The Federal and ACT Government’s will deliver a $21 million upgrade to the ACT material recovery facility under the $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund.
The ACT Government has immediately revoked the licences of all charity bins operating on public land throughout Canberra, in a bid to tackle a rise in illegal dumping.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said the decision was made with the support of charity bin operators.
“This decision has been made due to the growing challenges faced by charity operators in managing illegal dumping around the diminishing number of clothing bins around the city,” he said.
“Despite a range of measures to address the problem, including CCTV and improved compliance, some Canberrans are still continuing to dump goods next to bins, leaving our city untidy. It’s unfair for the charities to have to clean up these dump sites, so they have been withdrawing these services.”
According to Mr Steel, COVID-19 has also impacted the availability of charity workforces to manage the bins.
“I am urging all Canberrans to please stop taking items to charity bins from now. We have already started the process of removing the remaining ones from locations around Canberra, and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks,” he said.
Mr Steel said the ACT Government remains committed to continued collaboration with the charity sector to ensure opportunities for the reuse and recycling of unwanted items.
“Following the public health emergency, we will seek to meet with the charity sector and other interested organisations to work on the future of textile recycling in the ACT,” he said.
“This will involve identifying alternative collection points in the future, as well as looking to improve textile recycling beyond what is already available in the ACT.”
High quality items including clothing, books and homewares will still be accepted by charities with shop fronts currently accepting goods.
“I would also ask Canberrans to be mindful of the current COVID-19 challenges and to consider storing their items at home temporarily during this time and to avoid unnecessary travel. Poor quality and broken goods should go in the rubbish bin,” Mr Steel said.
Paper and cardboard processed through the ACT materials recovery facility (MRF) will be temporarily stored to manage the impacts of the bushfire crisis in NSW.
According to Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel, the MRF at Hume processes approximately 470 tonnes of paper and cardboard each week from kerbside recycling bins, local council areas and commercial entities.
Mr Steel said the material is then packaged and sent to a Visy pulp and paper mill in Tumut, for recycling into paper and cardboard products.
“The operator of the MRF, Re.Group, has advised the ACT Government that although the Visy mill at Tumut has not been directly impacted by the fires, a number of their plantations and stored wood chips were burnt around the Eden area,” Mr Steel said.
“Visy’s products are manufactured using a combination of recycled content and wood chips, and the impact of the fire on the plantations means that Visy temporarily needs to slow production of recycled paper and cardboard.”
As Visy has been unable to accept all of the ACT’s paper recycling at this time, Mr Steel said the Hume MRF has reached storage capacity.
“While about half the volume of paper and cardboard will continue to be sent to Visy each week, the ACT Government has taken the decision to temporarily store the remaining material at Mugga Lane and West Belconnen resource management facilities over the coming weeks,” Mr Steel said.
“The additional storage locations have been determined in consultation with ACT Fire and Rescue to minimise fire safety risks, and ACT Fire and Rescue has also been involved in assessing the stockpiles at the Hume MRF.”
Mr Steel said temporarily storing the baled paper will help prevent land filling in the short term, while the state government waits for the recycling industry to recover from the fires and process the material.
“Landfilling is the last resort, and will only be considered if the recycling industry is unable to recover and increase production levels, and stored material can no longer be safely managed,” Mr Steel said.
“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with Re.Group to review arrangements and explore all options to avoid landfilling paper and cardboard. Re.Group are actively looking for other markets to sell the recycled paper and cardboard to and have been advised by Visy that they are working to resume full operations as soon as possible.”
The ACT Government is seeking applications for a service provider to implement its bulky waste collection service, expected to roll out mid-2020.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said local industry participation will be a key evaluation criteria in the selection process.
“The government is cracking down on illegal dumping, but at the same time we will also provide an accessible service for households to drop off unwanted bulky items to encourage good behaviour,” Mr Steel said.
“Greater weighting will be given to tenderers that can demonstrate a commitment of engagement and involvement of local businesses.”
The rollout of bulky waste will see each household receive a single collection per year of up to two cubic metres for items including damaged furniture and worn-out household appliances.
According to Mr Steel, residents will be able to book collections online, with exact service details to be determined in consultation with the service operator.
“We’ve rolled out green bins across the city and we’re rolling out bulky waste collection to provide better city services in Canberra,” he said.
A pick up app for the ACT’s Container Deposit Scheme is now available across the state, following successful trials in Kingston and Gordon.
According to Recycling and Waste Minister Chris Steel, Return-It Collect is a mobile service that allows users to book collections of eligible beverage containers from their business or home.
Mr Steel said containers can be handed over in person or left in a safe place for the driver to collect.
“We want to increase the number of containers deposited, and we recognise that getting local business involved and making it easier for them to return large amounts of containers is the most logical way of doing this,” Mr Steel said.
“Having a collection service is a great way for business to return containers without the hassle of their staff driving potentially thousands of containers to the return points each week.”
Mr Steel said Return-It Collect will charge a fee of four cents per container for the cost of providing the service.
“The app operates a similar way to ride sharing services, so users get real-time updates on when the driver will be arriving, when their containers have been collected, and when they’ve been counted,” Mr Steel said.
Return-It Collect will also allow users to track their environmental impact in terms of energy and greenhouse gas savings, as well as reducing waste to landfill.
“Canberrans really care about our environment and have been early adopters of new technology, such as Uber, which is why the ACT is a natural place for Return-It to launch this innovative new service,” Mr Steel said.
Green energy supplier LGI Limited will deliver gas infrastructure services to all ACT Government landfill sites, under a new 15 year contract with the state government.
Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel said the contract would see an estimated 34,900 megawatt hours captured each year, enough to power 5370 homes.
LGI Limited will deliver infrastructure upgrades at Mugga Lane landfill, including at least four power generators at Mugga Lane, each with the capacity to produce 1.06 megawatts of energy per hour.
Mr Steel said LGI Limited would also install an enclosed flare at the West Belconnen landfill to manage the safe destruction of gas onsite, as the volumes are not enough to provide a commercially viable quantity for sale.
According to Mr Steel, the ACT Government has been capturing landfill site methane emissions since 1997.
“Methane gas is generated when organic waste in landfill decomposes,” Mr Steel said.
“If properly managed, gas can be extracted and used to generate electricity, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.”
The ACT Government has begun community consultation on waste to energy (WtE) to help develop policy and provide information for stakeholders.
It follows the results of the ACT’s Waste Feasibility Study which found Canberra was unlikely to achieve a recovery rate of more than 80 per cent without some form of WtE leaving 200,000 to be sent to landfill.
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The ACT Government has launched a survey to gather community feedback and provide information on the different types of WtE to clearly outline the territory’s position on energy recovery. It has also launched an information paper to outline the challenges and opportunities for the technology in the ACT’s context.
The consultation will inform the ACT Government’s consideration of WtE in the territory.
Currently the ACT has a target to divert 90 per cent of waste from landfill by 2025 and has implemented a container deposit scheme to also improve the territory’s waste diversion rates.
WtE processing facilities are already in use in the ACT with methane gas captured at the Mugga Lane and West Belconnen landfill facilities used to power around 3000 homes.
The ACT has also set a range of targets to 2020 for secure and affordable energy which involves using clean energy technology.
City Services Minister Chris Steel said in the information paper that a serious conversation about what to do to reach the ACT’s landfill diversion targets is needed and should explore whether WtE is part of the solution.
“WtE technologies sit on a spectrum – not all of these involve burning or heating and some technologies are already in use in the ACT, for example through landfill gas capture at our Mugga Landfill site,” Mr Steel said.
“One of the key recommendations of the Waste Feasibility Study was the development of a WtE policy in the ACT to provide certainty to industry and the community about whether WtE has a role in the nation’s capital.
“As the Minister for City Services I want our community and industry to be partners in co-designing a long-term, informed and evidence-based policy vision for WtE in the ACT.”
The community consultation period will close on 29 November 2018.