Warrnambool begins kerbside glass collection trial

A kerbside glass collection trial has begun in Warrnambool with 3400 properties.

According to a council statment, the four-bin system means households will have their glass and recycling bins picked up from the first week of February, with rubbish and FOGO bins collected the following week.

“Glass collected will be crushed and re-used in road construction,” the statement reads.

Warrnambool Mayor Tony Herbert said the move to a four-bin kerbside system had the potential to reduce the Municipal Waste Charge for each property by roughly $10 annually.

“It’s expensive to separate these items and when glass breaks and embeds in paper or cardboard, it means that these materials – which are otherwise recyclable – can end up in landfill,” Mr Herbert said.

“As well as obviously being a poor environmental outcome, sending material to landfill is expensive because of the Victorian Government’s landfill levy.”

Mr Herbert said responses to a public survey in 2019 helped council reach its decision.

“The most popular survey response was the introduction of kerbside glass collection, alongside a larger rubbish bin that is collected fortnightly,” he said.

“This means that there are the same number of ‘bin lifts’ and truck movements but with an improved recycling outcome.”

The kerbside glass collection will be supplemented with bottle banks at Bunnings, the Dennington Shopping Centre and Norfolk Plaza. These will accept all household glass.

“The bottle banks allow anyone who isn’t currently part of the kerbside glass collection trial to begin separating their glass straight away,” Mr Herbert said.

“The new four-bin system and the bottle banks are a trial. We will use this effort to gather information about how people use the service and how it might be improved.”

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Macedon Ranges to roll out seperate kerbside glass collections

Macedon Ranges Shire Council in Victoria is rolling out seperate kerbside glass collections, following a successful 2019 trial.

According to a council statment, the decision comes after Macedon Ranges was one of 33 Victorian councils affected by the closure of recycling processor SKM Recycling.

“A new recycling processor has been identified, but only if glass is removed from the household recycling bins,” the statement reads.

In a 2019 statement, Acting Assets and Operations Director Anne-Louise Lindner said residents needed to work with council to find alternatives to landfill.

“We really hope the community will come on board and help us to remove glass from [general] recycling bins,” Ms Lindner said.

“Shards and small pieces of glass can become embedded in paper and cardboard in recycling bins, and contaminate the other recyclables.”

Macedon’s new 140 litre glass-only bins will be collected every four weeks and have purple lids.

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VIC EPA increases occupation of glass recycling facility

The Victoria EPA has increased its occupation of a glass recycling facility in Coolaroo, after stepping in to remove stockpile hotspots in October.

The action comes after a spot fire demonstrated that an industrial waste stockpile was not being appropriately managed to protect community and environment.

According to an EPA statement, recent stockpile monitoring has detected an increase in temperatures across areas that remain a concern to the EPA.

Since 25 October, the EPA has removed over 1100 truckloads of waste from the site, representing 10 per cent of the contaminated waste where hotspots are occurring.

“Works to remove hotspots and contaminated glass will continue for some months, with an estimated volume of 50,000 cubic metres of waste to remove,” the statement reads.

EPA Taskforce Manager Danny Childs said the EPA would continue to use all regulatory powers available to ensure hotspots are removed from the site as soon as possible.

“EPA will continue to undertake this work to reduce the risk to local communities and the environment,” Mr Childs said.

A regulatory oversight group consisting of EPA, MFB, WorkSafe and Hume City Council will continue a coordinated, multi-agency approach to drive compliance across the site.

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NSW councils sign recycling target MOU

Leveraging collaborative purchasing power, the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) has set a new annual target of recycling 45 million glass bottles.

According to a SSROC statement, 11 member councils have unanimously signed a memorandum of understanding, which sets out how they will work together to develop a framework for regional procurement of recycled material in infrastructure.

“Australia’s current domestic markets for recycled materials and the infrastructure needed to process them into a clean, usable form is woefully inadequate,” the statement reads. 

“With the Council of Australian Governments set to ban the export of recyclable materials – following restrictions on Australian exports due to high levels of contamination – developing domestic markets for these materials is crucial to avoid stockpiling and landfilling of valuable resources.”

SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said SSROC’s approach to joint regional procurement will create sufficient demand to influence market development, beyond what individual councils can achieve. 

“Not only will it allow councils to procure safe, affordable, and high-quality materials, but this model can be rolled out across the Sydney metropolitan area and indeed the entire state,” Ms Dougall said. 

Member councils will initially focus on introducing more glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement into road construction. Following which, they will begin investigating other materials such as plastic, tyre crumb and textiles.

“Since 2018, SSROC has led a series of workshops and collaborations with engineers, procurement experts and specification bodies, to develop the recognised performance standards for adopting a range of recycled materials in civil works,” the statement reads.

“This has enabled this innovative process to be done in a safe and cost-effective way.”

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean praised the SSROC for their commitment to tackling waste in NSW.

“We need all levels of government and industry working together and embracing initiatives like this,” Mr Kean said.

We look forward to working closely with councils and industry so that together we safeguard the future of NSW.”

The 11 member councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Georges River, Inner West, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, and Woollahra.

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Yarra City Council: crushing contamination

Waste Management Review speaks with Chris Leivers, Yarra City Council City Works and Assets Director, about the council’s ongoing trial of kerbside glass separation.

In the beginning of June of this year, 1300 Abbottsford households were greeted with new crates for their glass waste.

The crates were delivered to the inner north suburb of Melbourne as part of a kerbside glass collection trial, developed by the Yarra City Council.

The problem of crushed glass and contamination has been discussed at length in the resource recovery sector. However, as Waste Management Review reported in May, government action on the issue has been slow.

With funding from Sustainability Victoria, Yarra City Council is attempting to buck this trend by taking tangible steps to reduce contamination in the densely populated municipality. Another motivating issue is the lack of available landfill space in Victoria, particularly in metropolitan Melbourne.

Chris Leivers, Yarra City Council Director City Works and Assets, says recycling rates across Yarra are high, with the majority of residents being active recyclers. Despite this, Chris says recent changes to the recycling industry have promoted a proactive response from the council in an attempt to get ahead of potential future problems.

“Recent challenges in the waste and recycling industry will have an impact on all councils. A reduction in recycling processing in Melbourne will see additional pressures on the remaining processors,” Chris says.

“Making sure we minimise the amount of waste we send to landfill and improve the quality of recycling will ensure we continue to have a sustainable waste collection service into the future.”

The Yarra trial will run for 12 months and builds on a successful 2018 food and garden organics (FOGO) separation trial.

“The initial FOGO trial provided extremely useful data and information about the collection process and user behaviour, and identified that Yarra residents were willing to trial new ways and methods for kerbside recycling,” Chris says.

“This was very heartening for us and encouraged us to combine FOGO and glass separation in a larger trial area.”

Chris says results from the FOGO trial saw a 40 per cent diversion of waste from landfill, with current FOGO contamination rates now averaging less than one per cent.

The trial has been named the Yarra Waste Revolution and includes a targeted education and communications program.

“Recycling contamination is an ongoing issue for all councils, partly because, generally speaking, people do not have a good grasp on what is considered contamination when it comes to the kerbside recycling bin,” Chris says.

“We saw a great opportunity to make our recycled materials cleaner and more valuable, which ensures they get a new life, while also sending less waste to landfill.

“The improved quality of the material will lead to higher value, increased market demand, market diversity and the development of domestic markets for recycled products.”

According to Chris, public response to the trial has been positive, with most residents supportive of the new service and the city’s efforts to reduce waste sent to landfill.

“In only a few short weeks, there has already been a dramatic improvement in the quality of the material being presented in glass recycling bins,” he says.

“The Yarra Waste Revolution is a major change for residents, so this is a phenomenal achievement by the community in a very short amount of time.”

To implement the trial, Yarra City Council has enlisted the support of the state government, Sustainability Victoria, RMIT University, Australian Paper Recovery, Four Seasons Waste and the Alex Fraser Group.   

“Partnerships with industry and government agencies are critical to the success of this trial. We all need to work together to find solutions to the current recycling crisis,” Chris says.

“Our collection contractors, processors and industry partners share our vision to find solutions to the recycling crisis, and are helping us collect and sort the materials here in Victoria.”

Chris says research partners have also helped council understand the lifecycle analysis of the city’s new collection model, and what that will mean for environmental outcomes.

“We couldn’t implement a trial without their participation and of course, the financial and technical support provided by our government partners,” he says.

“We are actively seeking out opportunities to work with all levels of government, and the waste industry, to deliver on a new circular economy approach to waste management.”

Following the trial, Chris says Yarra will consider expanding the service throughout the city.

“We have had the courage to explore alternative methods and innovate in order to develop a more sustainable kerbside model that transitions away from the current system which relies heavily on export markets,” Chris says.

“Our long-term ambition is to move our community towards producing zero waste by supporting circular economies and minimising the amount of waste produced.”

Chris adds that making sure Yarra residents are confident in the sustainability of their waste and recycling service is key to achieving viable and environmental outcomes.

“We recognise the changes we are implementing at a local level require buy-in and commitment from our residents, but are confident that we have the support of our community, who are very focused on sustainability,” he says.

“Our Yarra Waste Revolution trial to separate glass and food and organic waste only started in June this year, and while it is a bit premature to provide solid data or analysis, the early signs are very positive.”

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Ballarat enters contract with Australian Paper Recovery

Glass will not be permitted in City of Ballarat recycling bins from 30 September, due to a new contract with Australian Paper Recovery.

City of Ballarat Mayor Samantha McIntosh said Australian Paper Recovery has local markets for the processing and reuse of paper, cardboard, quality plastics and cans, but does not have a market for glass.

“Residents will be able to take their glass to one of several free glass drop-off sites around the municipality, either using their own container or one provided by council,” Ms McIntosh said.

“Alternatively, residents can put glass in the normal garbage bin, which will be collected and sent to landfill.”

Ms McIntosh said that for many years, Ballarat shipped its recycled material overseas for processing, which is no longer an option.

“Australia is now competing with other countries to access smaller and shrinking markets for our recyclables – so we are looking for local markets and local solutions,” Ms McIntosh said.

“The urgency to find a sustainable new recycling approach intensified after the recent collapse of SKM, which collected recyclables for more than 30 Victorian councils, including the City of Ballarat.”

Ms McIntosh said she knows the change may concern some residents.

“It concerns us too, but we have looked at all possibilities and at this stage, this option is the best and most cost-effective,” Ms McIntosh said.

“Our approach also means council will be able to ensure our recycling is processed locally and genuinely reused, at no additional cost to residents.”

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PhD candidate develops glass waste construction columns

University of Queensland PhD candidate Danish Kazmi is developing a technique to transform glass waste into geotechnical columns and reduce the use of sand in the construction industry.

The geotechnical engineering student is investigating the use of crushed glass waste as an alternative to sand for ground improvement during construction works.

“Both sand and glass waste have a similar chemical composition, so we expect them to behave similarly when optimally used in geotechnical construction,” Mr Kazmi said.

“My research looks at the performance of glass waste within ground columns as an environmentally friendly alternative to sand columns, which are commonly used at the moment.”

Mr Kazmi said the columns are designed to strengthen the earth below a building and improve its load-bearing characteristics.

“Using glass waste in this way not only preserves precious sand resources and promotes closed-loop recycling, but could also reduce the carbon footprint of the construction industry by cutting down on the amount of sand that needed to be quarried,” Mr Kazmi said.

“I have always been passionate about helping to create circular economies.”

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Victorian council urges residents to separate glass

Macedon Ranges council in central Victoria is urging residents to separate glass from other recyclable material at kerbside.

In a media statement, council said it was working with its waste contractor, Four Seasons Waste, to find alternative processing options following the closure of SKM Recycling.

“An alternative processor has been identified, but this processor will only accept recycling loads which do not contain glass,” the statement reads.

“Council is asking residents to not place glass in recycling bins, effective immediately, so it can explore this option further.”

Acting Assets and Operations Director Anne-Louise Lindner said residents needed to work with council to find alternatives to landfill.

“We really hope the community will come on board and help us to remove glass from recycling bins,” Ms Lindner said.

“Shards and small pieces of glass can become embedded in paper and cardboard in recycling bins, and contaminate the other recyclables.”

The Victorian Government recently announced that councils affected by SKM’s closure would receive a rebate to cover additional costs incurred to deal with recyclable waste.

“This new funding has a particular focus on finding innovative solutions to the problem, and by trying to remove glass from our recycling, we’re already making progress in this area,” Ms Lindner said.

Ms Lindner said council would conduct bin audits in the coming weeks to monitor the level of glass in kerbside recycling bins.

“If we can see glass has been removed from bins, we may be able to divert recycling from landfill and send the glass-free recycling to this new processor,” Ms Linder said.

“Council has long been advocating for a solution to the recycling issue, which involves all levels of government working together.”

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