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Industry set to see immediate Recycling Victoria impact

Victoria’s landfill levy increase is set to have an immediate impact on recovery rates, according to Bingo Industries Managing Director Daniel Tartak.

The increase – $65.90 to 125.90 over three years – is one of many changes outlined in Victoria’s new circular economy policy Recycling Victoria, released earlier this week. Additional changes include the introduction of a container deposit scheme and a $100 million infrastructure investment.

Mr Tarak welcomed the levy increase, applauding the state government’s bold efforts to develop Victoria’s recycling economy.

“It will further encourage recycling, optimise the diversion of waste from landfill and promote the development of a truly circular economy; promote investment in recycling technology, and move Victoria towards international best practice diversion rates,” Mr Tarak said.

“The staged increase in the levy also works well for our customers, who can now plan ahead for this and other structural changes, such as the new EPA Act and increased safety and compliance regulations which will also impact the sector.”

According to Mr Tarak, the polices, commitments and actions outlined in the plan align with BINGO’s Victorian strategy.

“We’ve invested more than $100 million over the past three years in the acquisition and development of recycling assets in anticipation of many of the initiatives outlined in this plan,” he said.

“We recently received approval to operate our advanced recycling facility in West Melbourne for 24 hours per day, seven day per week, so we’ll be ready to accommodate the increased volumes we expect to receive from 1 July onwards. ”

Mr Tartak also highlighted the plan’s support for the development of waste-to-energy facilities, increased resources to monitor illegal behaviour and commitment to increasing the use of recycled materials in construction projects as positive.

In reference to Recycling Victoria’s container deposit scheme announcement, Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said the move was a step in the right direction towards achieving a circular economy.

“At Cleanaway we have seen firsthand the environmental, economic and social benefits of a container return scheme,” he said.

“A system that encourages consumers to separate recycling at the point of disposal improves the quality of the recyclable material, which makes it an even more valuable commodity for reuse.”

Mr Bansal also applauded the Victorian Government’s efforts to improve the quality of recyclable material across the state.

“The introduction of a fourth recycling bin for glass is expected to reduce contamination and create a cleaner commodity stream,” Mr Bansal said.

“This, in turn, means more materials will be recycled and opens up opportunities for a circular economy for glass.”

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Landfill levy set to double under Recycling Victoria strategy

Victoria’s landfill levy is set to almost double, with the release of the state’s long-awaited circular economy policy Recycling Victoria. 

According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the increase – $65.90 to 125.90 over three years – will help support recycling reforms and provide a stronger incentive to invest in new waste technologies.

“Victoria’s landfill levy is significantly lower than our neighbouring states, meaning Victoria is too often used as a dumping ground for waste coming from New South Wales and South Australia,” she said.

“The change reflects an agreement reached by state and territory treasurers to work towards the harmonisation of landfill levies, and will provide a strong incentive to reduce and recycle waste.”

The 10-year plan, Recycling Victoria, outlines a more than $300 million package of reforms, including a statewide four-bin kerbside system, container deposit scheme, nearly $100 million to support resource recovery infrastructure and recognising waste as an essential service.

“This is the largest package of recycling reforms and investment in Victoria’s history. It will revolutionise household recycling, drive business innovation and create jobs of the future. Most importantly, it will give Victorians a truly circular economy and recycling system they can rely on,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Furthermore, Recycling Victoria allocates $71.4 million to tackle waste crime, with more resources to stop illegal dumping and stockpiling and deal with high-risk sites and substances.

Ms D’Ambrosio said a dedicated Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will be established within the EPA, which will work closely with WorkSafe Victoria, emergency service agencies, councils and other regulators to improve information sharing and coordination.

“For too long, waste crime has undermined Victoria’s recycling sector with dangerous and illegal stockpiling. Our investment will help to clean up the industry and make it fairer for businesses that do the right thing,” she said.

Recycling Victoria also sets new goals for improved resource recovery including a landfill diversion target of 80 per cent. Additional targets include cutting total waste generation by 15 per cent per capita by 2030 and ensuring every Victorian household has access to FOGO services or local composing by 2025.

“These targets will create investment certainty for businesses, while promoting jobs and growth in the industry,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The government will also provide $14.6 million to support local projects that boost recycling, reduce littering and take advantage of economic opportunities to reduce waste, particularly in regional communities.”

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Infrastructure Australia calls for national waste and recycling plan

Developing a national waste management and recycling plan has been named a ‘high priority’ on Infrastructure Australia’s 2020 Infrastructure Priority List.

According to Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew, the proposed initiative involves a coordinated strategy between all levels of government and the market to identify a program of investment in new waste recovery and reprocessing infrastructure.

“This aims to meet the long-term needs of Australians and to foster innovation and adoption of emerging technologies,” she said.

Challenges identified by Infrastructure Australia include a lack of space for transfer facilities, material recovery facility capacity in remote and regional Australia and under developed domestic reuse markets.

“Resilience was a key theme of our 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and this focus continues to be reflected in our latest edition of the Infrastructure Priority List,” Ms Madew said.

“Compounding issues of unprecedented infrastructure demand, severe drought and other environmental changes require a focus on our resilience strategies, and a consensus on where to invest now for our nation’s future prosperity.”

Ms Madew also reaffirmed the role the Priority List plays in business case assessment.

“The Priority List has a strong record of driving national investment and has become a key reference point for all levels of government,” she said.

“This year alone we have seven infrastructure projects graduating off the list as they enter the delivery stage.”

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VIC Govt makes $100M investment in recycling industry

The Victorian Government will invest $100 million into the state’s recycling system to drive research and expand local processing and manufacturing.

The investment follows a suite of additional announcements earlier this week, including the introduction of a container deposit scheme and roll out of a four-bin kerbside system.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the measures are part of the state’s 10-year Recycling Victoria plan, which aims to reform waste management and create sustainable industry.

The plan, Mr Andrews said, will create an additional 3900 jobs for the sector.

“The $100 million investment will help local businesses give new life to old rubbish – better processing recyclable materials and getting more value from waste by making it available for end-market uses like recycled plastic in railway sleepers or recycled glass in footpaths,” Mr Andrews said.

As part of the package, the state government will double funding for businesses to invest in infrastructure to sort and reprocess recyclables for use in manufacturing.

Mr Andrews said the $28 million infrastructure boost will bring the total funding available through the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund to $56 million.

“The package includes $30 million in grants to make Victoria a leader in recycling innovation – creating new products from recycled materials like glass, plastic, organics, electronic waste, concrete, brick and rubber,” he said.

“The government will also provide $10 million in grants to help businesses improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and increase recycling in their daily operations – saving them time and money.”

A new $7 million Business Innovation Centre will also be established, to bring industry, universities and councils together to develop new technologies and collaborate on creative solutions to waste challenges.

“For waste that can’t be recycled, processors will also be able to access $10 million for waste-to-energy initiatives, minimising the amount of rubbish being sent to landfill, while $11.5 million will go towards treating hazardous waste – protecting the community from illegal chemical stockpiles,” Mr Andrews said.

According to Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, the Victorian Government is leading the way by committing significant new funds to the industry.

“WMRR is pleased that the Victorian Government has flagged infrastructure investment as part of this package,” she said.

“This will be key to driving success as we work with government to continue to grow markets domestically for these valuable resources.”

Ms Sloan said that with 14 million tonnes of waste generated annually in Victoria, the investment represents a fantastic opportunity to transition the state’s remanufacturing industry.

“WMRR acknowledges that a sustainable remanufacturing base will take time to develop in Victoria, and its success depends on robust government regulation and policy that support market development and community and business demand for recycled material, which will go a long way in providing industry with certainty to invest,” Ms Sloan said.

According to Ms Sloan, WMRR will continue to work closely with Victoria’s leaders to provide feedback and input on the projects, policies, and investment priorities that will drive the sector forward.

“Market development and remanufacturing demand cannot however be achieved by one state alone,” she said.

“As we head towards the COAG meeting next month and impending export bans, it is vital that there be national action on creating markets and demand for recycled products, this includes emphasis on design, a mandated product stewardship scheme for packaging and national specifications.”

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VIC to introduce CDS and four bin kerbside system

The Victorian Government will introduce a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, as part of a new suite of initiatives to reduce waste to landfill by 80 per cent over 10 years.

A four bin kerbside system will also be rolled out as part of a $129 million overhaul of the state’s waste and recycling sector, with seperate bins for glass, food and garden organics, household waste and plastic, metal and paper.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that by collecting glass separately, Victoria can ensure effective recycling, with jars and bottles transformed multiple times into different products, including new roads and footpaths.

“Separate glass collection will also make recovery of other recyclables – like plastic, metal and paper – simpler, with the food and organic bin significantly reducing the amount of waste going to landfill,” he said.

According to Mr Andrews, the bin rollout will begin gradually next year – informed by the needs of local communities and existing council contracts.

“There will also be special arrangements for remote regional households and people in apartments, to ensure everyone gets access to the new four-bin system,” he said.

“This represents a holistic approach to reducing, reusing and recycling our state’s waste. That’s good news for Victoria’s environment and good news for Victorian jobs.”

Waste management will also be classified as an essential service under the new system, to ensure a basic standard of service across the state.

Additionally, a dedicated waste authority will be established to help the state better govern its recycling system and hold waste service providers to account.

“An education and behaviour change campaign will support the rollout of the initiatives. It will target households, businesses, councils, community groups and charities – helping them transition to the new system,” Mr Andrews added.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the changes, highlighting Victoria as the only Australian jurisdiction without a CDS currently in place.

VWMA CEO Peter Anderson said the association sees tremendous benefits for Victoria through the introduction of the scheme, including less rubbish sent to landfill, less litter from single use items covered by the scheme and the opportunity to further build public awareness about waste and recycling.

“The Victorian Government is to be congratulated for listening to stakeholders from the waste and recycling sector on the development of this CDS, which will transform how Victorians dispose of certain materials,” Mr Anderson said.

“It’s important that Victorians understand that this is not about imposing additional costs or inconvenience when it comes to disposal of recyclables. It’s about dramatically increasing the amount of waste that gets recycled and, conversely, reducing how much we send to landfill.”

The VWMA has worked closely with the Victorian Government to establish the scheme, Mr Anderson said, and looks forward to further engagement and consultation.

“As part of the transition to a CDS, change and adjustment will be required of every Victorian household and we may need to do things differently,” he said.

“Changes to the size of our bins and frequency of collection will be likely, and we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to help educate Victorians on the many environmental and economic benefits a CDS will deliver.”

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WA opens waste reform consultation

The Western Australian Government is inviting public comment on potential reforms to guide the future of waste management in the state.

The state government has released two consultation papers – Closing the loop: waste reforms for a circular economy and Review of the waste levy – to support the implementation of its Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the proposed reforms highlight the state government’s commitment to increasing resource recovery and tackling illegal waste disposal.

“The state government is committed to a cleaner and more sustainable environment. Becoming a sustainable, low waste, circular economy is key for protecting our environment for future generations,” Mr Dawson said.

Closing the loop: waste reforms for a circular economy outlines legislative proposals to improve waste management in WA including:

— Reforming landfill and solid waste storage facility licensing under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

— Reviewing waste levy application at waste facilities, including new measures to reduce long-term solid waste stockpiling.

— Targeting illegal waste disposal through new compliance and enforcement mechanisms; and

— Strengthening waste reporting and tracking to ensure proper disposal.

Alternatively, Review of the waste levy canvasses broader strategic issues related to the waste levy’s design, including geographical area and a schedule of future levy rates.

To allow time for the review to be completed, Mr Dawson said there would be no levy increase for 2020-21.

“I encourage community and industry stakeholders to consider the proposals in the two consultation papers, as their feedback will contribute to the development of approaches to improve waste management,” he said.

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East Waste introduces SA’s first electric-powered collection truck

South Australia’s first electric-powered kerbside collection truck has taken to the streets of metropolitan Adelaide this week.

The new truck is owned and operated by waste and resource management company East Waste, a subsidiary of seven metropolitan Adelaide councils.

East Waste General Manager Rob Gregory said the new truck replaces a diesel-powered truck and, with zero emissions, will remove the equivalent of 20 vehicles generating 63 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year from Adelaide’s suburban streets.

The truck, supplied by Australian company Superior Pak with drivetrain technology from SEA Electric, is the first in a fleet replacement program.

“It will deliver financial gain to better manage the cost of kerbside collections of recyclable resources and waste,” Mr Gregory said.

“We conservatively project that our new electric vehicle will save more than $220,000 over the seven-year life of its diesel predecessor.”

According to Mr Gregory, East Waste has installed a 30 kilowatt solar system at its Ottaway depot to produce renewable energy for the truck’s batteries.

“Residents will fall in love with our new truck without realising it,” he said.

“With reduced air pollution comes the removal of noise pollution as the truck travels from house to house on bin collection day. It is almost silent.”

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SMRC to launch bin tagging program

Western Australia’s Southern Metropolitan Regional Council (SMRC) authority is launching a new bin tagging program in select households across the region.

SMRC is undertaking the education program on behalf of three councils, with funding support from the state government, administered by the Waste Authority.

According to SMRC Chairperson Doug Thompson, bin tagging is part of the rollout of the new three-bin FOGO system that was implemented in 2019 in the City of Melville, City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle.

Mr Thompson said the program aims to educate residents about how to use the new system and provide individual feedback to improve their efforts at home.

“Recycling is a shared responsibility,” he said.

“By everyone working together to ensure they put the right thing in the right bin, we can help create a less contaminated waste stream.”

Community Waste Education Officers will work in pairs to make a visual inspection of the bin’s contents prior to collection.

“They will check for contamination, such as recyclables in the general waste bin, or contamination in the FOGO and recycling bins,” Mr Thompson said.

“Following inspection, they will place a ‘happy’ or ‘sad’ tag on the handle of the bin, which provides feedback about how well residents are using the bins or what can be improved.”

Mr Thompson said the program will focus on education rather than enforcement.

“Similar programs in other local government areas have shown most residents are interested in doing the right thing when it comes to separating their waste if they are given the correct information,” Mr Thompson said.

“In a small number of cases where residents’ bins show repeated high contamination following several visits, the bin will not be collected.”

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Cleanaway, Pact and Asahi to develop plastic pelletising facility

Cleanaway, Pact Group and Asahi Beverages have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a plastic pelletising facility in Albury/Wodonga.

According to a joint statement, the facility is anticipated to process up to 28,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and other recyclables into flake and food grade pellets.

“The cross value chain collaboration uniquely combines the expertise of each participant,” the statement reads.

“Cleanaway will provide available feedstock through its collection and sorting network. Pact will provide technical and packaging expertise, and Asahi Beverages and Pact will buy the majority of the recycled pellets from the facility to use in their packaging products.”

Pact Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Dayal said the facility would service markets across the East Coast, and create approximately 30 local jobs in regional Australia.

“I am thrilled with this arrangement and the opportunity to work with Cleanaway and Asahi in making a meaningful step in improving the plastics value chain,” he said.

“The arrangement is clearly aligned with our vision to lead the circular economy, and will support Pact in achieving our 2025 Sustainability Promise to offer 30 per cent recycled content across our packaging portfolio.”

According to Cleanaway Managing Director and CEO Vik Bansal, the partnership will create valuable raw materials from the recyclables Cleanaway collects and sorts.

“It is a natural extension of our value chain and expands our footprint of prized assets,” he said.

Asahi Beverage Group CEO Robert Iervasi added that the venture would allow Asahi to utilise Australian sourced recycled plastic resins to assist its transition to using only recycled plastics.

“I am excited by the opportunity to participate in a market winning strategic alliance that closes the loop of the circular economy, and contributes to a sustainable plastics supply chain by combining our strategic capabilities,” he said.

The project is supported by an Environmental Trust grant awarded to Cleanaway, as part of the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

The facility is expected to be operational by December 2021.

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Yarra to introduce four bin kerbside system

Yarra City Councillors have voted to roll out a four-bin kerbside system, with separate bins supplied for organics and glass.

According to councillor Misha Coleman, the new waste and recycling collection model is based on a successful trial of 1300 households in Abbotsford in Melbourne’s inner north.

“The new service introduces a new food and green waste service that will be collected weekly, removing much of the material that causes odours,” she said.

“Another additional new bin will be added for glass, which will be processed locally and used to make new glass containers and for local asphalt.”

Under the new system, glass, commingled recycling and landfill waste bins will be collected fortnightly.

Ms Coleman said Yarra City Council first began the trial “because recycling in Australia is in crisis.”

“It’s time we did things very, very differently, and councils and communities like ours are providing the leadership to drive change in this industry,” she said.

“There is a growing trend of councils moving to greater separation of waste to reduce reliance on unsustainable landfills and to improve reuse of recyclable materials. Eleven other councils in Victoria are moving to a fortnightly landfill waste collection service.”

Ms Coleman added that as a result of the trial, Yarra has seen a dramatic reduction in waste sent to landfill: diverting roughly 60 per cent of all household waste.

“The benefits of this new system include a significant reduction in the amount of waste sent to landfill, a substantial increase in the quality of recyclable materials, and very significant reductions in truck movements around our city, which will reduce vehicle emissions,” she said.

According to Ms Coleman, under the 4-bin model, households will have an increased bin capacity of 50 litres per week.

“We surveyed over 400 residents in the trial area. Almost 80 per cent told us they think these changes are an improvement in managing waste, and just under 90 per cent support separating their waste for collection,” she said.

“Almost 73 per cent of trial participants were satisfied with the fortnightly garbage collection.”

Changes will come into effect from July 2020.

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