$22 million in grants now available

EPA grants worth $22.3 million are now available to NSW councils, private industry and not-for-profit organisations to support the construction of new large scale recycling infrastructure.

Environment Department Acting Resource Recovery Director Amanda Kane said the Major Resource Recovery Infrastructure grants are part of the NSW EPA’s $802 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

“The funding is aimed at accelerating and stimulating investment in waste and recycling infrastructure, to help NSW reach its target of 75 per cent diversion of all waste from landfill by 2021,” Ms Kane said.

“The capital costs of major infrastructure can be a significant barrier to the construction of new recycling facilities. This grant seeks to attract investment in major resource recovery infrastructure by reducing the pay-back period on new facilities.”

Ms Kane said earlier program rounds had already provided $51 million to projects to receive and recycle a range of resources including timber, plastics, aggregates, rubber, glass and metals.

“This includes $5 million to ResourceCo for a new facility at Wetherill Park, to recover metals and timber to produce refuse-derived fuel for use in energy generation,” Ms Kane said.

“Boral Cement successfully secured a $4 million grant from the EPA to upgrade its plant at Berrima, and replace up to 20 per cent of the coal it uses to generate energy with refuse-derived fuel, including from ResourceCo, reducing coal use and emissions.”

According to Ms Kane, five facilities supported through the program are already increasing the state’s processing capacity by 340,000 tonnes a year.

“More than 500,000 tonnes of additional processing capacity is expected to come on line over the next two years as further projects are completed,” Ms Kane said.

Environmental Trust Director Grants Tina Bidese said the grants are funded by the Environmental Trust and delivered through a partnership between the trust and the NSW EPA.

“Working together, the trust and the EPA are offering a major opportunity for co-funded investment in infrastructure to recover more household and business waste,” Ms Bidese said.

“In doing so, we’re reducing the environmental impacts of waste in landfill, making the most of valuable resources and creating new jobs for the people of NSW.”

The EPA is hosting an information session in August 2019 to assist potential applicants.

Applications close 27 August 2019.

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$7.5 million waste infrastructure contract awarded

A $7.5 million contract to deliver best practice infrastructure at Darwin’s Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility (SCWMF) has been awarded to local business DTA Contractors.

SBWMF is the only licensed landfill in the Darwin area and services both domestic and commercial customers.

SBWMF is currently comprised of a lined putrescible waste landfill, an inert landfill and recycling and mulch facilities.

According to City of Darwin CEO Scott Waters, DTA Contractors will build an additional land fill cell, with work expected to begin at the end of the July.

“The advantage of using local businesses for our program of works is they understand the environment in which we live and work,” Mr Waters said.

DTA Managing Director David Divilly said the company look forward to working collaboratively with the City of Darwin to deliver the project.

“Our extensive local experience ensures we understand the importance of utilising local businesses to deliver the highest possible standard for this important local infrastructure project,” Mr Divilly said.

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VWMA State Conference returns

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) State Conference will be returning to the Yarra Valley Lodge 30-31 July.

The VWMA State Conference is the only Victorian specific event and will bring together a mix of organisations and presenters from across local government, state government and the private sector.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the two day program had been developed to address key challenges for the sector including EPA updates, legal insights into regulatory changes, labour laws and overseas workers, procurement and landfill discussions as well as technology updates.

“We’ve had another challenging year and things aren’t slowing down for business, but I want our members and the sector to know we’re working hard to ensure their voice, their issues and their concerns are being addressed,” Mr Smith said.

“We’ve crafted a program that will deliver everything businesses need to be aware of for the next 12 months in one place. We’ve secured the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, who will open the conference, deliver a speech on the Victorian Government priorities and activities to support a strong, sustainable sector.”

Mr Smith said VWMA create these events and opportunities so members can engage and participate in important conversations, and shape and influence how VWMA can support them.

“We received such positive feedback to our conference last year that related to the tangible benefits our conference offered their business, either by engaging with government officials, networking and connecting with people to provide solutions to their challenges,” Mr Smith said.

The conference will also feature an assessment of Victoria’s infrastructure needs and one month check ins of prescribed industrial waste tickets and the e-waste ban.

“We take a different approach with our events. The topics aren’t abstract or high level, only dealing with future opportunities,” Mr Smith said.

“We ground everything we are doing back into what it means for business today, tomorrow and next week. We also bring a sense of fun, our storeroom at work is jam packed with gifts and prizes we have lined up for our delegates. It’s going to be intense but fun 1 and a half days.”

Topics at the conference include:

  • Recycling update
  • Community attitudes and perceptions of the sector
  • Reducing operating costs through smarter power options
  • Managing brand and crisis communications for the sector
  • Battery Stewardship Scheme Design
  • E-Waste and PIW check-ins  (one month on)
  • Workforce discussions (on mental health, drug and alcohol policy, overseas workers and more)
  • High-risk dangerous goods taskforce
  • VicRoads updates
  • EPA Act 2.0
  • As well as workshops and information sessions on: drones; solar; new tech; multiunit development challenges; and the dos and donts for grant applications.
  • Plus a heap of networking opportunities

For more information contact VWMA or access the conference program here.

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Food for soil

By introducing food waste recycling and a dedicated sustainability portfolio, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is hitting more than 75 per cent landfill diversion.

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Commingled trust: Wastech Engineering

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell takes Waste Management Review through the company’s materials recovery facility concept design process. 

When China placed contamination restrictions on imported waste in 2017, Australian material recovery facilities (MRF) had to face up to the realisation that their technology wouldn’t meet the 0.5 per cent rate.

According to a 2018 federal analysis of Australia’s municipal recycling infrastructure, a major issue for MRFs is the lack of technical capacity to sort commingled, highly contaminated municipal waste materials to a standard that meets stringent export specifications.

In the wake of China, prices for plastic, cardboard and paper have dropped. Demand for higher quality material however had risen, which offers significant market opportunities for processors willing to invest in technical capacity and optical sorting upgrades.

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell says the complexity of current challenges makes turnkey solutions more attractive than ever.

“The industry is presently facing a unique set of challenges, and many recycling companies don’t have the time to sit down and analyse how to best upgrade their facilities,” Mike says.

“Through evaluating the industry via reports on waste volumes, equipment needs, collection methods and operational requirements, Wastech is able to provide clients with fully realised MRF concepts and design.”

According to Mike, the key to good business practice when developing a MRF is building trust with the client.

“Effectively turning a client’s initial request into a well-functioning MRF requires trust between both parties. We need to understand their volumes, waste composition and material process flows,” Mike says.

“At a minimum you will be working with the client for six months, and in some cases, it might take two years. It’s really important both organisations understand each other and the process.”

Mike says concept design begins with a study of the client’s needs, starting on the base level of whether they require a retrofit for an existing MRF or to develop an entirely new facility.

From there, Wastech looks at the client’s required volumes, tonnes per year and what waste streams the proposed plant will be dealing with.

Mike places high importance on this initial stage, noting the significant variability of waste streams and therefore the customer’s equipment needs.

“Understanding the composition of the waste stream is key as it informs all equipment purchasing decisions,” Mike says.

“For example, what kind of screening is needed? Does the client require optical sorting? Are they dealing with coloured or uncoloured containers? Are they dealing with both?”

Following this, Wastech examines what outputs the client is looking for in relation to desired end markets and purity.   

“Looking at material process flow involves working out how the MRF will achieve the client’s specified requirements, most significantly the levels of purity needed to achieve the finished product,” Mike says.

“We formulate a material process flow and mass balance analysis, which then helps us determine what equipment is needed, and then we review that in detail with the client.”   

Through a partnership with CP Group, an American separation and material recovery equipment manufacturer, Wastech is able to support MRFs for commingled recyclables, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition material, commercial and industrial waste, waste-to-energy operations and e-waste.

Wastech offers a range of screening equipment, notably the OCC Screen which automatically separates cardboard from other fibres and containers.

The company also provides optical sorting sensors, collection hoods to transport handpicked film, eddy currents for nonferrous material, metering drums, air drum separators, silo blowers, trommel screens, balers and conveyor belts.

“Following the initial design presentation, we can adjust and modify equipment choices,” Mike says.

“Once the client is happy and following multiple reviews of the initial concept and design, we conduct a number of site visits where we measure the existing or proposed facility to figure out how the equipment will best fit into the space.”

Following this, Mike says Wastech develops a 3D model for the client, which allows them to fully visualise the proposal.

“We find 3D visualisations to be a much more effective communication tool than simple facts and figures or drawings,” Mike says.

The next stage is the tender process, where Wastech provides a quote for the facility’s realisation.

“When we’re working with clients on the design and concept over a period time, be it local government or private companies, a real trusting relationship is established. They know what we are offering is value for money,” Mike says.   

“In addition to relationship building, we have a long history of delivering MRFs, so clients know if they request a certain level of purity that’s what Wastech will supply.”

Mike says the SUEZ MRF in Bibra Lake, Perth, is a recent example of Wastech’s turnkey process.

Wastech was commissioned to upgrade an already existing SUEZ MRF through the introduction of optical sorting equipment, which, according to Mike, led to a significant increase in efficiency and subsequent output.

A spokesperson for SUEZ said in May that the company is committed to taking action to expand recycling and sorting processes.

“SUEZ’s investment in a state-of-the-art optical sorting system, in partnership with Wastech, is one of the ways we have enhanced our infrastructure to increase our recovery, and therefore recycling rates at our MRF in Bibra Lake,” the spokesperson said.

“This investment, alongside working with our customers, has allowed us to ensure contamination is kept to a minimum and helped to keep the kerbside recycling system sustainable.”

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Act Bins’ hooklift manufacturing

ACT Bins manufactures hooklift bins in various sizes from four cubic metres up to 40 with four-five and six- millimetre walls. This aims to provide superior strength and durability.

According to ACT Bins, its bins are some of the strongest on the market, with floors, doors and rows of 100 by 80 millimetres and a 100-by-100 millimetre channel down the sides and under the floor.

All the reinforcing joins along both sides are fully welded and have a 10-millimetre plate added to each side of the joins for extra strength.
ACT Bins uses a 50-millimetre steel shaft for the hooklift pin and 22-millimetre side plates and 10-millimetre gussets to reinforce the front A-frame. The door hinges are 30-millimetre steel shafts. The locking mechanism has 12-millimetre steel plates. For extra security, the company notes a ratchet lock can also be added at minimal cost. Both sides of the bin have 100-millimetre chamfers

along the full length of the floor to help reduce dirt or contents build-up. As an optional extra, the company can accommodate any AS2700 colour choice with two top coats of high-quality industrial enamel paint. Stencilling and welded serial numbers can also be arranged.

All bins are welded to Australian standards and available with a range of modifications to suit a customer’s requirements, such as rated crane lift pad eyes, oversize fork pockets or top swing watertight doors.

Waste marketplace goes national

Advisory System for Processing, Innovation & Resource Exchange (ASPIRE) has transitioned out of CSIRO’s digital specialist arm to scale its operations nationally.

Developed by researchers in 2015, ASPIRE is an online marketplace that matches businesses with potential remanufactures, purchasers and recyclers to find new purposes for waste materials.

ASPIRE CEO Cameron McKenzie said while the online marketplace had seen impressive uptake amongst businesses, state governments and local councils in Victoria, a national network was pivotal to tackle the waste crisis.

“Around 300 businesses are using ASPIRE, which has collectively saved $207,000 in waste disposal and material costs. This has also resulted in a reduction of CO2 emissions and water through reuse and diversion from landfill,” Mr McKenzie said.

“While we’ve had strong traction in Victoria, we’re scaling ASPIRE nationally to address the increasing need for a way to manage Australia’s growing waste and recycling issues.”

CSIRO research scientist Melanie Ayre said ASPIRE had diverted hundreds of waste streams from landfill including batteries, e-waste, metals, organics and polystyrene since launching.

“Almost 80 per cent of Australia’s waste is generated through commercial, industrial, construction or demolition activities,” Dr Ayre said.

“We developed ASPIRE in response to rising costs of waste management, and to redirect waste to more productive uses.”

According to the 2018 National Waste Policy, a hypothetical five per cent improvement in efficient use of materials across the Australian economy could benefit Australia’s GDP by as much as $24 billion.

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Government to release procurement targets

Federal Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans will reportedly unveil ambitious new targets for sustainable procurement by all state governments.

Mr Evans said he would seek agreement on proposed procurement targets at the next Meeting of Environment Ministers, adding the Federal Government would offer funding support to develop Australia’s remanufacturing sector.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, who said WMRR had been calling for procurement targets for over 18 months, meet with Mr Evans to discuss what the next steps would be.

“WMRR welcomes the minister’s announcements and it is pleasing to see movement on the federal level, after years of industry advocating for federal leadership on a number of fronts, sustainable procurement being one of them,” Ms Sloan said.

“It became very clear early in the meeting that the minister understands the significance creating demand and markets for recycled products has on driving our industry forward.”

According to Mr Sloan, Mr Evans’ work in the retail industry, as CEO of the National Retail Association, has given him much-needed perspective and experience in supply chain management.

“Mr Evans has a wealth of knowledge on the roles, responsibilities and market demands within a supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of national leadership in creating a level playing field and developing a common approach to levies and industry development as Australia, despite having seven jurisdictions, is one common market.”

Mr Sloan said WMRR also discussed the federal government’s role in driving resource recovery and remanufacturing through harmonised, effective and appropriate regulatory, policy and market settings.

“WMRR looks forward to our continued engagement with the minister and all levels of government, as we look forward and keep our eyes on the circular economy ball,” Ms Sloan said.

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WA announces CDS launch date

Western Australian Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has announced the state’s new container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, will launch June 2, 2020.

Western Australians will be able to return and recycle their eligible containers at any Containers for Change refund point and receive a 10 cents refund per container.

“Our June 2 start date will give the local charities and businesses, that will operate refund points and be providers in the scheme, enough time to organise the infrastructure and staffing they need to make their participation a success from day one,” Mr Dawson said.

More than 170 full-time or flexible refund points will be open for business in June next year, with 229 refund points to open by the end of the scheme’s first year.

“An array of refund points will be available – from over-the-counter depots providing on-the-spot refunds, to ‘Bag Drops’ that provide the convenience of a ‘drop and go’ facility, with refunds deposited into customers nominated bank accounts once their containers are counted,” Mr Dawson said.

“Mobile refund points and reverse vending machines will also be in operation.”

Mr Dawson said beverage containers account for 44 per cent of all litter by volume in Western Australia.

“WA’s container deposit scheme will create positive change for our environment by encouraging people not to litter, and provide a fundraising opportunity for schools and community groups across the state,” Mr Dawson said.

“Containers for Change is a great win for WA’s environment, for jobs, for our local community and sporting groups always looking for new ways to raise much-needed funds, and for our kids to learn about the benefits of recycling.”

According to Mr Dawson, over the next 20 years the scheme is estimated to result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered, 6.6 billion fewer beverage containers sent to landfill and 5.9 billion more containers being recycled.

“Containers for Change will also help create 500 jobs across the state, with a key objective of the scheme to support employment of people with disability and the long-term unemployed,” Mr Dawson said.

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Cleaning up a legacy stockpile

Tyrecycle’s Jim Fairweather explains the strategic planning required to clean up one of Australia’s largest tyre stockpiles in regional Victoria.

One of Australia’s largest tyre stockpiles, located within metres of homes and businesses in Victoria, was this year cleaned up by the Victorian Government.

The government at the end of last year appointed Tyrecycle, one of the country’s most experienced tyre recyclers, for the clean-up operation, with the site now deemed safe.

Over 44 operational days, Tyrecycle removed a 5200 tonne stockpile, equivalent to 500,000 tyres, at Numurkah near Shepparton, which posed an extreme fire, health and safety risk to local residents. The total transformation of the site saw 334 truckloads of tyre waste removed over this period.

The company worked closely with Moira Shire Council along with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which used its powers to enter the site late last year under the Environment Protection Act 1970.

The EPA introduced tighter controls for waste tyre storage in 2015, prompting a significant reduction in the number of known stockpiles across Victoria, with Numurkah being one of the legacy sites.

The Environment Protection Act 1970 requires scheduled premises to be licensed, with requirements for onsite firefighting resources, limits on the size of the piles and minimum distances between and around them. Stockpiles of more than 40 tonnes or 5000 equivalent passenger car units of waste tyres are scheduled premises under the regulations.

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said the site was an unacceptable fire, environmental and human health risk.

Tyrecycle began work on cleaning up the site in December 2018 under the control and guidance of the EPA and Moira Shire Council.

Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle CEO, says that the company was transporting 125 tonnes of end-of-life tyres per day from Numurkah to Tyrecycle’s EPA-licensed processing facility in Melbourne at Somerton, where they were cleaned, sorted and shredded for recycling.

“Tyrecycle ramped up its Melbourne facility to a 24/7 operation for the project and doubled its processing capability to remove the huge amount of waste tyres in the most efficient and time effective way,” Jim says.

“We increased our staffing levels to handle the waste, with most of each delivery being processed within 24 hours.”

According to the CFA and EPA, the consequences of a fire at the Numurkah site would have been catastrophic to the local community with air quality impacted and the contamination of soil, groundwater and surface waters.

“It was a great outcome for the local residents, to help them feel safe again after a decade of uncertainty. It was made possible due to the collaborative efforts between the Victorian Government, authorities and industry – working together,” Jim says.

The EPA conducted site inspections at Tyrecycle’s Somerton facility during the transportation and processing phase of the waste tyres from Numurkah.

Jim says that Tyrecycle is proudly the only EPA-licensed collector and recycler of tyres in Victoria and all environmental regulations were met during the project.

“Our planning procedures are thorough, including specific transportation schedules for the collection and arrival of waste.”

He says that the conditions were extremely challenging and strategic planning is required to begin a clean-up operation especially of this magnitude.

“Firefighting equipment is always onsite. However, when temperatures went to 40 degrees or if there was a total fire ban, all work ceased as the searing weather conditions resulted in an unsafe working environment.

“Fire safety preparation is paramount during a clean-up, as well as heightened security and effective management of any wildlife and vermin on site. With careful planning and protocols, we were pleased to deliver an incident-free project.”

The majority of the shredded and recycled waste tyres were converted into tyre-derived fuel (TDF), helping companies reduce their environmental footprint across South-East Asia.

“TDF is an attractive alternative fuel on an international scale. The extremely high calorific value of the product has significantly lower volumes of greenhouse gases when compared with coal,” Jim says.

The recycled tyre waste from the Numurkah site is also being used for a variety of products across the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, including crumbed rubber for road surfacing, athletics tracks and brake pads.

Tyrecycle also worked with the EPA in Victoria in 2017 to remove another dangerous and large tyre stockpile on the outskirts of Stawell.

During a clean-up operation lasting just over two months, 9500 tonnes of tyres which had been stockpiled for many years were removed, with more than two-thirds of the tyres transported to Tyrecycle’s Melbourne facility for processing and recycling.

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