10-year extension for Cleanaway City of Sydney South contract

Cleanaway will continue providing general and hard waste collection services to the City of Sydney South, under a 10-year contract extension with council.

According to a Cleanaway statement, seven vehicles and 21 staff have been added to the company’s Hillsdale Depot to support additional services, with a total of 86 Cleanaway employees now servicing the city.

“With the new agreement, Cleanaway will now be providing essential waste services including commingled and green waste recycling to the entire City of Sydney, both North and South, as it was previously known,” the statement reads.

General Manager Solid Waste Services David Clancy said Cleanaway is proud to providing council and residents with essential waste services.

“Thanks to the entire Cleanaway team that has worked to deliver the new contract extension during these challenging times,” he said.

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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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Cleanaway forecast remains in line with FY20 earnings guidance

In a statement to the ASX in March, Cleanaway assured stakeholders it has not seen any material change in volumes across any of its operating segments to date.

Cleanaway’s current financial performance for FY20 remains in line with its internal forecasts and FY20 earnings guidance, it said. However, the impact of COVID-19 means Cleanaway considered it prudent to suspend its earning guidance.

Cleanaway Managing Director Vik Bansal said the company has not observed any decline in overall trading in any of its operating segments to date.

He said that however, as the COVID-19 situation evolves, Cleanaway expect the SME part of its C&I waste volumes to be impacted.

“At this stage, we expect the demand for other services, such as health, municipal collections and related post-collections services to remain strong,” Mr Bansal said.

“Cleanaway provides a range of essential services to a diverse customer base which includes municipal councils, government infrastructure, hospitals, resources, manufacturing, commercial and industrial customers.

“We are taking measures to help ensure the safety and welfare of our employees and customers and we remain confident in the resilience of our business.”

Following the collapse of SKM Recycling Group, Cleanaway Waste Management acquired the senior secured debt in the group for around $60 million, with the exception of its glass recovery services business. This includes the property, plant and equipment from a network of five recycling sites, comprising three materials recovery facilities (MRFs), a transfer station in Victoria and a MRF in Tasmania. SKM also has two sites in South Australia.

Cleanaway’s Footprint 2025 strategy went from strength to strength as Cleanaway in October announced a joint venture with Macquarie Capital’s Green Investment Group to develop a waste-to-energy (WtE) project in Western Sydney.

Industry set to see immediate Recycling Victoria impact

Victoria’s landfill levy increase is set to have an immediate impact on recovery rates, according to Bingo Industries Managing Director Daniel Tartak.

The increase – $65.90 to 125.90 over three years – is one of many changes outlined in Victoria’s new circular economy policy Recycling Victoria, released earlier this week. Additional changes include the introduction of a container deposit scheme and a $100 million infrastructure investment.

Mr Tartak welcomed the levy increase, applauding the state government’s bold efforts to develop Victoria’s recycling economy.

“It will further encourage recycling, optimise the diversion of waste from landfill and promote the development of a truly circular economy; promote investment in recycling technology, and move Victoria towards international best practice diversion rates,” Mr Tartak said.

“The staged increase in the levy also works well for our customers, who can now plan ahead for this and other structural changes, such as the new EPA Act and increased safety and compliance regulations which will also impact the sector.”

According to Mr Tartak, the polices, commitments and actions outlined in the plan align with BINGO’s Victorian strategy.

“We’ve invested more than $100 million over the past three years in the acquisition and development of recycling assets in anticipation of many of the initiatives outlined in this plan,” he said.

“We recently received approval to operate our advanced recycling facility in West Melbourne for 24 hours per day, seven day per week, so we’ll be ready to accommodate the increased volumes we expect to receive from 1 July onwards. ”

Mr Tartak also highlighted the plan’s support for the development of waste-to-energy facilities, increased resources to monitor illegal behaviour and commitment to increasing the use of recycled materials in construction projects as positive.

According to Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy, Recycling Victoria’s long term measures will help Victorian recover from the recycling crisis and take a leadership position, including in the use of recycled content in infrastructure.

“We’re pleased to see that the Victorian Government has released its new circular economy strategy – Recycling Victoria – overhauling the state’s recycling sector and further reducing waste going to landfill,” Mr Murphy said.

“The industry requires long term decisions, and the 10-year plan features reforms to accelerate Victoria’s shift to a circular economy, including supporting businesses and communities, creating local jobs, and leading the way in the use of recycled materials.”

In reference to Recycling Victoria’s container deposit scheme announcement, Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said the move was a step in the right direction towards achieving a circular economy.

“At Cleanaway we have seen firsthand the environmental, economic and social benefits of a container return scheme,” he said.

“A system that encourages consumers to separate recycling at the point of disposal improves the quality of the recyclable material, which makes it an even more valuable commodity for reuse.”

Mr Bansal also applauded the Victorian Government’s efforts to improve the quality of recyclable material across the state.

“The introduction of a fourth recycling bin for glass is expected to reduce contamination and create a cleaner commodity stream,” Mr Bansal said.

“This, in turn, means more materials will be recycled and opens up opportunities for a circular economy for glass.”

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Co-locating trust: social licence and WtE

Waste Management Review examines the implications of the social licence to operate in the emerging Australian waste-to-energy market.

In November 2019, Craigieburn residents on Melbourne’s urban fringe called on Hume City Council to reject a proposed waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in the suburb. The calls came amid concerns the plant would produce hazardous emissions, causing air pollution.

Katherine Lawford, No Toxic Incinerator for Hume spokesperson, said the community was upset, citing concerns the plant would lead to large volumes of waste transported into Melbourne for incineration.

The group was also apprehensive, Ms Lawford said, that the plant would undermine recycling efforts and encourage wastefulness. At the time of writing, there was no publicly accessible information on whether the proposed facility would use incineration or gasification technology.

While the Craigieburn facility’s fate is uncertain, No Toxic Incinerator for Hume’s concerns are not novel, with similar protests occurring across the country. Negative public reactions to WtE therefore foreground issues of residential encroachment, misunderstood technology and social licence to operate (SLO).

SLO, which evolved from broader concepts of corporate responsibility, centres on the idea that a business needs not only appropriate government or regulatory approval, but also a “social licence”. First used by Jim Cooney, an executive of international mining company Placer Dome, at a 1997 World Bank Meeting, SLO grew rapidly in use and pervasiveness. The term is now commonplace across a wide range of sectors including resources, farming, forestry and waste.

The Next Generation’s (TNG) failed 2018 WtE proposal, lodged by Dial A Dump Industries’ Ian Malouf, worked to gain SLO, but in the end, what went wrong is a matter that cannot be conclusively defined. The proposal, which sought to build and operate a large-scale combustion facility in Eastern Creek, Western Sydney, led to widespread public protest.

The proposal placed the facility strategically close to the NSW power grid, with Mr Malouf offering to supplement free power for 1000 homes.

As reported by Waste Management Review in 2018, TNG also conducted multiple presentations to council and officers, two public exhibitions, 8000 DVDs and pamphlet drops delivered door to door, and online, radio, news and television promotion during consultation.

It’s worth noting that the plant was to be co-located with the Genesis Xero Waste Recycling Facility, meaning residents were potentially already accustomed to living near waste and resource recovery operations. The idea of co-location is highlighted by CSIRO’s Engaging Communities on Waste Project as a useful mechanism to drive greater community acceptance.

In spite of these factors, protest persisted, with Mr Malouf’s application referred to the NSW Independent Planning Commission for determination in April 2018, following 949 public objections. The commission rejected the proposal in July, citing, among other objections, that the project was not in the public interest.

CHANGING ATTITUDES 

According to Sustainability Victoria’s 2018 Resource Recovery Technology Guide, waste and resource recovery facilities represent some of the most contentious land uses operating in Australia today.

For waste and resource recovery planning in Victoria, communities must therefore be involved in determining waste and resource recovery priorities and have opportunities to participate in decision-making and long-term planning.

“Stakeholders have different contributions to make and different involvement needs at each stage of the decision-making process,” the guide suggests.

“At different stages, involvement may take the form of sharing information, consulting, entering into dialogue with certain parties or providing opportunity for stakeholders to deliberate on decisions.”

According to Mark Smith, Victorian Waste Management Association Executive Officer, contention around waste facility land use stems from a lack of understanding of the role waste management plays in society and the technologies employed.

“While working with Sustainability Victoria in 2016, I was involved in social research with CSIRO that looked at community attitudes and perceptions about the sector. After surveying 1212 Victorians, we found that there are a number of factors that can build or improve SLO, including better community understanding of how the sector contributes to Victoria’s lifestyle and economy, and also governance (controls and oversight) arrangements by regulators.”

Government often views SLO, Mark says, as something an individual site or operator needs to secure. He would argue, however, that SLO exists on two levels  – the industry as a whole and individual sites – with both occupying a shared space with government.

“I’d also argue that government does not clearly understand its role in building public confidence in the sector,” he adds.

Mark says that with recent developments such as the export ban, the waste sector will require significant infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“This expansion can’t and won’t happen if the private sector, who own and operate the bulk of assets in Australia, continue to encounter barriers to investment, such as communities slowing down development,” he says.

“We do occupy a shared space with government, so I think it’s important for government to reflect on their role and responsibility in building SLO and educating the public, especially around WtE.”

Similar concerns are referenced in Victoria’s Waste Education Strategy report, released in 2016. In the report, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio suggests that despite investment in waste education, success in addressing critical long-term issues has been inconsistent across state and local government, industry, schools, community organisations and third-party providers.

To address this, and facilitate greater instances of SLO, the strategy proposes increasing the Victorian community’s perception of waste management as an essential service.

As part of this strategic direction, Ms D’Ambrosio said the state government would work with the waste industry to help them engage local communities and encourage best practice approaches to community engagement.

CSIRO’s latest research, an update on Mark’s aforementioned 2016 project, also formed part of this strategy.

The 2019 project, titled Changes and perceiptions in Victorian attitudes and perceptions of the waste and resource recovery sector, surveyed 1244 Victorians living in metropolitan and regional Victoria. Respondents were asked for their views on living near WtE facilities, as well as waste and resource recovery complexes – including possible impacts, benefits and trust.

CSRIO identified eight key factors that drive social acceptance in the waste sphere, which were fairness and equity, governance, quality of relationships, trust in the sector, impacts to wellbeing, benefits of wellbeing, attitudes about waste and knowledge.

Andrea Walton, CSIRO Resources and Communities Team Leader, says urban growth, particularly in outer suburbs surrounding waste sites that previously had a significant buffer, bring local communities and waste sites into closer proximity.

“Population growth puts more pressure on the waste management system through the generation of increased waste volumes. Effective forward planning of waste management has become an expectation of citizens, partly because they view waste management as an essential service,” Andrea says.

“This type of planning builds trust in the sector and contributes to people’s social acceptance of the need for different types of activities and infrastructure to manage our waste.”

SLO has therefore become more pertinent, Andrea says, forming a basis for the approval of new sites, new technologies and the ongoing operation of existing sites.

When asked why CSIRO chose to include WtE in its updated research – WtE was excluded in the initial 2016 report – Andrea says while WtE is not a new technology globally, it is new to Australia.

As such, CSIRO thought it important to understand what Australians thought about WtE and what underpinned those attitudes. CSIRO found that overall, acceptance of living near a WtE facility was low, but significantly higher than acceptance of living near a waste and resource recovery complex that included landfill.

“People support the avoidance of waste and see landfill as the least preferred option for managing waste material. Negative views about living near a landfill mean relatively higher support for WtE. It’s important to note however that support for living near a WtE facility was still modest,” she says.

Perceptions of impacts were also lower for WtE than for a waste complex, with societal benefits assessed more favourably. Moreover, residents viewed WtE as potentially fairer when considered on a broader societal level, provided the burden to local communities was offset by benefits, such as local councils being paid accordingly.   

According to Andrea, a key challenge to achieving SLO is public access to information. CSRIO’s research shows a link between higher knowledge levels and increased social acceptance. That said, self-reported overall knowledge is low, suggesting opportunities for improvement.

“Effective community engagement is fundamental to this process as is communicating with local communities about how these sites are governed and the context of the state’s overall planning and strategies for waste management,” Andrea says.

She notes, much like Mark, that this process needs to involve both government and industry stakeholders.

“Done well, these initiatives help to improve trust in the sector and ultimately more acceptance of a waste operator’s activities. However, this sort of interaction has to be genuine and meaningful to local communities,” she says.

NEXT STEPS FOR EASTERN CREEK

In October 2019, Cleanaway and the Macquarie Capital Green Investment Group announced plans to co-invest and co-develop a WtE plant in Eastern Creek, not far from Mr Malouf’s proposed 2018 site.

According to Mark Biddulph, Cleanaway Head of Corporate Affairs, the proposed facility aims to divert up to 500,000 tonnes of non-recyclable waste from landfill, and use it to generate electricity for more than 65,000 homes and businesses. He adds that the proposal is still in the early stages of the approvals process, having only recently received the Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements.

Despite this, Cleanaway hosted a community workshop in November 2019, with the aim of engaging a broad cross section of the community to seek questions, ideas and feedback. Further community engagement will take place throughout 2020.

“Cleanaway is committed to involving the Western Sydney community in the development process and engaging with them often and openly,” Mark says.

Should the facility be approved, Mark says Cleanaway is looking forward to setting up a visitor and education centre onsite to encourage further knowledge sharing. He adds that Cleanaway also plans to invest in a number of local community programs.

“Building trust and SLO within the Western Sydney is critical to Cleanaway. To do this we’re committed to ongoing engagement, transparency and best practice operations that reflect and align with sustainable waste management,” Mark says.

“It’s essential to bring the community with us on the journey.”

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Cleanaway, Pact and Asahi to develop plastic pelletising facility

Cleanaway, Pact Group and Asahi Beverages have signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly develop a plastic pelletising facility in Albury/Wodonga.

According to a joint statement, the facility is anticipated to process up to 28,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and other recyclables into flake and food grade pellets.

“The cross value chain collaboration uniquely combines the expertise of each participant,” the statement reads.

“Cleanaway will provide available feedstock through its collection and sorting network. Pact will provide technical and packaging expertise, and Asahi Beverages and Pact will buy the majority of the recycled pellets from the facility to use in their packaging products.”

Pact Managing Director and CEO Sanjay Dayal said the facility would service markets across the East Coast, and create approximately 30 local jobs in regional Australia.

“I am thrilled with this arrangement and the opportunity to work with Cleanaway and Asahi in making a meaningful step in improving the plastics value chain,” he said.

“The arrangement is clearly aligned with our vision to lead the circular economy, and will support Pact in achieving our 2025 Sustainability Promise to offer 30 per cent recycled content across our packaging portfolio.”

According to Cleanaway Managing Director and CEO Vik Bansal, the partnership will create valuable raw materials from the recyclables Cleanaway collects and sorts.

“It is a natural extension of our value chain and expands our footprint of prized assets,” he said.

Asahi Beverage Group CEO Robert Iervasi added that the venture would allow Asahi to utilise Australian sourced recycled plastic resins to assist its transition to using only recycled plastics.

“I am excited by the opportunity to participate in a market winning strategic alliance that closes the loop of the circular economy, and contributes to a sustainable plastics supply chain by combining our strategic capabilities,” he said.

The project is supported by an Environmental Trust grant awarded to Cleanaway, as part of the NSW Government’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

The facility is expected to be operational by December 2021.

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Cleanaway restores service at former SKM facilities

Cleanaway has restored operations at several closed waste processing facilities, following the successful acquisition of SKM Recycling Group’s assets.

According to a Cleanaway statement, facilities in Coolaroo, Hallam, Geelong and the Laverton North Material Recovery Facility (MRF) are now fully operational.

“The network of facilities, now known as Victoria Resource Recovery, were acquired by Cleanaway in October 2019 from the SKM Recycling Group, whose closure in July 2019 greatly affected the reputation of recycling in Victoria,” the statement reads.

“Councils and households who trusted that their recycling efforts were being managed correctly were understandably disappointed when recycling had to be sent to landfill.”

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said around-the-clock efforts to clear waste stockpiles and rehabilitate Victoria’s waste processing facilities have restored recycling services to the state in record time.

“It was not acceptable to us that after years of conscientiously sorting their recyclables, Victorians be told that their recycling must be put on hold for an extended period,” he said.

“Our teams worked tirelessly to bring these facilities back to the required environmental and operational standards in an extremely short period of time, without compromise to safety or quality.”

According to Mr Bansal, the sites were overworked and lacking in maintenance for a significant period, requiring weeks of operational and logistical clean up efforts.

“Stockpiled waste was removed from sites, machinery and conveyor belts were replaced and optical sorting systems were recalibrated,” he said.

“In line with our compliance standards, all sites have had extensive works undertaken to fire control and stormwater systems.”

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Recycling returns to G21 region under Cleanaway agreement

Municipal recycling will resume for residents on the Bellarine Peninsula 16 December, under a new agreement between Cleanaway and the Geelong Region Alliance.

Kerbside recycling ceased after the collapse of SKM Recycling earlier this year, with the City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire Council, Golden Plains Shire and the Borough of Queenscliffe forced to send recyclables to landfill.

Under the agreement, Cleanaway will work with councils to develop local uses for collected material by identifying local secondary markets, with an initial focus on glass reuse.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the agreement includes a discount for councils with low contamination rates.

City of Greater Geelong Waste Management Chair Ron Nelson said the community had been disappointed to see the contents of yellow bins sent to landfill.

“The return of our kerbside recycling service is very good news. We’re now asking for everyone’s help to make it a success by getting back in the habit of sorting your recycling, and learning about the changes to what can and can’t be put in your yellow bin,” Mr Nelson said.

“In the meantime we will continue to work on new ideas to make sure we have the most effective recycling system possible in the long-term.”

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Acquisitions in the spotlight part two: Cleanaway

Waste Management Review talks to some of Australia’s largest waste management companies about the role of scalability in the future of the waste sector. 

This article is the second in a three part series featuring Bingo Industries, Cleanaway, Corio Waste Management and SUEZ. 

With more than 300 sites, 115 prized infrastructure assets and around 6000 employees and 4950 vehicles, Cleanaway is Australia’s largest waste management company. 

At the heart of its approach to scaling up and supporting Australia’s recycling woes is Cleanaway’s Footprint 2025 strategy – a plan to significantly grow its infrastructure by 2025. Launched in 2015, Footprint 2025 continues to expand.

It’s already done so in 2019 with a new waste transfer station and resource recovery facility in Sydney licensed to process 300,000 tonnes of putrescible waste per annum. In addition, its recent infrastructure moves also include a new South East Melbourne Organics Facility, a 50 per cent stake in ResourceCo’s process engineered fuel facility in Sydney and a transfer station in Perth.

Official data on market share is difficult to come by, but CEO Vik Bansal estimates the company controls around the mid to high 20 per cent of the total waste management market.

Its annual report shows the integration of Toxfree is on track to achieve a $35 million synergy target by June 2020. Cleanaway’s acquisition of Toxfree in 2018 was unopposed by the ACCC and concluded that increased vertical integration would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition due to competitive constraints imposed by alternative suppliers.

The official review shows customers can and do disaggregate contracts if they are dissatisfied with pricing and/or service levels. Likewise, there are other large suppliers present in multiple waste streams and geographical areas throughout Australia.

Cleanaway’s net revenue, which represents gross revenue less landfill levies collected and passed through the customer, increased by 35 per cent in 2018-19 to $2.11 billion compared to the prior corresponding period. Its growth was driven by a combination of organic growth and the Toxfree acquisition.

“We have spent about $150 million building prized waste infrastructure across the country which includes transfer stations, resource recovery centres, used oil refinery and liquid, hazardous and non-hazardous waste processing facilities organically and via the acquisition of Toxfree,” Vik says.

Its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased 34 per cent to $433.7 million in 2018-19 due to improved profit performances across solid waste services, industrial and waste services and liquid waste and health services. In its annual report, Cleanaway highlights itself as having an excellent balance sheet with debt ratios well within banking covenant requirements.

The annual report declares volatility in the commodities supply chain has led to increased sorting costs and instability in commodity pricing. Vik has often maintained Australia’s recycling crisis presents an opportunity rather than a threat to the viability of the sector.

“It is the right thing for the waste industry in Australia and in general. There is something not right about waste going to developing countries and them sorting it out. We just don’t want that to happen,” Vik says.

He says that being a publicly listed entity places additional pressure on Cleanaway as a company, but it’s a challenge it is pleased to take on.

“Because we are a listed entity and have to go to market every six months, our changes become a lot more visible than an international subsidiary or a company which is not listed,” he says.

The positive side effect of market fluctuations is that Cleanaway has fast-tracked much of its Footprint 2025 strategy to support the local marketplace.

Following the collapse of SKM Recycling Group, Cleanaway Waste Management acquired the senior secured debt in the group for around $60 million with the exception of its glass recovery services business. This includes the property, plant and equipment from a network of five recycling sites, comprising three materials recovery facilities (MRFs), a transfer station in Victoria and a MRF in Tasmania. SKM also has two sites in South Australia.

KordaMentha have been appointed the receivers of the group. At the time of Waste Management Review’s interview with Vik, Cleanaway was looking to acquire the assets and return them to a sustainable footing as part of the sale process being undertaken by the receivers.

Prior to the publication date, Cleanaway was successful in its bid for SKM assets with completion of the process on track for the end of October. One of its sites in the network includes an advanced plastic sorting facility in Victoria.

Commenting on the acquisition, Vik said significant progress had been made in clearing waste stockpiles from the sites, repairing plant and equipment and bringing the sites to required safety, environmental and operational standards.

“We expect to gradually restore operations in Victoria over the coming months,” he said.

Speaking to Waste Management Review, Vik agrees some systematic changes are needed to support the future viability of the industry. However, he concedes collection will be difficult to consolidate due to the low barriers to entry.

“There is something fundamentally wrong about the industry structure. Aside from Visy, there is not even a single big waste management player which is upstream and vertically integrated. There is not even a single big waste management player in commingled recycling in Victoria.

“China’s National Sword has triggered the industry structure to go back on a balanced, even, long-term sustainable footing and hence our interest in SKM assets.”

“A company like Cleanaway cannot have a Footprint 2025 strategy flowing through without commingled assets in Victoria. That is part and parcel of a vertically integrated waste management company.”

It was speculated that Cleanaway was interested in buying SKM’s glass recycling business not covered by the receivership. Vik says that while Cleanaway was initially interested in this, the acquisition is now in doubt given the scale of glass stockpiles.

Instead, should Cleanaway acquire SKM’s assets, Vik says Cleanaway will look at building its own glass beneficiation plant.

He says that Cleanaway’s future focus will be to become a downstream processor.

“We see ourselves investing in plastic pelletising and going downstream on glass crushers,” Vik says.

Vik says that Cleanaway’s view is that Australia needs to move to a harmonised national four-bin system with mandatory FOGO and glass bins the key to improving commodity value.

“We are ready to invest a lot more in different parts of the country if we can see that certainty of policy and harmonisation,” he says, adding there is a fair amount of Footprint 2025 still to be revealed.

Likewise, he says that whenever Cleanaway invests, it looks at the entire value chain, including location, policy framework and its total market share.

Vik says that each state should have a container deposit scheme but recognises it might be difficult to harmonise all at a national level.

He says this system would then become best practice through better education, investment in infrastructure and manufacturer and consumer acceptance of recycled material as the final piece of the circular economy puzzle. 

Footprint 2025 is going from strength to strength as Cleanaway in October announced a joint venture with Macquarie Capital’s Green Investment Group to develop a waste-to-energy (WtE) project in Western Sydney.

A site has been acquired for a potential facility in Eastern Creek and an environmental impact statement is being prepared and released for public consultation early next year. The site is expected to cut Western Sydney’s annual landfill volumes by 500,000 tonnes – almost a third of the red bin waste generated per year in the local area.

CONSOLIDATION DEBATE

Trevor Thornton is a lecturer in hazardous materials management at Deakin University and has prior experience with the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

He says the metropolitan areas certainly benefit, but one concern would be whether the same level of service is afforded to regional areas.

“I’ve heard some issues about large companies that get a statewide contract but just outsource a lot of the more distant rural areas under their banner, but they don’t get the same service to the client.

“But I think in the main, if you’ve got five or six companies offering the complete service, I think that’s a good thing.”

Likewise, he believes the purchase of ailing companies such as SKM can only be a good thing, and that if additional oversight is required, that would be a matter for the ACCC.

He says the trend towards consolidation in Australia would mirror that of other more populous nations such as the US, Canada and parts of Europe.

Corio Waste Management CEO Mathew Dickens

Mathew Dickens, CEO of Corio Waste Management, a family-owned business focused on waste collection and organic waste treatment based in Geelong, sees an opportunity from consolidation to compete with the major players.

“Consolidation does lead to less competition, but it can also mean the acquirer has more to lose as you have most of the market share and that can only go in one direction, but for companies my size it creates opportunity,” he says. 

Mathew says with further consolidation, Corio can aim to compete on service standards, respond quickly to changing customer requirements and provide a point of difference as a family-owned business.

“From a customer perspective it [further consolidation] would mean less choice and higher prices, and that’s not a problem for us as we don’t compete on the basis of price. We know what our costs are because we measure and analyse them all the time,” he says.

He says that Corio tends to focus on what it can offer in terms of variety and frequency of service, collection standards and customer service.

Mathew says the recent consolidations are nothing new but rather history repeating itself in an industry cycle where consolidation inspires new entrants into the industry.

In the US, integrated companies such as Waste Management Inc, Clean Harbors, Republic Services and Advanced Disposal dominate the market.

Mathew points out that Republic Services is an example of smaller operators merging to become a larger organisation, a trend that could always repeat itself locally.   

Republic Services is one of the largest providers of non-hazardous solid waste and owns around 207 transfer stations and 190 landfills, according to Superperformance SAS data.

He says there will still be room for niche, specialised operations that handle smaller volumes.

“If there is going to be a remanufacturing industry that’s developed onshore, you need to spread that risk,” he says.

Mathew says that Corio remains focused on growing its organic waste collections in Geelong and Melbourne treated at its composting facility
based in Shepparton.

“We want to build tunnel composting facilities in other regions in Victoria. It relies on government contracts, but we’re confident we can make it happen,” he says.

Next week’s instalment features an interview with SUEZ CEO Mark Venhoek. 

Click here to read part one

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Cleanaway acquires SKM Recycling for $66 million

Cleanaway Waste Management has acquired the assets of SKM Recycling for approximately $66 million.

The acquisition follows a public sale process by KordaMentha, who were appointed receivers and managers of SKM by Cleanaway, after the company acquired SKM’s senior secured debt.

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said significant progress had been made clearing waste stockpiles, repairing plants and equipment and bringing SKM sites to required safety, environmental and operational standards.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank the Victorian Government who helped expedite the clearing of waste stockpiles and the return of operations at the Laverton North site, through the loan provided to the receivers,” Mr Bansal said.

“We expect to gradually restore operations in Victoria over the coming months, to provide councils with a quality, sustainable solution for their recycling.”

Pursuant to the acquisition, Cleanaway will obtain the properties, plant, equipment and other assets of SKM, subject to customary completion adjustments.

The acquisition will provide Cleanaway with a network of five recycling sites, including three material recovery facilities and a transfer station in Victoria and a material recovery facility in Tasmania.

One of the Victorian facilities, in Laverton North Victoria, includes an advanced plastic sorting facility that separates plastics into individual polymer grades for sale or input into pelletising facilities.

According to an ASX statement, the acquisition also includes two properties in South Australia, which are not currently expected to form part of future operations and may be sold.

“Cleanaway is expected to offer employment to the majority of SKM’s full time staff,” the statement reads.

Completion of the acquisition is expected to occur by the end of October, with sale proceeds applied to repay Cleanaway’s senior secured debt, accrued interest and costs associated with the receivership.

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