish a strong position in the water filtration and water management sector.

Pete Godwin, previously an independent filtration and dewatering consultant, was brought on full-time to lead Lincom’s new environment and process division as manager. Pete says that developing a product with Lincom allows it to service a greater proportion of the market.

“We’re doing something very separate and distinct from the normal sand and aggregates business. The solutions our new division offers are appropriate not just for sand and aggregates, but we’re now servicing a much wider market in food, wastewater treatment, tailings, minerals and a variety of other areas,” Pete explains.

After extensive research and testing, the company developed its concrete washout reclaim system – a Rapid Reclaimer and OFS filter press. The winningcombination allows concrete recyclers to capture clean sand, aggregates and water for further reuse.

Lincom Group recently put on a demonstration day at the Firth Concrete yard in February in Auckland – the largest national manufacturer of ready mixed concrete.

The well attended demonstration allowed attendees to gain a close-up glimpse of the Lincom concrete washout reclaim system.

Pete says feedback from customers was highly positive with a significant number of New Zealand and Australian customers impressed with its capabilities. He says customers were particularly drawn to the high quality of water.

Notably, Pete says the system reduces the footprint for concrete reclaim significantly.

“The reclaimer was around 30 years ago and the world seemed to lost interest for a time, but right now it’s on the top of everyone’s list,” Pete says.

“The prices of real estate in New Zealand and Sydney are a big driver for this because they can get more work out of a much smaller yard by having just a filter press and a reclaimer.

“If it costs one or two million for a block of land in Auckland, you can take a third of that off because of more efficient use of space.”

The Germany-designed and manufactured OFS recessed chamber filter press uses a proved solid/liquid separation technology. Unlike a traditional settling pond system with its large footprint, the filter press is a much more compact solution where the dirty water is pumped from the agitated storage pond, through the press, then back into a clean water pit.

“The rain that falls from the sky ends up going through the same process so it’s a big general clean-up of the area. Concrete plants spend all day hosing due to the dust created and they use large quantities of water to allay the dust,” Pete explains.

“We’ve reduced the dust from breaking up dry waste concrete. If you can reclaim the concrete at its wet stage there is no dust generated, so environmentally that’s a good thing.”

Pete says that concrete plants used to have large settling ponds that would take up excessive amounts of space with cement and stone settling to the bottom. After a week, they would pump out the water and recover sand and aggregates that emerged as a waste product.

He says the reclaimer has a better washing capability than other competitors and places solids into two distinct piles. Other machines may use one pile.

“When the aggregates come out, they are clean. If I pick up a handful of aggregate, there is no colour on my hand – it’s just clean water.”

The rapid concrete washout reclaim unit takes the waste concrete and deconstructs it back into base sand and aggregate components.

The OFS filter system recovers grey water by filtering and compressing dewatered cement fines into manageable “cake” form, solving a variety of issues for concrete producers.

The rapid reclaimer is capable of processing up to 20 cubic metres of concrete slurry per hour.

The reclaimer discharges the cementitious water into the dirty water pit where it’ss continually stirred to keep the spent cement fine particles in suspension. The clean water, known as filtrate, is captured and returned to a clean water pit for use in further concrete batches and reuse in the reclaimer’s washing and separation process.

Sand and aggregates are separated within the reclaimer, with the dewatered sand conveyed by twin hydraulic screws to one pile, while the washed aggregates exit via a belt conveyor to another separate pile. The cementitious water overflows the adjustable weirs and is piped via gravity to an agitated storage pond.

At the end of the cycle, filter cakes fall into the void below the filter press where they are removed as waste or for beneficial reuse.

In tailings and water management, Pete also predicts that centrifuges will continue to garner additional interest in waste and recycling applications into the future, as they are traditionally being used by many major water authorities at this time.

Related stories:

VIC budget allocates $35 million to waste and resource recovery

The 2019-20 Victorian budget has injected $35 million into the waste and resource recovery industry, using funds raised from the municipal and industrial landfill levy.

According to the offical budget website, proceeds from the levy are first used to fund core activities of environmental agencies, with the remaining balance going towards the sustainability fund.

The budget has allocated an additional $68.8 million in levy proceeds including $15 million to strengthen the EPA, $30 million for the Lara stockpile site rehabilitation and $3.7 million to combat illegal stockpiling and hazardous waste mismanagement.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said Victoria was leading the way in its financial commitment to assisting the waste industry in developing markets.

“It’s been more than 18 months since China implemented its National Sword policy and its impacts, along with other ongoing challenges, have brought to the fore the need to build and grow domestic remanufacturing,” Ms Sloan said.

“This week’s $35 million announcement is on top of the almost $37 million Victoria provided to industry in 2018 in the wake of China.”

Ms Sloan said developing a sustainable remanufacturing base was dependant on robust government regulation, and policy that supports market development and demand for recycled material.

“With the recent appointment of two federal ministers in the environment portfolio, including for the first time an assistant minister for waste reduction, WMRR is hopeful that Australia will finally have the much-needed national coordination and leadership it requires to grow its domestic remanufacturing sector and develop a consistent policy approach,” Ms Sloan said.

“We know that for every 10,000 tonnes of product recycled we create 9.2 jobs, so this is good news for Victoria.”

Ms Sloan said it was an exciting time to be working in the waste and resource recovery industry.

“WMRR looks forward to continuing its positive collaboration with the Victorian Government, as it fixes and builds its essential waste and resource recovery industry to create a circular economy and build a local remanufacturing industry,” Ms Sloan said.

“We will continue to work closely with Victoria’s leaders to provide feedback and input on the projects, policies, and investment priorities that will drive the sector forward.”

Related stories:

Queensland releases resource recovery roadmap

Queensland’s Resource Recovery Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan aims to support modernisation in current industries and advance product development in underdeveloped end markets.

State Development Minister Cameron Dick is encouraging all Queenslanders to read the newly released draft and provide feedback.

“The ongoing development of markets for recycled and repurposed material through investment in modern efficient facilities and processes will reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and assist Queensland to become a zero-waste society,” Mr Dick said.

“Working closely with industry and other stakeholders, we’ve developed a series of roadmaps focused on emerging priority sectors with global growth potential.”

The roadmap outlines four strategies to enable growth in the resource recovery industry – accelerate the project pipeline, develop market and supply chains, create responsive policy and legislative frameworks and develop applicable technology.

The draft outlines a number of proposed actions including delivery of the $100 million resource recovery industry development program and developing a comprehensive analysis of the resource recovery market sector, including the identification of supply chain efficiencies and the promotion of new market opportunities.

The state government will also work to provide facilitation services, ensure the availability of suitable industrial land and investigate opportunities for the inclusion of recycled products in government procurement policies.

According to the roadmap’s key date timeline, a waste and resource recovery infrastructure plan will be established by September and an energy-from-waste policy released shortly after.

Mr Dick said through these initiatives the state government hopes to see more material re-enter the production cycle.

“We’re actively looking for opportunities to support new resource recovery sector projects through programs such as the resource recovery strategy and industry development activities,” Mr Dick said.

“Government will support industry to overcome some of the typical barriers encountered by emerging or new technologies, including access to funding, business case development, commercialisation partnerships and the de-risking of projects.”

The Resource Recovery Industries 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan complements the draft Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy released in February 2019.

Related stories:

2018 winner encourages Premier’s Sustainability Awards entrants

Previous entrants in the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards say that their participation has helped their organisations build better customer and community relationships.

Previous winners and finalists in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards say that their involvement has led to better staff morale, improved profiling with their customers and stronger community relationships.

Recent research by Sustainability Victoria says that entrants not only demonstrate increased energy efficiencies and reduced bills through their sustainability projects, by telling their stories through the awards they enjoy a range of other benefits.

The diverse array of historical entrants has comprised councils, government organisations, not-for-profits and businesses across categories such as innovative products and services, environmental protection, government and health. Many of these organisations document their sustainability performance as part of their standard operations, so developing an entry can be a streamlined process.

Last year’s winner of the Premier’s Recognition Award was Yume Food – Australia’s first online platform that connects producers of quality surplus food with buyers. The platform enables food suppliers, such as manufacturers, primary producers and importers to sell their products at a discount to commercial buyers in the food service industry comprising caterers, wholesalers, restaurants, hotels and event centres.

IKEA Richmond won the Large Business category.

Yume won three awards in total, including Innovative Products or Services and the Small and Medium Enterprises categories.

The company’s exceptional results will lead to nearly 850,000 kilograms of food diverted from landfill; 1,682,000 kilograms of CO2 saved, 58 million litres of water saved and more than 23,000 kilograms of food donated to rescue organisations.

Yume’s Founder and CEO, Katy Barfield said that the organisation is asked to enter a lot of awards’ programs but have to be quite selective and the Premier’s Sustainability Awards program was appealing.

“One of the reasons why we go for a small amount of awards is because as a start-up we have limited band

width and put our energy to awards that will further our mission of creating a world without waste,” Ms Barfield said.

She added that the Premier’s Sustainability Awards was simple to enter for multiple categories.

“One of the best results for us has been the recognition. Through our hard work and acknowledgement of programs like this, we have a respected voice in media.

“I’m often asked to speak at conferences and other industry events. It gives us a great opportunity to spread the word even further,” Ms Barfield said.

She said the prestigious awards recognise the groundbreaking innovations emerging out of Victoria and provided Yume Foods with an audience in front of government – the largest procurer of food in the country.

She advised others to put forward nominations and enjoy the benefits of the evening such as networking with important stakeholders, as Yume was able to connect to IKEA the previous year.

“Enjoy the night because it can be a hard road being in this space and the opportunity to celebrate are few at times.”

Western Health won in 2017.

Last year, the Department of Justice and Regulation was a finalist in the government category, after developing a Recycle, Reuse, Donate Woodwork Program for offenders serving Community Correction Orders. The program was established as an environmentally sustainable project that contributes to waste avoidance, while teaching offenders valuable new skills and creating an avenue for them to give back to the local community.

IKEA Richmond won the Large Business category after conducting a refurbishment of its store and rebuilding its showroom, installing a café and improving its in-store navigation, leading to about 85 per cent of all construction materials recycled.

In 2017, Western Health won an award for its single-use metals instruments program, with around 500 kilograms of steel recycled in 2016, representing about 80 per cent of all single-use metal instruments.

In 2016, the City of Booroondara on behalf of the Eastern Alliance for Greenhouse Action Councils, a network of seven councils in Melbourne’s east, won the government award for its work with a variety of organisations to develop and trial a framework for monitoring biodiversity.

Sustainability Victoria (SV) assists entrants throughout the nomination process, then finalists and winners are provided with media releases, social media graphics, professional photos and other promotional collateral.

SV Interim Chief Executive Officer Carl Muller said the 2018 finalists and winners demonstrate that the awards process improves engagement and marketing opportunities at every stage.

“From the time they complete their entries through to the announcement of finalists, then at the prestigious ceremony to announce winners and beyond, entrants report a really positive experience,” Mr Muller said.

“Now is the time for any group doing good sustainability work to highlight their sustainability through the Premier’s Sustainability Awards.”

In the awards’ 17-year history, businesses, schools, organisations and community groups have enjoyed the chance to not only demonstrate their sustainability success, but to promote it.

Entries close at 5pm Thursday, 13 June, 2019.

To find out more, click here

Related stories: