Lifting laneway recovery: the City of Melbourne

The City of Melbourne talks to Waste Management Review about the city’s Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy and recycling initiatives in the CBD.

Q. What were some of the key factors influencing the development of the City of Melbourne’s Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030?

A. The circular economy concept underpins our Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 (WRRS), which was endorsed by council 16 July 2019.

The strategy outlines an ambitious plan to transition to a 90 per cent waste from landfill diversion rate, reduce truck movements, improve public amenity and reinvigorate our recycling sector.

Q. What are the key ingredients that go into making an organics trial a success?

A. With food making up 50 per cent of household waste in our municipality, finding a solution for discarded food scraps is a key component of the WRRS.

Our residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17, and through our engagement with the community, we know people want a solution to avoid food going to landfill.

Later in the year we will look at a food and organic waste collection trial, to determine how collection services could work for residents with kerbside bins.

A third bin for organic waste would be rolled out and collected weekly, building on an earlier trial in 2017.

The trial will help us design an effective waste collection service for the whole municipality in the future.

Q. How has the Degraves Street Recycling Facility helped boost food diversion for businesses?

A. The Degraves Facility is a boutique response to the high-density café demographic, and is strategically located due to the high volume of businesses in the area.

By creating a local recycling hub, the City of Melbourne has boosted amenity by limiting the amount of rubbish bins on the street and reducing truck movements.

In 2013, none of the 100 businesses surrounding Degraves Street were recycling. The facility now hosts a food waste processor, a cardboard baler and co-mingled recycling bins.

Each week, 2.5 tonnes of organic waste is processed by the Orca and diverted from landfill.

The Orca uses aerobic digestion to break down the food waste, turning it into water that then goes safely into the sewer.

Q. How is the City of Melbourne addressing challenges such as population growth, high density collection, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change?

A. Ensuring Melbourne maintains its status of one of the world’s most liveable cities – as the daily population grows from 911,000 to 1.4 million by 2036 – is one of our biggest challenges and is therefore central to all our strategic plans.   

The WRRS seeks to streamline the waste system and reduce congestion on roads and footpaths, where some of our bins are stored.

To action this, we will introduce more shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city, and remove some commercial bins from the public realm.

We also want to expand the network of five communal waste compactors and recycling hubs in central city laneways, which currently take waste from more than 300 businesses. We can dramatically reduce the number of bins lining our laneways and the number of trucks on our streets by creating more central waste drop-off points.

Reducing the impact of waste is central to the city’s commitment to taking action on climate change, and will help us reach the key target of avoiding 1.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Q. What are the challenges and opportunities to boost City of Melbourne’s 25 per cent recycling rate?

A. Household waste makes up around five per cent of the total waste in Melbourne. Residents recycle only 25 per cent of their waste, which is low compared to the Victorian average of 45 per cent.

This is mostly due to a lack of organics recycling, with food waste representing half of household waste sent to landfill. Residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17.

We already have a number of initiatives to cut down on waste to landfill, such as offering our residents and businesses discounted worm farms and compost bins.

As for commingled kerbside recycling, at the moment we are one of 30 councils looking for an alternate solution following the closure of SKM Recycling sites.

Kerbside recycling will be taken to a landfill facility until other arrangements can be made.

We are disappointed with this outcome and expect our residents will feel similarly.

We don’t want people to lose their good recycling habits while this is happening. In fact, we’d like people to increase their knowledge of what can be recycled and minimise contamination as much as possible. [comments published in early August].

Q. Where do you see waste and resource recovery heading?

A. At present, the biggest challenge is the recycling sector. In the future we would like to see a robust, local recycling industry that is supported by an increase in the amount of recycled product used in future infrastructure projects throughout Victoria

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Melbourne opens waste reduction grants

The City of Melbourne is offering grants worth $100,000 to projects aimed at waste reduction and growth in recycling capacity.

According to Lord Mayor Sally Capp, the City of Melbourne has this week reached an agreement to resume the processing of household recycling.

“The short-term arrangement to process household recycling was reached while Kordamentha seeks to finalise the sale of SKM,” Ms Capp said.

“We urge the community to continue separating their waste and recycling. It’s vital that general waste not be mixed in with recycling to ensure recycling services are sustainable and viable.”

To aid the transition, grants are available to groups located in the City of Melbourne that help reuse, recycle and divert waste from landfill.

“We’re looking for projects that could help reduce food waste, prevent litter or deliver local solutions to household waste,” Ms Capp said.

Grants up to $5000 are available for community groups, schools and non-profit organisations, while social enterprise startups and university researchers can accesses grants up to $25,000.

City of Melbourne Environment portfolio Chair Cathy Oke said it was important for council to support residents and community groups that are trying to avoid waste.

“Residents and businesses are overwhelmingly telling us they want reduce their environmental impact, and we want to respond to their goodwill,” Ms Oke said.

“Whether it’s home composting and using worm farms to reduce organic waste, or coming up with a solution for glass recycling, we can all have an impact.”

Applications close 16 October 2019.

Melbourne to award waste minimisation grants

The City of Melbourne’s Small Business and Social Enterprise Grants are this year offering an extra $100,000 to businesses with a waste minimisation proposal.

The funding is part of council’s plan to transition to a 90 per cent waste diversion rate, under the Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the grants have a long history of helping local businesses grow into well-known brands, including Keep Cup, which was awarded funding in 2008.

“We’re incredibly proud that past recipients of these grants have gone on to enjoy huge success, while also contributing to our city’s rich and diverse hospitality, innovation, sustainability and tourism sectors,” Ms Capp said.

Round one was awarded earlier this week, with Small Business Chair Susan Riley announcing Unpackaged Eco as among the recipients.

“There’s a huge variety of grant recipients this year for businesses doing amazing things. Helping the environment is Unpackaged Eco which uses smart technology to reduce packing in retail.”

Waste minimisation funding will be available in round two of the program, which opens 5 August.

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Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2018 finalists revealed

The finalists have been announced for the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, which recognise individuals, communities, organisations and businesses that are driving a sustainable future.

Winners will be announced at the Premier’s Sustainability Awards gala dinner at The Forum on Melbourne on 11 October.

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There are ten different categories for the awards with Premier Daniel Andrews selecting two overall winners of the Premier’s Regional Recognition Award and the Premier’s Recognition award.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the finalists in this year’s Premier’s Sustainability Awards are an especially diverse group from every sector in Victoria.

“I congratulate all finalists for their innovative work – using resources wisely and promoting sustainable practices here in Victoria,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

The Finalists for 2018 are:

Built Environment

  • City of Greater Bendigo, Lovell Chen, Nicholson Construction – Bendigo Soldiers’ Memorial Institute Passive House
  • Lendlease, CPB Contractors, WSP, Aurecon, Level Crossing Removal Authority and Metro Trains Melbourne – Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal
  • RMIT University – RMIT Sustainable Urban Precincts Program

Community

  • Enable Social Enterprises – Expansion – Greener Futures Employability Program
  • Kelly Mrocki – The Girl Who Saved the Frogs Incursion
  • Kensington Compost – Kensington Compost

Education

  • Albert Park Preschool Centre – Keeping Our Promise to Bunjil
  • Beeac Primary School – Brolga Pathways
  • Dunkeld Kindergarten – Educating Future World Leaders

Environmental justice

  • Department of Health and Human Services – Elenara House Sustainable Rooming House Upgrade
  • GWMWater (Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water Corporation) – Memorandum of Understanding with Dja Dja Wurrung – South West Loddon Pipeline
  • Moreland City Council and Moreland Energy Foundation – Cooling Communities

Environmental protection

  • Extreme Dents – Eso-friendly Automotive RepairPOD
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste
  • Zoos Victoria, Phillip Island Nature Parks – When Balloons Fly

Government

  • City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip, City of Yarra, City of Moreland – Melbourne Renewable Energy Project
  • Department of Justice and Regulation – Recycle, Reuse, Donate Woodwork Program
  • Gannawarra Shire Council – Gannawarra Large Scale Solar

Health

  • Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Victorian Branch – Nursing for the Environment
  • Beaconsfield Dental – Beaconsfield Dental Health
  • Western Health – Changing Anaesthetic Gases at Western Health

Innovative products or services

  • BCH – Whole Garment Design
  • PonyUp for Good – PonyUp for Good
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste

Large business

  • IKEA Richmond – IKEA Richmond Refurbishment Project
  • Telstra Corporation – Murra Warra Wind Farm harnessing long-term renewable energy supply

Small and medium enterprises

  • Extreme Dents – Eco-friendly Automotive RepairPOD
  • Revolution Apps – Compost Revolution
  • Yume Food – Build a Marketplace Exclusively for Surplus Food to Reduce Food Waste

Turning waste into water in the City of Melbourne

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water.

Over the last year, the ORCA aerobic digestion system has used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the busy Degraves street face precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in Australia.

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ORCA Enviro Systems Executive General Manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digest the waste, creating wastewater that goes straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

The ORCA is basically a mechanical “stomach” that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” Mr Papas said.

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road.”

Because space is a premium in the city centre, ORCA was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste being generated from the busy café district.

“The ORCA has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” Mr Papas said.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling Facility in May 2017. The ORCA is rolling out across Australia in pubs, shopping centres, food courts and hotels.

Melbourne City waste forum’s top 10 ideas

Around 80 retail and hospitality businesses have gathered for the City of Melbourne’s first waste forum, which looked at ways to assist medium sized businesses could reduce waste.

The forum resulted in more than 200 practical ideas and concepts which will be compiled and reviewed by the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s ongoing programs to assist small and medium businesses in the city.

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The top 10 ideas for waste reduction were identified in the forum and included installing more recycling bins across the city, installing additional organics recycling facilities and providing incentives for businesses to reduce their waste.

Additional ideas for businesses to reduce waste included the introduction of grants or loans and education to improve waste management.

Collaboration between businesses and waste collectors was also identified as a way of improving recycling.

Other ideas identified included the collection of unwanted office or shop fit out furniture for reuse and investigating a city-wide coffee/tea cup exchange system.

Participants included businesses involved in the council’s initial pilot program, which saw 27 businesses receive a $2000 grant to embark on waste reduction activities.

City of Melbourne Councillor Susan Riley recognised the need to look at ways to help small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses to reduce waste.

“Reducing waste does so much more than just help to clean up the environment, it also can reduce costs, increase sales and even cut the number of garbage trucks on the city streets,” Cr Riley said.

“The level of insight and the number of opportunities for businesses to work together to reduce waste is inspiring.”

“Nothing is being ruled out, we’re open to all ideas and we want retailers and businesses to share their thoughts as we plan for a rapidly growing city.”

Image Credit: City of Melbourne

Improving Melbourne’s waste collection solutions

The City of Melbourne has released its Improving Waste Collection in the Central City discussion paper to assess potential waste management solutions for the CBD.

Limiting the number of private waste collection companies or expanding communal garbage and recycling services could be possible solutions to Melbourne’s disruptive rubbish removal system, according to the report.

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Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the paper presents problems and possible solutions to the issues associated with waste collection and bin storage in the CBD.

“Reducing the noise, smell, congestion and mess from waste collections across city streets and laneways is a key priority for the City of Melbourne this World Environment Day,” Cr Capp said.

“From day one of my term, waste management has been top of my agenda and my first meeting was to discuss how our waste system can be better managed.”

Currently rate paying businesses in the City of Melbourne are entitles to a weekly collection of one small garbage bin and one small or large recycling bin. If a business generates more waste, it must arrange their waste services through commercial waste collection companies.

“With 36 commercial providers registered to collect waste within the central city, in addition to council collections, there is a glut of bins and trucks clogging our streets and laneways,” Cr Capp said.

“We need to find a solution, so we’re putting ideas out there to find the best fit for our city. We want to hear from our residents, our businesses and visitors to find out how they’re impacted by the current system and what changes should be made.”

“This is about improving amenity, making it easier, safer and more pleasant to move around the city and maintaining our status as the ‘most liveable’,” she said.

City of Melbourne Environment Portfolio Chair Councillor Cathy Oke said feedback on the discussion paper was part of consultation on the Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030.

“We have done a lot of important and innovative work in waste removal in the central city. Since 2013 the City of Melbourne has taken an estimated 500 rubbish bins off the streets by setting up communal waste compactors and recycling hubs,” Cr Oke said.

“The goal of our new Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy is to build on this work by developing and introducing more initiatives that are focused on maintaining a liveable city, through cost effective and environmentally responsible means.”

The community will be able to submit feedback here. Additional discussion papers will be released next month.

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