10 things to prioritise when buying a new shredder

Robbie McKernan, FOCUS Enviro director, and Gary Moore, UNTHA Global Business Development Director, explore the 10 things companies should prioritise when buying a new shredder.

With shredders playing an increasingly crucial part in waste management and recycling facilities, operators are quite right to ensure these assets deliver on their promises.

Once required simply to act as heavy-duty workhorses, these machines must now demonstrate far more sophisticated performance criteria if they are to provide a true return on investment.

One: define your input materials

Know the specifics of the materials you wish to shred. Think carefully about the type and bulk density of the ‘waste’ you’re handling for example, as well as any likely variation in this specification and the preferred in-feed method for loading the shredder.

These factors will influence everything from the drive power, to the chamber dimensions, cutter capabilities and even the height of the machine.

It’s also important to define the likely volume of input materials that need to be processed and at what pace, as this will shape the shredder’s throughput criteria.

As difficult as it can be to predict the future – and you don’t want to invest in too large a machine unnecessarily – it is crucial to look ahead a little too.

Very few organisations stand still, so some additional capacity is often helpful, as is a shredder’s proven flexibility to handle different input materials with quick and simple reconfiguration. A mobile shredder will offer even further flexibility, if it can be relocated around a site with ease.

Two: define the output specification

Likewise, operators must be clear on exactly what the shredder must do.

Some facilities invest in shredding machinery purely to reduce the size of the bulky materials they no longer have use for and/or find difficult to store, in which case output fraction is not such a priority.

Others are driven by increasing compliance requirements – certainly as more state and territory laws seem to be coming to the fore – which means output performance matters far more.

Then there are organisations with extremely defined specifications to satisfy. If a plant is manufacturing a Waste to Energy fuel such as PEF for example, a clear calorific value and homogenous particle size of <2” (50mm) is typical.

It is therefore important to look for a shredder with a proven ability to achieve the desired output specification, and in an ideal world, the machine should be flexible to evolve alongside the operator’s changing needs too. Often this is possible thanks to just a simple screen swap.

Three: ask application-specific questions

Next, ask detailed, application-specific questions to understand the shredder’s true performance capabilities. For example:

— Confidential document shredders benefit from a low speed, high torque design, as they can shred classified material to an agreed specification without destroying the material fibre, which aids downstream recycling.

— If shredding organic waste and packaging, look for specialised bearing and seal protection systems that will eliminate contamination into the machine’s gearbox and bearing areas from this potentially aggressive material.

— E-Waste shredders must have a proven ability to liberate the various high-value composite materials ‘locked’ in redundant electrical equipment and appliances, as well as an in-built resistance to ‘foreign objects’ or unshreddables that could otherwise lead to costly downtime.

Whatever the shredding scenario, ensure the chosen supplier can provide tailored advice relevant to the specific project.

Four: stipulate safety criteria

Few people would disagree that industrial shredding has the potential to be a hazardous exercise, which is why manufacturers have worked so hard to ensure equipment safety – by design – over the years.

From easy maintenance tasks that minimise operators’ exposure to the inner workings of the shredder, to proactive diagnostic control panels that prevent the need for machine entry, and foreign object protection mechanisms that ensure equipment auto-stops should it encounter an unshreddable item, there are many ways to heighten technological safety.

But engineering innovation is driving even more safety benefits.

For example, low noise shredders mean operators are protected from the potentially debilitating effect of prolonged exposure to excessive noise; machines can now feature in-built UV, infrared, heat and spark detectors to help prevent the outbreak of fire; and ergonomic design is even being prioritised so that personnel can service and maintain equipment quickly, safely and in an upright position, without the need to hunch or over-stretch.

Five: think about the environment

Attitudes towards recycling and waste management differ across Australia, not just from state to state, but from operator to operator too. This is, in a large part, due to the absence of a cohesive governmental policy which would no doubt otherwise influence a certain type of behaviour or best practice.

Compare this to certain parts of Europe, for instance – where waste and recycling is heavily legislated and target-driven – and operators must prioritise far more than their own performance criteria when it comes to investing in fit-for-purpose shredders.

This is the reason some modern machines are driven by energy-efficient electric motors such as synchronous drives instead of diesel hydraulic drives.

Not only does such technology represent far less of a fire risk, but reduced energy consumption means the net environmental gain of such shredders is much greater.

There seems little point transforming waste into a renewable fossil fuel substitute, if the ‘cost’ of the manufacturing process is extremely harmful to the environment.

Being ‘green’ also makes commercial sense, as energy-hungry shredders don’t just have a detrimental carbon impact – they can prove costly in terms of fuel consumption too, which limits the machine’s possible return on investment (ROI).

Six: ensure the shredder is ‘tried and tested’

Identify reputable shredder manufacturers who can supply individual pieces of machinery, as well as those that can help design, source and install an entire recycling or waste management system.

Whether an operator needs a complex plant or a simple waste processing line, true shredding experts will be able to help map out a turnkey solution for maximum efficiency throughout every piece of equipment.

Also, don’t just trust suppliers at face value! ‘Seeing is believing’ so ask to speak to existing customers and better still, request a site visit to witness a working demonstration of the equipment.

The perfect scenario is a trial of the chosen shredder, using your own materials. This is the best way to evidence that the shredder will truly deliver on any promises made.

Seven: new vs used

Many industrial shredders are built to last, which means that while a machine may have reached the end of its useful life in one facility, it could still have years of operational potential with another organisation.

This presents an attractive investment option for many businesses, especially those who can procure a high-performance used shredder for a fraction of the cost of new technology.

Some manufacturers offer shredder rebuild services too, giving the operator greater peace of mind regarding the ongoing condition of the equipment.

Eight: remember non-machine considerations

Of course, the shredder needs to fulfil the performance criteria set out for it, but wider due diligence is also important.

Ask the manufacturer about typical service intervals and to what extent they are likely to affect uptime, for example. Labour intensive maintenance tasks can soon cause operational disruption which isn’t just inconvenient – it costs money, restricts the payback period of the shredder and could even put operators’ health and safety at risk.

Think also about factors such as the cost of spare and wear parts, typical wear rates, and the availability of these crucial machine components. Again, this will all impact on future uptime statistics plus the shredder’s whole life running costs.

Some suppliers take aftersales support very seriously, which means long-term ROI is far more likely.

Others don’t think much beyond the initial sale of the machine, which can leave operators feeling a little isolated when it comes to refresher training or future process optimisation.

In short, look for a shredder specialist that truly prioritises a long-term partnership approach.

Nine: ask for a project plan

While some facilities can be flexible in their lead times for a new shredder, others have to work to strict project plans.

So, whether a machine is replacing incumbent technology and downtime cannot be afforded, or the commissioning timeframes risk jeopardising the likelihood of a new plant coming online, talk to the supplier about next steps and key calendar milestones.

Shredders are commonly engineered to order, so a rapid turnaround is probably not possible.

But a serious and engaged supplier will respect the project criteria and do what they can to keep the installation moving, while communicating with the operator every step of the way. If this project proactivity is not apparent, it may be wise for the search to continue.

Ten: do the math

The ‘business case’ for an investment in new capital equipment will almost always come down to the numbers. The price tag matters, of course, although different finance routes can make things more affordable for organisations that need to spread the cost.

However, other metrics are also important. It’s crucial to calculate ongoing wear costs as this will rapidly inflate the financial impact of the investment.

Think as well about power consumption – some electric-driven machines are now so energy efficient that fuel savings alone, when compared to more traditional diesel-driven equipment, quickly accelerates the payback period.

Then there’s the possible revenue that can be generated from the sale of cleanly segregated recycled products, so include these projections in the numbers too.

If in any doubt regarding how to build the perfect business case, ask the shredder supplier to help – this exercise should be very straightforward for them.

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The missing link in tyre recovery: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Tyre Stewardship Australia has released the most comprehensive analysis of the Australian end-of-life tyre market that provides a rigorous data set, insight into the impact of the ban and options to support a transitioning market.

Following the recent Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in March, the export ban, which will commence on 1 December 2021, applies to all whole waste tyres, including baled tyres.

According to the COAG Waste Export Bans response strategy, bus, truck and aviation tyres which are legitimately exported for re-treading can continue to be exported and are not subject to the ban.

The COAG strategy points out that this is on the basis that re-treading represents a re-use. This is a higher order ‘waste hierarchy’ outcome through the resource efficiency outcomes associated with extending a tyre’s primary use, rather than reaching end-of-life and being processed into a secondary material such as a crumb or shred.

Additionally, crumb rubber, buffings, granules and tyre shred less than 80 millimetres will still be exportable as such materials are considered a ‘value-added product’ and not a waste and are therefore not subject to the ban.

As a result, the volume of waste tyres that are currently exported which are expected to be subject to the ban once it is enacted will equate to 61,282 tonnes of whole used tyres, including baled tyres, with around a third being generated in NSW and Victoria.

While the waste industry has long called for national standards and specifications for tyre-derived product in infrastructure, the COAG report’s call to action suggests the feds may finally heed this call.

Moreover, it points to “tyre research and innovation” through further support for commercialisation of new technologies, including crumb rubber in permeable pavements.

This is a product that Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has supported from early stage research to its current stage of commercialisation. Likewise, improved tracking of tyre fates and looking at recovering off-the-road (OTR) tyres is another important next step.

These plans for targeted action are consistent with the work of TSA, which has been supporting progress in these areas since it initiated market development activities five years ago.

Now, TSA has released the most authoritative and up to date data set on end-of-life tyre arisings in Australia to date.

The report, Used tyres supply chain and fate analysis, is the most comprehensive and biggest piece of research conducted into the end-of-life tyre market since the 2017 National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres.

It combines material flow analysis data with TSA participant reports to provide a complete picture on the fate of all tyres: passenger, truck and off-the-road.

One of the key gaps identified in the last study was that around 60 to 65 per cent of all waste tyres generated were disposed to landfill or other fates like dumping or illegal stockpiling, with little verifiable data to specifically quantify each fate.

This report addresses that, and according to TSA CEO Lina Goodman, supports TSA’s role as an information hub, thought leader and provider of rigorous, independent data for the resource recovery sector.

SMASHING THE TARGET

Lina says it’s positive to see recovery rates in passenger and truck tyres at 89 per cent, which exceeds the 2018 National Waste Policy target set at 80 per cent.

Unfortunately, a recovery rate closer to 10 per cent for OTR tyres (large mining and agricultural tyres) brings down the overall recovery rate for the sector.

“Of the 460,000 tonnes used tyre arisings that reach end-of-life each year, we are seeing that 69 per cent is being recovered in passenger, truck and OTR, whether its reuse, process of tyre-derived product or used whole in thermal processing,” Lina explains.

For example, she says that when looking at the often quoted 56 million equivalent passenger units (EPUs) tyre generation figure, which is now 57 million, 40 million of these EPUs were recovered.

Lina adds that market development is a strength in Australia, and an area TSA has worked tirelessly to develop. However, finding further end markets for waste tyre consumption is critical, particularly with the impending ban.

To that end, she says on-shore energy recovery is an area of untapped potential, with cement kilns in Australia a possible outlet.

“When I travelled overseas late last year to visit a number of sister schemes in Europe, one thing I noticed was that many schemes do an excellent job at collecting and processing waste tyres domestically, and part of that is to do with consistent onshore consumption via tyre derived fuels (TDF) in cement kilns,” Lina says.

As a proportion, Australia sends a similar amount of tyres to TDF end markets. However, Australian tyres are consumed offshore in Asia – not in the domestic markets as is the case in Europe and the US.

“With the ban in place, we need to focus on energy recovery as an outlet in Australia to insulate against fluctuations in foreign trade and commodity prices – such as those we are experiencing in the global trade now.”

Lina asserts that the waste ban, coupled with the disruption of global markets, will no doubt affect the cost of collection and this is an area that TSA is watching closely.

It comes as demand in India for foreign tyres constrains, with its National Green Tribunal directing the Central Pollution Control to regulate the import of waste tyres. Not to mention the impact of COVID19.

“With current upheavals in the global markets, we will see an increased risk of stockpiling as local processing capacity is limited in terms of national distribution, foreign outlets are constrained and sites reach storage limits,” Lina says.

She says that based on this, TSA will identify and engage with stakeholders to provide both a short and long-term plan to mitigate stockpiling before issues arise. Importantly, TSA will be keeping an eye on coordinated efforts by rogue operators.

“Our relationship with the consumer app Snap, Send, Solve is integral now more than ever. We’ll be asking consumers to keep an eye out and report cases of dumping. It means TSA gets live data on dumping throughout Australia and can jump on these issues right away,” she says.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS

To that end, the key recommendations of the report are to increase the proportion of levied tyre sales.

With the TSA levy being paid on around 34 per cent (140,000 tonnes) of all imported passenger and truck tyres (26 per cent when including OTR) – there is significant opportunity to improve coverage of the Tyre Stewardship Scheme considering participants handled around 50 per cent of used tyre arisings (85 per cent of passenger tyres) in 2018-19.

Secondly, investigating export end markets and foreign policy plans to ensure offshore markets for shredded tyres are stable is another report recommendation.

Particularly as there will likely be a move from baling to shredding as the ban looms closer, creating an ever greater need to find foreign end market outlets for such materials.

Thirdly, in line with the research completed on OTR tyres, more work is required to stimulate OTR markets to bring the 10 per cent recovery rate in this sector more in line with that of passenger and truck tyres which is close to 90 per cent.

Finally, continuing to analyse the costs of tyre recovery will be crucial to enable TSA and other stakeholders to monitor market conditions and better understand existing and potential market risks.

“We need government intervention to help the Tyre Stewardship Scheme.

It can only go so far with the current voluntary model. Government needs to intervene so that all tyre importers play their part in contributing to better end of life tyre outcomes – not just the eight companies that currently voluntarily contribute the levy,” Lina says.

“Our market development is excellent, and it needs to remain the focus. We need to see more tyre-derived product being utilised in a wider range of applications. There is growth happening now and we believe it will escalate with the announcement of the ban – and ideally a greater financial contribution from the current ‘free riders’ should government intervene and make scheme participation compulsory for tyre importers.”

NEXT STEPS

With this in mind, building a consistent strategy around local consumption of tyre-derived product is going to play an increasing role for the next evolution of tyre resource recovery.

When it comes to the domestic fate, the data shows a number of markets are very much in their infancy.

This comprises civil engineering which makes up only one per cent of the market, or pyrolysis at less than one per cent. Around 32,900 tonnes of used tyres were recycled into crumb, granules and buffings in Australia (17 per cent) with the majority of material derived from truck tyres.

No TDF is used in Australia in cement kilns, industrial boilers or furnaces, with all TDF currently going offshore.

“In Australia, we still don’t consume enough of our own waste and we really need to focus on how we’re going to build those alternate markets to use that.”

“We’ve done some great work in market development, but we need to now work on how we’re going to commercialise it, whether it’s research and prototyping, and if so we need to dial it up in a big way. The market and environment are right, we just need to help drive outcomes.”

Passenger tyres, she says, are another priority area.

“I think the passenger tyre issue is really important because at the moment we are seeing that the major fate for passenger tyres is fuel consumption overseas.”

“Truck tyres are valuable because they’re easier to crumb than passenger tyres. We need to dispel the myth that passenger tyres can’t be used in crumb rubber applications – because they can, they just need to be processed a bit differently.”

Notably, the data reflects huge decline in stockpiling. Stockpiles now make up less than one per cent, or around 5600 tonnes of used tyres, which in the report are defined as more than 40 tonnes of untreated or unprocessed product with onsite storage for more than 12 months.

The report attributes this decrease in stockpiling to stronger EPA regulation and enforcement and increases in the volume of baled passenger tyres exported over the last few years.

However, Lina notes that with the implementation of the ban and constraints in the demand for Australian tyres from foreign markets such as India, more material may accumulate in Australia, creating stockpiling risks for responsible authorities and the community more broadly.

Also, as was noted by a recent announcement by the UK Tyre Recovery Association, with baling being removed from the market, gate fees may rise, incentivising less scrupulous operators to collect without legitimate outlets, thereby encouraging dumping.

Coordinated activity between TSA, processors, industry associations and government are needed to mitigate these risks.  

Lina adds that new participants in the market, including online retailers, will create a controlled ecosystem that helps squeeze rogue operators out of the market.   

“Auto brands are seeing a positive partnership in working with TSA and we hope to see more of that over the next 12 months,” Lina says.

For more information click here

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WA project to covert wastewater biogas into hydrogen and graphite

A project to produce low-emission hydrogen and graphite from sewage at a wastewater treatment plant in Western Australia has been given the green-light.

According to Water Minister Dave Kelly, Western-Australian based technology company Hazer Group plan to use biogas for its hydrogen and graphite production process.

“Excess gas produced during the wastewater treatment process is currently burned off but this innovative technology will instead use it to create low-emission hydrogen and graphite,” he said.

“This will help decarbonise the Water Corporation’s operations to further support its sustainability objectives, while generating additional revenue and staff training opportunities.”

The three-year operation at Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant in Munster will produce around 100 tonnes of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite each year, Kelly said, with potential for expansion.

Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the technology will capitalise on biogas waste product – primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide – which is released during the wastewater treatment process as solid matter (biosolids) breaks down.

“While most of this renewable fuel is currently used to produce electricity for the treatment plant, the excess is usually burned off – now it will be converted into valuable materials using an iron ore catalyst,” she said.

Hydrogen has a wide range of industrial and commercial uses, including vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock. Additionally, graphite has potential for a number of industrial applications, such as the production of lithium-ion batteries, water purification and advanced materials.

“Hydrogen is an increasingly important renewable fuel source, and this world-leading project will showcase our state’s capability in the hydrogen industry through the commercialisation of a technology developed right here in WA,” MacTiernan said.

“This initiative represents an important first step towards kick-starting renewable hydrogen production capacity and driving the use of zero-emissions transport fuel for buses, heavy trucking, waste collection and light vehicle fleets.”

The technology was developed at the University of Western Australia before being acquired by Hazer Group.

In partnership with the City of Mandurah, Hazer Group is also exploring plans to establish Western Australia’s first refuelling infrastructure hub, with a grant from the Western Australia Renewable Hydrogen Fund.

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Cold-chain food waste costs Australia $4B

A new government and industry-sponsored study has revealed that food waste attributable to failures in the cold food chain costs the Australian economy nearly $4 billion at farm gate values.

The study was carried out by the Melbourne-based Expert Group for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Refrigerants Australia.

Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) Chairman Mark Mitchell said the study highlighted the “shocking abuse” of temperature control and food handling processes in refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across Australia.

‘It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten,’ he said.

‘This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion. Meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.”

According to Mitchell, while the Federal Government has committed to reducing food waste by half by 2030, the goal wont be achieved unless substantial improvements are made to the way chilled food makes its way from farm or production facility to the consumer.

“We need to work cooperatively across industry and government to improve cold chain efficiency,” he said.

“Most of the cold food chain’s problems are human-induced. Technologies and processes already exist that would dramatically cut food losses, but nothing can be achieved while food manufacturers and distribution channels operate in isolation and secrecy.”

To minimise food waste, the study recommends handling processes such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer, more accurate measurement of food temperatures and more transparent monitoring of food in transit.

“An Australian Cold Food Code could be a game-changer for food producers and consumers,” Mitchell added.

“It is all very well to implore cold storage facilities, trucking companies and supermarkets to redouble their efforts to reduce food waste, but they need the support and guidance of an updated and practical code, combined with an education campaign for cold chain practitioners.”

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$3.5M bonus for WA’s delayed container deposit scheme

The Western Australian government will invest $3.5 million to support network participants following the deferral of Containers for Change, which will now be launched later this year.

The state government announced Western Australia’s container deposit scheme will commence on October 1.

Stephen Dawson, WA Environment Minister, said the scheme’s launch date had to be delayed due to COVID-19, a decision that was supported by the community and the scheme co-ordinator, and public health advice.

The Containers for Change scheme will pave the way for reduced litter, improved recycling rates, and the creation of new businesses and employment opportunities across the state.

“Western Australians have been telling us they are ready and willing to get involved in a cash for cans scheme, they want to recycle right and they want to ensure less beverage containers end up in landfill,” Dawson said.

“An October launch date strikes the right balance between keeping people safe and ensuring the sustainability of the network.”

Originally slated to start on 1 July 2020, it was announced at the end of March that due to COVID-19, the scheme would have to be deferred to either November 2020 or June 2021, to be determined following a review in August 2020.

According to a statement from Dawson, the financial assistance package of up to $3.5 million will support network participants financially impacted by deferral of the scheme, ensuring they remain viable until scheme commencement and It will also ensure sustainability of the collection network.

Containers for Change will allow Western Australians to claim a 10-cent refund when they return eligible beverage containers at designated refund points across the state.

In preparation for the scheme, participants made financial commitments such as taking on leases, staff and technology to support their operations.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) stated that the $3.5 million assistance package will provide much-needed certainty for operators involved in the scheme.

Gayle Sloan, WMRR CEO, said the scheme will play an important role in delivering ongoing investment in WA, while providing additional and welcome cash flow to communities.

“The WA government is to be congratulated for acting so swiftly in addressing COVID-19, enabling an earlier restart date than initially contemplated,” she said.

“WMRR also genuinely appreciates that the government has listened to the concerns of operators who had worked tirelessly towards the initial 1 July 2020 start date and were left with uncertainty around the new commencement date,

“In knowing that the scheme will commence on 1 October 2020, coupled with compensation for sites that had already been secured and developed for the scheme, puts WA’s CDS back on track.”

The CDS is also an important part in the COAG waste export bans puzzle, as plastic that flows through the scheme are amongst those that will be impacted when the bans are implemented.

“The impending bans and CDS present an opportunity to grow WA’s domestic remanufacturing capacity,” Sloan said.

The funding will be made available from June 2, 2020 until scheme commencement.

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Inadequate monitoring and tracking of VIC chemical waste

Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has been advised to improve its systems and process relating to chemical waste management, following its failure to properly monitor dangerous chemicals and sites across the state.

An audit was commissioned by the EPA board in the wake of the largest illegal chemical waste dumping operation in the state’s history, and the subsequent discovery of illegally stockpiled chemical waste in several sites across northern and western Melbourne.

The audit conducted by Ernst and Young (EY) covers the EPA’s management of 14 chemical waste sites between January 2016 and April 2019.

The review was prompted after more than six million litres of chemical waste were discovered at the warehouses as part of targeted inspections related to 2018’s West Footscray toxic warehouse fire. 

“The past practices revealed by this report will be unacceptable to Victorians, and they are unacceptable to me,” EPA chief executive Dr Cathy Wilkinson said.

“For that, EPA apologises to Victorians.”

She said the challenges facing EPA have evolved rapidly in recent years, 

“Combating growing waste crime will require new technologies, intelligence capability and specialist surveillance experts,” Wilkinson said.

“We are working more closely than ever before with Victoria Police and WorkSafe to protect the community from pollution and waste.”

The EY report found during the audit period, the EPA had inadequate record keeping and a failure to properly monitor the transport of hazardous waste.

EY stated in the report that the audit identified gaps in EPA’s governance practices supporting effective oversight of incident prioritisation decisions, lack of clearly defined standards and expectations for retaining key pollution report documents, and opportunities to enhance the use of intelligence sources across the organisation.

Key findings included inconsistent approach to the documentation of pollution reports within Integrated Business Information System, inadequate monitoring and poor quality of pollution reports, incident reporting and performance.

“Public intelligence data and information was not effectively used to inform the proactive identification of emerging issues or behaviours that may result in future noncompliance or risks to community safety,” the report found.

The review also found that during the audit period, there was inadequate monitoring, reporting and trend analysis of Waste Transport Certificate data needed to identify trends and areas of key risks associated with chemical waste storage.

The report found that these certificates were not monitored, resulting in EPA staff not having full knowledge of risks.

Another finding said the EPA operated in “strong silos”, with limited ability to combat illegal storage of waste or address pollution problems important to community safety.

The Victorian Government recently invested $71.4 million to safely manage high-risk and hazardous wastes including a Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate within EPA.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the state government had given record funding to the EPA to strengthen its operations.

“It is my expectation that the EPA works tirelessly to protect the environment and keeps Victorians safe from pollution. This is what the community deserves,” she said.

EY auditors made a number of recommendations following its findings, including system control enhancement recommendations.

“Management also needs to introduce formalised auditing processes over response decision making,” the report states. 

“Between now and the legislative go-live, we recommend that management conducts an assessment of other waste sites to review the decision making and outcomes of high priority pollution reports and whether a follow up inspection of the sites is required.”

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NCTCE launches free webinar series

The National Cleantech Conference & Exhibition (NCTCE) is launching a webinar series to highlight cleantech innovation and opportunities ahead of the March 2021 event.

Commencing 28 May, program topics include: how are local government sustainability leaders preparing for the ‘next normal’? Building back better – what does COVID-19 mean for cleantech? and why is clustering more important than ever? How the European Cleantech industry is adapting to the post pandemic era.

“With so much innovation and ‘pivoting’ happening in the cleantech industry as a result of these unprecedented times, we could not wait until 2021 to share these great stories with our NCTCE community,” an NCTCE statement reads.

According to NCTCE organisers, despite devastation wrought by the coronavirus, a post-COVID world offers huge opportunities for the cleantech industry.

“As the world collectively realises that we can’t return to ‘normal’, many are seeing this as a magic moment in time to re-shape economies, societies and improve the way we work and live,” the statement reads.

“New technology, sustainability and collaboration will most certainly be part of this new landscape. Best of all, it looks like our political leaders are finally listening to scientists.”

The curated program of live, interactive virtual events will tap into NCTCE’s speaker alumni, industry innovators and thought leaders.

“Some sessions will ponder the ‘big questions’ whilst others will drill down on innovations and case studies from each of the various cleantech sectors,” the statement reads.

“You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, network (virtually), learn and be inspired – all from the comfort of your own WFH desk.”

Webinar details: 

Thursday 4th June – Building back better – what does COVID-19 mean for cleantech?

The current COVID-19 health crisis has been identified as an unprecedented opportunity to align the immediate Australian pandemic response with the imperatives of sustainability.

This includes the opportunity to develop a new industrial policy mix and stimulate innovation and investment in sustainable technologies.

What are the opportunities for the Australian Cleantech industry and, more importantly, how can they ensure the voice of industry is heard?

Facilitated by: Paul Hodgson, GM Innovation and Stakeholder Engagement NERA and NCTCE Advisory Panel Member.

Panellists: Dr Sarah Pearson, Innovation Lead and Deputy Director-General, Queensland Department of State Development, Tourism and Innovation. John O’Brien, Partner, Energy Transition & Decarbonisation, Deloitte Financial Advisory. Stephen Robertson, Director-Stakeholder Engagement and Strategy, Planet Ark Power.

To register click here.

Thursday 18th June – How are our cleantech innovators preparing for the post-COVID-19 world?

A post-pandemic world offers both immense opportunity and challenge for cleantech innovators and producers.

While it has served to shine a light on the next crisis and the role cleantech can play, crucial investment and research funding is now being channelled into more immediate and short term recovery projects, or has dried up altogether.

Hear from Australian cleantech innovators on how they are powering through the crisis and preparing for the ‘next normal’.

Facilitated by: Yasmin Grigaliunas, CEO and Co-Founder, World’s Biggest Garage Sale

Panellists: Graham Ross, Co-Founder, Blocktexx. Further panellists to be announced

To register click here.

For more information on the NCTCE webinar series click here

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First major retailer to use 100 per cent recycled satchels

One of Australia’s largest online fashion retailers has announced it will start transitioning to delivery satchels made from 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste.

In a social media post on Tuesday 26 May, THE ICONIC stated that it’s the first major Australian and New Zealand retailer to make the move to 100 per cent recycled plastic satchels.

Via REDcycle, a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation who has developed and implemented a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic, THE ICONIC will minimise its environmental impact.

From today we’re transitioning to more sustainable satchels. This means your next order sent by THE ICONIC warehouse will be delivered in a satchel made of 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste – recycled plastic that has had a previous life and can be recycled again,” the company said in an online statement.

“Achieving 100 per cent recycled content wasn’t easy in our usual black design, so we’ve made the switch to white! Bringing this project to life has been an incredible journey and involved many cross-functional teams.”

Since 2018, THE ICONIC has been a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO). 

“A huge congratulations to APCO Member, THE ICONIC, for the launch of its new delivery satchels, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic and fully recyclable via REDcycle bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets,” APCO said in a social media post on Tuesday.

“This is a significant commitment and is a perfect example of the work being undertaken across the industry to avoid the use of virgin plastics and create end markets for recycled materials.”

The satchels are certified by the GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) Recycled Products Standard to verify their recycled content and ensure they meet specific social and environmental criteria. 

“It’s a bold move, but it’s a testament to our sustainability commitments. In the same way, because we are committed to avoiding unnecessary waste, our transition from our former black packaging to new white packaging will take a few months,” the company said in an online statement.

“This is a huge milestone for us on our journey towards meeting our 2022 Sustainable Packaging Targets.”

THE ICONIC set five sustainable packaging targets to meet by 2022, including 100 per cent of THE ICONIC’s shipping packaging made of recycled content and private label primary packaging materials will be fully recyclable in Australia, 80 per cent of THE ICONIC’s private label paper and cardboard packaging will be made from verified recycled pulp and have on-package communication about their sustainability or recyclability and lastly, 70 per cent more of THE ICONIC’s private label poly bags made of recycled plastic.

During THE ICONIC’s search for a more sustainable alternative, its sustainability team and Packaging Working Group investigated multiple materials and even tested a home-compostable satchel. 

“Despite being one of our best performers, most customers in Australia and New Zealand don’t have access to composting at home nor access to commercial compost services,” THE ICONIC stated.

“It means packaging would likely end up in landfill or in the soft plastics recycling stream, compromising its potential for recycling. That’s why we landed on our 100 per cent recycled post-consumer plastic satchels,

“To align with this framework, we are working on packaging sustainability holistically: our in-house sustainability team developed a dedicated packaging strategy, reviewed over 80 per cent of the packaging we are directly responsible for, and developed THE ICONIC Supplier Sustainable Packaging Guidelines and Private Label Sustainable Packaging Requirements to tackle our non-customer facing packaging strategy,” the company stated on its website.

THE ICONIC said that packaging plays an essential product-protection role in ensuring that its customers’ items arrive in pristine condition. 

“This way, your new purchase can have a long life in your wardrobe and warrant the original investment of natural resources in production. The cost of not protecting these items can be more detrimental than if they weren’t packaged sufficiently,” THE ICONIC stated.

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