Central Coast is one of four communities in New South Wales piloting a two-year program to reduce food waste in their area.
Geopolymer concrete, made with industrial waste from coal-fired power stations and steel manufacturing, is being used for a green roads trial in the City of Sydney.
New concrete has been laid on a busy inner-city street, replacing a 30 metre section of roadway on Wyndham Street in Alexandria.
To test the concrete’s durability, the city has laid 15 metres of traditional concrete and 15 metres of the geopolymer concrete.
Nine sensors have been positioned to monitor and compare how the geopolymer concrete performs.
Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said UNSW Sydney researchers and the CRC for Low Carbon Living will use trial results to create the first set of industry guidelines for geopolymer concrete.
“Local governments are responsible for maintaining local roads, so if we can purchase more environmentally sustainable materials, we can fight climate change and provide quality infrastructure for our community,” Ms Moore said.
“With 70 per cent of the concrete produced today going into pavements and footpaths, there’s great potential to further lower emissions from our operations.”
Made from fly ash and blast furnace slag, geopolymer generates 300 kilograms of CO2 per tonne of cement, compared to the 900 kilograms from traditional cement production.
“We’re continually working with concrete suppliers to reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gases emitted during the production of concrete for our local roads,” Ms Moore said.
“We already use sustainable green concrete for all our footway renewal works – which adds up to 25,000 metres squared per year.”
According to Ms Moore, the low CO2 concrete has the potential to reuse 400 million cubic tonnes of globally documented waste from the coal and steel industries.
Australian Iron and Steel Association and Ash Development Association Executive director and industry partner Craig Heidrich said the benefits of the trial will be far-reaching.
“Our collaboration with organisations such as the City of Sydney and the publication of the research findings will further demystify and promote the use of geopolymer concrete in construction,” Mr Heidrich said.
“It’s a fundamental tenet in business that you need to be constantly innovating and investing into new technologies. This trial will provide real examples of geopolymer concrete use that we can all use.”
The City of Sydney’s waste strategy to 2030 responds to the council’s fast-moving population with a multipronged approach to landfill diversion.
Funding has been granted by the NSW Government to 10 organics collection projects to improve services that recycle food and garden waste into compost.
The grants will go towards the provision of kitchen caddies to hold food waste and make it easier for households to use the new food organics and garden organics collections.
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It also will help provide new garden waste kerbside collection services in two local government areas, and food and garden or food only collection services to households and business in seven council areas. This includes more than 100,000 households living in units within Sydney.
The $4.9 million in grant funding is shared across Armidale Regional Council, City of Sydney, Cumberland Council, Lockhart Shire Council, Penrith City Council, Randwick City Council, Upper Lachlan Shire and Wagga Wagga City.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said nearly half the landfill from household bins is food and garden waste (approximately 45 per cent).
“Simply putting all food and garden waste into green bins will dramatically reduce the amount of household garbage currently going to landfill,” she said.
“When food and garden waste goes into the green lid bin, it is properly processed and becomes a clean, green supply of compost, rather than rotting away in landfill and releasing methane into the atmosphere.
“For the first time, this program is also supporting food waste collections from businesses, with three projects that will collect around 1350 tonnes of business food waste a year,” Ms Upton said.
The City of Sydney has selected Cleanaway as its new waste and recycling provider with a seven-year contract beginning 1 July 2019.
Services for the council will include general waste, recycling, garden organics and bulk or hard waste and electronic waste kerbside collections.
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The contract also includes 25 new vehicles which have Cleanaway’s integrated data platform installed. The system uses on board cameras to track collections and service events like missed pick-ups, broken bins and can be used for single-call customer service response. Cameras can also provide insights that aim to reduce contamination, improve recycling and increase truck safety.
Cleanaway’s education team will also provide the City of Sydney with sustainability training which aims to reduce waste sent to landfill and improve recycling rates.
Cleanaway Regional Manager – Sydney Metro Michael Sankey said the company looks forward to bringing its expertise to Sydney.
“As part of the contract, Cleanaway will be setting up a new facility and implementing new operational teams and some educational resources,” he said.
“Over the next seven years we’ll be working closely with the council’s waste management team to add value for the community and help the City of Sydney achieve their sustainability goals.”
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The City of Sydney will trial separate weekly residential rubbish collections for food waste and textiles and introduce weekly e-waste pickups.
It says the plan is part of the “most comprehensive strategy” to tackle residential waste in Australia.
Council unanimously approved the collections as part of its new Leave Nothing to Waste strategy. The council said residents and businesses strongly supported its ambitious target of zero waste to landfill when the strategy was open for comment earlier this year.
The new services include a trial of residential food waste collection – targeted groups of residents can opt-in to have their food waste collected separately and taken to a facility. From there, it will be converted into high grade compost or energy. The services also include clothing and textiles collection from apartment buildings, where residents will be able to throw all their old clothing in a communal waste bin, which will then be collected and recycled. A weekly kerbside electronic waste collection will also be introduced and residents will be able to book in a free pick-up each week, with their old electronics taken to a facility where precious minerals and materials will be collected and reused. Finally, the plan includes a community drop-off centre for problem waste streams such as gas bottles, paints and chemicals.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the plan would set a new benchmark for residential waste collection across the country.
“Australians are becoming increasingly concerned about where their rubbish ends up, which is why our new waste strategy has been so well received,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Our residents generate close to 65,000 tonnes of waste every year – and while 69 per cent is now diverted from landfill, we’re now taking practical steps to increase that to 90 per cent by 2030.
Mayor Moore said cheap clothing and fast fashion has led to a sharp growth in textile waste. He said more than five per cent of the average red bin is made up of clothing.
“Our textiles collection trial will seek to solve this waste stream, with separate clothing bins to become a feature of bin rooms in many apartment buildings across the city.”
“Although we had broad support for all the measures we’ve proposed, our residents have shown great interest in the food waste trial, which we will strive to get up and running over the next two years.
“Food waste makes up one third of the average red bin and can be converted into a valuable resource. Some of our residents have already taken matters into their own hands.”
As a result of feedback from community consultation, the council will also investigate including soft plastics on the list of items to be accepted at the community waste drop-off centre.
“The ABC’s War on Waste program put the spotlight on how harmful soft plastics can be. Residents and businesses have asked us to look at how the City can help keep soft plastics such as shopping bags out of landfill and waterways.
“We will continue to pressure the NSW Government to ban the plastic bag,” the Lord Mayor said.
The City of Sydney’s waste strategy has led to it achieving an impressive diversion rate of 69 per cent. Waste Management Review Speaks to Chris Derksema, Director of Sustainability.