Shaping the sector

Waste Management Review catches up with Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan to discuss his achievements in waste over the past decade as he moves on to Solar Victoria.

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AgSafe: operation chemical clear

As drumMUSTER celebrates its 20th birthday, AgSafe General Manager Dominique Doyle talks to Waste Management Review about the program’s history.

The agricultural and veterinary (AgVet) chemical classification applies to a range of products developed to protect crops, livestock and domestic animals.

According to the Federal Agriculture Department, AgVet chemicals have produced long-term benefits for Australian agriculture by reducing the effects of weeds, pests and diseases on agricultural and forest production.

This has led to increased productivity, better quality produce, more competitive industries and improved environmental outcomes.

Industry benefit aside, AgVet chemicals and containers create disposal challenges given their composition, ingredients and flammability.

Taking growing hazardous waste rates into account, specialised product stewardship schemes for AgVet products have become critical to managing the agricultural industry sustainably.   

For more than 20 years, AgSafe has worked with rural businesses to promote workplace health and safety practices for AgVet products.

According to General Manager Dominique Doyle, AgSafe achieves this though its chemical and drum collection product stewardship schemes drumMUSTER and ChemClear.

Dominique says drumMUSTER was one of the first product stewardship programs established in Australia. She adds that it is now internationally recognised as a leading example of how the agricultural industry and individual farmers can work together.

She says that for decades, some farmers had been dealing with plastic and metal packaging for AgVet chemicals by burning or burying the material. Dominique adds that stockpiles often piled up.

In 1993, the AgVet Association launched Operation Clean Rinse, with the aim of educating farmers on proper rinsing, cleaning and disposal of chemical containers.

“Operation Clean Rinse served as a precursor to drumMUSTER, which launched five years later,” Dominique says.

The first drumMUSTER collection took place May 1999 in Gunnedah NSW, and since then, the program has collected 33.5 million AgVet containers for recycling.

“That equates to 38,000 tonnes of waste that would have otherwise been sent to landfill, buried or burnt on farms,” Dominique says.

Like most product stewardship schemes, drumMUSTER is financed through a levy.

According to Dominique, participating chemical manufacturers incorporate a six-cent-per-litre charge into the cost of non-returnable chemicals at purchase.

“The levy enables collections across rural Australia at council waste transfer stations, where farmers leave empty AgVet containers for collection by accredited processors,” Dominique says.

“The drums are inspected by drumMUSTER trained inspectors and then transported to recycling facilities.”

drumMUSTER collection sites are mostly located in waste transfer stations operated by regional councils. At the time of writing, 349 councils operated collections at over 800 sites.

She says that as a voluntary program, the drumMUSTER product stewardship program has adapted to fit the needs of councils, farmers, retailers and manufacturers of the chemicals.

Drums Go Round, a recycling company operating in NSW and Victoria, has been working with drumMUSTER since the program began.

According to Drums Go Round Manager Cindy Taylor, the company processes around half a million drumMUSTER containers each year.

“We granulate or shred drumMUSTER material on site with mobile plants to reduce the number of times the product needs to be handled before sale,” Cindy says.

“The material can then be remanufactured into products such as wheelie bins, irrigation and drainage pipes, fencing posts, road signage, outdoor furniture and garden stakes.”

Dominique says while drumMUSTER facilitates recovery options for empty containers, the dilemma of leftover chemicals is similarly significant to the agricultural industry.

Given the safety imperatives of proper chemical disposal, AgSafe developed drumMUSTER’s sister program ChemClear in 2003, using funds from the drumMUSTER levy.

ChemClear operates as a collection and disposal service for unwanted and unknown AgVet chemicals. Farmers and other agricultural industry professionals register their waste with the program and relinquish chemicals for safe removal.

Group one chemicals, including those housed in their original container with a readable label with the drumMUSTER logo, are eligible for free collection.

Group two chemicals, such as those no longer registered, unlabelled or expired, have a variable per-litre fee applied.

Dominique says approximately 80 per cent of all AgVet chemical manufacturers in Australia are involved with the program.

In the year of drumMUSTER’s 20th birthday, Dominique says AgSafe intends to continue expanding the program’s reach.

“We will continue to engage with members and industry stakeholders on how best to expand our operations, with a specific focus on metropolitan and peri-urban areas,” Dominique says.

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$10M loan for SKM clean-up

KordaMentha has secured a $10 million loan from the Victorian Government to help clean-up SKM sites and resume waste processing.

KordaMentha were appointed SKM Recycling’s receiver and manager earlier in August, following reports the company owed $100 million to multiple stakeholders.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the loan would help clear waste stockpiles and fund the essential maintenance work required to get SKM’s plants back up and running, while meeting strict environmental and safety standards.

“The Laverton site will be the first to return to operation, with stockpile clearing to begin within the week, and some processing expected to start within five weeks,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“This loan is the fastest way of getting recyclable materials sent to processing sites instead of landfill.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said the state government is also in the process of overhauling kerbside recycling.

“The state government is working in partnership with local government and industry on a major overhaul of kerbside collection, which will seek innovative and cost-effective designs that could include additional household bins to reduce waste contamination,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“Negotiating new kerbside collection services across councils will send a strong signal to industry, trigger a change to community behaviour and reduce waste and contamination.”

Ms D’Ambrosio said following consultation, an EOI will be released to design the new kerbside collection service, expected to start in 2021.

The announcement comes on top of a $6.6 million financial relief package to councils directly affected by the closure of SKM, which includes a rebate to cover the cost of the landfill levy.

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Funding available for WA waste sector

The Western Australian government has announced a further $1.17 million in funding for projects that will support the state’s waste and recycling sector.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the latest round of funding supports the continued development of waste and recycling infrastructure in Western Australia, and reinforces government’s commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable environment.

“Waste is a priority issue for the state government, and we are committed to funding initiatives through the Community and Industry Engagement program,” Mr Dawson said.

“This program gives industry and community groups financial backing for projects that contribute to Western Australia becoming a sustainable, low-waste, circular economy.”

Projects to improve the recovery and reuse of glass, construction and demolition materials, food organics and garden organics, as well as those that encourage behaviour change, are encouraged to apply for a funding grant.

“I encourage the community to access this funding for initiatives that help reduce waste generation, divert waste from landfill and help educate the community and industry,” Mr Dawson said.

Past successful recipients include Green Machines Lab for a plastic reprocessing plant and Good Samaritan Industries for a cardboard recycler system that converts scrap cardboard into packaging material.

Grants are provided as part of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, and will be made available through the Community and Industry Engagement program administered by the Waste Authority.

Applications 23 September.

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MWRRG welcomes new CEO

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has announced the appointment of a new CEO, effective 2 September.

Jillian Riseley will replace Rob Millard, who has led the organisation since producing the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Strategic Plan in 2009.

MWRRG Chair Colleen Gates said she was delighted to welcome Ms Riseley to the role.

“Ms Riseley’s commercial and not-for-profit background, networks and situational knowledge demonstrate an ability to embrace disruption, and use innovative approaches to lead organisational and industry transformation,” Ms Gates said.

“Furthermore, Ms Riseley’s experience and skill as a strategist, people leader and relationship builder, will be of great value to the organisation and the waste and resource recovery portfolio more broadly.”

According to a MWRRG statement, Ms Riseley is recognised for her work delivering innovative and sector-wide solutions to environmental issues in local communities.

“Ms Riseley’s extensive experience in senior roles includes complex, multi-stakeholder and regulated environments,” the statement reads.

“She has led significant national consumer affairs and recycling initiatives, and implemented procurement strategies in complex essential service markets.”

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Melbourne opens recycling hub EOI’s

The City of Melbourne is seeking innovative technological solutions to expand its network of rubbish and recycling hubs throughout the central city.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said expanding the hub network would streamline collection services and improve public amenity.

“We know there are around 1000 individual bins stored on public property across the central city. Bins in laneways take up space and can cause odour, visual pollution and attract vermin,” Ms Capp said.

“Over the long-term, businesses would be encouraged to use the communal network of resource recovery hubs instead of using on-street bins. As the network expands over time, the number of on-street private waste bins will be reduced.”

Ms Capp said council is asking companies to submit proposals for specialised waste and recycling collection services.

“We will consider everything from mini-compactor bins to specialised vehicles and collection of source separated materials such as glass, organics, paper and cardboard,” Ms Capp said.

“We could tailor our network of hubs to the profile of key precincts around the city. For example, we could deliver more food waste and plastic recycling hubs in our hospitality precincts.”

Ms Capp said council was looking at densely populated international cities such as Milan, which has one of the highest recycling rates in Europe.

“We want to expand our network of waste and recycling hubs to transform the way waste and recycling is collected in the central city,” Ms Capp said.

“Rather than have multiple trucks circling the city, we want to create more communal hubs so businesses can take their items to a local collection point.”

Ms Capp said since 2013, the City of Melbourne has removed more than 500 bins off the streets by providing access to communal garbage compactors and recycling hubs.

Environment Portfolio Chair Cathy Oke said residents and businesses have a critical role to play in helping to reduce waste and find local solutions to the state’s recycling crisis.

“Unfortunately, tonnes of recycling is being sent to landfill, so the most important thing people can do right now is to try to avoid creating waste,” Ms Oke said.

“The City of Melbourne understands this is a state-wide issue and we will continue to examine potential short and long-term solutions such as new technologies.”

Ms Oke said council is also asking residents and businesses to adjust their behaviour to achieve long-term change.

“This means changing the products we buy to ones that have less packaging or things that can be re-used in our homes or workplaces,” Ms Oke said.

“Food waste is an area that almost anyone can cut down on by starting to compost or simply using leftovers to make a new meal instead of throwing them out.”

The City of Melbourne is specifically looking for solutions that include:

— Wi-Fi or radio frequency identification technology that can charge users for the amount of waste calculated / disposed.

— Smart, card, tap technology which can bill users via a pay-as-you-throw waste management system.

— Smart sensors and bin weights to monitor bin levels.

— GPS tracking to help truck drivers know when a bin needs emptying.

— Ability to compact a variety of waste streams for easier storage and collection.

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MRA Consulting welcomes COAG export ban

MRA Consulting Group has welcomed the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision to address the many difficulties facing the recycling and waste management sector.

At its meeting of 9 August, COAG announced it would establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities and associated demand.

MRA Managing Director Mike Ritchie said since China’s National Sword restrictions, the recycling industry has been calling for government intervention to support domestic recycling activities.

“According to the 2018 National Waste Report, Australians generate 54.5 million tonnes of waste per year and we successfully recycle over 31.7 million tonnes of that or 58 percent,” Mr Ritchie said.

“Of that, 4.3 million tonnes is exported, primarily fibre and plastic. This 4.3 million tonnes is now subject to greater import restrictions by the Asian manufacturing nations, as they grow their own domestic recycling industries.”

Mr Ritchie said Australian needs to rebuild its own on-shore reprocessing capacity to avoid fibre and plastic going to landfill.

“That means plastic reprocessing facilities to turn used bottles into plastic pellets, and reusing fibre in recycled paper here in Australia. We know how to do it but the economics have always favoured export,” M r Ritchie said.

“To close the loop in Australia we will need governments and businesses to preferentially purchase materials with recycled content.”

Mr Richie said government needs to introduce recycled content rules for domestic manufacturers, and have purchasing policies in place that require recycled content.

“The most obvious are converting glass bottles into sand for use in road base, and asphalt and reprocessing plastic bottles into asphalt, furniture and fuel. Governments also need to mandate the use of recycled paper” Mr Ritchie said.

“Recycling doesn’t stop at putting the bin out on the kerb, it stops when a product using recycled material is sold back into the economy. If we want to truly close the loop then we need to purchase and reuse products with recycled content.”

In 2018, The Australian Council of Recycling and MRA estimated that a one-off payment of $150 million could de-risk and on-shore Australia’s recycling sector through three actions.

Actions include $90 million to retrofit materials recovery facilities to improve sorting, a positive procurement policy to ensure products with recycled content are purchased in Australia and community education to reduce contamination in recycling systems.

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BINGO announces financial year results

BINGO Industries has announced its financial year results, with net revenue up by 32.4 per cent to $402.2 million and underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) up by 13.2 per cent to $106.1 million.

BINGO Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Tartak said business performed broadly in-line with the prior financial year, in what was flagged as a transitional year for the business following its Dial A Dump (DADI) acquisition.

“The acquisition of DADI has materially changed our business, and we’ve made great progress since integrating DADI into our operations,” Mr Tartak said.

“The contribution from DADI since the completion of the acquisition was in-line with expectations. The asset base we’ve secured through the acquisition will help transform our business for many years to come, while supporting our vision for a waste-free Australia.”

Collections revenue was up 20.7 per cent to $213.5 million, which Mr Tartak said was largely driven by a full year contribution of the Victorian business and a partial year contribution of DADI collections revenue.

“Our Post-Collections infrastructure assets now account for approximately 63 per cent of our EBITDA and continue to support the repositioning of the business,” Mr Tartak said.

“We’ve had more than two years of constant activity and investment since our IPO and we now expect to start reaping the financial benefits. We’ll begin to see the positive cash flow impacts from Patons Lane, West Melbourne and a full year run-rate of DADI in FY20.”

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Vivo Mobile joins MobileMuster

Smartphone manufacturer Vivo Mobile has joined the mobile telecommunication industry’s recycling program and product stewardship scheme MobileMuster.

Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association Chief Executive Officer Chris Althaus said the program recovers over 95 per cent of the material in a mobile phone, which is then reused to manufacture new products.

“The mobile telecommunications industry is delighted to welcome Vivo Mobile to our world-class recycling program,” Mr Althaus said.

“Our members work together to ensure we keep old mobiles out of the general waste stream and recycle them in a responsible, secure and environmentally sound way, placing reusable commodities back into the supply chain.”

Vivo Mobile Chief Executive Officer Fred Liu said the company was excited to join the government accredited program, as it looks to enter the Australian market.

“Being part of this industry led initiative gives us great confidence that when our customers have finished using their smartphones along with any accessories, they will be recycled to the highest environmental standard,” Mr Liu said.

Since the MobileMuster program began in 1998, it has diverted more than 1400 tonnes of mobiles and accessories from landfill, including over 13 million handsets and batteries.

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SA releases Recycling Activities Report

South Australia has achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia, according to the newly released Recycling Activities Survey Report.

Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia diverted 4.49 million tonnes of material from landfill between 2017-18.

“The state has once again achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia. The increase in our diversion rate is driven by an increase in state infrastructure projects,” Mr Speirs said.

“While all of the long-term key indicators are trending in the right direction, we actually saw a slight increase in waste to landfill from 2016-17 to 2017-18, as well as an increase in waste generation per person, showing we need to remain vigilant.”

According to the report, 87 per cent of the states recovered material is recycled locally.

“Despite considerable impact on recycling as a result of China’s National Sword policy, South Australia’s recycling industry is transitioning by implementing measures to improve the quality of the materials recovered and diverted, and by educating the public on the importance of recycling,” Mr Speirs said.

“Our recycling results are world leading, however, we still have room to improve. South Australia set an ambitious target in 2003 to reduce waste to landfill by 35 per cent by 2020 and we’re at 29 per cent.”

Over 118 individuals from South Australian organisations involved in resource recovery were surveyed for the report.

The survey asked participants to provide the value per tonne of each material stream reprocessed by their organisation.

Using this data, the report lists metal as the greatest contributor to the market value of resource recovery at $177 million, followed by organics at $101 million and cardboard and paper at $40 million.

The overall market value of the South Australia resource recovery sector is estimated at $356 million.

Additionally, the survey highlights masonry and soil as the highest recovered material streams at 30 per cent, followed by organics at 24 per cent and metals at seven per cent.

The report was prepared by Rawtec for Green Industries SA.

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