QLD releases waste management strategy

Queensland’s new Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy aims to provide a legal framework to support industry growth and sustained waste reduction.

Targets for 2050 include a recycling rate of 75 per cent for all waste types and a 25 per cent reduction in household waste.

Additionally, the state government will invest $100 million over the next three years for new and expanded waste management facilities.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel said the strategy was the most innovative in Australia.

“Queensland has set a new and very welcome high standard with its Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The state government has truly recognised the combined environmental and economic benefits of optimised resource recovery and a circular economy.”

Mr Shmigel said the Resource Recovery Industry Road Map was particularly significant, and highlighted forward facing infrastructure funding.

“It’s about quality jobs based on demand for recycled content products as much as it is about trucks and tonnes. That is a great shift in approach,” Mr Shmigel said.

Mr Shmigel said ACOR also welcomed new levy arrangements for contaminated residuals from legitimate recycling and remanufacturing operations.

“The community and stakeholders are right to expect results from the new strategy and the new levy – whether it’s reinvestment in recycling, or pursuing the proximity principle when it comes to waste management,” Mr Shmigel said.

“We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to deliver on the strategy’s huge potential.”

ACOR outlined five critical implementation jobs for the state government: 

— Ensure the new waste levy is effective in curtailing the interstate movement of waste, including strong cross-border coordination, monitoring, measurement and disclosure.

— Establish further targets for state and local government for procurement of recycled content products.

— Full transparency and regular reporting of strategy results.

— Use newly available resources to improve regulatory performance by agencies and facilitate a level playing field for operators.

— Make sure kerbside recycling and CDS systems work in a complementary way.

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ABC’s War on Waste sparks reduction initiatives

An ABC and University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures report has found the War on Waste inspired many waste reduction initiatives across public, private and community sectors.

The report identified 452 high-impact initiatives including Woolworths’ decision to remove plastic straws from stores in Australia and New Zealand, the Western Australian Government’s ban on single-use plastic bags and schools introducing commingled recycling and e-waste collections.

Other reported impacts include a rise in cafes offering discounts to customers with reusable cups, and hospitals replacing single-use polystyrene with reusable products.

According to a statement from the ABC, almost half the 280 organisations in the report reduced waste in their operations, services or products based on ideas from War on Waste.

Institute for Sustainable Futures Research Lead and report co-author Jenni Downes said widespread adoption of the ‘war on waste’ slogan demonstrated a new consciousness in communities and raised expectations.

ABC Impact Producer and report co-author Teri Calder said the program had provided foundations for policy change.

“The biggest impact of the program has been inspiring those with the power to make changes in businesses, governments, education institutions and community organisations,” Ms Calder said.

“The ABC is proud to have sparked a national conversation and inspired action to reduce our collective waste footprint.”

The report found that while many public education campaigns struggle to shift behaviours, viewers responded well to War on Waste’s ‘motivating’ format and ‘solutions-focused’ approach.

More than two-thirds of the 3.3 million viewers of the second series reported changes in waste behaviours, according to separate ABC audience data.

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Enforcing e-waste

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Australia’s largest plastics recycling plant opens

Australia’s largest plastics recycling plant, with a processing capacity of 70,000 tonnes a year, has opened in Victoria.

Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million facility will recycle large quantities of low-value contaminated mixed plastic into material suitable for manufacturing new products

Advanced Circular Polymers Founder Harry Wang said the plant’s 70,000 tonne capacity is equivalent to almost half the plastics currently recovered in Victoria.

“Previously, Australia relied heavily on China to process recovered plastics. This new advancement provides a local solution, right here in Victoria, to the challenges posed by China’s import restrictions imposed last year,” Mr Wang said.

“Rather than plastic being collected, sent overseas, reprocessed then sent back to Australia, we saw an opportunity to close the loop and find a sustainable solution.”

The plant, which has been part-funded by the Victorian Government and a $500,000 Sustainability Victoria grant, will be powered by renewable energy produced from Goldwind Australia’s wind farm near Ballarat.

The facility will use advanced technology to sort and clean plastic by polymer type and to specific customer requirements.

Mr Wang said the resulting plastic flake would be sold and repurposed into new plastic products such as packaging.

“We are big supporters of reducing plastic pollution as a first step, but while there is still plastic to be recycled we should be doing our best to capture what we can,” Mr Wang said.

“We should treat plastic like gold. It is a precious resource that can be used in production again and again.”

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Tasmania releases Waste Action Plan

Tasmania’s draft Waste Action Plan, released 29 June, sets a framework to develop the state’s recently announced CDS and a statewide landfill levy.

Acting Environment Minister Elise Archer has opened the draft for public consultation.

In a cabinet reshuffle last week, it was announced Treasurer Peter Gutwein would soon replace Ms Archer as Environment Minister.

“With a growing population and the recent restrictions of recycling product exports to China, it is important Tasmania takes a more strategic approach to the way it manages waste into the future,” Ms Archer says.

“Dealing with our waste is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and the community.”

According to Ms Archer, the proposed state wide levy is set to replace multiple council levies already in place, with funds to be reinvested in waste and recycling infrastructure and programs.

“The draft plan also contains a series of ambitious, but achievable, waste management, litter and recycling targets that align with targets in the recently approved National Waste Policy,” Ms Archer says.

Other proposed measures include ensuing 100 per cent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, reducing waste generation by 10 per cent per person by 2030 and achieving an 80 per cent average recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030.

Additionally, the plan outlines efforts to ensure Tasmania has the lowest incidence of littering in the country by 2023.

The state government will also work with local government and businesses to phase out problematic plastic by 2030 and reduce the volume of organic waste sent to landfill by 50 per cent by 2030.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel said the draft illustrated smart and progressive reform.

Mr Shmigel highlighted the CDS, waste reduction goals and the commitment to a new administrative structure for waste management as particularly positive.

“ACOR also thinks it’s terrific innovation that the Treasurer Peter Gutwein will also be Environment Minister,” Mr Shmigel said.

“It helps recognise that recycling is a great way to combine ‘green’ and ‘gold’ as it is both an economic and environmental positive.”

Mr Shmigel is calling on government to set the new levy at a sufficient level to drive positive results and industry investment, and make commitments to the positive procurement of recycled content products to boost local manufacturers.

Additionally, Mr Shmigel has encouraged state government to ensure the proposed resource recovery management body involves both local government and industry experts.

“This new plan can start turning the Apple Isle from a recycling laggard to a recycling leader, and that’s something our industry and no doubt the people of Tasmania support,” Mr Shmigel said.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the plan shows a strategic approach to tackling waste, and highlighted its framework for addressing identified priorities.

“WMRR is pleased that Tasmania finally has a waste and resource recovery strategy and in releasing the plan, the minister has acknowledged that waste management is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and community,” Ms Sloan said.

“The minister should also be congratulated for listening to industry about the importance of a levy as an economic tool for prioritising resource recovery, as well as working with industry and the community to design and set the levy. This is a show of great leadership.”

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waste levy

QLD levy comes into effect

The Queensland Government’s waste levy has come into effect, bringing Queensland in line with the majority of Australian states and territories.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said prior to the levy’s reintroduction Queensland was the only mainland state without a waste levy.

The levy will apply to most commercial and industrial waste going to landfill – starting at $75 per tonne.

The levy zone includes 39 out of 77 local government areas, which covers an estimated 90 per cent of Queensland’s population.

Ms Enoch said the government had employed extra compliance officers to ensure businesses were following new waste management legislation.

“The Department of Environment and Science will have 16 extra staff on the ground with more to come, which will help to prevent illegal dumping across the state,” Ms Enoch said.

Waste Management & Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said WMRR appreciated the state governments collaboration with industry throughout the levy development and implementation process.

“Queensland may have to play catch up on a number of waste management and resource recovery fronts, but the process the state government has undertaken in the lead‐up to the levy reintroduction is certainly one that other jurisdictions can and should learn from,” Ms Sloan said.

“The government did not rush into this, but instead heeded the advice of stakeholders and provided time for industry and councils to make the necessary adjustments and prepare for the levy.”

According to Ms Sloan, the state government have committed to reinvest 70 per cent of levy funds into the waste industry to drive investment in the domestic remanufacturing sector.

“WMRR recognises change is not easy, we know business as usual is not an option and we believe that the Queensland Government is to be congratulated for this move,” Ms Sloan said.

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National Symposium of Recycled Organics

The Queensland State Government and Griffith University’s Environmental Biogeochemistry Research Lab (EBRL) have co-hosted the 2nd National Symposium on Recycled Organics.

The event, chaired by EBRL Research Project Manager Dr Maryam Esfandbod, saw over 100 attendees from industry, government, consultancies and academia including representatives from Sustainability Victoria, AORA and the Victorian EPA.

Griffith University Cooperative Research Centre for Soil Project Leader Professor Chengrong Chen introduced the Applied Network for Recycled Organics and Waste Management (ANROWM).

Professor Chen said ANROWM would enhance organics recycling research, application and training by bringing government, industry, end-users, researchers and other relevant stakeholders together to bridge the gap between advanced research and industry.

“It will also increase public awareness through workshops, symposiums and newsletters, which maximise the research outcomes and industry impacts – contributing to greater social and economic benefits for farmers and environmental quality,” Professor Chen said.

NSW Primary Industries Department Senior Principal Research Scientist and Cooperative Research Centre for Soil Program Leader Prof Lukas Van Zwieten presented on the use of recycled

organics in modern agriculture.

Prof Van Zwieten’s presentation focused on the findings of long term organics studies and emphasised the need for better testing to predict mineralisation rates of organic amendments in soil and stocks.

An award was presented for the best presentation based on novelty, applicability for industry and supporting improvement of policy to Griffith University Mr Mohammad Bahadori for his presentation, tracing the source of sediment and particulate nitrogen from the Johnstone catchment.

Papers from the symposium are now online.

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