One year on from the ARL

As the Australasian Recycling Label celebrates its first anniversary, APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly reflects on the success of the recycling education program to date and shares what to expect next for the campaign. Read more

QLD awards resource recovery development grants

Stream one grant recipients of the Queensland Government’s $100 million Resource Recovery Industry Development Program (RRIDP) are estimated to divert 32,160 tonnes of waste from landfill each year.

Acting Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the RRIDP aims to transform Queensland’s resource recovery industry by supporting projects that divert waste from landfill, reduce stockpiling and create jobs.

“Over 120 applications from across Queensland were received, which is a fantastic result and demonstrates the interest and capacity for the development of this industry,” Mr Hinchliffe said.

“For this round of stream one, projects were assessed on multiple criteria including contribution to development of industry, tonnes per dollar rates of diversion and projects that addressed waste that is historically hard to get rid of.”

Three streams of funding available under the program, with stream one providing dollar-for-dollar capital grants between $50,000 and $5 million for infrastructure projects that enhance or build new facilities, or for capital investments in new processing and technological capabilities.

Stream two provides incentives to attract or expand resource recovery operations, while stream three aims to grow Queensland’s resource recovery industry by attracting investments in new infrastructure.

The five recipients of RRIDP funding are:

— Astron Plastics: $2.5 million to divert 6,300 tonnes per annum of soft plastic waste.
— Cairns Regional Council: $295,400 to divert 18,735 tonnes per annum of construction and demolition waste.
— Elliott Agriculture: $325,000 to divert 2,256 tonnes per annum of organic waste.
— Townsville City Council: $60,000 to divert 572 tonnes per annum of general waste.
— Horne Group: $265,882 to divert 4,297 tonnes per annum of construction and demolition waste.

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Coca-Cola produces first recycled carbonated soft drink bottle

Coca-Cola Amatil has produced Australia’s first carbonated soft drink bottles made from 100 per cent recycled plastic.

Following this development, the company announced all single-serve plastic bottles in Australia would switch to fully recycled material by the end of 2019.

Group Managing Director Alison Watkins said while 100 per cent recycled plastic had previously been used in still beverages, it had never been successfully used for carbonated drinks.

According to Ms Watkins, the pressure in a soft drink bottle is three times that of a car tyre, as such, bottles for carbonated drinks require stronger material than those for still beverages.

“That’s been an obstacle in using 100 per cent recycled materials for these types of drinks,” Ms Watkins said.

“I’m pleased to say we’ve overcome this challenge through innovation and design, and we are now the first in Australia to make 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles for carbonated beverages.”

Ms Watkins said the change to 100 per cent recycled plastic would reduce Coca-Cola’s use of virgin plastic by roughly 10,000 tonnes a year.

“Community and commercial pressure is driving a rapid take-up of recycled materials in bottling,” Ms Watkins said.

“The new 100 per cent recycled plastic bottle range supports the Coca-Cola Company’s aspiration for a world without waste, an ambition to help collect and recycle one bottle or can for each one it produces.”

The company’s Mount Franklin Still range was switched to 100% recycled plastic bottles in 2018.

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WA awards waste avoidance and recovery grants

More than $2.29 million has been allocated between 28 projects for waste avoidance and recovery in Western Australia, as part of the latest round of Community and Industry Engagement grants.

Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who announced the recipients earlier this week, said awarded projects were selected following an independent panel assessment of 90 applications.

“The community shift to treating waste as a resource shows we are well on our way to owning our impact,” Mr Dawson said.

“In our waste strategy released earlier this year, the state government was clear that we want at least 75 per cent of waste generated to be reused or recycled by 2030.”

Selected projects were broken up into two streams, with awards for the general stream including $93,000 for the Western Australia plastic processing plant and $81,450 for a Mindarie regional council FOGO trial.

Infrastructure stream grants include $114,000 for the reuse and recycle shop baler upgrade and $310,000 for the Old Quarry Road transfer station and reuse shop.

According to Mr Dawson, funding decisions were made to improve the recovery and reuse of focus materials from the WA Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 including plastic, glass, construction and demolition and FOGO.

“A number of grant recipients have received funding to develop WA’s plastics recycling capacity, including two grants to Greenbatch for reprocessing equipment and education facilities, and a grant to Precious Plastics Margaret River for a community recycling project in the south west,” Mr Dawson said.

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Victorians transition to digital PIW certificates

The Victorian Waste Management Association has raised concerns about the waste industry’s preparedness for compulsory electronic prescribed industrial waste transport certificates by 1 July, 2019.

EPA Victoria (EPA) currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates for prescribed industrial waste (PIW).

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said that the EPA will not accept the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019. She said that waste operators experiencing difficulty accessing the electronic system should contact EPA as soon as practicable.

The new system aims to enable the EPA to monitor the movement of waste more quickly and accurately, compared to the paper certificates, which can be time consuming and difficult to process.

Under the new system, all holders will be required to submit electronic waste transport certificates. Waste producers, transporters and receivers will need to register a Portal Account with EPA to use the system, via the EPA website.

The EPA currently uses a mix of electronic and paper waste transport certificates – with up to 100,000 paper certificates received each year.

The EPA will invest $5.5 million to switch to a fully GPS electronic tracking system to better record the production, movement and receipt of industrial waste.

The transition forms part of a suite of measures to crack down on the illegal storage of hazardous waste.

The centrepiece is a new integrated waste tracking tool, with improved data analytics and reporting. This will deliver insights on sector activity, trends and highlight potential illegal activity.

EPA’s tracking system will be finalised by March 2020, so that industry has three months to transition before the new Environment Protection Act legislation comes into effect on 1 July 2020.

The new legislation aims to introduce modern surveillance devices, tougher penalties and a greater focus on industry responsibility and proactively managing risks to human health and environment.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said that 10-week notice period to transition from paper to electronics hasn’t provided many opportunities for discussions with business on the impacts of this change. He noted that in particular, this would affect people who act as agents or third parties for a generator or receiver.

Mr Smith pointed out that the discovery of illegally stored chemical stockpiles in Melbourne earlier this year shone a light on the management of PIW across Victoria and the EPA’s role in preventing harm to the environment and public health.

“The Bradbury fire highlighted deficiencies in the current administration of the PIW system and the Victorian Government had to act,” Mr Smith said.

He said that the VWMA supports this action. However, he pointed out that government needs to ensure the implementation of this change doesn’t result in unintended consequences from rogue operators that will actively look for ways around the system while at the same time burden compliant businesses further.

“I don’t think anyone is doubting the government’s intent with these changes. The recent events are unacceptable and action needs to be taken,” Mr Smith said.

“It’s just really important, like with any change, business is provided an opportunity to engage in discussion on how these changes will be felt and tackle any loopholes together.

To support businesses with the transition, EPA is supporting the VWMA to hold a series of face-to-face sessions this week that will provide businesses an opportunity to walk through the online system.

The sessions will hear about how the changes will come together and receive further updates from the VWMA on what they are doing to support their members through this transition.

The sessions will also provide an opportunity for business to engage in discussion around potential or perceived impacts of the change.

Mr Smith said the information sessions would not be possible without the support of the EPA.

“It’s great to see EPA keen to assist businesses with one-on-one assistance if needed. I understand that EPA have put more staff on to help with the transition.

“I’d encourage anyone who may be impacted to attend in person or join remotely via the webinar service we will offer. People can also phone in to listen if they don’t have internet access.”

Dr Wilkinson said that the EPA had conducted an extensive engagement program with the waste industry to facilitate this transition.

“Businesses that are concerned that they cannot use the electronic tracking system have been asked to contact EPA to outline the circumstances preventing them from accessing the system,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“EPA will work with each duty holder to identify a solution to enable them to continue to comply with their obligations under the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that facilities that receive waste have all registered to use electronic certificates.

“Waste producers, accredited agents, transporters and receivers are required to ensure they are compliant with the Environment Protection (Industrial Waste Resource) Regulations 2009.”

She said that waste receivers should notify EPA if a waste transporter presents waste that does not have an electronic waste transport certificate.

“Receivers should also inform the transporter of the requirement to use electronic certificates and direct them to contact EPA on 1300 EPA VIC if they are not yet registered to use electronic certificates so that EPA can facilitate their immediate transition to the electronic system.”

Dr Wilkinson said that some waste receivers are adopting the position of refusing to accept any waste that is tracked using the traditional carbon copy certificates after 1 July 2019.

“EPA supports businesses who communicate this position to companies that they are expecting to receive waste from. EPA will refund unused carbon copy certificates that are returned to EPA by 31 July 2019, having extended this date from 30 June 2019.

“Development of the EPA’s tracking system continues and EPA is satisfied with the progress in developing the new tracking system ready for March 2020.”

For information on the VWMA sessions and how you participate please contact the VWMA/VTA on 03 9646 8590 or visit. The sessions will be held at the VWMA office in Port Melbourne on the following dates:

  • Session 1: 8:30am (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 2: 12:30pm (Thursday 27 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Special Session 3: 3:30pm (Thursday 27 June) – Intended for major projects, earth movers and contaminated soils. Maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 4: 8:30am (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.
  • Session 5: 12:30pm (Friday 28 June) maximum capacity 40 people.

The VWMA is also offering remote access for people unable to attend in person. Attendees can join via a virtual meeting and view the session online.

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ALDI announces new packaging commitments

ALDI Australia has announced it will cut a quarter of all plastic packaging from its range by 2025, as part of a wide range of new packaging commitments.

ALDI Australia Managing Director Buying Oliver Bongardt made the announcement in front of 100 ALDI business partners at a supplier forum this week.

“In an act of transparency and authenticity, ALDI has committed to annually report on its progress towards this goal,” Mr Bongardt said.

“It’s our ambition to reduce the amount of plastic in our stores, while in parallel stimulating Australia’s circular economy and ensuring our business partners have commercially viable packaging options to reduce their reliance on virgin materials.”

Mr Bongardt said all single use plastics, such as cotton buds and plastic plates, will also be removed from ALDI stores by the end of 2020.

“Despite our desire, and that of our customers, to remove plastics immediately, this process will take years not weeks,” Mr Bongardt said.

“Today’s announcement is to clearly demonstrate that we are completely invested in the important journey of reducing waste, and we stand committed to quantify our progress over the coming years.”

Additionally, Mr Bongardt announced that ALDI had diverted six billion single-use plastic bags from entering the environment, the equivalent of 40,000 tonnes of soft plastic, since opening 18 years ago.

Mr Bongardt said ALDI acknowledged the pressure these commitments would place on their businesses and has resourced a team to support the transition.

In response to the announcement, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly said ALDI was demonstrating that sustainable packaging could drive a range of positive commercial benefits.

“I’d like to acknowledge ALDI on their new sustainability commitments, which represent a significant contribution to sustainable packaging in Australia and an important milestone in our work to reach the 2025 National Packaging Targets,” Ms Donnelly said.

“It’s particularly impressive to see the process ALDI has undertaken to involve their suppliers, effectively bringing a range of businesses along on their sustainable packaging journey and delivering an efficient, cost effective approach to the entire supply chain.”

ALDI’s packaging commitments:

— Reduce plastic packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.

— Actively reduce the amount of plastic packaging in the fresh produce range and transition to more sustainable alternatives where possible, producing no increase in food waste.

— Phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics by the end of 2020.

— Prioritise the reduction or replacement of difficult to recycle black plastic packaging.

— Make ALDI’s exclusive range packaging 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by the end of 2025.

— By the end of 2020, all paper and pulp-based packaging in ALDI’s everyday range will be either Forest Stewardship Council certified, Programme for the Endorsement of Forest certified or 70 per cent recycled.

— Include, at minimum, 30 per cent recycled materials in plastic packaging by the end of 2025.

— Use the Australasian Recycling Label on all ALDI branded products by the end of 2022.

— Further educate customers on the importance of packaging waste reduction.

— Publicly report against all goals from 2020.

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Trevor Evans MP opens APCO Collective Action Group

Trevor Evans, the Federal Government’s Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management has officially opened the first meeting of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Collective Action Group (CAG).

The team of 12 leading representatives from across the supply chain and government will be tasked with overseeing the progress of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The 2025 targets were launched by government and industry in 2018. The CAG’s role is to work with APCO to oversee the development of a systemic model for how Australia can deliver the 2025 targets. The primary task for the CAG in 2019 is to develop a white paper setting out the roadmap for all stakeholders and identifying the critical interventions required to successfully transition Australia to a circular economy for packaging.

The CAG brings together representatives from the resource recovery, community, government, packaging, retail and manufacturing sectors to tackle Australia’s packaging waste challenges. It includes organisations such as Coles, David Jones and Country Road Group, Nestle, Coca Cola Amatil, EY, Planet Ark, the Australian Council of Recycling, SUEZ, Visy, Pact Group, the Department of Environment and Science (QLD) and the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy.

Mr Evans told the CAG the Federal Government had endorsed the National Packaging Targets.

“We’ve provided $1.1 million to APCO to help drive the consumer education and awareness that we need to see as we go on this journey in relation to recycled packaging.

“At this year’s election, we put a package of measures valued at over $160 million together to support waste reduction and recycling in this country. That included, very importantly, $20 million on the table for product stewardship so that is to support the development of new industry led recycling schemes and another $20 million for research,” Mr Evans said.

He said noted that last year’s meeting of environment ministers agreed to a National Waste Policy that would set a new unified direction on waste and recycling.

“We’re going through the process of developing a strong national action plan and importantly that has to include appropriate funding, robust targets and milestones along the way.”

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said that the formation of the CAG is an exciting milestone in APCO’s work towards delivering the targets.

“It’s fantastic to bring together such a prestigious group of leaders for the task. The 2025 National Packaging Targets are some of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia and their delivery requires collaboration from across industry,” Ms Donnelly said.

“We applaud all CAG participants and their leading organisations for stepping up as key players in the global movement to create sustainable packaging solutions that drive accountability, transparency and shared value for consumers, industry and government”.

Over the next 12 months, APCO will be delivering an extensive program of projects to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. These will be facilitated by a team of APCO Working Groups, comprising nearly 100 participants from industry and government across Australia which will in turn provide analysis and resources to the overarching CAG.

The CAG met for the first time on Tuesday.

The projects include comprehensive infrastructure mapping of the current waste and recycling system and a series of models for alternatives; a range of research and trials to better understand compostability, remote and regional waste collection partnerships, phasing out of single-use plastics and consumer education initiatives to ensure a consistent approach to resource recovery in the packaging streams.

CAG Members include:

  • Jeff Maguire, Group Head of CDS Implementation and Packaging Sustainability, Coca-Cola Amatil
  • Margaret Stuart, Head of Corporate and External Relations, Nestlé Oceania
  • Raphael Geminder, Chairman at Pact Group Holdings
  • Richard Macchiesi, General Manager – Insights and Innovation – Visy
  • Fiona Baxter, Group Manager Responsible Sourcing, Coles
  • Lok-Man Shu, Regional Environment Manager, David Jones and Country Road Group
  • Louise Vickery, Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy
  • Kylie Hughes, Director Waste Policy and Legislation, Department of Environment and Science QLD
  • Terence Jeyretnam, Partner, Climate Change & Sustainability, EY
  • Paul Klymenko, CEO, Planet Ark
  • Peter Shmigel, CEO, Australian Council of Recycling
  • Justin Frank, Director, Marketing, Communications and Key Accounts, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand
  • Anne Astin, Independent Director, APCO – Chair of CAG
  • Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO – CAG Secretariat
  • Helen Lewis, Professor, Institute for Sustainable Futures – CAG Secretariat