Translating cleantech

Waste Management Review speaks with Veena Sahajwalla about a decentralised approach to sustainable materials research and technology.

With textile waste fast becoming one of the Earth’s most pressing environmental concerns, Sustainable Schoolwear is providing a small-scale solution by manufacturing school clothes out of recycled polyester and plastic bottles.

Developed in 2013, the small business recently expanded its operations through a new partnership with NSW Government initiative NSW Circular and the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT).

According to Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of both NSW Circular and the SMaRT Centre, initial results from a pilot project to reform used and old school uniforms into flat panels to create new school desks have been positive.

The next phase of the project is testing the “school uniform” flat panels to make school desks that are viable. Veena says the technology to do this illustrates the benefits of finding new uses for items often destined for landfill by ‘upcycling’ waste streams in innovative ways.

Sustainable Schoolwear is just one of many organisations joining NSW Circular in pilot projects. Other projects involve working to transform e-waste plastics into value added manufacturing feedstock and products, and reforming and recycling agricultural wrap.

NSW Circular’s pilot projects aim to translate cleantech innovation into tangible real-world outcomes by treating waste as a resource and diverting it from landfill and stockpiling.

Highlighting the success of these projects, Veena says new ways are needed to accelerate Australia’s growing cleantech industry.

“When we clearly demonstrate the application of sustainable materials research to practical localised solutions, it provides inspiration to others looking to engage in the field.If a council can see the innovative projects another council is engaged with, they think: we can do that, too.”

Veena, who in addition to her roles with NSW Circular and the UNSW SMaRT Centre, sits on the National Cleantech Conference & Exhibition (NCTCE) advisory panel, stresses the importance of engaging with end-users.

“We can do all the technology and science work we want, but we also need to demonstrate its application and translate that for the end user,” she says.

Veena says the future of the Australian Cleantech industry depends on the sector’s ability to connect with communities, decision-makers and investors and have a measurable impact and drive its own growth.

Now in its second year, NCTCE will take place at the Brisbane Conference and Exhibition Centre on 22-23 March 2021. The two-day program will focus on cleantech as an instigator of innovation, economic development, creative collaborations and inclusive prosperity.

“Cleantech science and technology can be overwhelming at times, so coming together at a conference such as NCTCE, talking to experts and highlighting case studies, is a good way for people to understand what’s going on,” Veena says.

Approaching cleantech in a decentralised manner is critical, Venna says, highlighting that Australia’s geographical nature demands localised solutions.

“What will work in a capital city will be different to that in a regional town. It’s about shifting our traditional large-scale mindset and creating new market opportunities and solutions that will very often slot into existing demand,” she says.

“There isn’t one answer for everything. You need to design processes around the specific requirements of each project and the ecosystem you’re working in, which in turn works to empower local regions.”

The long-term goal of Veena’s work with NSW Circular, the SMaRT Centre and NCTCE, is to enable local businesses and communities to produce the products and materials they need using their own resources derived from local waste.

This can be achieved, Veena explains, through novel research into sustainable materials and manufacturing processes and then building industry partnerships to operationalise new manufacturing technologies.

“This unique approach aims to disrupt today’s centralised, vertically integrated industrial model and its global mass markets, with agile technologies driving the decentralisation of manufacturing.”

Tiffany Bower, NCTCE Program Director, feels similarly, noting the role of cleantech innovation in building a resilient national economy.

“NCTCE is not focused on just one solution because change will take a holistic approach across technologies, behaviours and policies,” she says.

“Many people don’t realise there are government agencies at all levels already doing great work in this area. There is funding available and resources they can access to help build their cleantech innovation and business.”

Tiffany adds that NCTCE’s speaker program aims to spotlight best-practice case studies, innovative partnerships and new business models.

“It’s really important to us that this conference is accessible to the small businesses and start-ups that comprise the majority of the cleantech industry. We have kept ticket prices as low as possible, while ensuring a world-class education and professional development program.

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Waste Expo Australia forges ahead

Waste Management Review speaks with Cory McCarrick, Waste Expo Australia Event Director ahead of the 2020 event.

COVID-19 has had flow on effects for every sector of the industry, with no business immune to social and economic challenges. Social distancing regulations have also forced a re-think of traditional approaches to work and gatherings.

While the long-term impacts of COVID-19 are yet to be fully understood, the waste sector is committed to keeping its essential service running.

It is in this environment that Waste Expo Australia forges ahead, driven by a belief that providing a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing will help industry better understand its collective challenges.

With new COVID-19 cases slowing down in Australia, Cory McCarrick, Waste Expo Australia Event Director, says progressing cautiously, yet optimistically, with the event is the best option for industry.

He says the health and safety of exhibitors, visitors and staff is Waste Expo Australia’s number one priority.

“We are working closely with the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and government to ensure that Waste Expo Australia has the highest health protection activities, public health messaging, hygiene and medical control measures in place,” he says.

Cory highlights that the very purpose of Waste Expo Australia is to bring industry together, to share knowledge and to do business.

“This has always been important. However, the opportunity to collaborate, share ideas with industry peers and hear from industry leaders during the current climate will help the industry get through the COVID-19 situation quicker and be better prepared for the future,” he says.

“Many Australians are working from home and self-isolating, and Waste Expo Australia may be the first opportunity to see industry peers and to have a drink at one of our networking events. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to that.”

As one of the most comprehensive free-to-attend conferences for the waste management, resource recovery and wastewater sector, last year’s Waste Expo Australia saw a record number of delegates.

“Our team work exceptionally hard to improve Waste Expo Australia every year, and we were very proud to be announced as finalists for Australia’s best trade show at the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia’s annual Awards for Excellence last December,” Cory says.

The 2020 event is set to build on that momentum, with the program to cover a broader range of topics, sessions and speakers than previous years.

Cory says the team have been working hard to raise the bar for the 2020 event.

He says visitors can expect to find more in-depth streams covering policy and waste strategy, the circular economy, organics and health and safety.

“We will also continue to work closely with various industry associations and stakeholders to ensure that we’re offering the most relevant information and attracting the right people to the event.

“Some of our partners will be hosting co-located workshop and networking events too,” he says.

Cory says exhibitors and attendees can be confident that Waste Expo Australia’s Waste Summit program, as well as various co-located industry events, will deliver a highly qualified audience. He adds that the event will also provide networking opportunities to generate new business leads and strengthen relationships.

“The Waste Summit conference program is designed to deliver highly engaging, informative and educational talks, and will evolve again in 2020 to feature additional streams, new topics and more speakers,” he says.

“Many of our partners will be hosting their own industry events at Waste Expo Australia 2020 including workshops, networking events and the annual Victorian Waste Management Association dinner.”

Cory adds that the team are also working with various state-based associations to increase Waste Expo Australia’s interstate attendance and ensure the conference is the country’s leading national event.

“We cover the industry’s most pressing issues, which change every year depending on what’s happening in the industry. National Sword was a hot topic in previous events, and undoubtedly, COVID-19 will be featured heavily in 2020,” he says.

According to Cory, the Waste Expo Australia team is currently in the process of organising their 2020 speaker program.

“We pride ourselves in the research we do with our industry to find out what they want to see at the Waste Summit and who they feel they will learn from,” he says.

“We look for industry experts that have a powerful story to tell and deliver the necessary learnings and experience that our delegates can take back to the workplace and start implementing straight away.”

Last year’s event offered 35 hours of free, engaging and educational sessions, Cory says, with more than 100 speakers. “Many businesses have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 and suppliers are relying on our event to generate the leads they need to support their businesses,” he says.

“From an exhibitor’s point of view, it’s the opportunity to network and build relationships with the largest gathering of waste management and resource recovery professionals in the country.”

Waste Expo Australia is set to return to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 21-22 October.

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Investing in a cleantech future: NCTCE

Peta Moore, National Cleantech Conference and Exhibition Director, highlights sustainable investment opportunities ahead of the August event.

As a novel approach to waste-to-energy (WtE), Moving Injection Horizontal Gasification technology works to sidestep the scaling issues often associated with traditional combustion technology.

Developed by Brisbane company Wildfire Energy, the technology converts biomass and waste feedstocks into energy and chemicals via a gas treatment train. With the ability to process a range of material without pre-treatment, Wildfire Energy’s current pilot product can convert between 20 to 100 kilotons of waste feedstock per annum – thereby offering an alternative solution for small-scale investment.

Moving Injection Horizontal Gasification will be one of many emerging cleantech technologies showcased at the 3-4 August National Cleantech Conference and Exhibition (NCTCE) in Brisbane.

Now in its second year, the conference will explore cleantech, an umbrella term for investment in sustainable products and services, as an instigator of innovation, creative collaborations and inclusive prosperity.

According to Peta Moore, NCTCE Event Director, cleantech is a growing sector in Australia, with an array of innovative organisations working to transform waste into economic, social and environmental opportunities.

Peta says sustainable waste management is vital to assist the transition to a circular economy.

“Some of the greatest barriers to achieving this are poor infrastructure and technology, and a lack of awareness of alternative solutions, which is what we’re hoping to address at NCTCE.”

The upcoming conference, Peta says, will showcase a number of innovative cleantech organisations, including Wildfire Energy and Licella.

“Wildfire Energy will present operational data from its pilot program and plans for a future commercial demonstration project in Queensland,” she says.

As a national platform, the event will bring together major players across the cleantech sector to exhibit new technology and research.

Peta says this year’s event will explore how cleantech can help fast-track sustainable growth. “At a time when people are asking what can be done?, this national conference will provide an insight into the solutions that exist today, or are in the start-up phase ready for investment,” Peta says.

Peta explains that plastic recycling generally takes two forms: physical and chemical. Physical focuses on the repurposing of resources, while chemical takes the material back one step further to its chemical building blocks to make brand new materials.

Drawing on a theme of problem plastic, Peta highlights Licella as another standout presenter.

“What if instead of seeing a plastics recycling crisis, Australia looks to lead the world towards a plastic neutral future? Licella will explore the opportunities of chemical recycling as a circular solution for end-of-life plastic at NCTCE,” she says.

Licella will present on its Cat-HTR technology, which transforms plastic waste into an oil, which can function as a direct substitute for fossil oil.

“This oil can be used to make fuels, chemicals and new plastics, plus the solution is commercial-ready, giving end-of-life plastic new life and transforming it into a truly circular resource,” Peta says.

The NCTCE team is currently seeking expressions of interest from event sponsors and exhibitors looking to highlight similar innovations to an audience of cleantech producers, users and policy makers.

“This is a multi-sector event. We understand that addressing the problems of today requires a holistic approach across technologies, behaviours and policies,” Peta says.

“Our speaker program aims to spotlight best-practice case studies, innovative partnerships and new business models, to help delegates navigate their way through the implementation process.

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Are you going to Ballarat?

Ahead of the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, Barry Sullivan, Committee Chair, discusses the developing national sector.

A waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in Creswick, Victoria is exploring how to inject clear, filtered green gas into the state’s gas network. Diverting 2000 tonnes of organic waste via bio-digestion each year, the facility will serve as a case study, with replication potential highlighted by the state government.

With news of green gas and a number of high-profile WtE projects, public WtE perceptions appear to be shifting. Images of smoke and burning plastics have been replaced by productive conversations about landfill diversion and the future of renewable energy.

It’s welcome news for the team at the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, which returns to the Mercure in Ballarat this year from 18-20 February.

In its fifth consecutive year, the forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss developments in Australia’s growing WtE sector. This year’s theme, “On the road to recovery”, has been selected to address two key areas: the application of waste hierarchy fundamentals, and changing perceptions about WtE facilities and their role within an integrated waste management strategy.

According to Barry Sullivan, Forum Chair, one of the biggest WtE challenges is lack of access to information necessary to make informed and considered investment decisions.

“We are finding there is a lot of misinformation in the public arena that inhibits project development,” Barry says.

“The issue with going to a technology vendor without basic knowledge is they will often say, don’t worry, we can make this work. In other words, when you sell hammers, everything looks like a nail.”

He adds that before looking to technologies, people need to understand their waste stream, moisture levels, quantity and calorific value, as well as the type of offtakes they hope to produce.

“The committee, and conference host, the Australian Industrial Ecology Network, intend to foster that understanding with our event,” Barry explains.

The two-and-a-half-day conference will feature a range of informative thought leader driven discussions.

“It has always been a priority of the committee to seek out presentations that will address key themes through the program, instead of just grouping abstracts into sessions,” Barry says.

“The committee has closely monitored WtE projects and changing technology over the past seven years, and we want to highlight those developments to our audience.”

Nurturing community engagement and education is also the driver behind the committee’s decision to run with a single stream.

“As WtE is still in early phases, many don’t know if they need thermal or non-thermal solutions for example, so we decided to cover all WtE elements in the one stream,” he says.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, so it makes sense for all delegates to attend each presentation.”

The program features a range of range of speakers including Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Blue Environment Director Bill Grant and a keynote from Veolia Kwinana Project Director Toby Terlet.

Toby’s presentation, Energy Recovery Facilities: What’s not written on the tin, will detail challenges faced by a WtE facility in Tyseley, UK, including major upgrade works at the same time as industrial action, heavy snow and a declining national public sector budget. This presentation will discuss how Veolia worked proactively through the challenges with City of Birmingham to further cement the successful long-standing partnership and resulting in a five-year contract extension.

To develop a thriving national industry, Barry says it’s important to not only showcase success, but share challenges openly.

“Last year we had a technology company present on their biggest failure, which provided a valuable lesson for everyone in the room,”
he says.

Other discussion topics include WtE in a circular economy, anaerobic digestion, licence to operate, current project updates, project development considerations and future opportunities and developments.

“We are hosting a session where local governments can talk about future plans. It won’t feature cities with official requests for a proposal in place, but rather those that want the WtE community to know they are thinking about it,” Barry says.

Another will be how to develop technologies that provide return on investment, in spite of small tonnages.

“While WtE in Australia is certainly advancing, progress has been slow, as government agencies tend to rely on standards from Europe and North America,” Barry says.

“But Australia is a different animal with different requirements. We simply don’t have the tonnages other countries do and it’s important to develop technology around that.”

According to Barry, hosting the forum in Ballarat creates a sense of occasion.

“Not only is Ballarat accessible, with trains running every hour from Melbourne, but having a group of likeminded individuals converge on one place creates a real sense of community, and with everyone in town, the evenings are known for networking,” he says.

“We’ve now gained quite a reputation – people aren’t asking ‘are you going to the WtE forum?’ They’re asking, ‘are you going to Ballarat?’

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UNTHA specialist to present at Waste to Energy Forum

UNTHA’s waste-to-energy (WtE) specialist Gary Moore is heading to Australia to join the team at FOCUS enviro for AIEN’s Australian Waste to Energy Forum.

The forum, held 19-20 February in Ballarat, will focus on waste hierarchy fundamentals and their applications, as well as waste diversion and the energy supply landscape.

Other key topics include the appropriate use of alternative WtE technologies and the definition of residual materials.

According to a FOCUS enviro statement, Mr Moore will discuss the latest equipment solutions from UNTHA, and present on whether RDF and PEF represent Australia’s future resources.

“With almost 30 years’ experience within the waste and recycling sector, Mr Moore will be drawing upon international examples from the ever-changing landscape to explore what role alternative fuels will play in the country’s future resource strategy, using successful, global WtE projects as reference points for delegates,” the statement reads.

FOCUS enviro will also host a Demo Day showcasing UNTHA shredding technology in Melbourne 20 February.

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National Cleantech Conference seeks EOIs

The National Cleantech Conference and Exhibition (NCTCE) is seeking expressions of interest from event sponsors and exhibitors looking to showcase clean technology innovations.

In its second year, NCTCE will take place at the Brisbane Conference and Exhibition Centre on the 3-4 August.

Cleantech’s 2020 theme is fast tracking sustainable growth, with a program covering all sectors including water, energy, waste, mobility, agriculture, manufacturing and built environment.

According NCTCE Event Director Peta Moore, developing clean technologies is key to mitigating the impact of climate change, while creating new economic opportunities.

“I, like so many, am filled with horror as I watch the fires destroy so much of our country. While I am one of the lucky people not personally affected by the flames and smoke, it has still been an emotional time, a time of despair and frustration,” she said.

Ms Moore said after years working in the cleantech sector, she knows of multiple organisations, businesses, start-ups and innovators developing sustainable solutions around the country.

“As a team of conference organisers, my business, Nectar Creative Communications, is doing what we know how to do best. We are putting on NCTCE and are determined to make a positive impact on this issue by supporting the sector’s growth and commercial implementation,” she said.

The two-day program will focus on cleantech as an instigator of innovation, economic development, creative collaborations and inclusive prosperity.

Program Director Tiffany Bower said the national platform will bring all the major players from the cleantech sector together.

“NCTCE is not focussed on just one solution – it’s a multi-sector event – because it will take a holistic approach, across technologies, behaviours and policies,” she said.

“The conversations at the event will encompass energy, water, waste, built environment, transport, agriculture and manufacturing, because these days, projects aren’t just an ‘energy’ project or a ‘water’ project – they are often across all of these sectors.”

Ms Bower said a key topic of the 2020 event will be investment opportunities and access to funding.

“Many people don’t realise there are government agencies at all levels already doing great work in this area. There is funding available and resources they can access to help build their cleantech innovation and business,” she said.

“Our speaker program aims to spotlight the best-practice case studies, the innovative partnerships and new business models to help delegates navigate their way through the implementation process.”

NCTCE is working in partnership with industry groups such as Climate-KIC, EnergyLab, Cities Power Partnership, Brisbane’s CitySmart and the Australian Electric Vehicle Association.

“It’s really important to us that this conference is accessible to the small businesses and start-ups that comprise the majority of the cleantech industry,” Ms Moore said.

“We have kept ticket prices as low as possible, while ensuring a world-class education and professional development program.”

Tickets go on sale mid-February. For more information click here.

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Immersed in industry: VWMA Waste Expo site tours

The Victorian Waste Management Association’s recent industry site tours took delegates through a range of resource recovery and manufacturing facilities.

The partnership between the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) and Waste Expo Australia was particularly significant in 2019, given current challenges facing the Victorian arm of the sector.

While the event had a national focus, Mark Smith, VWMA Executive Officer, says Victoria was lucky to have Waste Expo located in Melbourne.

“We support Waste Expo because of the relevance this national event brings to the Victorian landscape, with thought provoking discussions and presentations on everything important and impactful to the sector,” he says.

As a strategic Waste Expo partner, VWMA ran three concurrent industry tours on the Friday following the expo, a first for the leading waste and resource recovery event.

Hosting a wide range of delegates including representatives from the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, industry heavy weights such as TOMRA, local government agents and small business owners, VWMA’s tours were designed to educate and stimulate conversation.

The day’s events included a construction and demolition tour, an organics tour and a packaging process tour.

“Working with industry partners Alex Fraser, the Australian Packaging and Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the Australian Organic Recycling Association (AORA), VWMA ran the tours to bring the steps industry is taking to support Victoria’s recycling agenda into focus,” Mark says.

As attendees gathered at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Friday morning, many expressed difficulty over choosing which tour to attend.

After an opening address from Mark, delegates piled into three separate buses, each with an industry specific tour guide.

The construction and demolition tour, sponsored by Alex Fraser, included site visits to Bingo Industries West Melbourne Facility, Alex Fraser’s Sustainable Supply Hub, a Level Crossing Removal Project site and the Toll Shipping’s terminal at Webb Dock.

Bingo Industries West Melbourne Facility is established on a site acquired 18 months ago by the company, with Bingo pouring $23 million into the facility since then. The site allows Bingo to convert waste into seven different products and has capacity for around 300,000 tonnes per annum. The company aims to achieve a 75 per cent recovery rate on-site.

At Webb Dock, Alex Fraser has worked with contractor Civilex to develop a heavy-duty pavement which incorporates reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that meets VicRoads guidelines. The pavement base layers are comprised recycled glass sand and recycled concrete.

As part of the Level Crossing Removal Project, the Western Program Alliance used Alex Fraser’s recycled sand as bedding material for the combined services conduit housing the communications and power cables. The grade separation was undertaken at Kororoit Creek Road in Melbourne. The low embodied energy material replaces virgin sand with all 900 tonnes diverted from landfill at a lower cost.

Finally, Waste Management Review got to explore where Alex Fraser’s recycling happens, touring its Laverton North supply hub where more than one million tonnes of C&D waste, and one billion bottles of glass waste is reprocessed to make the quality construction materials needed to build greener roads.

A climb to the top of Alex Fraser’s high recycled technology asphalt plant topped off the excursion. The new $18 million faciliity is capable of producing over half a million tonnes of green asphalt per year, utilising the recycled glass sand and RAP produced in its collocated recycling facilities.

Shifting material focus, the Organics and Composting Tour’s first stop took attendees to the South Melbourne Market, where they were told about the market’s 32 tonne a year dehydrating compost initiative.

From there, VWMA and AORA directed the tour bus to Sacyr’s new indoor compositing facility. Michael Wood, Sacyr Environment Australia Consultant, guided the group through the 120,000 tonnes per annum facility, and explained the challenges associated with adapting a European model to an Australian environment.

The group was then guided through Cleanaway’s South East Organic Processing Facility and food depackaging unit.

Melinda Lizza, Cleanaway Development Manager, explained the depackaging unit’s 150,000 tonnes per annum capabilities, before handing the tour over to Michael Lawlor, Cleanaway Operations Supervisor.

After the tour, the group had lunch with the Cleanaway crew and discussed interactions with the EPA and growing levels of scrutiny on the compost industry.

From there, the group was driven to Bio Gro’s Dandenong South Facility, where Sage Hahn, Bio Gro General Manger, explained the company’s approach to organics diversion and composted mulch production.

After taking the group through the Bio Gro site, Sage fielded a range of technical questions and detailed the mineral additive process of mulch manufacturing.

Doug Wilson, AROA Victoria Admin Officer and compost group tour guide, says the day allowed delegates to closely inspect organics processing.

“At the very time when the state government is bringing the circular economy into focus, the organics tour took delegates on an interactive experience with some of Melbourne’s most exciting and innovative organics recovery technology,” he says.

The APCO packing tour, which was delivered in partnership with the Australian Food and Grocery Council and Australian Institute of Packaging, took attendees to Ego Pharmaceuticals, the South Melbourne Markets and recycled plastic manufacturer Replas’ Carrum Downs site.

Of the APCO tour, Mark says industry is at a critical time where collaboration is essential to address challenges in the packaging supply chain and achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

“Great stuff happens all across Australia by the waste and recycling industry and many organisatsions that we partner with,” Mark says.

He added that these were areas of interest that were not spoken about enough.

“It was exciting to see demonstrations of the circular economy in action. Parts of our sector are leading on this front and there are scale interventions that only really need the appropriate government policy to delivery environmental, economic and social benefits to Australia.”

He says this was clearly demonstrated on the tours in the Victoria context.

“Industry is leading on parts of this and it’s important to acknowledge the good work being done locally.

“A big thanks to all our partners for coming on board and collaborating with us.”

This article was published in the December issue of Waste Management Review. 

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Waste talks

Last year’s Waste Expo Australia saw a record number of delegates converge on the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to examine new opportunities in a changing sector.

At last year’s Waste Expo Australia, Pete Shmigel, Australian Council of Recycling, opened his presentation with a question: when you think about the waste and resource recovery industry over the last 12 months, would you give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

Audience reactions were mixed, with one delegate calling the system a mess, and another applauding the sector’s ability to acknowledge its problems and move forward. For an industry in a state of flux, this lack of consensus should come as no surprise.

But Mr Shmigel was positive, highlighting rising construction and demolition (C&D) and commercial and industrial (C&I) recovery rates.

“What kind of animal would I use to describe recycling? I’d say a bear, and what’s a bear? It’s surprisingly fast, it grows really fast and it sleeps for about half the year,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Amazingly fast growth in C&D and C&I, and then we look at kerbside recycling and it’s asleep.”

A solution for kerbside’s slumber, Mr Shmigel said, is further funding and harmonisation across jurisdictions.

According to Mr Shmigel, the Australian Council of Recycling recently conducted an analysis across 110 councils in NSW, finding 3824 collection and recycling process variations.

“There’s an argument for standardising the types of packaging that goes in, and there’s an argument for standardising the types of systems councils themselves run,” Mr Shmigel said.

“If Canada can do it, why can’t Australia?”

Supporting a stronger kerbside system was the focus of multiple Waste Expo Australia presentations, with over 100 speakers and 120 exhibitors navigating opportunities in the changing market.

According to Event Director Cory McCarrick, 2019 saw record attendance, with early reports indicating a 33 per cent increase from 2018.

“We are thrilled with the large increase in visitation at last year’s Waste Expo Australia, with a number of people travelling from interstate for the event,” Mr McCarrick said.

“Waste Expo Australia has truly cemented itself as the must-attend event for the waste management and resource recovery sector.”

The two-day event was opened with a keynote from Victorian Energy Environment & Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who outlined actions her department is taking to improve the state’s resource recovery system.

“Our country is facing some major challenges in the waste and resource recovery sector and that, of course, includes restrictions on the export of recyclable materials,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“It has also made us think differently about how we manage our waste domestically, and it’s been a bit of a wake-up call to many of us, because we know that we can do better.”

Ms D’Ambrosio highlighted the state’s forthcoming circular economy strategy and waste infrastructure investments, including a $500,000 grant to Advanced Circular Polymer for Australia’s largest plastics recycling plant.

“We are committed to strengthening and growing the waste and resource recovery sector as we transition to an economy with less waste and better reuse and recycling,” the minister said.

“My commitment to all of you as industry players is to be available and to listen and work with you as we manage the transition the community expects us to undertake.”

Policy drivers that would help Ms D’Ambrosio’s plan to strengthen the sector were then addressed by Rose Read, National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. Ms Read highlighted the importance of market development, landfill levies, product stewardship, environmental regulation, product bans, standards and education.

In reference to product stewardship, Ms Read highlighted the success of the used oil recycling scheme, the National Television and Computer Recycling scheme and state-run container deposit schemes (CDS).

The topic of CDS was further discussed at the Victorian Waste Management Association’s (VWMA) post day one discussion dinner, with presentations from Peter Bruce, Whenceforth Consulting, and David Cocks, MRA Consulting.

Mr Bruce, who recently served as Exchange for Change CEO, presented state-by-state CDS comparisons. He specifically highlighted variations between who owns the collected material, how cashflow is managed and how different schemes designs facilitate convenience.

While attendees appeared largely in favour of a Victorian CDS, questions were raised over long-term efficacy, material recovery facility liability and kerbside glass collection as a CDS substitute.

Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser, also addressed the importance of glass separation.

On the C&D stage, Mr Murphy discussed innovative recycling approaches and the consequence of increased recycled content in pavements and roads.

Following the presentation, Mr Murphy faced a steady stream of questions, highlighting
an understanding of the central role sustainable infrastructure will play in the transition towards a circular economy.

George Hatzimanolis, Repurpose It, expressed similar sentiments, with a presentation on the company’s approach to C&D transformation via best practice technology.

“The principles of our business are based on the concept of industrial ecology, taking a product at the end of a lifecycle and converting it into a product that begins a new lifecycle,” he said.

Mr Hatzimanolis went on to discuss the importance of urban recycling facilities located close to generation points and Repurpose It’s C&D washing process.

The contrast between urban and rural capabilities and needs was further discussed in a session chaired by Mark Smith, VWMA.

With presentations from Matt Genever, Sustainability Victoria, Isabel Axio, Just Waste Consulting, and Joe Agostino, Yarra City Council, the discussion emphasised the multifaceted nature of resource recovery, with distinctions made between what is appropriate in city centres and what works in the regions.

Ms Axio explained how to adapt urban concepts to regional landscapes, and suggested challenges such as low populations and transport costs were enabling characteristics rather than barriers.

Mr Genever then broadened the scope, focusing on what Sustainability Victoria has learnt over the past seven years.

He specifically stressed the importance of closing the market development, sustainable procurement and new infrastructure loop.

Similar arguments were made at day two’s Towards a Circular Economy Partnership Panel, chaired by Toli Papadopoulos from Prime Creative Media.

During the panel, Sebastian Chapman, DELWP, highlighted the importance of data, and said while the department doesn’t fully understand the flow of material in the Victorian economy, it is working to improve.

Pushing the point, Cameron McKenzie, ASPIRE, referenced the axiom that data is more valuable than oil. Without data, he said, waste cannot be sustainably managed.

While each panellist presented different perspectives, the consensus was clear: for a circular economy to thrive, action needs to extend beyond waste to reuse, repair and sharing economies.    

As the expo wrapped up its final day, delegates discussed waste-derived products, destructive distillation and optical sorting.

The extensive and varied nature of the Waste Expo Australia program was perhaps best expressed by Steven Sergi, South Australian EPA: if anyone still thinks waste management involves simply putting material in a hole, they’re behind the eight ball.

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Australian Waste to Energy Forum

The Australian Waste to Energy Forum returns to the Mercure in Ballarat on 18-20 February 2020.

The Australian Waste to Energy Forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss the development of a waste to energy industry within Australia.

Government, industry and individuals will be able to learn, network and discuss issues in an open forum with like-minded and interested companies and individuals.

Veolia Kwinana WtE Project Director Toby Terlet will deliver the keynote address, followed by presentations for Forum Chair Barry Sullivan, City of Ballarat Mayor Ben Taylor, Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and a host of industry and technology specialists.

Early-bird registration is now open, with discounts available until 17 January 2020.

For more information click here.

VWMA hosts National Recycling Week business breakfast

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), in partnership with Frankston City Council, is hosting a business breakfast on 14 November as part of National Recycling Week.

With the support of Frankston City Council, Corio Waste Management and Functions by the Bay, the VWMA is aiming for a zero food waste to landfill event.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the event is open to anyone, but is particularly focused on businesses in the Frankston Municipality.

“The Choice Energy sponsored event by will feature expert speakers from across the sustainability field, including Equilibrium, Beyond Zero Emissions and the Sustainable Australia Fund,” Mr Smith said.

“The business breakfast, held at Functions by the Bay, will include energy efficiency advice, material efficiency advice, access and explanations of tools and services to support business, and will be followed by coffee and networking.”

Mr Smith said the event is aimed at talking about waste, recycling and energy efficiency to businesses outside the waste sector.

“This event is all about making it easier for businesses to understand the steps and strategies they can begin straight away, or the areas they can make strategic investments in to reduce their waste and energy costs and increase efficiency,” Mr Smith said.

“There are a lot of government programs and grants out there for business, but these programs often have lengthy application processes with little certainty of when funds will come through if successful. What we’re hoping to create with this event is a one stop shop for businesses to gain an in-depth understanding of proven approaches to become more sustainable and more profitable.”

Frankston City CEO Phil Cantillon said the city was commitment to understanding the needs of Frankston’s diverse business community.

”Late last year we carried out a survey of our business community to understand the areas where they wanted our support to become more sustainable. This event is the outcome of that work, and we hope for a great turn out,” Mr Cantillon said.

“It’s great that the opportunity we’ve created with the VWMA includes benefits for business who register, including free energy assessments from event sponsor Choice Energy.”

Choice Energy CEO Christopher Dean said the current state of power prices is a challenge for businesses.

“Energy costs are one of the highest line items for business, alongside tax and payroll,” Mr Dean said.

According to Mr Dean, Victorian businesses are often confused when it comes to electricity, which inhibits their ability to make good decisions about their energy supply.

“This event will help to demystify energy bills, and empower people to take back control and reduce their costs with practical advice and solutions,” Mr Dean said.

The Frankston City Business Breakfast will be held 14 November between 7:30am to 9:00am at Functions by the Bay – Cnr Plowman Place and Young Street, Frankston.

VWMA members and businesses residing within Frankston will receive special rates. For more information including how to book your place visit the VWMA website.

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