Kingston City Council denies extension of Clarinda site

Alex Fraser Group is calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to intervene following a decision by Kingston City Council to deny an application to extend the life of its recycling operations.

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.

This week, Kingston Council voted to reject an application by Alex Fraser to extend its operations.

Alex Fraser’s permit ends in 2023 and the company had applied to the council for permission to stay until 2038.

Situated in the Melbourne’s south-east near Clayton, the 22-hectare facility recycles up to one million tonnes of waste each year and turns it into VicRoads approved, high quality, sustainable construction materials. It is a key component of the company’s network of sites surrounding Melbourne.

The site is set to increase its recycling by 200 million bottles per year, including glass from Kingston kerbside collections.

“If the Victorian Government allows the Clarinda Recycling Facility to be shut down by Kingston City Council, it will be disastrous for the state’s recycling capacity, and for Victoria’s infrastructure program,” Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said.

Mr Murphy said kerbside recycling will be further disrupted, with recyclable glass at risk of being stockpiled or landfill.

“This decision by Kingston City Council will also cut off the supply of construction materials urgently needed for Victoria’s ‘Big Build’ – driving up costs, increasing trucks on south-eastern roads and blowing out construction timelines of major projects. A major metropolitan quarry would need to be established to counter the material shortfall.”

At the beginning of September, Kingston Mayor Georgina Oxley said the council received an application at the beginning of September which seeks to extend operations at the Alex Fraser site in Kingston’s green wedge.

“In 2015, Kingston Council welcomed protections for Kingston’s green wedge that were introduced by the Victorian Planning Minister that would ensure existing waste operations would cease at the end of their current permits and that no new operations would be allowed,” Ms Oxley said.

“Council wrote to the Planning Minister in April 2015 calling on the government to help Alex Fraser find an alternative site to ensure its long-term success while ensuring the end of waste-related activities in the green wedge. Invest Victoria has been working with Alex Fraser to identify suitable alternative sites.

“Council strongly supports the recycling sector and has a range of successful recycling business operating outside the green wedge within its industrial zoned areas.”

Mr Murphy said it is appalling that Kingston City Council voted on this application without any consideration of Victoria’s environment, resource recovery or waste policies. He added there was also no consideration of the state’s recycling crisis and resource shortage, or the site’s impeccable history.

Alex Fraser also put forward a Community Benefits Package, giving the Kingston community ownership of 22 hectares of land, along with $7.5 million for local sports and recreation facilities – which was ignored by council.

“While some councillors clearly understood the broader impacts, and voted to support this extension, this council decision smacks of hypocrisy. Kingston City Council claims it is committed to the environment, however this outcome undermines the community’s recycling effort, and will increase carbon emissions.”

He said Kingston City Council has shown it does not care about the impact their decision will have on the local community or state of Victoria.

“The Victorian Government needs to intervene now and ensure this critical facility continues,” Mr Murphy said.

Alex Fraser now has the option of appealing the council’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or to refer it to the planning minister.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government said the government recognises the important contribution Alex Fraser makes to the recycling sector but also the concerns of local residents.

“The planning minister will consider any formal request for assistance on its merits if and when it’s received,” the spokesperson said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Kingston Mayor Georgina Oxley said that in approving Planning Scheme Amendment C143 in 2015, the Victorian Planning Minister explicitly recognised that waste transfer and recycling facilities were not suitable for green wedge areas. She added this meant an outlaw of any new operators while allowing existing operators until the end of their permit to move on.

“Council recognises that Alex Fraser can play a strong role in Victoria’s recycling crisis, but Kingston’s green wedge is simply the wrong place for an industrial waste facility as the area transitions to our long-held vision for a Chain of Parks,” said Cr Oxley.

“The company has known for four years they would need to find a new location, and the Victorian Government has been working with them to find alternatives. They still have another four years to find a suitable site that will ensure both the company’s long-term success and an end to waste-related activities in the green wedge.”

Victorian Waste Management Association CEO Peter Anderson described the decision as socially irresponsible.

“We stand in lock-step with Alex Fraser Group’s calls for Premier Andrews and Minister D’Ambrosio to intervene on a decision that will only worsen Victoria’s recycling crisis, not to mention impact jobs and undermine what little confidence is left in the sector,” Mr Anderson said.

“When you think of the flow on effects of this decision in terms of additional truck movements to transport waste to landfill and sand from far-reaching quarries it’s hard to think of a more environmentally irresponsible decision.”

“At a time when councils are waxing lyrical about climate emergencies, we have with the City of Kingston a council that has squibbed an opportunity to reduce emissions, reduce waste sent to landfill and recycle millions of tonnes of waste, and instead put their own interest ahead of the environment.”

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Hanson Australia acquires Alex Fraser Group

Hanson Australia has acquired Alex Fraser Group, a leading provider of recycled construction materials and asphalt in Australia.

A subsidiary of the German multinational HeidelbergCement, Hanson Australia acquired the company after John Swire & Sons decided to sell Alex Fraser Group last year following a strategic review. The purchase price for the assets amounts to about €135 million (approximately $208 million AUD).

“The acquisition represents an important step for Hanson Australia and it further strengthens the market position in the urban centers of Melbourne and Brisbane,” said Chairman of the Managing Board of HeidelbergCement, Dr. Bernd Scheifele.

“In particular it will provide Hanson Australia with expertise in asphalt and construction materials recycling that complements the existing business and can be leveraged for entry into other markets. It is fully in-line with our strategy of value creating acquisitions, and we are expecting significant synergies.”

Established in 1879, Alex Fraser has become Australia’s leading provider of recycled construction materials and operates three facilities in Melbourne and two in Brisbane. It also produces asphalt out of two plants in Melbourne. Alex Fraser is expected to generate €20 million ($30 million AUD) of EBITDA in 2018 (including synergies of approximately €3 million ($4 million AUD). Alex Fraser will retain its brand and continue to operate as a stand-alone business.

HeidelbergCement is one of the world’s largest integrated manufacturers of building materials with leading market positions in aggregates, cement, and ready-mixed concrete. The company employs some 60,000 people at more than 3,000 locations in around 60 countries.

Several of Australia's largest waste firms have joined for NWRIC

National waste and recycling body to advocate for industry

A new body working to create a cohesive national vision for Australia’s waste management industry, the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has officially formed, following the first meeting of its executive in Sydney on February 13.

NWRIC has received support from Australia’s largest waste management companies – and has begun operations.

The Council will be empowered to begin its work thanks to the support of its national members – Alex Fraser Group, Cleanaway, J. J. Richards and Sons, Solo Resource Recovery, Suez, Toxfree, Remondis, ResourceCo and Veolia.

“The waste and recycling industry needs a national voice to advocate for a fair, sustainable and prosperous industry for all stakeholders,” said Phil Richards, Chairman of the NWRIC’s host association Board.

“Australia’s waste management industry is an essential service, and through the NWRIC, we will be asking the Commonwealth along with State Governments to support our initiatives to take the industry forward.”

The NWRIC will serve waste management enterprises by creating industry led policy. The Council will be led by newly appointed CEO Max Spedding, and supported by Secretariat manager Alex Serpo.

The NWRIC will work in close partnership with jurisdictional affiliates. This partnership will allow the Council to represent and canvas concerns from many of Australia’s 450 small and medium sized waste management enterprises. Together, state affiliates and the national office will coordinate to create, and advocate for, cohesive national policy.

From today, the Council will commence working to create, share and build support for policy positions which will move the industry forward. Initial areas of focus include better planning, a fair market, the national harmonisation of the regulations governing the industry and effective policing of standards.

The Council welcomes media enquiries, dialogue with waste management companies seeking involvement in the NWRIC and feedback from stakeholders.