New parliamentary role created for waste reduction

Re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new parliamentary position, Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister.

The role has been awarded to Queensland MP Trevor Evans, who was elected to the House of Representatives for Brisbane in 2016.

Mr Morrison has also announced his new cabinet, replacing Environment Minister Melissa Price with Sussan Ley.

Ms Price served as Environment Minister since August 2018, after previously serving as Assistant Minister to the portfolio.

Since being elected to parliament in 2001, Ms Ley has served as Health Minister, Education Minister, Sport Minister and most recently Regional Development Assistant Minister.

“Australians hold strong views on caring for our environment, both locally and globally, and I look forward to listening to the variety of perspectives and ideas that will be put forward,” Ms Ley said.

“As well as implementing our government’s strong range of policy initiatives in this portfolio.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the national industry body welcomed both appointments.

“WMRR congratulates both the minister and assistant minister, and looks forward to working with them on the commitments made by the government ahead of the election. Once the dust settles WMRR will be engaging with Minister Ley on how we can move forward,” Ms Sloan said.

“Effectively drawing that link between the environment and the economy so our essential waste and resource recovery industry maximises the opportunities at hand, to not only protect the environment, but grow local jobs and the economy.”

Australian Council of Recyclers CEO Peter Shmigel said the appointment of Sussan Ley and Trevor Evans represents unprecedented national leadership on recycling,

“This is the first time there’s direct ownership and accountability for recycling results at a ministerial level. The creation of the assistant minister role is a really welcome innovation by Prime Minister Scott Morrison,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The assistant minister helps guarantee the delivery of the government’s very substantive and useful recycling promises, including infrastructure funding and product stewardship progress.”

Roles within the Environment and Energy Department have also been re-shuffled, with responsibility for emissions reduction transferred from environment minister to energy minister.

Ms Price has been removed from cabinet all together and will serve as defence minister, while Angus Taylor remains in his role as energy minister.

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Sacyr opens waste treatment plant in south-east Melbourne

International waste management company Sacyr has opened a waste treatment plant in Melbourne with the capacity to process 120,000 tonnes of organic waste per year.

A Sacyr spokesperson said the indoor composting facility will be one of the most advanced of its type in Victoria.

“The facility will be used by councils in the south eastern suburbs of Melbourne, providing service to a population of 1.2 million people to recycle green garden and food waste,” the spokesperson said.

“The resulting compost will have a great commercial value due to the aerobic tunnel fermentation process and the aerobic maturation in the warehouse, resulting in a product that complies with the most demanding standards within the industry and with the rigorous Australian quality standard AS4454.”

According to the spokesperson, the facility takes the process of composting and industrialises it.

“Instead of relying on individuals to compost their organic waste, Sacyr can compost the organic waste of eight south-east Melbourne metropolitan councils and produce up to 50,000 tonnes of quality compost per annum.” the spokesperson said.

“The facility creates several environmental benefits to the Australian waste management sector such as reducing the amount of landfill waste and reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses such as methane.”

The spokesperson said all plant warehouses will be completely sealed and have an efficient deodorisation system so not to affect neighbouring residents.

“With the start-up of the plant, more than 65,000 tons of CO2 per year will cease to be released into the atmosphere and the emissions generated by landfill waste will be reduced by 85 per cent, the equivalent of removing 13,900 cars from circulation,” the spokesperson said.

The facilities treatment process combines a mechanical system developed by German company Stadler and a biological and air treatment system designed by Dutch company Waste Treatment Technologies.

“Sacyr’s know how, acquired over more than 20 years, will be an innovation in Australia’s current waste management system,” the spokesperson said.

“This procedure stands out, among other aspects, for its ventilation spigots and leachate collection systems.”

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Nespresso recycles used coffee pods

Nespresso is scaling up its recycling system for used aluminium capsules to tackle the issue of coffee pod waste.

Nespresso General Manager Loic Rethore said the company’s investment in the system ensures customers can recycle their used Nespresso capsules, regardless of how remotely they live.

To celebrate the initiative, Nespresso have launched a series of limited-edition pens made with aluminium from used coffee pods in partnership with Swiss writing and drawing instrument manufacturers Caran d’Ache.

“We’re delighted to be partnering once again with Caran d’Ache to bring our customers this accessory, a true celebration of the infinite recyclability of aluminium and the value of this commodity in the circular economy,” Mr Rethore said.

“The pen demonstrates how up-cycling can result in the creation of design objects, giving new value to what was once considered waste.”

Mr Rethore said there are four ways customers can recycle their used coffee capsules, including participating in a bulk recycling collection initiative, returning used aluminium capsules to a Nespresso Boutique, dropping them off at a participating florist collection point or posting used capsules back to Nespresso using a special Australia Post satchel.

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Illegally dumped waste costs Melbourne $10.8 million a year

Cleaning up illegally dumped material costs Melbourne $10.8 million a year, according to a Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) survey.

Following the survey, MWRRG conducted research into factors that contribute to illegal dumping in the region.

MWRRG Litter and Illegal Dumping Program Coordinator Jess Hand presented the findings at Waste 2019 in Coffs Harbour early this month.

“They want to give their items a second chance at life, people justify putting items on the kerb as a form of giving or a charitable act,” Ms Hand said.

The research found proximity to a transfer station made no difference to knowledge of disposal options, participants over 50 however are more likely to use one.

“There is also a misperception among participants that all hard waste collected by councils goes to landfill,” Ms Hand said.

“We need to make sure residents know how to rehome or recycle items responsibly, using charity stores, online marketplaces or council waste disposal channels.”

In 2016-17 metropolitan councils in Victoria collected more than 100,000 tonnes of hard waste, which MWRRG indicates as material unable to be collected through kerbside collection, such as white goods, mattresses, e-waste, general household goods and furniture.

Of metropolitan Melbourne’s 31 councils, all offer a kerbside hard waste service to residents in addition to kerbside bin collections, however only 19 operate a transfer station.

Ms Hand said the findings will be used to inform the development of an illegal dumping prevention resource kit for metropolitan councils.

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Submissions sought for Victorian waste infrastructure

Infrastructure Victoria will provide advice to government on infrastructure required to support changes to recycling and resource recovery in Victoria.

Infrastructure Victoria is now seeking submissions from waste sector stakeholders.

Infrastructure Victoria Chief Executive Officer Michel Masson said the request comes at a time of significant change for the waste industry.

“Recent changes in the global market for recycled products mean there are flow-on impacts for how Victoria collects, sorts and exports waste,” Mr Masson said.

“With these changes come both challenges and opportunities, and we are pleased to be able to explore these as part of our advice to the government.”

Mr Masson said Infrastructure Victoria will undertake comprehensive engagement with community and stakeholders to develop the advice.

“Hearing from industry, local government and the community will be essential,” Mr Masson said.

“We will build on the substantial amount of work that already exists or is being progressed to support Victoria’s waste management, and will ensure our advice takes account of community attitudes and expectations.”

Mr Masson said advice will be based on projections of future waste streams and projected trends in population growth.

“In framing this advice, Infrastructure Victoria will also take note of specific implications for regional Victoria,” Mr Masson said.

Infrastructure Victoria is seeking advice on infrastructure required to:

— Develop Victoria’s re-processing sector for recycled material, particularly those that rely heavily on overseas markets.

— Better enable the use of products containing recycled materials in a variety of Victoria industries such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture.

— Support a waste to energy sector that priorities the extraction of recyclable material and recovers energy only from residual waste.

— Support organics recycling though front end infrastructure requirements and trade-off opportunities.

Infrastructure Victoria will deliver advice to government in April 2020. An interim report will be provided in October 2019.

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Sustainability Victoria CEO moves to Solar Victoria

Stan Krpan will leave his position as CEO of Sustainability Victoria after being appointed inaugural CEO of Solar Victoria.

Mr Krpan said it was a privilege to lead Sustainability Victoria and watch its impact grow.

“I am enormously proud to have been able to work with so many passionate people across projects which inform, educate and deliver tangible outcomes for Victorians to act on climate change and improve the way we manage waste and recycling,” Mr Krpan said.

“I am particularly grateful to the many and varied stakeholders, who have been the key ingredient to our success and share our passion to position Victoria for a sustainable future.”

Mr Krpan said the position at Solar Victoria will present an opportunity to transform the way Victorians generate residential power from renewable sources.

“In less than a year since Solar Victoria was established, we have seen the huge demand for household solar energy by Victorians,” Mr Krpan said.

“This program is a cornerstone of the Victorian Government’s target to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy in the state by 2030.”

Sustainability Victoria Board Chair Heather Campbell thanked Mr Krpan for his service.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to acknowledge and thank Stan Krpan for his dedicated leadership of Sustainability Victoria since 2012,” Ms Campbell said.

“Under Stan’s leadership Sustainability Victoria delivered Australia’s first statewide waste infrastructure plan, growing investment in waste and resource recovery infrastructure, market development and education to their highest levels.”

Ms Campbell said the board wished Mr Krpan all the best in his new role as CEO of Solar Victoria, which will deliver the state government’s $1.2 billion Solar Homes package from 1 July.

“In August 2018 Stan led the establishment of Solar Victoria as a dedicated business unit under Sustainability Victoria,” Ms Campbell said.

“This will be a seamless transition for both Stan and Solar Victoria, as that organisation moves to become a standalone entity reporting to the Environment Department and Minister Lily D’Ambrosio.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said Solar Homes would cut Victoria’s carbon emissions by four million tonnes – the equivalent of taking one million cars off the road.

“Household solar is expected to generate 12.5 per cent of Victoria’s 40 per cent target for renewable energy by 2025,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Mr Krpan has a strong record in this sector and the right experience to lead the delivery of our landmark Solar Homes package.”

Sustainability Victoria Director Corporate Services Carl Muller will act as interim CEO while a full recruitment process is underway.

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Preparing for the Victorian e-waste ban

With the Victorian e-waste to landfill ban less than six weeks away, the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is holding an event to prepare delegates on 28 May.

Once the ban comes into effect, any device with a power cord or battery will be prohibited from landfill.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the ban had been pushed from its original 2018 start date due to issues impacting the Victorian waste sector.

“We’ve all had a lot going on, and recent events impacting the waste and resource recovery sector have almost made us forget what’s around the corner,” Mr Smith said.

“We’re putting this event on in response to member feedback, and those of the broader sector, who are concerned with the lack of information they have in regard to the incoming e-waste to landfill ban.”

Mr Smith said the event will provide key information to prepare attendees, and also facilitate the opportunity to engage with peers and raise issues and concerns.

“Attendees can also speak directly with government agencies working to implement the commitment to support e-waste resource recovery,” Mr Smith said.

“The event will feature presentations from the Department of Environment, a Q&A with the EPA on compliance and an e-waste infrastructure build update from Sustainability Victoria.”

Mr Smith said there will also be presentations on battery stewardship and the rise of advanced machinery and robotics.

“Delegates will have the opportunity to raise questions, which VWMA will formally raise with government agencies,” Mr Smith said.

“By hosting this event in Ballarat – about an hour out of Melbourne – we can ensure regional members get access and also that our metropolitan members can attend.”

The event will run in partnership with Barwon South West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, CMA Ecocycle and the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform.

VWMA members and delegates from within the Barwon South West and Grampians Central West regions can purchase tickets for $50, which includes morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and workshop materials for the day.

The event will be held at the Mercure Hotel in Ballarat, with accomodation available on site.

To make a booking visit VWMA’s website.

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QLD container refund scheme hits half a billion returns

Half a billion containers have been returned and more than 640 jobs created through Queensland’s container refund scheme, Containers for Change.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said more than 173,000 Queenslanders now have a scheme ID, which shows the state is getting behind the initiative.

“Containers for Change continues to go from strength to strength, providing financial incentives for recycling cans and bottles,” Ms Enoch said.

“The scheme has also helped create more than 640 new jobs and is providing more business opportunities across Queensland.”

Ms Enoch said $50 million had been returned to Queenslanders, charities and community organisations through the scheme.

“When people take their bottles and cans to be recycled, they can choose to get the 10 cent refund or choose to donate that money to charities or community groups,” Ms Enoch said.

“About 3400 community groups, schools, charities and sports clubs are benefitting from the refunds.”

Ms Enoch said since the scheme started on 1 November 2019, there has been a 35 per cent reduction of containers ending up as litter in the environment.

“This scheme, along with the ban on single-use plastic bags also implemented last year, are making a real difference to plastic pollution ending up in our environment and waterways,” Ms Enoch said.

Container Exchange, the organisation that runs the scheme, Chair Mark O’Brien said new refund depots have been opening up across the state in recent weeks.

“We now have more than 275 container refund points providing customer access to container refunds,” Mr O’Brien said.

“Container Exchange will continue to grow the Containers for Change scheme to provide opportunities for customers, charities and community groups to receive refunds and raise funds.”

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