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The South Australian Government is set to ban a range of single-use plastics, under proposed legislation to be introduced into state parliament.
Environment Minister David Speirs has released, Turning the Tide on Single Use Plastics: The Next Steps, which outlines how the legislation will ban products including plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers.
Mr Speirs said a range of other products including takeaway coffee cups, plastic bags and other takeaway food packaging would be considered for future intervention, following further consultation.
“To help inform the development of the legislation, a stakeholder taskforce will be established – comprising representatives of selected business, industry, local government and interest groups to ensure that impacts are mitigated and appropriate time is given for transition,” Mr Speirs said.
“The banning of single-use plastic products will also be piloted through voluntary business/retailer led ‘plastic-free precincts’, which will identify opportunities and challenges associated with transitioning away from single-use plastic products and inform the legislation.”
Mr Speirs said a discussion paper released earlier this year received strong feedback from South Australians.
“It is clear from the more than 3500 submissions that there is significant community and industry support for increased measures to address a range of single-use plastic products and other items,” Mr Speirs said.
“Nearly 99 per cent of respondents recognised the environmental problems associated with single use plastics, and nearly 97 per cent supported government intervention.”
Mr Speirs said draft legislation would be released for further public consultation later this year, with the intention of introducing it to the parliament in 2020.
Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan has welcomed the state government’s announcement.
“South Australia will be the first state in Australia to ban multiple single-use plastic items such as plastic straws, cutlery, and stirrers. Takeaway polystyrene containers and cups are next on the chopping board,” Ms Sloan said.
“SA is once again ahead of the pack, and the hope is that other jurisdictions will follow suit and take similar action against single-use plastics.”
Ms Sloan said she hopes the initiative will improve the quality of recyclable materials recovered by eliminating contaminants.
“Eliminating single-use items that have readily available re-useable alternatives is a great step in reducing waste generation and challenging the convenience paradigm that we have towards consumption,” Ms Sloan said.
“WMRR looks forward to continued engagement with the South Australia Government as it develops legislation for the ban.”
The Victorian Circular Economy Policy, which will establish goals for the Victorian waste and resource recovery system to transition to a circular economy, has opened for public comment.
A 10-year action plan outlining how the Victorian Government will work with businesses and community to deliver the policy’s goals will also be established.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the Circular Economy Policy would deliver new opportunities for industry and more jobs for Victorians.
“We’re transforming the way we think about waste and resource recovery – developing a circular economy will deliver better environmental, social and economic results for Victoria,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“Through the policy, Victoria will transition from the traditional linear model of consumption to a circular model that continually seeks to minimise the use of natural resources.”
The public now have an opportunity to comment on the policy issues paper, with a draft policy set to be released in September.
“The draft policy will outline a suite of specific proposals for how we can improve material use throughout the economy,” the paper reads.
“This could include regulations, incentive programs, innovation support and/or education. The final circular economy policy will draw together this consultation and research and analysis.”
The circular economy policy will establish goals and targets, in addition to a strong performance framework to measure, monitor and publicly report on progress.
“While these goals are still to be set, there will be many factors that will need to be measured and tracked, such as materials used for each unit of economic output, waste generation per person, energy generated from waste and reduction in stockpiles of recyclable material,” the paper reads.
The paper references multiple case studies including the use of recycled materials in public infrastructure and food waste reduction.
“Victoria can leverage additional benefits from the pipeline of public infrastructure projects. Approximately 3.9 million tonnes of recovered material are already used in road and other construction in Victoria, and there is scope to use more recycled materials in the construction of our public infrastructure,” the paper reads.
“There is significant scope to reduce food waste and ensure more is recovered in Australia’s leading food and agriculture state. Only 10 per cent of food waste generated by households and businesses is currently recovered. That means over 887,000 tonnes of food waste ends up in Victorian landfills each year and the water and energy required to produce and transport it is wasted.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said the policy responds to global recycling challenges, and will build on the government’s continued investment in waste and resource recovery initiatives.
“This latest package builds on the $37 million Recycling Industry Strategic Plan – bringing the state government’s investment in the waste and resource recovery industry to more than $135 million,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“I encourage Victorians to have their say on this important issue, as we work towards a final policy in 2020.”
The Circular Economy Policy issues paper is open for consultation until 2 August.
The Queensland Government will provide $143 million in advance payments to councils, to assist with waste levy transition costs.
The levy, which began 1 July, applies to most commercial and industrial waste going to landfill – starting at $75 per tonne.
“We are sticking by our commitment that ratepayers will not have to pay more to put out their wheelie bins or take a load of rubbish to the tip because of the waste levy,” Ms Enoch said.
“We are providing $143 million in advance payments to councils to ensure they don’t have to pass on the cost to ratepayers.”
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the government’s new Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy presents a vision for Queensland to become a zero-waste society.
“Queensland is generating waste faster than we are growing in population and this needs to be addressed,” Ms Enoch said.
“The new waste levy will do that, and help attract investment, develop new industries and products, and grow jobs across the state in the resource recovery sector.”
The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) have confirmed, following a review, that the shipping container in Indonesia at the centre of recent media reports is from an Australian recycling company.
The container consists of approximately 13 tonnes of mixed plastic material derived from household kerbside recycling from suburban Melbourne.
According to a Fairfax Media report, the entire container is considered toxic by the Indonesian Environment department and is not acceptable for import.
In total, 65 containers from France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United States and Australia have been seized.
ACOR’s review was advised the material was not “toxic” however, and contained waste from council recycling bins, such as plastic containers for motor oil and food products.
In the statement, ACOR argued one shipping container should not define any specific company, or the wider Australian recycling system.
“It does though reflect the reality of what is collected from Australian ratepayers via councils’ kerbside recycling programs, and our industry’s subsequent attempts to do something useful with very heterogeneous material,” the statement reads.
“Similar container loads of exported mixed plastic have long met all expected requirements under both Australian and Indonesian law and policy. However, across Asia, authorities are changing their approaches in line with their own domestic circumstances.”
Of the 37 million total tonnes of waste annually diverted from landfill in Australia, four million tonnes are exported.
“Approximately 415,000 tonnes of plastic is recycled by Australia every year or some 11 per cent of our society’s total consumption,” the statement reads.
“Of that, some 235,000 tonnes are exported overall, and some 60,000 tonnes have been exported to Indonesia in the last twelve months or so, according to Federal Government figures.”
According to the statement, plastic exported to Indonesia represents approximately 1.5 per cent of total material exported for recycling.
“Material has historically been exported because overseas buyers pay for it as inputs to make useful products. In the case of mixed plastics in particular, there has historically been under capacity of domestic infrastructure and robust markets in Australia,” the statement reads.
“In Europe, unlike here, there are specific policies in place to promote domestic recycled content manufacturing. Without export, our recycling rate for plastics could fall to as low as five per cent.”
A total of $13.3 million in grants is now available to councils, waste companies and not-for-profit organisations to divert food and garden waste from landfill.
NSW EPA Head of Organics Amanda Kane said the Organics Infrastructure grants fall under the EPA’s $802 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative, which aims to establish wider organics recovery infrastructure.
“The grants support the purchase of a broad range of infrastructure and equipment to recycle food and garden waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill,” Ms Kane said.
“Through the grant program, $43 million has already been provided to fund 89 projects that have made a positive impact on local communities.”
Environmental Trust Director Grants Tina Bidese said funding would be delivered through a partnership between the EPA and the NSW Environmental Trust.
“Working together, the Environmental Trust and EPA are offering a major opportunity for matched investment in infrastructure to recover more food and garden waste,” Ms Bidese said.
“In doing so, we’re reducing the environmental impacts of organics waste in landfill and making the most of a valuable resource that can be recycled into compost, where it benefits soils and helps crops grow.”
Applications for five grant streams are available:
— Organics Processing Infrastructure: up to $3 million for new organics facilities or facility upgrades to process more food and garden waste.
— Onsite Business Recycling: up to $500,000 for infrastructure and equipment for on-site processing or pre-processing of source separated food and garden waste.
— Food Donation Infrastructure: up to $500,000 to not-for-profit organisations for equipment to collect, store and redistribute quality surplus food.
— Product Quality: up to $500,000 for equipment to improve recycled organics product quality.
— Transfer Stations: up to $500,000 for infrastructure to establish new or upgrade existing transfer stations to receive food and garden waste
The EPA is hosting two webinars 17 July 2019 to assist potential applicants.
Applications close 29 August 2019.
Veolia has signed a $17 million per year contract to operate and maintain council-owned water services company Wellington Water’s four wastewater treatment plants.
Wellington Water’s Chief Executive Colin Crampton said the 10-year contract marked the start of a new and exciting focus for Wellington’s wastewater.
“We need to start thinking of wastewater treatment by-products as a resource, and Veolia is a leading company in this area,” Mr Crampton said.
“Veolia already has a long history of involvement in the region, having operated Wellington City’s Moa Point and Western wastewater treatment plants since 2004.”
Mr Crampton said progressively, all four treatment plants will be brought under one contract.
“This will not only provide better value for the region, but also increase opportunities for improved services in the future,” he says.
Veolia General Manager New Zealand Alexandre Lagny said the contract would allow Veolia to deliver better environmental outcomes for the Wellington region.
“Veolia operates approximately 3000 wastewater treatment plants globally and we look forward to bringing our international expertise to Wellington,” Mr Lagny said.
“Wastewater treatment is actually the area where the greatest technological innovation is taking place when it comes to three waters management.”