Government representatives were out in full force at this year’s Waste 2018 to discuss the challenges facing kerbside recycling.
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Reducing plastic pollution in the world’s oceans was the debate that opened the 2018 IFAT trade fair in Munich.
The European trade fair discusses water, sewage, waste and raw materials management, and aims to find solutions to use intelligent cycles for long-term environmental action.
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The opening debate at the trade fair looked at ways to reduce pollution to protect rivers and oceans.
Messe München Managing Director Stefan Rummel opened the event and said that the innovative recycling technologies, as presented at IFAT, cannot be the one and only solution to handle the 8.3 billion tonnes of plastics that have been produces since 1950.
British environmental activist Emily Penn said at the debate that she had a wake-up experience on a boat from England to Australia.
“Our boat crashed into a pile of plastic waste amid the ocean, far away from civilisation. We all woke up from the loud noise,” she said.
“We must avoid plastic waste to a large extent. Whatever lies in the ocean, it is hard to fish out again. The lion’s share sinks into the deep and breaks up into micro-parts. Only a small amount of plastic waste can be seen at the sea surface.”
Environmentalist Kim Cornelius Detloff said the making of plastics is the very opposite of sustainability.
“We need to fetch from the oceans as much as we can – and recycle it. And we need laws. Even in a developing country like Ruanda plastic bags have been banned,” he said.
Adidas Brand Strategist James Carnes said he is concerned about potential loss in the future.
“We have now produced a million shoes of the Adidas Parley series. They have been recycled from plastic waste from the oceans. In future, it will be normal to buy products from similar recycled materials,” he said.
“For decades, we have been talking about how to leave a better world for future generations. It is as essential to invest into education and, hence, to leave the world better people.”
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With less than 50 days until the Queensland plastic bag ban comes into effect, the state government has reminded retailers to be prepared.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said Queenslanders use almost one billion plastic shopping bags each year.
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“This figure is astonishing. If you laid out all of these bags, end to end, they would reach from Coolangatta to the top of Cape York more than 160 times,” Ms Enoch said.
“And sadly about 16 million plastic bags end up in our environment every year.
“The ban will also help keep our state beautiful for generations to come and reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our treasured environment and wildlife.”
The Queensland Government is aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastic items in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.
From 1 July, retailers will no longer be able to supply single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness to customers, for free or at a charge.
Ms Enoch said it was pleasing to see some retailers already replacing plastic shopping bags in preparation of the ban.
“It’s also an important time for households to starting planning of how they can use reusable shopping bags when visiting the shops.
“Most household are likely to already have alternative bags they can use such as reusable ‘green’ bags or bags they use every day, like a backpack. Make sure you take them with you when you go shopping or to collect a takeaway, and keep them by the front door, in your car or in your bag.
“Regardless of which reusable shopping bags you use, to maximise the environmental benefit it’s very important that you use them over and over again and recycle them at their end-of-life, where possible,” Ms Enoch said.
The plastic bag ban applies to all retailers which supply single-use light weight plastic shopping bags.
Retailers that continue to supply banned bags after 1 July could face a fine of up to $6,300 per offence. A similar fine also applies to any person, such as a supplier, who provides misleading information about banned bags.
More than 100,000 people have downloaded TOMRA’s recycling app linked with the NSW Return and Earn scheme.
The free app, called myTOMRA, shows the status with Reverse Vending Machines (RVM) in NSW and has partnered with digital payment provider PayPal.
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Users can scan their personal barcode at the RVM and claim money from returned containers electronically.
The app shows whether a RVM is open, almost full, temporarily unavailable, or in sleep mode during out of hours periods. It also includes a map which can direct users to the nearest RVM.
The Return and Earn scheme was implemented in NSW on 1 December and has seen more than 310 million containers returned since it launched. It aims to reduce the amount of litter across NSW by 40 per cent by 2020.
Consumers are able to claim a 10-cent refund when they return an eligible drink container to a collection point in NSW. Most 150 millilitre to three-litre drink containers made from plastic, glass, steel, liquid paperboard and aluminium are returnable.
TOMRA Cleanaway is the network operator for the scheme, with TOMRA providing the RVM technology and Cleanaway delivering the logistics and sorting for collected containers.
The FE Electric garbage truck is set for launch by Volvo Trucks in Europe. Developed with refuse equipment builder, Faun, the new truck will reportedly be operational in Hamburg, Germany, early 2019.
This follows the roll out of Volvo’s FL Electric garbage truck earlier this year as it continues its pursuit of alternative fuel vehicle development.
The FL Electric is set to enter operation in Gothenburg, Sweden, where Volvo headquarters is located.
Volvo has yet to confirm whether this recent development accelerates its goal of introducing electric trucks into the U.S. market, as has been previously stated by the company.
“This opens the door to new forms of cooperation with cities that target to improve air quality, reduce traffic noise and cut congestion during peak hours,” Claes Nilsson, President Volvo Trucks said.
“Commercial operations can be carried out quietly and without tailpipe exhaust emissions early in the morning or late at night.”
The Volvo FE Electric will be powered by two electric motors, with a range of up to 200 kilometres. Gross vehicle weight will be around 27 tonne. The smaller Volvo FL Electric will have a range of up to 300 kilometres.
The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called on the Federal Government to secure trade agreements with international recycling partners.
This follows the implementation of China’s National Sword Policy, which has placed heavy restrictions on the level contamination in recycling exports.
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In a statement, the NWRIC said recycling has become a globalised industry, with exporting nations such as China needing to play their part to address the reuse of valuable resources. It also noted it strongly supports the re-establishment of domestic remanufacture in Australia.
“Secure international trade agreements will be necessary for the long-term prosperity of Australian recycling,” said the NWRIC.
“The establishment of improved recycling infrastructure requires long term investment and the installation of new technology. This new infrastructure cannot be financed without secure long-term markets for both the input materials and the end products.
“As a result, the NWRIC calls on the Commonwealth though its Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to facilitate new negotiations to establish long term and stable trade agreements for the Australian recycling industry,” the NWRIC said.
The NWRIC lists paper, all metals, plastics and manufactured fuels as materials these trade agreements should cover, and notes that an existing China-Australia Free Trade Agreement could possibly be extended to cover clean recycled materials.
NWRIC Chair Phil Richards said Australian industry has the capacity to build new and improved recycling infrastructure that can produce high quality material ready to feed local manufacturing and exports.
“Strengthening our international trade agreements to export recycled products will secure an early recovery of comprehensive recycling services across Australia,” Mr Richards said.
The Vinyl Council has called on industries and manufacturers to support and strengthen the local recycling industry.
It follows the announcement that the Vinyl Council’s PVC Recycling in Hospitals program has been unaffected by China’s National Sword policy.
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The National Sword policy restricts the amount of recycled waste exports that can be sent to China.
Vinyl Council Chief Executive Officer Sophi MacMillan said the Vinyl Council is proud of its flourishing industry program which has remained unaffected by the changes in international waste management strategies.
“We would like to see greater support and incentives from government to encourage local design and manufacturing of products that use recyclate to drive demand for recyclate use in Australia,” Ms MacMillan said.
“This example-setting program is growing precisely because it is supported by the local vinyl manufacturing industry and the healthcare sector as product consumers. It is a clear demonstration that circularity within Australia can work,” she said.
PVC Recycling in Hospitals has diverted almost 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals from landfill to recycling across more than 130 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand.
PVC recycled from hospital waste is turned into products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.
“We seek to assure the healthcare sector and its staff that the PVC Recycling in Hospitals is strong and not affected by China’s ban on unsorted materials,” Ms MacMillan said.
“All the medical waste collected under the program has always been, and continues to be, reprocessed and used here in Australia or in New Zealand.”