Australian Paper Recovery’s $2.5 million paper sorting facility in Melbourne’s west will process 39,000 tonnes of recycled paper a year.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state government provided $475,000 in funding to the project, with the facility providing full grade separation of kerbside and commercial mixed paper and cardboard.
“The high quality sorted and graded paper is reprocessed locally and recycled into valuable products such as newspaper and packaging,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“The facility has also expanded operations to accept additional materials from regional and metropolitan kerbside recycling, including plastics and metals, further increasing recycling capability here in Victoria.”
Government funding came from the $2.6 million Recycling Industry Transition Support Fund, which is designed to help Victoria’s resource recovery and reprocessing industry transition after the collapse of international export markets.
“Facilities like these are a crucial part of reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfill – it’s fantastic to see Australian Paper Recovery expand their operations to accept more materials,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“A circular economy will not only improve Victoria’s waste and recycling systems – it will support local businesses and create local jobs here in Victoria.”
Australian Paper and SUEZ have appointed Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation (SMBC) financial advisor for their $600 million waste to energy facility in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley.
Australian Paper General Manager Corporate Development David Jettner said SMBC would contribute additional commercial expertise to the project during the critical development phase.
“As financial advisor, SMBC will provide specialised support for project development and establish debt financing facilities, as we seek to build a missing link in Victoria’s waste management infrastructure,” Mr Jettner said.
“We are now moving forward to secure waste through the Metropolitan and Gippsland Waste and Resource Recovery Groups tendering processes, establish contractual engineering, procurement and construction arrangements and arrange funding for our project.”
Mr Jettner said SMBC would play a vital role in helping Australian Paper navigate those processes.
“They will also provide sectorial experience to the project as the mandated lead arranger, with 15 successful energy from waste projects internationally including the Kwinana project in WA,” Mr Jettner said.
“Our facility remains the first energy from waste project in Victoria to achieve an EPA Works Approval, and along with SUEZ and SMBC, we are excited to move a step closer to making our vision for Latrobe Valley energy production from residual household waste a reality.”
According to SUEZ Victoria General Manager Nat Bryant, less than one per cent of Australia’s residual waste is used for energy recovery.
Additionally, Mr Bryant said landfill is the only option for household waste from South East Melbourne and Gippsland.
“With the closure of the Hampton Park landfill by 2025, our project will provide a vital solution to south east Melbourne’s impending waste management crisis,” Mr Bryant said.
The Northern Territory Government is considering recommendations after an independent review of the state’s container deposit scheme.
The review showed a 30 per cent increase in the number of containers recycled since the scheme commenced in 2012.
Additionally, 83 per cent of review participants considered the scheme successful.
According to Environment Minister Eva Lawler, the scheme generated more than $11 million for community groups, schools and Territorians in 2017-18.
“Protecting our environment creates jobs, and good environmental policy like the container deposit scheme is smart economic policy for the Territory,” Ms. Lawler said.
“We are making the Territory cleaner, increasing our recycling and removing litter from landfill – since 2012 more than half a billion containers have been processed under the container deposit scheme.”
The review highlighted 21 recommendations to improve the scheme, with the state government supporting 17 in full, two in principle and leaving the remaining two subject to further consideration.
Ms. Lawler said recommendations fall into five broad categories, accessibility in regional and remote areas, broadening the scheme to include currently exempt containers such as wine bottles and milk cartons, reducing the regulatory burden on industry, targeted community awareness and improved data collection and regular auditing.
“An implementation plan has been developed which will see the recommendations rolled out in phases over the next two years, which includes consultation with industry and engagement with local government and community organisations through the process,” Ms Lawler said.
Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans has highlighted the importance of industry-led initiatives to reduce waste and improve recycling.
Mr Evans made the statements at the launch of a coffee cup recycling program in Brisbane.
“Simply Cups is Australia’s largest cup recycling program, and it is wonderful to have this innovative recycling program now operating at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane,” Mr Evans said.
According to Mr Evans, Howard Smith Wharves has invested heavily in equipment to recover recyclables on site – including rapid food waste composters, glass crushers, cardboard balers, soft plastic recycling and now coffee cup recycling.
“I was delighted to see first-hand the innovative partnership Howard Smith Wharves has with Closed Loop to better manage waste from the site,” Mr Evans said.
“Up to 400 kilograms a day of food waste is being processed in this way, with plans to double that capacity soon when more restaurants open. This is a fantastic example of industry taking practical environmental action on recycling.”
Mr Evans said the government is making substantial investment in recycling to move towards a more circular economy.
“We will be working closely with industry, communities and state, territory and local governments to achieve needed changes and focus on practical, meaningful actions that protect the environment and build our domestic recycling industry,” Mr Evans said.
“At the heart of the government’s strategy is the Australian Recycling Investment Plan, a package of initiatives totalling $167 million designed to grow and strengthen Australia’s domestic recycling industry, and to support industry and community initiatives to lift recycling rates in Australia.”
A major remote bin sensor network is now live in metropolitan Adelaide, as part of the federal and local government-funded Connected Cities project.
Port Adelaide Enfield Mayor Claire Boan said the bin sensors would revolutionise waste collection.
“The sensors will allow the driver, with the use of a tablet, to only stop at bins that need emptying,” Ms Boan said.
“We are very excited by the potential of this technology to improve collection efficiency, reduce costs and reduce carbon emissions.”
Sturt Federal Member James Stevens said the $289,000 project was jointly funded by the Federal Government and six local government bodies, with support from the University of Adelaide.
“The Federal Government has contributed $144,900 to this initiative through our Smart Cities and Suburbs Program, which enables local governments to apply innovative, technology-based approaches to improve the liveability of cities and address urban challenges,” Mr Stevens said.
In addition to bins, sensors have been installed on barbecues, sports fields and roads.
Shred-Tech Sales Manager Sean Richter talks to Waste Management Review about the company’s 20-year history in e-waste recycling and data destruction.
Governments and manufactures of electronic hardware are increasingly coming under pressure to implement policies and practices around safe e-waste disposal.
E-waste’s status as a problematic waste stream has a long history. In 1976, the United States Resource Conversation and Recovery Act made it illegal to dump e-waste. Likewise, in 1989 the Basel Convention made it illegal to dump e-waste in developing countries.
As a Basel Convention signatory, Australia is bound to this agreement. E-waste is also banned from landfill in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.
Legislative measures like these are incentivising recycling equipment manufactures to engineer technology and machinery capable of processing multiple material components present in electronic products.
Shredding and recycling system manufacturer Shred-Tech has been in business for over 40 years. Sales Manager Sean Richter says in that time, the company has designed and manufactured some of the largest e-waste reduction systems in North America.
“These systems were originally designed to use high horsepower and brute force to shred and granulate everything from large main frame computers, military electronics, telecommunications equipment and high-tech electrical switching gear,” Sean says.
As electronics have become considerably smaller and lighter than Shred-Tech’s initial systems were designed for, the equipment and processes have evolved.
“Today’s systems have advanced to encompass newer technologies in reduction, usually with lower power requirements, better material handling and separation of the materials prior to smelting or electrochemical processes for extraction,” Sean says.
An end-of-life laptop or phone could expose the financial records, health records, photographs and personal communications of its prior owner. Data and privacy is therefore a key consideration for e-waste recyclers.
According to Sean, the level of shredding provided by Shred-Tech plants makes it virtually impossible to extract data from the end material.
“Computers and telecommunications equipment are subject to massive reduction forces, shattered into hundreds of fractions and mixed with thousands of other materials before heading to final recyclers. Finding one with usable data would be like finding the genie in the bottle.”
Sean says one of the challenges with e-waste processing is how varied the waste stream is, encompassing a range of materials requiring different cleaning and processing methods.
“We have designed and built custom machines and systems ranging from portable hard drive shredders, systems that shred only circuit boards and stand-alone machines designed primarily for destruction purposes,” Sean says.
A key component of Shred-Tech’s business is the design of modular e-waste shredding plants.
“Our shredding systems can be custom configured using proven system modules to meet specific capacity and separation requirements,” Sean says.
“The systems reduce and separate component material such as plastic, aluminium, copper, steel and precious metals.”
According to Sean, a typical Shred-Tech e-waste recycling plant starts with an incoming triage.
“The triage sorts material into type slots, such as hazardous material, material suitable for manual disassembling and resaleable components like integrated circuit chips and power supplies,” Sean says.
The next stage is primary reduction, typically completed by a large twin shaft shredder.
“The goal during primary reduction is to break the material into sortable fractions. The material is then sorted manually on pick lines or via magnets and additional size screening devices,” Sean says.
“Ferrous-based and commingled material is then removed by an initial magnet before being sent for secondary reduction and liberation to minus 50 millimetres.”
According to Sean, there are several schools of thought on how to best achieve secondary reduction. The first is sending all ferrous based material to a high-speed reduction unit such as a ring mill.
“The ring mill liberates all ferrous material with the help of a secondary magnet and removes clean steel for resale. All remaining materials carry on to secondary reduction,” he says.
“Others like to send all material to a large four shaft shredder for liberation and final reduction. I find the high content of ferrous material in this stream results in accelerated wear, however, and leads to high maintenance costs for the four-shaft shredder.”
Following this, material fines are removed by screeners, which eliminates all particles minus two to five millimetres. Sean says removing fines enables increased tuning of the downstream separators.
“All material is then passed over by an eddy current for aluminium removal. Additionally, the stream is then sorted manually to ensure the highest purity of aluminium for resale.”
Remaining materials such as circuit boards, copper and plastic continue to further separation. “The plant then optically sorts using a wide variety of technologies that specifically targets plastic of colour, green circuit boards, wire, copper and other materials into various resalable streams,” Sean says.
The aim for Yarrabilba in south east Queensland to become Australia’s first ‘sustainable food city’ has given rise to the world’s first compost hackathon.
As part of the Food Agility CRC project, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and Lendlease invited tech-savvy groups to develop a prototype for community composting.
Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste and Nutrients Director Johannes Biala said the event was organised as a hackathon to bring coders, developers and designers together around a common cause.
“Hackathon competitors were asked to develop high-tech organics recycling and food production systems, where in-situ monitoring and data collection facilitates a ‘green credit’ reward and incentive based circular economy for organics,” Mr Biala said.
“Fun, food and connections was the motto of the hackathon, which was hosted and facilitated by Substation 33 — an e-waste recycling and digital innovation social enterprise in Logan, south of Brisbane.”
The event included peer-to-peer skills exchange, roving technology, innovation and business mentors and the opportunity to meet Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp.
“Team names such as Rawesome Foursome, Rumble Tumble, Green Cycle, Throw’n’ Grow and Wastey Boyz is a good indication that everyone had a good time,” Mr Biala said.
“It was also hard work for all competitors, for example, one group developed a fully integrated network of existing and start-up companies to make a circular economy for organics work.”
Mr Biala said other examples included a prototype for a sensor driven rotary home composter and a sensor enabled organics collection bin that rejects non-organic materials.
“Prize money of $1000 for the winning team was incentive enough for competing teams to put on the thinking cap and burn the midnight oil,” Mr Biala said.
“In the end, the judges selected the Wastey Boyz as the winning team. The presentation of the prize money in form of an old fashioned cheque gave most of them the opportunity to see a fossil of our payment system for the first time in their lives.”
Project leader and QUT Lecturer Dr Carol Richards said the winning team would be invited to work with Substation 33 to further develop the prototype, with the aim of piloting the innovation at the Yarrabilba master planned community.
Applied Machinery’s plastic washing systems are designed for high performance recovery of rigid or flexible plastics derived from a variety of sources.
The modular systems tackle HDPE bottles, PE films, PP woven bags and PET bottles.
Depending on the application, the plants may comprise a bale breaker, infeed conveyor belt, pre-shredder for wet or dry size reduction, pre-washer to remove sands and dirt and screw washer.
Other features may include a hot washing tank with alkaline (caustic) soda to remove glues and oils, a sink float separation tank to remove non-contaminants and granulator for wet granulation and washing. For high speed washing or material scrubbing, a horizontal friction washer can be applied. In addition, centrifugal dryers, screw presses, thermal drying systems, zig zag classifiers and bag stations are also plant features.
The correct combination, sizing and equipment configuration of the equipment results in a reliable, efficient plastic recycling system producing high-quality materials ideal for sale.
Typical designs cover a PE washing system for recycling materials to high purity and low moisture, such as post-consumer HDPE bottles (with labels), drums and containers and LDPE and LLDPE products.
A PP woven bag recycling line offers a system that minimises the quantities of fines created and keeps material loss to a minimum.
The PET bottle washing system recovers labels and caps from soft drinks and water bottles and produces a clean, uniform-sized PET flake with low moisture levels.
MobileMuster Manager Spyro Kalos talks to Waste Management Review about the recycling process for smartphones and their reuse potential.
With recycling across the board gaining significant attention due to China’s National Sword and resulting policy changes, public trust in the process has been challenged.
“Plastic not so fantastic”, a recent 60 Minutes report, further complicated matters by suggesting the public’s recycling efforts were being wasted on dubious resource recovery.
While waste industry associations say the report didn’t paint a full picture of the Australian recycling industry or its processes, public discussion around China’s National Sword policy continues.
MobileMuster, the federally accredited product stewardship program of the mobile phone industry, is focused on educating the public about the mobile phone recycling process to further confidence in the e-waste resource recovery market and increase mobile phone recycling.
It’s a significant goal given 89 per cent of Australians own a smartphone, according to a 2018 Deloitte Mobile Survey, and many hoard their devices.
Since the product stewardship program began in 1998, MobileMuster has collected and recycled over 1400 tonnes of mobile phone components including handsets and their batteries, chargers and accessories.
To date the program has recycled over 13 million handsets.
MobileMuster works to provide free mobile phone recycling in Australia and is voluntarily funded by all major handset manufacturers and network carriers such as Apple, Google, Telstra and Samsung.
MobileMuster’s 2018 Annual Report estimates that e-waste is growing three times faster than any other waste stream in Australia. It is no surprise then that MobileMuster Manager Spyro Kalos estimates 25 million unused mobile phones are currently sitting dormant in Australian homes.
“While we know less than two per cent of mobile phones are being thrown into the general waste stream, we need to work to reduce the number of mobiles lying dormant in storage,” Spyro says.
“There is certainly value in recovering the materials inside those phones to reduce wasted resources.”
According to Spyro, what many people don’t know, or rather don’t think about, is their smart phone contains untapped precious metals and raw material, most of which has been mined.
Additionally, smartphones contain many of the materials the waste industry and public at large are accustomed to thinking about, plastic, glass and aluminum, making them full of untapped reuse and recycling potential.
“I am a strong believer in transparency. When someone recycles their mobile phone with MobileMuster, I want them to know exactly what happens and how the various components are being processed,” Spyro says.
“We need to increase the trust of consumers because without their participation, the circular economy breaks down. The industry has an obligation to all its stakeholders to ensure best practice is used when collecting and processing products.”
MobileMuster’s recycling partner is TES, a global electronic waste recycler and lifecycle management service. The two groups have been working together for six years.
According to Spyro, they work to maximise recovery rates and ensure all mobile components are correctly processed.
“Through our recycling process, over 95 per cent of a mobile phone’s material re-enters the supply chain and is used for the fabrication of new products,” Spyro says.
“We transform the device’s waste components into valuable materials for reuse, which means fewer raw materials need to be extracted.”
Spyro says that when someone leaves their old device at one of MobileMuster’s 3500 public drop off points, it is collected and transported to a TES recycling facility in Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane.
“The device is then disassembled into individual components including batteries, printed circuit boards, casing, screens, accessories and packaging,” Spyro says.
“None of the phones are resold, and any data left on the device is destroyed during the disassembling process.”
Spyro says components are then further processed though shredding and sorting techniques to maximise resource recovery.
“In 2017, TES started using Envirostream to process smartphone batteries, which is a difficult waste stream. At TES facilities in Melbourne, the batteries are granulated and sorted in materials for recycling,” Spyro says.
“The process recovers copper, aluminium, cobalt, nickel, lithium and plastics. The onshore solution also reduces the need to transport the batteries internationally for processing.”
In the age of smartphones and touch screens, glass is another core material in the recycling process.
“Glass from smartphones is crushed and melted before being reused for new products or as a replacement material in construction elements like roadbase.
“Aluminium is another significant component of mobile phones, and one of the most easily recycled materials. The recycling process uses considerably less energy than producing new aluminium.”
Aluminium is melted in a furnace, with the resulting liquid aluminium placed in moulds to create new products like drink cans, bikes and car bodies.
MobileMuster recycled one million handsets last year, and according to Spyro, the organisation needs to keep that momentum going if they hope to continue effectively tackling e-waste.
“The public need to be sure that when they leave their phone with MobileMuster, almost the entire device is being reused.”