Cleanaway awarded largest municipal contract in SA history

Cleanaway will provide essential waste services to over 160,000 South Australian residents after it was awarded the largest municipal contract in the state’s history.

The collaborative council contact includes end-to-end waste management services for the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, City of Marion, City of Adelaide and City of Charles Sturt.

According to Cleanaway General Manager Solid Waste Services Conan Hookings, Cleanaway will invest in 30 new staff and over 40 fleet assets to support the contract.

“Our brand-new collection fleet will be equipped with the Cleanaview fleet management system, which provides real-time data on collection services, enabling an online portal for residents to make requests and queries,” he said.

Under the waste services contract, Cleanaway will provide kerbside waste, recycling and organics collections out of its Port Adelaide and Lonsdale depots, while residual waste will be processed at Wingfield Resource Recovery Facility and Inkerman Landfill.

The seven plus three years contract also includes bulk bin, hard waste and street litter collection and processing.

“Our service will be supported by additional education resources to help residents put the right materials in the right bin to reduce contamination and improve recycling outcomes,” Mr Hookings said.

Electric collections vehicles are also set to be trialed in select council areas.

“These zero emissions trucks were rolled out in VIC and WA as early as last year, reducing carbon footprint and noise levels on the road without impacting service levels,” Mr Hookings added.

In welcoming the contact, Marion Mayor Kris Hanna said it demonstrates what can be achieved when councils work together.

“About 43,000 households will benefit in Marion from a greener, more efficient kerbside collection service that increases the focus on our community,” she said.

The new kerbside collection service will begin in Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield 1 May, followed by Adelaide City Council 1 July. Services in Charles Sturt will be rolled out 1 May 2021.

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Green future

The concrete jungles that are Australia’s major cities traditionally thrive on resource-heavy steel mesh reinforcement, but Fibercon offers a new solution by using recycled plastic fibre, Emesh, to reduce waste, costs and resources for concrete constructions.

From the footpaths that line suburbs to the sky-scraping obelisks that populate capital cities – the building blocks of concrete infrastructure are a designer’s dream, but for developers, can be a resourcing nightmare.

Although it seems concrete will continue to be a foundation of urban design for the foreseeable future, innovators like Fibercon have invested in alternative and sustainable technologies to reduce the environmental concerns that affect the construction industry.

Fibercon developed its Emesh technology in 2015, creating the plastic fibres from 100 per cent recycled polypropylene. For civil applications like drains, footpaths, bikeways and pavements, steel is still in use as a reinforcing mesh. Australian company Fibercon has found a way to replace this with recycled plastic fibres, called Emesh, to give footpaths more longevity.

It has been a five-year journey for Fibercon CEO Mark Combe, whose collaboration with Research and Development Manager Tony Collister sparked a three-year PhD program at James Cook University, leading researchers across the world to bring Emesh into reality.

Emesh has been used in a number of footpaths at the JCU campus in North Queensland and throughout some councils in Queensland, NSW and Victoria. It uses offcuts and plastics from industrial waste, which is then used to reinforce the concrete.

Using Emesh to reinforce concrete instead of traditional steel mesh has recycled 100 tonnes of plastic waste from councils along the eastern seaboard alone, but has also saved about 1588 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, 32,670 cubic metres of water and 318 tonnes of fossil fuels.

The industry award winning Emesh not only netted Fibercon recognition from Shell and the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation & Science, but also saw CEO Mark Combe named in the top 50 most innovative engineers of last year.

Mark says the project’s aim was to enter the recycling market and provide economic benefits, but sceptics were unsure it could be brought to fruition.

“It’s just good getting the recognition, knowing that we’re on the right track. We were told that it wasn’t going to be big enough and now we’re supplying huge councils all over Australia,” Mark says.

“The building industry talks about innovation, but it often doesn’t do it, so for us it’s pretty different, but it’s been a difficult road.”

As waste has become a larger issue in the Australian construction industry, Mark says that it’s not only the materials, but a waste of time, money, transport and traffic control.

“In the building industry there’s a phenomenal amount of waste, even in something simple like a footpath there’s got to be a better way. We’re trying to make things simple in a sustainable way,” Mark says.

The City of Charles Sturt in north-west Adelaide is the first council in South Australia to adopt the ‘green concrete’ alternative, after a recommendation from Hi Mix Concrete Business Development Manager Daniel Romano.

Daniel recommended the council use the Emesh concrete after construction firm Nova Group reached out to them to provide concrete for the St Clair Recreation and Adelaide Parklands Upgrade projects.

“When Adelaide based construction firm Nova Group came to us to supply concrete for a number of Charles Sturt Council projects, I recommended Emesh instead of the traditional steel reinforcement,” Daniel says.

“I called all around Australia looking for different prices because (plastic mesh) is quite expensive. Someone mentioned recycled plastic, so I started buying Emesh.

“I’m trying to push it more, once other councils hear about it, they’ll want to use it as well. It’s easier for the customer, it’s quicker and better for the environment.”

Hi Mix is a father-son operation established in 1989 and their willingness to adapt to new technologies like Fibercon’s Emesh is slowly spreading throughout Adelaide.

While Emesh has supported councils such as Charles Sturt with its $26.5 million St Clair Recreation project, Daniel says the new technology needs to be pushed further by concrete producers.

One core benefit Hi Mix found when applying the recycled plastic mesh was the time and resources saved in not having to cut steel mesh or manoeuvre mesh and bar chairs.

Mark says he was aiming to achieve something different in the construction industry.

“Usually sustainability comes at a cost, there’s the ‘green premium’, which isn’t the situation for Emesh. It actually works out cheaper and faster,” he says.

Looking to the future, Emesh is quickly becoming a big part of Fibercon’s business as they try to push their product deeper into the Australian market and into international territories.

As for the future of the company, Mark says he’d like to expand internationally as part of the vision of Emesh.