Australian-based sustainable packaging developer SECOS Group has been selected by Woolworths to supply its compostable products for sale through the supermarket giant’s network of Eco stores.
Bega Valley Shire Council’s FOGO service highlights the role of stakeholder engagement in building community support for resource recovery.
Stakeholder communication is critical to the production of nutrient rich compost for soil regeneration. JR Richards and Sons and Jindalee Ag explain.
More than 30 per cent of the world’s land is moderately to highly degraded due to erosion, salination, compaction and chemical pollution, according to Restore the Soil: Prosper the Nation.
The 2017 report, written by National Soil Advocate Major General Michael Jeffery for the Prime Minister, argues that the combined effects of global insecurities – population increase, finite resource depletion and the effects of climate change – mean improving agricultural soil quality is imperative to global security.
“Soil is a critical national strategic asset,” Mr Jeffery explains in the report.
To progress the renewal process, the report outlines a number of recommendations, including engaging in regenerative farming practices through the application of organic composts and bio amendments.
The is a belief shared by JR Richards and Sons (JRR) and Jindalee Ag, two companies committed to the production of nutrient rich compost.
While two separate entities with unique and varied histories, JRR and Jindalee Ag have partnered to maximise their distribution capabilities.
JRR, a name synonymous with waste management and resource recovery, has been providing collection and processing services to local government and private operators since 1958.
They currently service kerbside collections for over 20 councils, with three state of the art in-tunnel composting facilities in NSW.
On the other hand, Jindalee Ag was established four years ago by Daniel Hibberson, who was driven by a passion to help farmers understand their soil and the microbial workforce beneath the ground.
Jindalee Ag works collaboratively with recycling and waste management operators such as JRR to support the transition to more profitable and sustainable practices within agriculture, horticulture and viticulture.
Mark Darwin, JRR Facilities Manager, says the two companies connected after a chance encounter in Queensland.
“When JRR first started processing FOGO for local governments in 2012, while we understood the technical processes and systems required to produce nutrient rich compost, we didn’t fully understand the end markets,” Mark says.
“As an organisation, we recognised the necessity to educate and build market awareness to be successful.
“We had estimated this would require several years of marketing, field trials, soil analysis and subsidising product to gain market penetration, something that we were committed to undertaking.”
JRR then met Daniel, and through discussions learnt he had already established significant market leads and value-added processes, selling to customers such as Costa Group and Lawson’s Grains.
From there, JRR and Jindalee Ag struck up a partnership, Mark says, with AS4454 and NASAA Organically Certified RichEarth compost produced at JRR facilities and sold through Jindalee Ag’s distribution network.
FORGING AHEAD WITH FOGO
Launched almost 10 years ago, JRR’s RichEarth composting business grew out of the Grafton Organics Recycling Facility (ORF) development. Located in the Northern Rivers Region of NSW, the facility was established through JRR’s Clarence Valley Council FOGO processing contract.
“Since then, our organic recycling and compost business has gone from strength to strength, with three ORF’s now fully-operational, producing high quality mulch and compost products,” Mark says.
All RichEarth compost batches are sampled and tested to ensure they meet the strict quality control requirements of the AS4454 Standard. Mark adds however that JRR and Jindalee Ag are dedicated to exceeding market expectations.
“Put simply, our approach is setting high standards and then bettering them. We are finding that there are facilities focusing on a gate fee for their revenue and then flooding the market with cheap product,” he says.
“We knew that to realise a return we needed to differentiate ourselves from the market and provide a value proposition to farmers by committing to and producing higher quality product.”
To achieve this, Mark says JRR and Jindalee Ag work to keep communication lines open through extensive stakeholder communications strategies.
“This involves working with councils to manage contamination and inform public education programs, as well as consistently engaging with collection drivers, contamination sorters, facility operators and the EPA,” Mark explains.
“Our processes include undertaking regular quality and site inspections, sharing test results and product images between sites and weekly teleconferences with stakeholders. These actions are all taken with the express intention to collaboratively discuss operations and identify issues.”
Furthermore, JRR and Jindalee Ag run on-site field days to educate the public and keep them engaged with the organic’s recovery process.
According to Mark, proactively engaging with the public has a twofold effect.
“By observing the organics recovery process firsthand, people are more likely to understand the effects of contamination, and in turn, more likely to engage in better source separation practices,” Mark says.
“On the flip side, that engagement is also beneficial for us, as we get a better read on the public’s needs and how we could better service them.
“JRR and Jindalee Ag are committed to producing compost of value. The importance of returning organic matter and vital nutrients to the soil cannot be underestimated.”
With the NSW Government injecting over $24 million to support local councils improve FOGO kerbside services, Mark highlights JRR’s proven record of providing holistic FOGO solutions for local government.
“We believe in the importance of stakeholder communication in producing quality compost beneficial to Australian soils and work hard with all parties to produce the best organically certified compost we can,” he says.
Pictured: Mark Darwin, Daniel Hibberson and Ross Skinner.
For more information click here.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has published new guidelines to help businesses make informed choices when considering compostable packaging.
The guidelines were developed in partnership with the Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) and the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA).
Designed to cut through confusion, Considerations for Compostable Packaging aims to help industry professionals – particularly brand owners, packaging technologists and designers and food service providers – decide when and where to use certified compostable plastic packaging, and associated items like cutlery.
Based on systems and infrastructure currently available, APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said the guidelines identify potential applications and opportunities for certified compostable plastic packaging, with a strong emphasis on packaging that can also facilitate food waste collection.
“These include food caddy liners, fruit and vegetable stickers and ‘closed-loop’ situations such as festivals,” she said.
Recommendations are also provided on how to correctly communicate with end consumers, including accurate certification and correct language for labelling and marketing.
Additionally, statements to avoid are highlighted, including misleading terminology and “greenwashing claims” that contribute to unintentional litter and contamination of mechanical recycling systems.
“With brands facing intense consumer pressure to move away from plastics, coupled with thousands of Australian food outlets turning to takeaway packaging formats for the first time, there’s never been a more important time for businesses to receive accurate and consistent information about compostable packaging,” Ms Donnelly said.
“Compostable plastics currently account for around 0.1 per cent of plastic packaging on market in Australia. Yet we know that it is a market that is growing and one that causes real confusion – for both industry and end consumers.”
According to ABA President Rowan Williams, the development of Considerations for Compostable Packaging was an opportunity for peak industry bodies to collaborate on guidelines for industry and consumers.
“The collaborative nature of the work in getting this guideline out has been outstanding. The guidelines look up and down the value chain, at where the raw material comes from and also where the finished packaging will go to, such as organics recycling, in the future,” he said.
“The ABA, as custodian of the only verification scheme for claims of certified compostability to the Australian Standards, welcomes the advent of the guidelines and looks forward to continuing collaboration with APCO, AORA and industry stakeholders.”
AORA Chair Peter Wadewitz said as a suitable alternative to non-recyclable packaging, AORA supports the use of AS4736 certified materials for the source separation of food waste in the home or in commercial settings.
“Compostable coffee cups, capsules and compostable bags can all be successfully utilised through normal organic recycling processes, without concern of contamination,” he said.
The full report is available to download on the APCO website.
The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APOC) has launched a new sustainability webinar series to help industry professionals stay connected.
APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said the weekly APCO Community Meeting events are designed to bring together sustainability experts from across the business, government and environmental communities to explore ideas.
“These include packaging specific topics – such as sustainable packaging design and strategy, recycled content and labelling for resource recovery and also broader sustainability ideas, including building a circular economy in Australia, recycling in remote and regional communities, and how to communicate your green credentials,” she said.
According to Ms Donnelly, the APCO team have worked hard to build a community that works collectively to address “significant and pervasive” sustainability issues.
“In this new and changing world of work, we want all those who belong to the APCO community to know they have the support of this collective group, and to make sure no one is left feeling disconnected or isolated,” she said.
“We are now up to our sixth webinar in the series, and it has been so rewarding to be joined by hundreds of professionals every week who are equally as engaged and passionate about this space. We look forward to seeing even more of you in May.”
Webinar schedules will be released monthly. May’s schedule, including links to register, is available below:
6 May: Launch of the Compostables Guidelines
Certified compostable packaging will play a small but important role in the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. But it is also an area that poses significant confusion – for industry and end consumers.
‘Considerations for Compostable Plastic Packaging’ is a new APCO resource, providing clear direction forward on the role of certified compostable plastic packaging in Australia.
Speakers: APCO’s Lily Barnett, AORA’s Peter Wadewitz and Rowan Williams from the Australasian Bioplastics Association.
To register click here.
13 May: Deep Dive: PREP Assessment
This week will take a deep dive into the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) – the online verification tool that assesses how packaging will behave in the Australian and New Zealand resource recovery systems, and powers the Australasian Recycling Label.
In this session tailored to users assessing their packaging, such as packaging technologists and developers, the discussion we will explore some of the common technical queries that emerge when conducting an assessment.
Speakers: Australasian Recycling Label Program Manager Lily Barnett and PREP Founder Anthony Peyton.
To register click here.
20 May: The Importance of a Packaging Sustainability Strategy and Action Plan
This week will address how and why having a packaging sustainability strategy and APCO Action Plan can help support organisations on their packaging sustainability journey.
To register click here.
27 May: Promoting Green Credentials
Research demonstrates that sustainability issues are among the fastest growing concerns for consumers worldwide. 2019 research from Monash Business School found 92 per cent of consumers believe sustainable business practices should be standard, and not the exception.
This session will explore why it is important for brands to effectively communicate their sustainability achievements, and the practical tools and processes for getting started.
To register click here.
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An industrial composting facility in Melbourne’s Dandenong South has received final environmental approval from EPA Victoria.
The facility is operated by international waste management company Sacyr, with a biological and air treatment system designed by Waste Treatment Technologies.
The $65 million facility operates under a contract negotiated by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) on behalf of eight councils.
“Through this collaborative contract, Sacyr Environment Australia receives enough kerbside material to run its facility, which has processing capacity of up to 120,000 tonnes annually,” a MWRRG statement reads.
The facility is a part of Melbourne’s food and green waste processing network, which has a target of 400,000 tonnes of capacity by 2021, as set out in the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan.
The facility, operating with conditional approval from the EPA, has processed household food and green waste from Melbourne’s south east since May 2019.
International Compost Awareness Week is coming up in the first week of May and Costa is excited, writes Mia Ecob, Resource Recovery Education Officer at Penrith City Council.
Penrith City Council had the privilege of giving Costa and his team from Gardening Australia a sneak peek into what makes Penrith a recognised leader in sustainable waste management.
For over 10 years, Penrith City Council has diverted a significant amount of organic material from being sent to landfill, resulting in great environmental benefits and financial savings. In ensuring all residents are sorting their waste correctly, Penrith City Council’s Resource Recovery Field Team engages with residents daily to educate on the importance of sorting waste.
Costa, Penrith’s Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy Ambassador, is very enthusiastic about the positive sustainability and environmental behaviours Penrith has instilled into its management of waste over the years. One of these practices includes council’s implementation the food and garden organics (FOGO) service back in 2009.
As Costa loves composting, he wanted to see how it can be done on a large scale. Two members from Penrith City Council’s Resource Recovery Field Team, Kate Bradshaw and Drew Turner, detailed to Costa how this could be achieved, while also educating residents on how to minimise the amount of contamination found within the organics bin. The benefits of having our field officers out and about in the community demonstrates the friendly and helpful education approach to waste.
Having a holistic approach to getting everyone across the community involved in composting through the FOGO bin service enables positive results to be achieved. Simple things such as placing food waste into the council provided green compostable bags and removing food waste from packaging are just some of the ways to improve sorting behaviours.
The commitment Penrith’s Waste and Resource Recovery Department has in achieving 70 per cent diversion of waste from landfill by 2021 is well on track. By continuing to focus on educating and supporting the community with their sorting habits, highlights the benefits of providing long-term social, economic and environmental value in moving towards a circular economy of reducing waste.
Catch Penrith City Council’s Resource Recovery Field Team talking all things waste with Costa on ABC’s Gardening Australia 1 May.
Phil Corkhill, of Corkhill Bros, explains the process and equipment requirements essential to managing Canberra’s green waste collection service.
When the Canberra Business Chamber sought to find the territory’s oldest surviving business in 2019, Corkhill Bros was among a handful of those recognised.
Operating in multiple capacities since 1954, Corkhill Bros has been running a public green organic drop-off facility in the nation’s capital for more than 35 years.
While the drop-off facility always received a steady flow of material, its intake jumped in April 2017. The surge in material followed the introduction of separate green organics kerbside collection in the ACT.
The ACT Government subsequently tasked Corkhill Bros with collection and processing via a government contract. As Canberra does not have individual councils, this means Corkhill Bros manage the entire territory.
By July 2019, all Canberra residents had access to separate organics collection after the service was rolled out progressively over three-years.
As a result, Phil Corkhill, of Corkhill Bros, says the family-run business now deals with an average of 350,000 tonnes of green waste each year.
“As a company, we’re committed to a circular economy waste management and resource recovery approach. This means it’s very important that we achieve high recovery rates and nutrient-rich feedstock,” he says.
According to Phil, all organic waste processed at the facility is reused for the benefit of the community, with the resulting material turned into high-quality landscaping supplies and compost.
“We grind our green organics daily, before allowing the product to sit for three months to achieve quality pasteurisation and composting,”
“This allows the particles to break down before additives are introduced and turned into the piles for mixing.”
To manage the process efficiently with minimal downtown, Corkhill Bros work closely with machinery supplier ELB Equipment.
“When dealing with that level of material, operators can’t afford equipment breakdowns or to work with suppliers that don’t remain significantly engaged in the business,” Phil says.
“We manage and process all of Canberra’s green waste, and as such, require efficiencies of scale. ELB can provide those efficiencies, which is why we continue to work with them.”
Phil says Corkhill Bros currently operates a Topturn X55 Compost Turner, Multistar L3 recycling screen and four Nemus 2700 screens all supplied by ELB at its Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre.
“ELB calls us at least once a month, not just to check in on existing equipment, but to enquire about future needs and maintenance requirements. They are always on the front foot,” he says.
“I consider them more of a partner than a supplier – they’re a very proactive company.”
Corkhill Bros uses the Multistar L3 and Nemus mobile machines for screening and mixing. Phil says both recycling screens facilitate consistent operations, particularly in contrast to drum screens or flatbeds.
“Drum and flatbed screens often suffer significant blockages, which in turn creates inefficiencies,” he says.
“The technical makeup of star screens circumnavigates that problem through curvature, to create a reliable piece of equipment capable of processing organics in all weather conditions.”
The core of the Multistar L3 screen consists of one or two screen decks, with the rotating shafts of the coarse screen deck moving the material horizontally. Phil says particle size can be controlled by varying the rotation of the star shafts.
“The particle size of the material can be changed within seconds using frequency converters on the operator console, within the range determined by the star geometry,” he says.
All functions are monitored by a central control unit, which reports on the current operational status to streamline site operations.
In regard to Corkhill Bros’ four Nemus screens, Phil says he uses the barrels for final screening and blending. “Nemus 2700s are very high production machines, with some great improvements on the previous mustang model,” he says.
With a large steep-walled hopper and high-performance discharge system, the Nemus 2700’s material flow enables 10 per cent more throughput than predecessors,
“The clearance between the drum and sidewall also allows for a wide range of material inputs, with hole sizes up to 100 millimetres,” he says.
Fine particles are discharged by a cross belt and profiled discharge belt, with the Komtech design preventing material trickle at transfer points to facilitate high capacity.
Corkhill Bros’ Topturn X55 Compost Turner runs in a separate part of the Mugga Lane facility to facilitate open air windrowing,
As one of the most widely used compost turners in the world, the Topturn’s frame is designed for heavy-duty applications, namely varied and unpredictable municipal green waste.
Phil says the turner’s large hydraulically driven drum, with efficient conveyor and throwing blades, accelerates the turning and rotating process. This, he adds, means all material is mixed before passing through the drum. Since purchasing the machine in 2017, Phil says he has noticed a rise in material quality.
“I’ve been nothing but happy with ELB’s compost turner. It really helps us maintain workflow and product excellence,” he says.
While Corkhill Bros works with multiple manufacturers and suppliers, Phil says ELB’s commitment to service, including spare parts and process maintenance, is a standout in the industry.
“I’m always impressed with their methodology and business model, as it’s very customer focused. We deal with multiple manufacturers and suppliers, and I’d like to think some of them could aspire to the ELB model.
Waste Management Review has made the switch to Australasian Bioplastics Association (ABA) approved compostable packaging for all magazine mail-outs.
The material is certified home compostable to Australian Standard AS 5810-2010, with home compost testing accommodating longer time frames at lower environmental temperatures than industrial composting.
ABA certification requires a product to prove properties according to specified test methods, including disintegration and biodegradation to a specified extent within specific time frames and not containing harmful substances.
The Australian Organics Recycling Association’s (AORA) annual conference is open for attendee registration.
This year’s conference, held 1 to 3 April at the Crowne Plaza in the Hunter Valley, NSW, will feature a line up of national and international organics experts.
Each plenary session will focus on one aspect of the organics industry, seeking out differing views and options for the future.
AORA National Chair Peter Wadewitz said the conference will be a prime opportunity to network with industry leaders and gain insights into the latest opportunities in the organics recycling industry.
“The AORA Conference is a forum for education, discussion and networking related to organics recycling. It is also an opportunity to celebrate outstanding achievements in the industry,” Mr Wadewitz said.
“I look forward to catching up with many friends and colleagues, and hearing the best ideas for our industry from across Australia and around the world.”
The event will feature keynote presentations from Teaming series author Jeff Lowenfels and Aurel Lübke of Compost Systems Austria.
For more information click here.