Applications open for Victorian EPA OPLE project

The Victorian Officer for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) program has received a further $3.4 million in state government funding.

The expanded funding will enable the recruitment of 4-6 extra OPLEs for 4-10 partner councils.

The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.

EPA has opened an expression of interest period and is encouraging all local councils to apply.

OPLEs are authorised officers who have powers under the Environment Protection Act to issue pollution abatement and clean up notices.

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said in their first 14 months, OPLEs completed 857 inspections of 605 sites and served 81 notices.

“Local community issues, such as water pollution and management, noise and illegal dumping and odour were common areas the officers dealt with,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“The new OPLEs and council areas will also help EPA combat illegal industrial and chemical waste stockpiling.”

Dr Wilkinson said current participating councils had reported improved response times to pollution reports and increased collaboration, information sharing and expertise since the OPLEs began work in February 2018.

“OPLEs respond to issues relating to noise, dust and odour and waste management issues arising from small to medium size businesses,” Dr Wilkinson said.

“OPLEs also provide local industry, business and community members with the knowledge and skills they need to help prevent, identify and resolve environmental issues.”

All Victorian councils are eligible to apply and must submit applications by 10 July.

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Six new local governments join Tyre Stewardship

A further six local government authorities have received Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) accreditation, after using tyre-derived raw materials in infrastructure projects.

The six new local governments are Burdekin Shire Council (QLD), Campbelltown City Council (SA), Launceston Shire Council (TAS), Paroo Shire Council (QLD), Prospect City Council (SA) and Upper Hunter Shire (NSW).

TSA CEO Lina Goodman said having local authorities on board was a vital step towards ensuring the sustainable management of old tyres.

Ms Goodman also noted having more councils on board would help drive the commercial viability of developing new and improved tyre-derived products.

“Along with transport companies, local governments deploy significant fleets of vehicles,” Ms Goodman said.

“Ensuring that the tyre needs of those fleets are catered for only by entities committed to responsible end-of-life tyre management can make a significant impact on sustainable outcomes for the over 56 million end-of-life tyres Australia generates every year.”

According to Ms Goodman, all newly TSA accredited councils will be closely watching crumbed-rubber asphalt trials in South Australia’s City of Mitcham, with a view off specifying the use of similar surfaces for their future road maintenance and enhancement projects.

“Crumbed-rubber asphalt has been in extensive use overseas, in climatic conditions similar to Australia, with long term use in California, Arizona and South Africa delivering excellent road performance results and highly desirable sustainability outcomes,” Ms Goodman said.

“The local road trial will be looking at a range of performance factors, such as cracking, rutting, moisture retention and general durability.”

Ms Goodman said all local authorities have the opportunity to use recycled tyre-derived materials in urban infrastructure, through both well-established applications and rapidly emerging new products.

“Existing uses of tyre derived material, for applications such as providing soft fall surfaces on playgrounds, are being added to by innovations such as erosion protection wall systems in waterways, noise barriers along roads and permeable pavements for carparks, footpaths and walking tracks,” Ms Goodman said.

“A major focus for the development of new materials is the continual improvement and tailoring of crumbed-rubber asphalt used in roads.”

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Recycled plastic sleepers trial at Melbourne’s Richmond station

Trains travelling through Melbourne’s Richmond station are now running on railway sleepers made from recycled plastic as part of an 18-month trial.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne were at Richmond train station on Monday to see the first of 200 sleepers being installed.

Produced in Mildura by Integrated Recycling, the Duratrack sleepers are made from a mix of polystyrene and agricultural waste, including cotton bale wrap and vineyard covers all sourced in Australia.

The recycled sleepers have a potential lifespan of up to 50 years, are half the cost of traditional timber sleepers and require far less maintenance.

The Victorian Government has invested $630,000 through grant programs delivered by Sustainability Victoria to make the project a reality.

For every kilometre of track installed, 64 tonnes of plastic waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill will be recycled.

The product is the result of more than two years of research and product development led by Integrated Recycling and Monash University, with the sleepers already up and running at four Victorian tourist railways including the iconic Puffing Billy.

Introducing the new sleepers, approved for use on Melbourne’s metropolitan rail network, are part of environmental requirements included in the Victorian Government’s current contract with Metro Trains.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the project is a great example of the circular economy created through innovation and rethinking a product we use everyday.

Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne said it’s exciting to see innovative, environmentally friendly technology rolled out at one of Melbourne’s busiest train stations.

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Finlay: customisable compost

When landscape supply company Corbet’s Group required a new trommel screen for its commercial compost yard, it enlisted the help of Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems.

The history of composting is difficult to track, but reports suggest humans have been engaging in the process for over 10,000 years. According to the Complete Book of Composting, the first ‘written’ account of composting can be traced back to the reign of King Sargon during the Akkadian Dynasty.

While composting is a natural process, the sale of organic matter on a commercial basis requires companies to meet strict standards and regulations. For this reason, Corbet’s Group General Manager Andrew Corbet places significant stock in the screening and separation process.   

“An effective trommel screen is crucial to a business like ours given the potential for contamination. You can’t take any chances with the sale of organic material to the public,” Andrew says.

Corbet’s Group, a family-owned logistics and landscape supply business, has been in operation for more than 40 years.

“We produce compost and potting mix with a range of organic materials including topsoil, manure, bark, grass clippings and food waste,” Andrew says.

“Our Sunshine Coast compost yard produces upwards of 5000 yards of compost every month, which we sell to landscapers, bagging companies and large-scale national stores like Bunnings.”

Corbet’s Group produces more than five varieties of compost, meaning flexibility and quick drum change capability were primary concerns for Andrew when making his latest trommel purchase.

“Our products range from potting mix derived from composted bark and minerals, composted green waste for soil conditioning, slash bark for low density media bases and a whole range of other customisable compost products,” Andrew says.

According to Andrew, the Terex Environmental Equipment range, which includes shredders, trommels, recycling screens, waste handlers, grinders and window turners, helps Corbet’s Group effectively manage its processes.   

“We’ve had a number of trommels over the years, quite a few different brands actually, but Terex certainly works more effectively and flexibly in my view,” Andrew says.

Finlay, a specialist supplier of screening and processing equipment for the waste recycling industry, is the exclusive dealer of Terex Environmental Equipment.

Andrew has been a customer of the company for many years, having previously purchased crushing and screening equipment from Finlay Sales and Hire Manager Ronnie Bustard in 2015.

“Not long ago, when Andrew was speaking to me about maintenance for an old piece of crushing equipment, he mentioned the company would soon need a new trommel screen for their compost yard,” Ronnie says.   

“I suggested the Terex TTS 620 tracked trommel and offered to bring it to the Sunshine Coast for a demonstration. It went really well so Andrew made the purchase. It was all very straightforward.”

Andrew says after acquiring the machine, Ronnie and other members of the Finlay staff trained his operators on how to operate, service and maintain the trommel.

“They went the extra mile by coming up here and making sure my staff knew how to operate the equipment,” Andrew says.

“I’m also sure Ronnie and the team would come to the site if we had any problems, but the trommel runs smoothly every day. We’ve had no issues.”

Andrew says he also purchased multiple aperture barrels, which Ronnie fitted to the new trommel before carrying out tonnage tests.

“The trommel drum has a really quick change out time – it only takes a few minutes before we’re up and running again to screen a new material load,” Andrew says.

“The feeder control system continually adjusts its speed, which means we can process compost at a higher efficiency rate than before.”

Ronnie says the TTS 620 trommel enables application flexibility and it can be utilised for any sort of organics screening.

“All the conveyors are built to a modular design which allows each one to be removed independently and easily configured to various applications. It also means the machine is easy to maintain,” Ronnie says.

“The TTS 620 Terex trommel uses less fuel than standard trommel screens because it has a highly efficient engine. It also has a combined hydraulic drive system enabling advanced material processing control.”

According to Ronnie, the trommel screen’s swing out engine cradle gives operators unrestricted ground level access to all service components, while hinged doors on both sides of the drum offer unobstructed access for maintenance and cleaning.

Andrew says another contributing factor to his decision to enlist Finlay was its spare parts servicing.

“They offer fast and efficient turnaround on aftermarket spare parts – whatever make or model, they have you covered,” Andrew says.

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ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo

ISSA, a global cleaning industry association, and its local event partner Interpoint Events, will showcase the cleaning industry on 23rd – 24th October 2019 and Is a free to attend event.

The annual ISSA Cleaning and Hygiene Expo will be co-located with Waste Expo Australia at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

ISSA is putting together a two day program of commercial cleaning, technology and education. Get ready for cutting edge products and services, local and international exhibitors and in-depth education and workshop sessions.

To register now please go to https://issacleaninghygieneexpo.com/

WMRC halves gate fees

The Western Metropolitan Regional Council (WMRC) has halved the cost of gate fees and upgraded their domestic recycling program.

Depositing general, bulk and green waste at WMRC’s Perth resource recovery facility will now cost member councils significantly less, with the facility also offering free drop-offs for e-waste and tyres.

WMRC Chief Executive Officer Stefan Frodsham said the changes form part of a new strategy and fee structure, designed to attract more business to the West Metro Recycling Centre in Shenton Park.

“We surveyed all our member council households last year and it was clear from the results that the majority of people wanted to do more to minimise what goes to landfill,” Mr Fordsham said.

The facility aggregates, compacts and loads municipal solid waste into silos to be transferred to alternative sites for appropriate treatment and disposal.

“In part, the savings are due to our fixed costs now being met by members on a population share basis, but otherwise they result from us passing on the savings from the new lower waste processing and disposal costs we have been able to achieve,” Mr Fordsham said.

“Member councils will also receive tip passes for half the rate charged to non-member councils.”

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Recycled plastics to feature in Melbourne tram platforms.

Victorian parliament bans single-use plastic bags

Single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from 1 November, under new legislation introduced to parliament this week.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said all single-use plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less will be banned, including bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.

The ban applies to bags provided by retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores and service stations.

“These legislative changes follow an overwhelming number of responses during community consultation,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The feedback on this one was clear. Victorians want to do more to protect the environment from the damage litter causes, and are overwhelmingly supportive of banning single-use plastic shopping bags.”

According to Ms D’Ambrosio, work is underway with the National Retailers Association to ensure Victorian businesses are prepared for the ban and have access to sustainable packaging alternatives.

A plastic pollution action plan is also under development to help reduce other types of plastic pollution.

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Industry responds to SA waste levy increase

The South Australian Government’s decision to increase the solid waste levy from $100 to $140 from 1 January 2020 has left the waste industry ‘blindsided’, according to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR.)

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said while industry supports government action that promotes resource recovery and market development, progress is not as simple as increasing landfill levies.

“Industry was prepared for the original $3 increase, however it has been blindsided by this new amount of $40, which is far greater than planned,” Ms Sloan said.

“The timing and notice of this new levy increase is completely unsatisfactory and does not allow businesses and local government with locked in 2019-20 budgets to prepare for the additional cost.”

According to Ms Sloan, South Australia was previously leading the way in resource recovery, though a blend of policy, guidelines and levy drivers that precluded the requirement for excessive cost structures.

“Part of the reason for South Australia’s success is the strong working relationship between all sectors of industry and the existence of a high-level advisory group to government,” Ms Sloan said.

“The fact that the levy increase was not discussed with this advisory group is extremely disappointing.”

According to Ms Sloan, the levy increase comes in addition to a raft of new and increased costs including increased licensing fees and new financial assurance requirements.

“South Australia should look to Queensland as a model for implementing such a rapid change in levy amount,” Ms Sloan said.

“The Queensland government also looked to implement such a change on 1 January, however this was moved and a years notice given, with mechanisms put in place to manage such a large impact on councils and households.”

Ms Sloan said while WMRR agrees landfill levies are an integral part of a successful waste and resource recovery policy framework, it cannot be the only response from government.

“Such a large increase, without policy support, has a real potential to lead to unintended outcomes such as illegal dumping,” Ms Sloan said.

“A good levy is a certain levy, with telegraphed changes that industry can plan for and respond to.”

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NWRIC presents at ALGA general assembly

At the Australian Local Government Association’s (ALGA) Your Community, Your Environment presentation, National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read highlighted the need to promote a shared approach to resource recovery and circular economies.

The presentation was held as part of ALGA’s National General Assembly in Canberra. Other speakers included APCO Government Partnership Manager Peter Brisbane, Planet Ark Head of Sustainable Resource Programs Ryan Collins, Lake Macquarie Council Deputy CEO Tony Farrell and Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan.

“Industry and local councils can work together to put recycling back on a sustainable pathway,” Ms Read said.

“Central to this shared approach are activities that will reduce contamination, such as consistent statewide community education programs, smarter ways to separate materials at source, removing toxic and dangerous items from bins and upgrading re-processing capacity at material recovery facilities.”

In addressing plastics, Ms Read identified a number of steps to help material recycling facilities remain viable.

“We need to upgrade our recycling facilities and sorting and reprocessing capacity, so they can produce higher quality outputs that meet producer specifications,” Ms Read said.

“It is vital that local, state and federal governments procure recovered mixed plastics for civil construction, and that packaging companies are required to meet minimum recycled content.”

Ms Read said there is also opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and improve soil quality if local councils work with industry, to set up food and organic collection services and composting facilities.

“Key to the success of increased organics recovery will be preventing contamination, establishing local markets for the compost produced and planning for recycling precincts in local council areas,” Ms Read said.

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