VIC EPA increases occupation of glass recycling facility

The Victoria EPA has increased its occupation of a glass recycling facility in Coolaroo, after stepping in to remove stockpile hotspots in October.

The action comes after a spot fire demonstrated that an industrial waste stockpile was not being appropriately managed to protect community and environment.

According to an EPA statement, recent stockpile monitoring has detected an increase in temperatures across areas that remain a concern to the EPA.

Since 25 October, the EPA has removed over 1100 truckloads of waste from the site, representing 10 per cent of the contaminated waste where hotspots are occurring.

“Works to remove hotspots and contaminated glass will continue for some months, with an estimated volume of 50,000 cubic metres of waste to remove,” the statement reads.

EPA Taskforce Manager Danny Childs said the EPA would continue to use all regulatory powers available to ensure hotspots are removed from the site as soon as possible.

“EPA will continue to undertake this work to reduce the risk to local communities and the environment,” Mr Childs said.

A regulatory oversight group consisting of EPA, MFB, WorkSafe and Hume City Council will continue a coordinated, multi-agency approach to drive compliance across the site.

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An environmentally sound oil company?

An environmentally sound oil company? It’s achievable, says Gulf Western Oil

As with all industries, the wastewater sector relies on the healthy functioning of its machinery, and that requires lubrication.

Oil-based lubricants, however, are generally considered a hindrance to the environment – but Gulf Western Oil (GWO) are working hard to prove this doesn’t have to be the case.

“If you told someone ten years ago that you work for an oil company, well they thought, you don’t look after the environment,” says GWO National Account Manager, Chris Bright.

“But we offset every litre of carbon through our partnership with solar companies and are continually striving to improve our business practices to ensure they are environmentally sound.”

Another initiative that GWO has implemented to mitigate the impact of oil in the environment, is the collection of water from their own facilities to separate contaminants.

“What we do in our own business is we harvest all the water runoffs from the rain from our roofs, and we put it into a separator which removes any contaminants and we keep it in a pit internally. It then gets drained out and taken off to a facility where it will be treated for us.”

GWO are a privately-owned Australian company based in Sydney. Their wastewater collection facility was built in November 2013, in conjunction with the Australian Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

“We built it to the EPA recommendations, so now we’re licensed and tested annually by the EPA to ensure it is environmentally sound.”

This is important, Bright explains, in case there is an incident wherein an oil leak occurs and then its rains.

“We actually have a system in place that if we ever ended up in a scenario where there was an incident, our team is trained to shut off any lines or any material that could potentially  go into the storm water drains around us so that there’d be no chance of contaminating leaks going out onto the roads or anything like that, you’d get no contamination from us in the event of an incident.”

“We’ve been working with the EPA every step of the process and were given the greenlight. Also, our facility gets tested by them annually to make sure we’re still compliant.”

Beyond these internal initiatives, GWO also make environmentally sound products, says Bright.

“We have a large range of hydraulic fluid that is now biodegradable. So, if you have an oil leak, for example, the oil will disperse before it actually becomes bad for the environment.”

CBC’s National Product Manager for Lubricants, Steve Keown, explains further why lubricants are such a critical part of the wastewater treatment process.

“With an array of equipment including gearboxes, pumps, chains, blowers, compressors, slides and guides, as well as the key components of these which includes bearings, it’s important to get the lubrication right so that they function well – especially in severely corrosive environments such as those common to the wastewater industry,” says Keown.

“Reliable lubrication is essential to keeping your plant online and operating efficiently to meet current regulations and budgets.”

“Yet, lubricants are often first off the mark when budget cuts are made,” Keown says, “which is a mistake.”

“Lubricant replenishment costs are relatively minor when compared to the initial infrastructure cost, and the expense and consequences of unplanned equipment failure will not only be inconvenient but can lead to a greater environmental footprint and increased energy usage.”

Keown recommends choosing a lubricants supplier that offers a quality product range but also factors in their environmental impact.

“GWO are renowned as a quality lubricants supplier. They’re also operating in an environmentally-conscious manner, not only with their products but in their practices as a company. It’s commendable.”

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Veolia and AORA make Back to Earth Initiative pledge

To mark World Soils Day, industry and councils are renewing their commitment to the Back to Earth Initiative.

The Back to Earth Initiative is run by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) in partnership with 24 metropolitan councils in Melbourne, and four regional Victorian councils.

According to a Back to Earth Initiative statement, World Soils Day serves as a reminder for the importance of soil health, and how compost made from household food and green waste is nourishing Victorian soils.

As part of the Back to Earth Initiative pledge, industry and councils commit to support the successful operation of organics processing facilities and community education.

Veolia and the Australian Organics Recycling Association have made the pledge.

“We commit to supporting the Back to Earth Initiative which promotes food and green waste recycling to the community,” the statement reads.

“We will continue to work with the community, councils and MWRRG to help the community correctly recycle food and green waste.”

The Back to Earth Initiative aims to show how food and green waste is turned into valuable compost.

“By working collaboratively to promote food and/or green waste collection services, councils—supported by MWRRG and industry—can provide clear and consistent information to the community,” the statement reads.

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VIC EPA to assess WtE proposal

The Victorian EPA is assessing a works approval application for a waste to energy facility in Dandenong South.

The proposed facility, to be operated by Great Southern Waste Technologies, seeks to utilise gasification technology to process 100,000 tonnes of municipal solid and commercial and industrial waste each year.

According to an EPA statement, if built, the facility will deliver approximately 7.9 mega watts of electricity to the grid.

“EPA will assess the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and look at any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the proposed development, including, but not limited to, air emissions, odour, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater treatment and discharge and reuse of wastewater or residual ash,” the statement reads.

In its works approval application, Great Southern Waste Technologies states that the facility will use proven technology to recover energy and export it into the grid as base load power, available to both commercial and residential customers.

“Utilising this valuable resource through recovery of the energy offers a sustainable improvement to waste management services currently being provided in Dandenong South, whilst reducing the overall greenhouse gas emissions and the potential environmental impacts associated with landfilling,” the application reads.

Submissions are open until 8 January 2020.

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APCO releases packaging progress data

Of the 5.45 million tonnes of post-consumer packaging placed on the Australian market in 2017-18, 2.67 million tonnes was recovered, according to a new report from the Australia Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

The report also reveals that Australia has exceeded the 30 per cent average recycled content National Packaging Target.

“Today’s benchmark data has confirmed post-consumer recycled content across all packaging was 1.9 million tonnes, or 35 per cent of total packaging,” the report reads.

“With the 30 per cent recycled content target now exceeded, APCO will deliver a consultation process with industry to develop a new, more ambitious target.”

According to an APCO statement, the Australian Packaging Consumption and Resource Recovery Data report maps the complete packaging ecosystem in granular detail, highlighting the performance of key areas within the system.

“The significant research project combines data from packaging manufacturers, packaging reprocessors, material recovery facilities, container deposit scheme operators, and includes analysis of Australian import and export data,” the statement reads.

Of Australia’s 5.45 million tonnes of packaging, more than half was paper and paperboard at 53.2 per cent, followed by glass packaging at 23.3 per cent, plastic packaging at 19.6 per cent and metal packaging at 3.9 per cent.

The report reveals that paper and paperboard have the highest recovery rate at 63 per cent, followed by metal packaging at 48 per cent, glass packaging at 46 per cent and plastic packaging at 16 per cent.

Additionally, the report details how Australia is tracking on the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets – with new benchmark data in areas of packaging recyclability, recycled content uptake and plastic packaging recycling.

The targets aim for 100 per cent of all Australia’s packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier. The report shows that as of 2018, 86 per cent, or 4.7 million tonnes of all packaging in the market is recyclable.

According to APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly, the single biggest challenge identified in the data is the recycling rate of plastic packaging.

The National Packaging Targets set the target for 70 per cent of Australia’s plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025.

APCO’s data reveals that currently, only 16 per cent of plastic packaging is being recycled or composted for future use.

“Comprehensive and robust benchmarking data is one of the critical milestones in our delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets – a process that shows how Australia is performing currently and, most importantly, what needs to change in order to make the 2025 Targets a reality,” Ms Donnelly said. 

“It’s encouraging to see such a significant majority of packaging – 86 per cent – is able to be recycled in the current system. However, what the data confirms for us is that plastic is the critical issue that needs to be addressed.” 

Ms Donnelly said APCO will release its 2025 strategic document in February 2020, which sets out a series of key strategies to support Australia’s delivery of the targets.

“Plastics will be a central focus for this plan, along with a range of interventions and recommendations designed to close the gap between recyclable (86 per cent) and recycled (49 per cent) packaging in Australia,” Ms Donnelly said. 

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Veolia signs waste management contract with City of Darwin

Veolia has signed a $50 million contract with the City of Darwin to manage and operate the region’s Shoal Bay Waste Management Facility for seven years.

According to City of Darwin CEO Scott Waters, the contract is the largest ever signed by the council.

Major environmental and operational improvements are expected over the course of the contract, including increased waste to landfill diversion, commercial production of organic compost for local markets and cost minimisation through international best practice management.

Mr Waters said the contract demonstrates the city’s commitment to action on climate change, with emissions produced by Shoal Bay set to reduce under new management.

“The awarding of this contract to Veolia, who are recognised as world leaders in waste management and environmental services, hails a new era in waste management in the greater Darwin region, and highlights the importance council is placing on reducing emissions,” Mr Waters said.

“By increasing diversionary activities at the site, council is looking to promote efficiencies and encourage recycling and reuse of materials within our local economy.”

Veolia Australia & New Zealand CEO and Managing Director Danny Conlon said the company has been operating in the territory for over 40 years and currently employs over 80 staff.

“We have worldwide experience gained over decades managing waste management facilities with similar environmental and operational challenges,” Mr Conlon said.

“We look forward to working with council on helping them achieve improved environmental outcomes.”

The management contract will commence 31 March 2020.

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NWRIC calls on VIC Premier to intervene in Alex Fraser decision

The National Waste & Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is calling on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to intervene in the City of Kingston’s decision to deny the extension of Alex Fraser’s Clarinda recycling facility.

Earlier this year, Alex Fraser called on Kingston City Council to extend its operating permit for its glass and construction and demolition recycling site, as one million tonnes of recyclables risks going to landfill. Kingston Council rejected the extension earlier this month.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said the Clarinda facility is a site of state significance.

“It’s capacity to recycle up to one million tonnes of construction materials represents approximately 25 per cent of Melbourne’s recycled material each year,” Ms Read said.

“To lose this site will have significant ramifications for resource recovery in Victoria and the population of Melbourne.”

According to an NWRIC statement, the City of Kingston decision contrasts with Sustainability Victoria’s Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan, which identifies the Alex Fraser site as one of Melbourne’s key resource recovery hubs.

“This illustrates another major weakness in the Victorian Government’s ability to manage waste and recycling, where clearly they have failed to integrate their infrastructure planning with local and state government planning regulations,” the statement reads.

The statement suggests that if Victorian’s want best practise recycling, it’s important that significant recovery hubs are protected and not overridden by local decisions.

“Moving these sites is not a simple matter, there are significant impacts not just on the recycler and its commercial operations, but on the whole of Victoria’s economy, employment and the environment,” the statement reads.

“If the Victorian government is serious about getting recycling back on track in Victoria, the premier needs to step up and mediate a more realistic solution for the future of the Alex Fraser Clarinda site as a matter of urgency.”

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Avoid collisions with proximity detection solutions: Position Partners

Proximity detection and collision awareness systems are safeguards waste management and landfill managers can implement to reduce accidents, keep track of machine movements and mitigate risk across the site.

Proximity detection systems can increase safety on site by alerting machine operators and individuals on foot to their proximity to other workers, via small devices fitted to the machine or worn on clothing.

Alternatively, collision awareness technology alerts operators to collisions, either with other machines, or assets and infrastructure around the site.

Since the technology’s inception, proximity detection and collision awareness solutions have become both more sophisticated and easier to use.

Historically, some systems have been known to ‘over alarm’ or be very complex to install and manage, which can become a hinderance to productivity.

According to Andrew Granger, Position Partners Executive Manger Mining, Landfill and Solar, this ‘boy who cried wolf’ situation can lead to more danger, with workers not treating alarms seriously.

The way to reduce these false alarms and increase urgency and reaction to alarms is to improve accuracy,” Mr Granger says.

“Some systems, such as those by Blue Electronics, have features that increase accuracy and greatly reduce false alarms.”

Position Partners operates as Blue Electronics’ solution provider for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.

Mr Granger says Blue Electronics have improved the technology around collision avoidance systems through the use of SBAS and Bluetooth low energy technology, a “failsafe” method that protects even when GPS drops out.

“The devices can be installed in a matter of minutes on any machine, heavy or light, so they can be swapped between plant,” Mr Granger says.

“The systems offer a highly modular and use-friendly solution.”

Mr Granger says Blue Electronics can achieve a relative accuracy of plus or minus one metre with no special infrastructure.

“However for applications requiring higher accuracy, operators can upgrade the system by adding a base station or our AllDayRTK network and achieve accuracies of plus or minus 25 millimetres,” he says.

“These systems are extremely reliable and easy to deploy, they are a great option for all sites, large or small.”

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It’s time for glass out: Australian Paper Recovery

Victoria’s challenging commodities markets has inspired a rethink of traditional processing from commercial and industrial recycler Australian Paper Recovery.

As Victoria deals with the fallout of SKM, numerous solutions to the state’s ailing recycling market are being proposed, including additional bins for difficult waste streams.

Earlier this year, the City of Yarra announced plans to trial a fourth kerbside glass bin in 1300 households.

In making the decision, the council acknowledged that there less landfill space in future and this will place additional pressure on the waste and recycling industry.

Months later, other councils, such as Macedon Ranges Shire followed suit.

The City of Yarra’s move towards a fourth kerbside glass bin collection service is part of a bigger push towards cleaning up Victoria’s recycling crisis.

The Victorian Government is working in partnership with local government and the waste industry on a major overhaul of kerbside collection, with expressions of interest to be released in 2021.

It comes as KordaMentha secured a $10 million loan from the Victorian Government to help clean up SKM waste stockpile sites and resume waste processing.

Darren Thorpe, Australian Paper Recovery’s Managing Director, says the situation should serve as a wake-up call that the current system is broken and needs to be repaired.

“In the past it’s just been about quantity, with a let’s produce as many tonnes as we can per hour attitude, but now it’s all going to be about quality as we transition to a sustainable circular economy,” Darren says.

Australian Paper Recovery (APR) has collected waste paper, plastic and cardboard since 2002, but it’s recent market trends that are prompting a new approach to its traditional role as a commercial and industrial (C&I) processor.

APR has, over time, become an important resource for the C&I sector. It has handled more than two million tonnes of pre-consumer and post-consumer waste and processed it into new materials for domestic and international markets.

Darren’s extensive background in paper recovery helped propel the business forward, while also learning extensively along the way.

HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

Darren’s career began in October 1984 at the Smorgon’s Paper Mill, following in the footsteps of his father and uncles. It was there that Darren made his start as an accounts payable clerk, learning the intricacies and nuances involved with fibre collection and recovery.

He then worked his way up to Regional Sales Manager, before the business expanded into rural Victoria in the mid 80s. But despite a streak of successes, the mill was unfortunately sold in September 1989, and the corrugating plant sold to Visy in partnership with Amcor.

Following this, Darren went onto work for Southern Waste Paper – now part of Visy, where he remained for 12-and-a-half years before starting APR in 2002.

Over the years, Darren turned his attention towards the C&I sector, with the paper manufacturing sector evolving throughout the mid 90s and early 2000s.

“Back in the 90s, there were seven paper mills in Victoria and now there’s four, so it makes a massive difference to fibre recycling. That is why the export market presented such a viable opportunity as there was no use for it here in Victoria,” he says.

“The closure of the Broadfield and Fairfield Mills also created an opportunity to send product overseas.”

The present state of the industry led Darren towards the overseas markets, working for Visy in WA. The same path inspired Darren to establish his own business in 2002, moving to Springvale, in Melbourne to start APR.

“For the first 18 months, we were just trading paper overseas because that’s what the market demanded,” Darren says.

In 2005, APR moved to Dandenong and started another operation at Laverton.

More than 17 years on, the company now has five facilities in Victoria, including its materials recovery facility (MRF) in Truganina, a C&I processing site at Dandenong and secure destruction and shredding facility in Fairfield.

Its network ensures it can partner with major organisations such as Australian Paper to deliver fibre for processing at Australian Paper’s Maryvale facility.

APR established a purpose-built facility in 2013 in Dandenong South at Thomas Murrell Crescent to allow it to service the market effectively.

Extensive planning went into improving on-site logistics, with a traffic management plan ensuring smooth vehicle movements.

“We needed to get vehicles in and out of the facilities in an efficient and safe manner, so we built a purpose-built facility in Dandenong in 2013 and designed it so we could get vehicles in and out in a timely manner,” he says.

Darren says that due to the ease of use of the facility, APR tripled its volumes. Working with major retail and hospitality outlets, APR covered the broader market segment.

But when China’s National Sword policy was announced in 2017, and a glut of materials was released into the market, APR began to reconsider its strategy and look at entering the municipal solid recycling space.

“We moved into the domestic space because of National Sword as we were dealing with regional MRFs who had a problem getting rid of mixed paper because the quality that they were making wasn’t meeting export or local quality specifications,” Darren says.

“So that’s when we went to Sustainability Victoria with a proposal in late 2017 which they supported. We were fortunate enough to get a grant of $475,000 to build our value-add fibre sorting facility.”

The proposal led to a new MRF at Truganina, which processes up to 39,000 tonnes of kerbside recyclables per annum.

The MRF sees materials run along a conveyor belt with contaminants removed, before running over several ballistic separators to pull out any fibre. Containers are then dropped down to conveyors to extract metal such as steel. Manual sorters take off milk, detergents and soft drink bottles.

As the MRF was continually refined, APR envisioned a plan to partner with other regional MRFs and value-add their fibre products.

But new opportunities soon emerged as the City of Yarra embarked on a single-stream glass recycling program.

GOING GLASS OUT

APR took a “glass out” approach and started to partner with the City of Yarra, with other metropolitan councils soon following suit.

“If you put all the commodities together in a single stream recycling program you have a lot of contamination due to the fact that broken glass is mixed in with other products,” Darren says.

“Once you separate glass, it’s a very valuable and recoverable resources that can be utilised in a circular economy through the likes of O&I and others such as aggregate companies such as Alex Fraser, Sunshine Groupe and Fulton Hogan.

“But when it’s contaminated with other products, it’s too hard for them to use, so by moving to a separate glass collection we are able to produce a much cleaner and valuable resource.”

He adds that glass is the biggest source of contamination in kerbside bins besides fibre, polymers, aluminium and steel. “We’ve made it quite clear to the councils that we will only receive material that has glass out.”

Taking its “glass out” strategy a step further, APR in September agreed on a new partnership with the City of Ballarat. From 30 September, the council will ask its residents to take their glass to several free drop-off sites around the municipality using containers provided by council or their own.

City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh in a statement said that for many years, Ballarat shipped its recycled material overseas for processing, which was no longer an option.

With quality now being a key priority, Darren says APR has continued to partner with a number of local manufacturers, including Huhtamaki and Norske Skog for fibre. Norske Skog is one of the world’s largest suppliers of newsprint while Huhtamaki produces consumer packaged goods such as egg, paperboard and plastic packaging.

Darren says that wherever possible, products are repurposed into their original form in a circular motion such as cleaning products or soft drinks. In other cases, waste streams like milk bottles are repurposed as plastic pellets. He says the main priority is adding as much value as possible and keeping products out of landfill.

“Vicfam Plastics is a company we’re working with to make the plastic pellets and they’ve been greater partners with us in other commodities in our business.”

Darren says APR aims to be as diligent as possible in ensuring material is contaminant-free and is in the process of auditing materials that come in from both councils and the C&I space.

Overall, Darren is excited about the future possibilities for APR and predicts the company’s current plans will only lead to further growth for the company.

“Our facility is the way of the future. The commodities that we’ll generate out of the sorting facility will provide end users with a quality product,” he says.

“All indications are that our MRF will be at capacity by Christmas and, as such, we’ll be looking to build a new facility taking on board the learnings from this facility.”

However, APR will only enter the market when a need presents itself, as its focus is quality, not quantity.

Its next stage is to build a receivable area with an additional 1200-square-metre facility planned in four to five months time at a cost of around $1.3 million.

While ensuring its operations are economically viable is the number one priority, Darren hopes APR can make a vital contribution to the sector at a critical juncture.

“We’ve shown the initiative to go out there and do something different because no-one wants to keep doing the same thing and have a broken system. We need to make some changes even when it’s difficult,” Darren says.

He says that the challenges going forward will be getting the message out to the community to stop ‘wishcycling’.

“Education, commitment and understanding by residents will certainly be a major influence in the way we view recycling in the future. Developing more local production opportunities and government procurement policy for recycled products will also be part of the now ‘broken system’ we are trying to fix,” Darren says.

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Tasmanian council ceases kerbside recycling

A Tasmanian council will cease kerbside recycling operations from 2020, as part of an overhaul of the region’s waste management strategy.

According to West Coast Council General Manager David Midson, there is limited uptake of recycling bins in the area, with an average 10 per cent of households using the service.

“Recycling collected is often so contaminated that council must expend significant funds to have it sorted and cleaned or allow it to be sent to landfill,” Mr Midson said.

“To resolve these issues in 2020-2021, council aims to move away from kerbside collection and instead provide central separated recycling bins where residents will be able to dispose of recyclables free of charge.”

Other changes to council’s waste management strategy include proactively monitoring illegal dumping and trialling green waste collection at transfer stations for 12 months.

“Currently, green waste deposited at the transfer stations is highly contaminated, resulting in significant council expenditure,” Mr Midson said.

“If this continues, council will move green waste collection to the landfill only, and assess the potential for green waste collection bins.”

Additionally, waste transfer stations will only accept limited categories of waste including domestic waste, oil and green waste from 2020.

Items such as asbestos, tyres, car bodies, concrete, rock rubble and soil will only be accepted at landfill.

Mr Midson said waste management on the West Coast cannot continue as business as usual.

“Current practices do not meet our environmental obligations, our obligations to provide a safe workplace, or the expectations of the community,” Mr Midson said.

“If we continue down the current path, the cost of waste management to ratepayers will increase dramatically.”

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