Zero waste in the sunshine state

Waste Management Review talks to Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Environment Minister, about the state’s plan to drive resource recovery through waste levy hypothecation and infrastructure.

In a submission to the 2018 Senate Inquiry into the Australian Waste and Recycling industry, one company described waste levies as a blunt economic instrument.

The idea, as expressed in the submission, is that despite principled ideals, the waste sector, like all sectors, is profit driven. Incentivising recycling therefore needs more than ethical arguments about the future of the planet.

This concept is seemingly understood by the Queensland Environment Department, which when developing its new Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy, positioned the waste levy reintroduction as its cornerstone.

Additionally, the strategy pledges a hypothecation rate of 70 per cent, a significant figure when compared to other state’s lack of reinvestment commitments.

Known as the sunshine state, Queensland is regarded for its beaches and natural beauty. As such, ineffective environmental management is not simply a waste of material resources, but also natural ones.

According to the states Resource Recovery Industries 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan, released May 2019 through the State Development portfolio, policy drivers to support resource recovery and discourage landfill in Queensland have been historically weak.

For instance, the Transforming Queensland’s Recycling and Waste Industry Directions paper notes that the state’s 2014-2024 Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy failed to deliver policy or regulatory certainty.

According to the paper, this was largely due to the strategy being unfunded, while relying on sectoral plans to encourage behavioural change that were not underpinned by market mechanisms.

As a state, Queensland has consistently reported one of the worst resource recovery rates in the country – 45 per cent in 2018. Additionally, between 2007 and 2016, the state’s resource recovery rate remained virtually unchanged, highlighting a lack of action and investment in the sector.

The Resource Recovery Roadmap and Action Plan outlines four core strategies to address this via long-term market building. These are accelerating the project pipeline, developing interconnected supply chains, creating responsive policy and legislative frameworks and investing in new technologies.

Within these strategies, government will work to provide facilitation services, ensure the availability of suitable industrial land and investigate opportunities for the inclusion of recycled products in government procurement policies.

Shortly after the roadmap’s release, the Environment Department released its own complementary plan, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy.

Waste Management Review spoke to Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Environment Minister, about state government’s efforts to grow environmental health through resource recovery and industry development in October.

According to Minister Enoch, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Strategy is designed to transition Queensland towards a circular economy through long-term targets, including a 25 per cent reduction in all household waste, a 90 per cent diversion from landfill rate and a 75 per cent recycling rate across all waste types by 2050.

The overall goal, Minister Enoch says, is to accelerate Queensland towards a zero-waste future.

LEVY LOOPHOLE

Between 2017 and 2018 Queensland produced nearly 11 million tonnes of waste, with waste generation over the last decade outstripping population growth by 19 per cent.

The cause, according to the waste management strategy, is partly attributed to growing volumes of interstate waste being transported to Queensland for disposal. Minister Enoch adds that this problem stems from low landfill gate prices and the absence of a waste levy.

In recent years, thousands of tonnes of waste generated in New South Wales was trucked into south-east Queensland for landfilling and levy avoidance.

The cross-border business resulted in lost taxpayer revenue, while also interfering with NSW and Queensland recycling data.

Minister Enoch says addressing this problem is the driving force behind the state’s new waste strategy.

The levy applies to 39 out of 77 local government areas, and covers an estimated 90 per cent of Queensland’s population.

“It sends a direct price signal that sending waste to landfill is the least preferred option and results in lost economic opportunities,” Minister Enoch says.

According to Minister Enoch, the levy will also provide a funding source for programs to assist local government, businesses and industry to fund critical infrastructure, establish better resource recovery practices, improve overall waste management performance and sustain Queensland’s natural environment.

“We have committed to 70 per cent of revenue raised from the levy going back to councils, the waste industry, environmental programs and administration of the levy,” she says.

While levies have a demonstrated landfill aversion effect, with the NSW levy sitting at $141 per tonne compared to Queensland’s $75, concerns have been raised over efficacy. The issue relates to the price disparity of the two when accounting for gate fees and operating costs.

Additionally, the Liberal Party introduced a motion in parliament in late August to repeal the waste levy, while the Australian Industry Group argued the legislation was rushed to raise revenue.

The group added that businesses have few alternatives to landfilling their waste.

“There are always challenges associated with large-scale programs of regulatory reform,” Minister Enoch says.

“The waste levy applies only to waste disposed at landfill, and is an avoidable charge if businesses reduce waste, increase recycling and divert materials to alternative uses.”

To alleviate concerns, the state government has provided funding to support communities, councils and businesses manage the transition.

“We provided a total of $143 million to councils to ensure the cost of the levy was not passed onto ratepayers,” Minister Enoch says.

She adds the levy will additionally allow markets to grow and stimulate demand for innovative products that contain recycled material.

“When you consider the success of the Queensland container refund scheme, Containers for Change, it is clear that there are amazing opportunities out there.”

In the scheme’s first 10 months, nearly 800 million containers were returned, which, according to Minister Enoch, means $80 million was returned to Queensland charities and community groups.

When asked about plans to implement specific procurement policies, Minister Enoch notes that the government has plans to review existing procurement initiatives.

The official strategy lists stimulating demand through preferencing procurement contracts for products that use recycled material as a key government action of strategic priority three: building economic opportunity.

“The Queensland Government will work with local government and the waste management sector to develop a consistent procurement contract framework for waste management and resource recovery services,” the document reads.

“Local governments should support the Queensland Government through adopting national or state standards for recycled content in procurement, stimulating demand for products containing recycled materials.”

HOLISTIC APPROACH

According to Minister Enoch, the strategy falls under her government’s wider commitment to protecting Australia’s unique environment and driving centralised waste management practices.

“There is considerable interest in waste at a national level, with the Council of Australian Governments tasking environment ministers with advising on a proposed timetable and response strategy to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres,” she says.

“The leaders agreed that the strategy must seek to reduce waste, especially plastics, decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximise the capability of our waste management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste.”

To assist this change and provide a sustained feedstock for the recycling and resource recovery sector, the Queensland Government is planning to pursue landfill disposal bans on selected waste streams.

According to the strategy, bans will be underpinned by economic modelling and market development plans for diverted material.

“The Queensland Government recognises the need to give sufficient time for industry to transition and for infrastructure to be built, so a clear implementation timeframe will be provided prior to bans commencing,” the document reads.

“The applicability of bans on a regional basis will also be considered.”

Minister Enoch says a series of smaller waste action plans are in development to address the diversity of waste streams and their individual waste management challenges.

“The next one of these is expected to be the Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, followed by the Litter and Illegal Dumping Strategy,” she says.

“Other plans, such as action plans for priority wastes such as organics, built environment waste and textiles will follow.”

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Compost by the river: SOILCO

Charlie Emery, SOILCO General Manager, speaks to Waste Management Review about SOILCO’s plans to build the largest organics recycling facility in the NSW Northern Rivers region.

The NSW Northern Rivers region is perhaps best known for its Pacific beaches, scenic drives and dramatic valleys surrounded by rivers and wildlife. Home to tourist hubs such as Tweed Head, Byron Bay and Minyon Falls, by 2021 the coastal region will also be home to one of Australia’s latest organic recycling facilities.

As early adopters of the NSW Government’s Love Food Hate Waste program, Tweed Shire Council is committed to proactive food waste reduction and recycling initiatives.

As part of this commitment, the council has commissioned a state-of-the-art organics recycling facility in Stotts Creek. The composting facility will be the largest of its kind in the Northern Rivers, processing nearly 25,000 tonnes of organic waste each year.

SOILCO, a NSW organics recycling business, has been tasked with facility design, construction and operations.

According to Charlie Emery, SOILCO General Manager, once commissioned, the facility will complement council’s recently introduced food and garden organics (FOGO) kerbside collection program.

Since FOGO collections began, Charlie says the region has seen a 20 per cent reduction in organic waste to landfill. This, he says, illustrates that residents are willing, and even motivated, to engage with the closed-loop processes when given the opportunity.

Charlie says collected FOGO is currently transferred for processing at a facility located outside the local government area, meaning council must deal with additional logistics and associated transport costs.

“Once the SOILCO facility is up and running, council will be able to process its own FOGO, right next to the existing resource recovery centre. This will reduce transport and logistics costs and further streamline council services,” he says.

Following a competitive tender process, SOILCO was awarded the Stotts Creek contract in July.

“Like other progressive regions in the state, Tweed Shire Council has a long-term goal of achieving zero waste, which resonates with SOILCO’s overarching mission and current operations in the Illawarra and South Coast regions of NSW,” Charlie says.

The Stotts Creek Organics Recycling Facility will function as an enclosed composting facility, meaning SOILCO will construct a processing building alongside multiple aerated composting tunnels, biofilter and product storage infrastructure.

“The model is based on upgrades to our own facilities in Kembla Grange and Nowra, where we used Waste Treatment Technologies’ technology for positive aeration in an enclosed environment,” Charlie says.

“This allows us to improve processing controls and monitor the material to ensure compost production compliance.”

While organics compliance is a hot topic in NSW, following the EPA’s October reiteration of its controversial 2018 Mixed Waste Organic Outputs decision, Charlie says composting of source-separated materials has been largely unaffected.

That said, the EPA maintains strict regulatory rules for the production and application of compost derived from FOGO, meaning SOILCO’s facility has to consider decontamination and provide rigid process controls.   

Charlie says through the installation of a pre-sort and aerated composting tunnels, SOILCO can produce clean, compliant and nutrient-rich products.

While still in the planning and approval phase, Charlie says SOILCO has already identified existing urban and agricultural end markets for their product.

“There’s a large demand for quality compost in the region, so we’re confident in the facility’s long-term economic viability,” he says.

“As time goes on, and the benefits of food waste diversion receive wider recognition, we are sure to see an increase in facility throughput and additional capacity has been designed for.”

In addition to existing end markets, Charlie says SOILCO is looking to work with local businesses and large generators of food, such as hotels, of which there are many in the heavily visited region.

He says SOILCO operates food waste collection services out of their other NSW facilities, and intends to provide commercial collection to businesses in the Northern Rivers area as well.

“That way we’re not just capturing existing tonnage through the municipal contact but creating further commercial opportunities for food waste diversion through a system we have already established,” Charlie says.

“This provides an opportunity for local businesses to participate in the composting process and creates a real sense of community.”

After lodging its development application in November, Charlie says SOILCO is working towards a two-year design and construction timeline.

“The facility is set to be operational by mid-2021, after which, SOILCO will operate the facility for 10 years, before transferring ownership back to council,” he says.

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Team hookloader: Palfinger

Waste Management Review speaks with the Palfinger hookloader team about working together to achieve maximum payloads.

Industrial conglomerate Sime Darby’s recent acquisition of Gough Group’s New Zealand and Australian operations led to a change of ownership for hydraulic lifting and handling company Palfinger.

The change came at a time of growth for the Australian arm of the company, which has been investing in and expanding its hookloader capabilities over the past three years.

According to Glen Woodrow, Palfinger Queensland and Northern Territory Account Manager, Palfinger’s Australian hookloader operations have traditionally played second fiddle to the company’s higher-profile crane manufacturing business.

“Globally Palfinger is renowned for its cranes, and while our hookloaders have always been just as structurally and operationally impressive, it’s only over the last few years that we have dedicated time and resources to grow this vital part of the Palfinger Australia business,” Glen says.

“The waste industry has been central to growth for us. Additionally, working with councils on tailored transport and waste solutions has really expanded our knowledge of the sector.”   

Palfinger brought Glen on as National Account Manager Hooks and Skips three years ago to expand its hookloader operations. He says that prior to his appointment, Palfinger didn’t have a dedicated hookloader team.

“I immediately worked with the developed hookloader business plan, which the team has been successfully using ever since,” he says.

“The central ideas are collaboration and knowledge transfer, which helps us deliver maximum payloads for clients, and as a result, maintain long-term relationships. Tailoring the business plan to suit both demographic and geographic demands has been part of the key to our success.”

To continue this momentum Palfinger Australia has expanded its national footprint, with two additional team members joining the business over the past two years.

They are Stuart Cameron, who oversees Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia, and Seth Ozbas, who joined the team four months ago to run New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

Palfinger’s Western Australian interests are supported by Perth-based Palfinger crane salesman Mick Stone, completing the national field coverage.

The four account managers work closely together and for every unit sold, produce a detailed specification and legal loading sheet that provides clients with a complete understanding of each build.

“We debrief weekly on what went well with the sale, potential room for improvement and overall customer satisfaction. This means other team members can learn from our experience and have similar wins themselves,” Glen says.

Glen says Palfinger’s customer engagement in the preparatory stage is another critical success factor of Palfinger’s hookloader business plan.

“We work hard to make sure that when we deliver a hookloader, it’s right the first time. It’s a very bespoke process with considerable research involved – rarely are two Palfinger hookloaders the same,” Glen says.

“I like to think we turn customers into clients.”

Stuart says an increased ability to manage national accounts is a key benefit of having dedicated teams in each state.

“When a supplier’s operations aren’t centralised, problems can arise, such as red tape surrounding where an order was originally placed and where the servicing will occur. But for us, this isn’t a problem. Palfinger always has an expert available to manage the situation in every state,” he says.

Stuart says this is further supported by an extensive list of 37 fully trained service partners located throughout Australia.

Before joining the Palfinger team, Stuart worked for another hookloader manufacturer. He says while there are many good products on the market, Palfinger’s hookloaders stand out for their durability and strength.

“I know the market well and can confidently say that our top-quality European products are the best hookloaders available,” Stuart says.

“I was recently involved in fitting a 20-year-old Palfinger hookloader to a brand-new Scania because the hookloader was still operating at an optimum level. Palfinger can provide that kind of longevity.”

Seth, the newest member of the hookloader team, expressed similar sentiments, saying he is impressed with the quality of the product and streamlined nature of Palfinger’s operations.

He adds that while he covers the entire New South Wales and ACT region, he spends most of his time in Sydney’s western suburbs.

“Most waste and recycling companies are in Sydney, so I have spent the last few months meeting with clients and cold calling potential prospects,” Seth says.

“I want to make sure our clients feel comfortable to call me whenever they have a challenging opportunity, so I can arrange a quote on a new product or organise a service on existing equipment.”

According to Seth, a key benefit of the multipronged Palfinger sales strategy is the ability to quickly access all previous sales and equipment data.

“When I’m speaking with a client who needs specific information about a product, I am able to call the responsible person who provides the information straight away, rather than wasting time scanning through documents,” he says.

“The team is really invested in working together to grow and expand Australian hookloader market.”

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No wasted data: Trimble

With Australia’s weight-based billing transition underway, Trimble explains the streamlining capabilities of LOADRITE weighing systems.

The concept behind weight-based billing is simple – reduce waste generation by offering cost incentives for reduction and recycling. The heavier the waste, the more the generator pays.

Traditionally, waste collection and disposal services billed generators based on the size and number of bins.

Weight-based billing calculates costs based on the actual weight of the material being collected.

The Organix19: Organics Waste Management in a Circular Economy report, authored by the Institute for Sustainable Futures, theorises a range of policy strategies to advance and integrate organics waste management within the Greater Sydney region.

Within the report is an argument for legally mandating weight-based billing, which Dale Cameron, Trimble Onboard Weighing’s Australian Manager, says could gain traction.

Dale says industry uptake has accelerated in recent years, due to data transparency, improved reporting and the elimination of pay disputes.

Trimble LOADRITE onboard weighing systems work under the weight-based billing framework to provide real-time cost data based on individual bin weights.

Dale says that when using a LOADRITE system, operators are able to provide accurate weights to their customers while maintaining openness.

“The cab display shows weight data calculated from the load and position sensors, and during lifting, operators can see the bin payload,” he says.

“The system also has an automatic mode that adds each bin to the total weight.

“This keeps a running tally of total truck payloads and alerts operators when bins are overloaded.”

Dale says the LOADRITE system provides accurate, reliable and traceable data on all loading activities.

“This helps waste collectors operate more efficiently, plus helps incentivise recycling and waste reduction, as organisations will notice immediate discounts in billing when they divert more waste from the landfill stream,” Dale says.

“This makes waste generators more aware of the cost of landfilling and leads to behavioural adjustments.”

As with most technology, Dale says LOADRITE weighing systems have evolved in recent years, becoming easier to use and less costly than their first iterations. He adds that much of this progression is shaped by the proliferation of connected solutions and mobile applications.

“Organisations are increasingly looking to replace payload measurement systems for next-generation onboard scales that maximise payload optimisation,” Dale says.

“Trimble weighing systems take that idea to the next level by delivering machine-to-machine connectivity that streamlines data collection and facilitates efficient data exchange.”

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Compacting plastic infrastructure: Wastech Engineering

With rapidly growing collection rates and rising public awareness, REDcycle relies on convenient compaction from Wastech Engineering.

When Downer opened its new soft plastics asphalt plant in June, Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser highlighted the facility’s ability to process thousands of tonnes of sustainable road material each year.

For every kilometre of two-lane Reconophalt road, the facilities flagship product, 530,000 equivalent plastic bags are diverted from landfill and repurposed into roadbase.

Australia’s infrastructure boom, paired with a renewed government focus on sustainable procurement, suggests Downer will require a consistent flow of soft plastic to meet demand.

Industry led product stewardship scheme REDcycle, which supplies the soft plastics used to produce Reconophalt, has collection bins in every Coles and Woolworths supermarket in the country.

According to the Coles 2019 Sustainability Report, since beginning in 2011, REDcycle has diverted more than 715 million pieces of flexible plastic from landfill. In the 2019 financial year, the volume of soft plastics collected by the program grew by 32 per cent.

Elizabeth Kasell, RED Group Director, says the program aims to provide Australian consumers with an alternative disposal option for plastic packaging that can’t be recovered through kerbside recycling.

To ensure material quality, Elizabeth says REDcycle operate a range of Bramidan Balers, supplied by Wastech Engineering.

“Another recycler recommended the Bramidan Baler range to us over 10 years ago, and REDcycle has been using them exclusively ever since,” she says.

According to Elizabeth, baling the material REDcycle collects is the most efficient transport option for the program, given soft plastic’s irregularity and tendency to hold air.

“At most of the stores, around 80 percent, the material is collected directly by us. We do have some regional stores that are well covered through a reverse logistics process,” Elizabeth says.

“After the plastic arrives at the depot, we conduct initial decontamination and sorting before baling the material and sending it to end market clients such as Downer and recycled plastic manufacturers Replas and Plastic Forests.”

Elizabeth says the compaction rate of Wastech’s Bramidan Baler range is well suited to film plastics.

“Due to the nature of our material, REDcycle compact’s a lot of plastic bags that are full of air, and the compaction rate of Bramidan Balers alleviates potential issues,” she says.

“We have multiple Bramidan Balers that have been running all day Monday to Friday for years, and they’re still in operation – they are very reliable.”

Elizabeth says the volume received at REDcycle depots is increasing, so the operational reliability of its Bramidan Balers is crucial. She adds that customers are dropping off roughly a million pieces of plastic each day, with the weight of bales produced by REDcycle averaging 260-290 kilos.

“We’ve been working with Wastech for many years, and while we know there are other balers on the market, their product is perfectly suited to our process,” she says.

“Plus, the support we get from Wastech ensures we can keep our processes operating at maximum capacity.”

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Sussan Ley tours Wetherill Park PEF facility

As Australia moves towards banning international waste exports, ResourceCo’s Process Engineered Fuel site is fulfilling an important role in Australia’s resource recovery framework.

Governments around the world are seeking to establish effective ways to preserve the Earth’s limited resources and deal with surrounding issues of waste.

It’s within this landscape that facilities such as Cleanaway ResourceCo’s resource recovery plant in New South Wales are demonstrating what’s possible.

The Wetherill Park facility, which is Australia’s largest plant of its kind, has processed more than 100,000 tonnes of dry commercial and industrial and mixed construction and demolition waste since opening in July last year.

Waste that would have otherwise been diverted to landfill is now being converted into a range of commodities including the baseload energy source – Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF).

The plant’s role in advancing Australia’s circular economy is generating interest both in Australia and overseas, including a recent visit from the Fijian Prime Minister.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley also recently toured the state-of-the-art resource recovery facility to see first-hand the scale of the operation.

“We have a clear focus on reducing waste to landfill and increasing the nation’s recycling capacity and within that context, the operation at Wetherill Park is impressive,” Minister Ley says.

Chief Executive Officer Sustainable Fuels at ResourceCo Ben Sawley says the plant can divert up to 50,000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing a reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

“In one year alone, it can replace 100,000 tonnes of coal usage and takes the equivalent of 20,000 cars annually off the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” Ben says.

As developed countries move away from the make, use and dispose model in favour a circular economy, the importance of supporting and establishing new markets for re-manufactured products is critical.

To that end, the Federal Government has committed to working with industry leaders to decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximise the capability of the waste management and resource recovery sector.

At the recent Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) meeting, leaders agreed Australia should establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building the nation’s capacity to generate high-value recycled commodities and associated demand.

They tasked environment ministers with advising on a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders.

That strategy will draw on the best science, research and commercial experience, including that of agencies like the CSIRO and the work of Cooperative Research Centres.

“We are at a point where the circular economy needs to be the mainstream economy.

“There are some fantastic individual industry examples and concepts in the market and our focus is on working with industry as we broaden our approach,” Minister Ley says.

“This is going to require government and industry working together to ensure greater consistency across local, state and federal regulation and a sensible approach to supporting markets for remanufactured products.”

Ms Ley says the feedback from industry to date has been extremely positive and the clear message is that the ideas and the opportunities are there, along with the investment potential.

“What we will seek to address during the Meeting of Environment Ministers and the months that follow is a policy framework that gives the recycling industry a greater sense of direction and the comfort it needs to invest,” Minister Ley says.

It’s encouraging news for companies like ResourceCo, which is committed to playing a key role in Australia’s sustainable energy mix by reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable energy product.

“The plant transforms waste from selected non-recyclable waste streams that would otherwise go into landfill into a range of commodities including a baseload energy source known as PEF, which is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in both domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement and energy,” Ben says.

“The opportunity to tap further into this market makes good sense, both environmentally and economically.”

ResourceCo operates a suite of 22 plants across Australia and South-East Asia, and has been at the leading edge of resource recovery for 25 years.

“Investment in resource recovery and innovative waste-to-energy solutions is critical to achieving a sustainable future,” Ben says.

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Untapped potential: Repurpose It

Repurpose It has partnered with a leading mulch distributor to scale up its green waste capabilities and support the Victorian marketplace with value-added garden supplies.

Melbourne’s resource recovery network is filled with passionate and experienced businesses often quietly operating in the background to ensure consistent and clean material supply.

Producing value-added end products is the bread and butter of recycling, and in the area of green waste, there’s a multitude of expertise waiting to be untapped.

As one of Victoria’s leading garden supply distributors, Bark King provides barks and mulches to most garden supplies in metropolitan and rural areas. Its extensive product range spans barks, coloured decorative, natural and recycled timber mulches, softplay, compost and soil.

As a supplier for government departments, landscape firms and educational institutions, sustainability has formed part of the company’s ethos since its humble beginnings in 1975.

Now in its 44th year of trading, the Australian-owned company is directed by Founder Harrold Johnston’s sons Robert, Jeff and Stuart.

Using sustainable raw materials ensures Bark King offers a closed loop solution with its entire product range a by-product of other processes.

While Bark King offers its own unique value proposition to the market, it has discovered the power of collaborative partnerships, working extensively over the past two years with construction and demolition recycler Repurpose It.

Repurpose It was founded by four experienced operators across a variety of sectors spanning logistics, road sweeping and construction, organics waste processing and infrastructure maintenance.

In the area of organics, Co-founder Anthony van Schaik brought considerable experience as a Managing Director in the organics sector and it’s these established networks that inspired Bark King and Repurpose It to work together.

Since acquiring a unique 150-acre site in early 2017 in Epping, Melbourne, Repurpose It has formed a variety of partnerships with councils, contractors working on major projects and resource recovery organisations to process a variety of wastes.

Through its state-of-the-art construction and demolition washing plant, Repurpose It has continually refined its capabilities to accept organics, glass, street sweepings and excavation waste such as rock, sand and silt from major projects.

Repurpose It’s ability to receive and process street sweepings led Bark King to begin working with the company in June 2017, with Bark King taking and processing its materials at its Hallam facility.

Ashley Johnston, Bark King Business Development Manager, says it wasn’t long before an opportunity arose for the company to grow its partnership by relocating to the Epping site.

By processing Repurpose It’s green and timber waste, Bark King was able to substantially increase its market share and reintroduce finished products back into the agricultural and forestry industries.

Bark King could also offer its services on the transport side, while Repurpose It leveraged its extensive Epping site, which is uniquely positioned near major arterial roads.

“Recovering organic material, including pine bark, using our large fleet of trucks is the core of our business,” Ashley explains.

“Contributing to Australia’s smart, low-carbon economy of the future by playing our part in reducing disposal and recovering as much value from Australia’s natural resources is a goal that Bark King achieves every time a customer purchases one of our products.”

Complementing Repurpose It’s vision of industrial ecology, nothing Bark King receives ends up in landfill, with organics a prominent focus.

Ashley says that Bark King sources by-products from the local Victorian, South Australian and NSW forestry industry, processing around 75,000 tonnes per year. Organic residues are processed at its three sites in Hallam, Epping and Montrose and recycled into natural bark products.

Bark King applies strict guidelines on what it receives, ensuring any contaminated products are stopped at the weighbridge and fees applied. The green waste comes from a variety of councils and major project contractors in the building and demolition space and their respective waste management contractors.

“The joint partnership allowed both companies to use the best practices developed over the past 45 years to recycle and reintroduce products back to the market as high-quality organic growing substrates, soil conditioners and garden mulch, playing our part in the circular economy.”

Ashley says that sharing the same site as Repurpose It, which creates high-value end products, has given Bark King the refresh it needed to explore and play with new industry techniques.

“This ensures all natural pine bark supplied by Bark King is processed by us and not reliant on others,” he says.

He says that being able to manufacture quality products is very important to Bark King and great care is taken to ensure consistency across its range.

For example in its playground range, the company tests and accredits their playground surfacing to AS/NZS 4422 and AS4685 regulations. Bark King produces more than 75,000 cubic metres of soft cushioning mulch designed specifically for playgrounds and safeguards.

Ashley says that the agricultural and forestry industries play a key role in managing our natural resources and as the sectors become more sustainable, the partnership with Repurpose It only becomes more important.

Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis says the opportunity to partner with like-minded businesses that share the company’s vision for preserving Victoria’s resources for future generations has been mutually rewarding.

“Bark King’s product range and existing market outlets has enabled Repurpose It to broaden outs is service offerings to its clients and provide a closed loop service for organic waste streams being generated from major infrastructure project,” he says

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VIC councils awarded $1.25M for kerbside upgrades

Five Victorian councils will share in $1.25 million from Sustainability Victoria, to improve the collection, separation and recovery of organics and glass from kerbside recycling.

According to a Sustainability Victoria statement, the funding will allow the councils to divert 28,000 tonnes of organic material and 4600 tonnes of glass from landfill each year.

“With almost half the contents of a household garbage bin being food or garden waste, there is enormous opportunity to collect and reprocess this resource that will improve the value of soils in agricultural production systems,” the statement reads.

“Surf Coast Shire Council have been trialling using existing garden bins to also collect food waste across 3000 households in Anglesea, which has seen a significant 24 per cent reduction in waste being sent to landfill.”

Both Warrnambool City Council and Yarra City Council have received grants to separate glass from the kerbside commingle recycling bin.

“Warrnambool Shire Council received overwhelming public support for a separate recycling bin for glass,” the statement reads.

“The Warrnambool community want to recycle and keep recycled resources local. A separate glass bin allows glass to be recycled locally and creates jobs.”

Projects 

Maribyrnong City Council: $472,000 to expand its existing garden organics collection to include food waste, and introduce additional collection services.

Yarra City Council: $400,000 to expand on existing collections services that segregate glass and organics.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council: $182,000 to expand its existing garden organics collection to include food waste, and introduce additional collection services.

Surf Coast Shire Council: $150,000 to expand its existing garden organics collection to include food waste, and introduce additional garden and food waste collection services to rural properties.

Warrnambool City Council: $47,000 to provide three seperate recycling collection services, with a new bin exclusively for glass.

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Australia’s annual food waste bill hits $10B

Australians spent a total of $10.1 billion on food that went to waste in 2019, up from $8.9 billion in 2018.

The Rabobank Food Waste Report, released 26 November, shows Australian are now wasting an average of 13 per cent of their weekly grocery spend, equating to $1026 each year.

Rabobank Australia Head of Client Experience Glenn Wealands said food waste is one of the most significant challenges facing Australia.

“According to the Food Sustainability Index, developed by The Economist’s Intelligence Unit, Australia is the fourth highest food waster in the world,” Mr Wealands said.

“Given the increasing pressure on the planet to provide for a growing population, there is an urgent need for greater action across governments, industry, retailers, and consumers to drive real change.”

According to the report, consumers are the biggest offenders, with household waste making up 34 per cent of food waste nationally.

Primary production represents 31 per cent, with manufacturing contributing 25 per cent.

Mr Wealands said every individual has a role to play in minimising food waste.

“We know from this research that more than three quarters of us care about reducing food waste and are annoyed by it,” Mr Wealands said.

“However, it is alarming that less than three out of 10 of us recognise the impact our food waste has on the environment.”

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Over 2.7 billion containers returned in NSW

Over 2.7 billion containers have been returned through NSW’s container deposit scheme Return and Earn, as the program celebrates its second birthday.

Parliamentary Environment Secretary James Griffin said Return and Earn now has over five million drink containers returned everyday, with a current redemption rate of 67 per cent of eligible drink containers supplied into NSW.

“This time last year we were celebrating one billion containers returned on the first anniversary of Return and Earn. The growth of the scheme has seen us knocking on the door of three billion a year later,” Mr Griffin said.

“There’s no doubt Return and Earn has been a great success and has fundamentally changed people’s thinking and behavior around litter.”

This summer, users can opt to donate their 10 cent refund to Bottles for the Bush to support fire and drought affected communities, according to Mr Griffin.

“Return and Earn was launched with the aim of reducing litter and it’s doing that. Other flow on benefits have been revealed as people find new ways to utilise the fundraising benefits of the scheme,” Mr Griffin said.

“Alongside scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway, we look forward to continuing to work closely with industry to find new and innovative ways to make ‘Returning and Earning’ even easier and continue to grow.”

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