WA recycling charities secure over $40,000 in funding

Western Australian charities have secured more than $41,000 in funding to help reduce dumping at charitable recycling sites.

The funding, administered through the Charitable Recyclers Dumping Reduction Program, enables research to inform better practices by charitable recyclers, with findings circulated through the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations.

According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the program aims to reduce illegal dumping and littering, and prevent unusable items – which ultimately end up in landfill – being left at donation sites.

“Illegal dumping and unusable donations are a widespread problem faced by charities. This program not only helps reduce illegal dumping and littering through better surveillance and security, but also through ongoing research,” Mr Dawson said.

“Charitable recyclers welcome useful and resalable donations, and are an example of recycling in action, yet they are often left with the unsightly and expensive problem of disposing of unusable or illegally dumped items at their sites.”

Recipients include Alinea Inc, in partnership with Good Samaritan Industries, to install sensor lighting and optical surveillance equipment at four collections sites, and Anglicare to purchase and instal ten high security donation bins.

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China to ban non-degradable plastic

China is phasing out the sale and manufacture of non-degradable plastic products, with the aim of curbing pollution in major cities.

In addition to setting timelines to ban or restrict single-use, non-degradable plastic products, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment has pledged to ramp up recycling and introduce preferential policies to promote green packaging and express delivery.

According to a ministry statement, the country is expected to significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill and bring plastic pollution under control in major cities by 2025.

The production and sale of disposable foam plastic tableware and plastic cotton swabs will be banned by the end of this year.

The production of household chemicals containing plastic micro-beads will also be prohibited by the end of 2020, with the sale of those products banned by 2022.

“Bans on the sale of other non-degradable plastic products will be rolled out in phases in different levels of cities and major plastic-consuming sectors,” the statement reads.

“The use of non-degradable plastic bags, for example, is expected to vanish in some major consuming sectors, including shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurant takeout services, first in metropolises by the end of this year, and then in all major Chinese cities and urban areas in coastal regions by the end of 2022.”

China Plastic Processing Industry Association Secretary-General Weng Yunxuan has applauded the ban’s phased approach.

“The ban will not be imposed all of a sudden, but phase by phase. The current production capacity (for substitute products) in China will not fail to meet the market gap caused by the ban,” Mr Yunxuan said.

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How confident are you in Australia’s recycling future?

The Australian Council of Recycling is calling on all recycling industry stakeholders to tell us how confident you are in the future direction of the sector, whether the current market signals are helping you grow and if you feel there’s enough support from government.

Whether you operate at the coalface of council collection or are at the forefront of collecting, sorting and remanufacturing the value-added products that come from the kerbside, C&I or C&D sector, we want to know your thoughts and invite you to take part in our Australian-first industry survey.

With a vision to transform the Australian economy with resource recovery at the core, ACOR represents dozens of businesses contributing to the $15 billion industry that employs some 50,000 Australians and generates exceptional environmental benefits for our society.

The survey closes on March 9.

Create your own user feedback survey

VIC EPA approves Laverton WtE plant

The Victorian EPA has granted a works approval for a waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Laverton North.

The facility, to be developed by Recovered Energy Australia, will process 200,000 tonnes of source-separated residual municipal solid waste each year.

According to an EPA statement, Recovered Energy Australia propose to deliver approximately 15 mega watts of electricity to the grid annually.

“EPA assessed the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and looked at any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the facility,” the statement reads.

“The works approval is subject to conditions. These conditions include the requirement for an EPA-appointed auditor to review detailed design, and for further EPA consideration prior to finalising detailed plans.”

Conditions also require the facility to achieve an environmental performance equivalent to European standards.

Recovered Energy Australia has also secured a planning permit from Wyndham City Council to construct and operate the proposed facility, seperate from the EPA works approval.

“Once constructed, Recovered Energy Australia will not be able to operate the waste to energy plant until it obtains an EPA licence,” the statement reads.

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Nominations open for WA waste awards

Nominations are being sought for the 2020 Infinity Awards, which recognise innovative solutions to reduce waste and meet Western Australian recycling targets.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the awards are open to individuals, businesses, government, schools, community organisations, not-for-profits and media outlets.

“These individuals and organisations all play an important role in contributing to the state government’s target for at least 75 per cent of waste generated in this state to be reused or recycled by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

“The 2020 Infinity Awards are a celebration of the remarkable work being achieved in waste reduction in Western Australia. This year, we’re pleased to introduce a new category to extend the opportunities for regional waste champions to be recognised for their achievements.”

Award categories include: 

Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award

Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award

Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award

Avoid Recover Protect – WA Regional Waste Award

2020 Waste Champion

2020 Young Waste Achiever

Waste Team of the Year

Waste Innovation of the Year

Waste Wise School of the Year

Media Award

A further two awards – the 2020 WA Waste Award and the 2020 Waste Initiative of the Year – will be awarded at the judges’ discretion.

Nominations close 10 March, with winners announced at an awards ceremony 6 May.

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Simply Cups reaches 10 million milestone

Simply Cups, a coffee cup recycling program, has officially collected 10 million cups, with Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans depositing the milestone cup at an event in Sydney.

According to Mr Evans, the recycling scheme, founded by Closed Loop, collects almost one million cups every month, with nearly 1000 collection points at 7-Eleven stores, cafes, hotels, hospitals and universities across Australia.

“Australians love their coffee, so it’s vital that they can easily and reliably recycle their disposable coffee cup and reduce the huge number of takeaway cups that currently end up in landfill each year,” Mr Evans said.

“Rather than just being put into the rubbish bin and ending in landfill, Simply Cups collect and then reprocess the used coffee cups, transforming them into new items like outdoor furniture, coffee cup trays and even traffic solutions like roadside kerbing.”

By disposing coffee cups at designated collection points, Mr Evans said consumers could do their part to increase recycling.

“This is a great practical example of Australia’s growing circular economy in action, and shows how we will all benefit from an invigorated waste and recycling industry,” he said.

Closed Loop Managing Director Rob Pascoe said Simply Cups aims to recycle 100 million cups every year.

“It’s a practical solution that increases recycling rates and reduces waste, while creating supply and demand for products made from recycled material,” he said.

“Our circular economy will grow quickly if people choose Australian-made and recycled over other alternatives. After all, recycling doesn’t actually happen when you put an item in a bin, it only happens when that item is given a second life.”

7-Eleven Chief Executive Officer Angus McKay said that while saving 10 million coffee cups from landfill is a fantastic achievement, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We encourage customers to up the ante and deliver any brand of used coffee cup or straw to our cup collection points at store, and we’ll make sure they get recycled via Simply Cups,” he said.

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Masdar acquires 40 per cent stake in East Rockingham WtE facility

Global renewable energy company Masdar has made its first Australian investment, after acquiring a 40 per cent stake in Western Australia’s East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility.

Masdar and Abu Dhabi advisory and development firm Tribe Infrastructure Group have invested in the waste-to-energy project via their Abu Dhabi Global Market-based joint venture holding company, Masdar Tribe Energy Holdings Limited.

Masdar Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said extending Masdar’s reach into Australia is an exciting step forward for the company’s clean energy operations..

“The problem of dealing with everyday waste is a global challenge, with more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste generated each year. To this end, we are proud to be helping the state of Western Australia to deliver clean sources of power generation and sustainably manage its municipal solid waste,” Mr Al Ramahi said.

“The Australian waste-to-energy sector provides excellent commercial potential in the long-term.”

Tribe Infrastructure Group Chief Executive Officer Peter McCreanor said he looks forward to delivering clean energy infrastructure to Australia.

“This is just the first of numerous such development projects we’re working on, and our partnership with Masdar is an integral part of our strategy for Australia,” he said.

“We are proud to have played a leading role in the development and financing of the East Rockingham Recourse Recovery Facility, assembling a world-class team to deliver this important project for Western Australia.”

The $551 million facility reached financial close 23 December 2019 with support from a $18 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and $57.5 million in subordinated debt from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The facilities development consortium includes Hitachi Zosen INOVA, John Laing Investments and Acciona Concesiones.

When complete, the facility will process 300,000 tonnes of non-recyclable municipal, commercial and industrial waste and up to 30,000 tonnes of biosolids per year.

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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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Federal Government releases recycling market review

Australia may need to increase plastic throughput by 400 per cent to sustain viable domestic reprocessing markets, according to the Federal Government’s Recycling Market Situation Summary Review.

To assist national waste policy rollout, the department commissioned Sustainable Resource Use to undertake a literature review of opportunities to grow markets in recycled glass, plastics, rubber, paper and cardboard.

“In summary, the local and global markets for the recyclable materials – paper and cardboard, plastics, and glass – are all volatile in 2019,” the review reads.

According to the review, this is largely due to regulatory restrictions on the import of recycled material to China and other Asian nations.

“The market security and pricing for recyclables is strongly linked to the availability of markets [to transform waste] back into new products, either as packaging or durable goods,” the review reads.

“There is a recognition that government and major brands have a role in procuring recycled content product in order to create the market pull for a healthy circular outcome.”

The review suggests local governments are facing collection and sorting price uncertainty, and are under pressure to commit to recycled material procurement.

“They are also facing calls for greater effort to control contaminants and to adjust collections to accommodate soft plastics and collect glass separately,” the review reads.

“There are also calls for funding assistance [from state and federal governments] to support new reprocessing infrastructure and modifications to sorting and collection systems.”

Identified opportunities: 

In an environment of constrained export markets for plastics, the review suggests dramatically increasing local plastic reprocessing.

“That expansion may need to be a 400 per cent increase in throughput, and this in turn will require new market outlets for recycling plastic resin, both into packaging and other applications,” the review reads.

The review also highlights significant opportunities to undertake secondary sorting of paper and cardboard, free from major contaminants.

“This approach appears to be a path forward, where source separation might be introduced selectively and progressively,” the review reads.

“This would provide scrap paper and paperboard products of ever improving quality and quantity, suitable for domestic reprocessing or for sale into export markets.”

If glass can be collected and provided for benefaction in large enough fragment sizes for sorting, the review suggests opportunities exist for additional cullet use in packaging production.

“Most sorters receive no revenue for their glass but pay a fee. This is at a level well below landfill disposal costs,” the review reads.

“With more material coming back through deposit systems, the MRF tonnes may decrease and access to benefaction will need to be assured.”

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Degraded SKM waste to be re-located in SA

Commingled recyclables stored by SKM Recycling in South Australia have become too degraded to be recycled with currently available technology, according to an independent waste expert.

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said the material will be moved to a landfill cell at Inkerman and recovered if appropriate technology and infrastructure becomes available.

“SKM was made insolvent in July 2019, leaving more than 10,000 tonnes of commingled and PET materials at Wingfield and Lonsdale,” Mr Speirs said.

“All avenues to recycle the materials were explored but unfortunately there were no other viable options in the immediate future.”

Mr Speirs said leaving the material stored at the Wingfield and Lonsdale sites is unacceptable, as it will continue to deteriorate.

“Inkerman landfill has the capacity to receive and store the material in a separate part of the existing landfill cell until such time the infrastructure is available in South Australia to process the materials,” he said.

According to Mr Speirs, re-location requires an exemption under the Environment Protection (Waste to Resources) Policy 2010.

“South Australia is a nation leader when it comes to recycling and resource recovery, and I hope to see future innovation in this sector that will allow these materials to reprocessed,” he said.

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