SA Council to trial ‘call and collect’ bulky waste

Residents in the City of Mount Gambier in South Australia will have the option to pick up kerbside bulky waste via a ‘call and collect’ system.

The City of Mount Gambier will trial a kerbside bulky waste collection over a six month period from 1 July 2020.

Each residential property will be eligible for one pick up of up to two cubic metres of bulky waste via a ‘call and collect’ system, part of the council’s initiative towards supporting residents during COVID-19.

The service is proposed to have cost implications of up to $200,000 over the trial period with resources allocated via the ‘Our City, Our Response’ COVID-19 strategy, which will seek to employ locals who are experiencing unemployment as a result of the pandemic.

Mayor Lynette Martin OAM said hard waste has been an issue for some time in the city.

“Council often receive feedback requesting a service of this type, so this presents an ideal time to test the service provision in a measured way,” she said.

“It is hoped that the trial will test if hard waste collection will be a suitable option long term to ensure that items are separated correctly to maximise recycling and reuse, and minimise waste to landfill.”

Conditions will apply to the service in terms of the types of waste that will be accepted with an aim to reduce waste to landfill and encourage responsible disposal of household items.

Aaron Izzard, City of Mount Gambier Environmental Sustainability Officer, said since the establishment of the ReUse Market, residents have had the option to dispose of good quality items for free at the Waste Transfer Station, however there are many residents who are unable to transport these goods.

Izzard said the overall goal is to ease the burden of cost and transport for disposing items, whilst also reducing illegal dumping.

“Examples of items that could be accepted include televisions, furniture, white goods and material offcuts such as timber, iron etc, while those that would be considered unacceptable include asbestos and other hazardous waste, car batteries, shoes and clothing, gas bottles and tyres and car parts to name a few,” he said.

Elected Members endorsed the ‘by-appointment’ waste option at Council May meeting on Tuesday May 19.

Further information about how residents can access the service will be released by Council in the coming weeks.

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NSW EPA records 34 per cent increase in illegal dumping

Members of the public are being asked to report illegal dumping in their communities, after the NSW EPA recorded a 34 per cent increase in illegal dumping last month compared to April 2019.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said illegally dumped waste can harm human health, pollute the environment and cost millions of dollars in taxpayer clean up money each year.

“Most people do the right thing and book in a waste pick up service with their council or sell items in good condition through online forums, but some don’t,” he said.

“Leaving waste on the kerbside without contacting your council could be illegal dumping and cost thousands of dollars in fines.”

Reports to the RIDonline database, which is used by NSW councils and government agencies to record and manage illegal dumping, show incidents of dumped household waste were up 42 per cent, with green waste and mulch up by 30 per cent.

The EPA, which is now a part of the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, has advised residents to book waste collections with their local council and to store unwanted good safely until they can be disposed of.

“COVID-19 is also putting stress on charity stores and volunteers. If your local op shop or charity bin is closed, don’t leave your donations outside. Look for an alternative nearby, or revisit when the store is open,” an EPA statement reads.

“Goods left outside op shops and charity bins often become waste, costing charities to clean up and dispose of.”

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ACT revokes all charity bin licences to combat illegal dumping

The ACT Government has immediately revoked the licences of all charity bins operating on public land throughout Canberra, in a bid to tackle a rise in illegal dumping.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said the decision was made with the support of charity bin operators.

“This decision has been made due to the growing challenges faced by charity operators in managing illegal dumping around the diminishing number of clothing bins around the city,” he said.

“Despite a range of measures to address the problem, including CCTV and improved compliance, some Canberrans are still continuing to dump goods next to bins, leaving our city untidy. It’s unfair for the charities to have to clean up these dump sites, so they have been withdrawing these services.”

According to Mr Steel, COVID-19 has also impacted the availability of charity workforces to manage the bins.

“I am urging all Canberrans to please stop taking items to charity bins from now. We have already started the process of removing the remaining ones from locations around Canberra, and will continue to do so in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

Mr Steel said the ACT Government remains committed to continued collaboration with the charity sector to ensure opportunities for the reuse and recycling of unwanted items.

“Following the public health emergency, we will seek to meet with the charity sector and other interested organisations to work on the future of textile recycling in the ACT,” he said.

“This will involve identifying alternative collection points in the future, as well as looking to improve textile recycling beyond what is already available in the ACT.”

High quality items including clothing, books and homewares will still be accepted by charities with shop fronts currently accepting goods.

“I would also ask Canberrans to be mindful of the current COVID-19 challenges and to consider storing their items at home temporarily during this time and to avoid unnecessary travel. Poor quality and broken goods should go in the rubbish bin,” Mr Steel said.

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QLD councils receive $5M to fight illegal dumping

To reduce illegal dumping in known hotspots, the Queensland Government is allocating $5 million to local councils to employ new officers and increase surveillance.

According to Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch, illegal dumping costs Queensland communities millions of dollars annually.

“The state government is currently fighting a war on waste, and we are ensuring that councils have the support they need to tackle this issue, to protect the environment and create local jobs,” Ms Enoch said.

The funding follows a successful local government illegal dumping pilot partnership program in 2019.

“Thanks to the success of this pilot, we are now expanding the program across Queensland, with more than $3.6 million going to 29 Queensland councils to fund a total 31 new dedicated illegal dumping field officer positions,” Ms Enoch said.

“This funding will help local councils to employ additional illegal dumping officers, hold target programs, boost intelligence and enhance reporting on illegal dumping activities.”

Additionally, the state government will provide $1.3 million to 32 councils through a dumping hotspot program, which is designed to support regional programs tackling illegal dumping at a local level.

“By working together, we can send a strong message that illegal dumping will not be tolerated, and it’s up to all Queenslander’s to do their part to keep our state clean,” Ms Enoch said.

Local Government Association of Queensland CEO Greg Hallam welcomed the additional funding.

“The initial pilot program has already had early success for the four councils involved. The Local Government Association of Queensland welcomes its expansion to additional councils across the state,” Mr Hallam said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government on measures to help ease the burden of illegal dumping on Queensland communities.”

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WA recycling charities secure over $40,000 in funding

Western Australian charities have secured more than $41,000 in funding to help reduce dumping at charitable recycling sites.

The funding, administered through the Charitable Recyclers Dumping Reduction Program, enables research to inform better practices by charitable recyclers, with findings circulated through the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations.

According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the program aims to reduce illegal dumping and littering, and prevent unusable items – which ultimately end up in landfill – being left at donation sites.

“Illegal dumping and unusable donations are a widespread problem faced by charities. This program not only helps reduce illegal dumping and littering through better surveillance and security, but also through ongoing research,” Mr Dawson said.

“Charitable recyclers welcome useful and resalable donations, and are an example of recycling in action, yet they are often left with the unsightly and expensive problem of disposing of unusable or illegally dumped items at their sites.”

Recipients include Alinea Inc, in partnership with Good Samaritan Industries, to install sensor lighting and optical surveillance equipment at four collections sites, and Anglicare to purchase and instal ten high security donation bins.

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Operation Rubble statewide NSW crackdown

A coordinated statewide multi-agency crackdown in NSW on illegal dumping and waste transportation has disrupted the criminal waste trade.

For the first time, the states five Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squads and Programs led a multi-agency unannounced roadside operation to crackdown on illegal operators. The operation brought together the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS), the NSW Police and local councils.

During the November 2018 operation, waste transport vehicles were intercepted and checked for waste transport and disposal compliance, as well as vehicle and road safety compliance.

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The month-long operation 468 heavy vehicles saw stopped, with the resulting compliance actions:

  • 130 RMS defect notices and 31 NSW Police infringement notices were issued.
  • 22 penalty notices and 16 official cautions were issued by the RID Squads, totalling $16,447. Notices and cautions were issued to waste transporters for offences including uncovered loads and allowing waste to escape onto the road.
  • Four trucks carrying loads of waste to unlawful sites were redirected to lawful waste facilities.
  • The disposal sites of 45 waste trucks are being inspected by the RID Squads and the EPA to check whether the waste was lawfully disposed. Follow up regulatory action will be taken where necessary.

This operation aligns with other initiatives underway to tackle this scourge, including the EPA’s Waste Crime Taskforce which targets organised criminal activity and disrupts the waste dumping business model.

RID Squads and Programs are regionally-based teams specialising in combating and preventing illegal dumping, co-funded by the EPA and member councils. The RID Officers work for local councils, working across council boundaries using a strategic, coordinated approach to combat and prevent illegal dumping while focusing on particular issues in their region.

They work across 35 local government areas. These include the Western Sydney RID Squad, Sydney RID Squad, Hunter and Central Coast RID Squad, Southern Councils Group RID Program and ACT-NSW Cross Border Program.

Potential emergency plastic tax by 2021: report

The plastic waste crisis is expected to deepen, potentially leading to a federal response in the form of an emergency tax by 2021, according to global wealth manager Credit Suisse.

It argues that reactionary policy measures are highly likely in the short term and could include a tax on virgin resins or additional tariffs placed on imported plastic goods in its report, The age of plastic at a tipping point.

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With too much plastic waste domestically and with no large export markets available, Credit Suisse estimates there will be a sharp increase in plastic being sent to landfill and illegal dumping.

“Our headline view is that things will get worse before they get better: the policy initiatives in the National Waste Strategy won’t take hold until FY20/21,” the report said.

Credit Suisse expects bans on single use-plastics to be extended to the six most common plastic packaging and tax incentives to be provided to help hit the 2025 target of 30 per cent recycled content in packaging.

The long lead time from policy approval to implementation is problematic, particularly for new waste infrastructure, which the company said will likely lead to a more supportive project approval environment for waste infrastructure.

Waste managers are expected to benefit from this scenario, with short term potential from council re-negotiations and long-term potential to fast-track waste infrastructure approvals, according to the report.

“Plastic has infiltrated almost every aspect of human life. It is the most prolific material on the planet, growing faster than any commodity in the last 33 years,” the report said.

“Plastic packaging has become one of the most intractable environmental challenges of our age. None of the commonly used plastics are biodegradable; they accumulate in landfills or the natural environment rather than decompose.

“To curtail the situation in the short run, it is a matter of when, not if, we see reactionary policy measures,” the report said.

QLD State of the Environment report highlights interstate waste

The Queensland Government has released its 2018 State of the Environment report, highlighting interstate waste as a pressure on the state’s landfills.

Relatively low costs of landfill disposal in Queensland are said to be the motivator for cross-border flow of waste in the report.

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More than 1.26 million tonnes of domestic waste, 2.146 million tonnes of construction and demolition waste (C&D), and 1.443 million tonnes of commercial and industrial (C&I) waste was sent to landfill in 2016-17.

Of this, 53,000 tonnes of domestic waste, 640,000 tonnes of C&D waste and 23,000 tonnes of C&I waste was generated interstate and transported to Queensland landfills.

The amount of trackable waste received from interstate also increased from around 13,000 tonnes in 2011-12 to 52,200 tonnes in 2015-16.

Littering and illegal dumping is also highlighted as a serious environmental pressure, with reports suggesting the problem as widespread throughout Queensland.

The average number of litter items was found to be higher in Queensland than other Australian stats, particularly at beaches, retail strips and recreational areas.

Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the increase in the amount of interstate waste was proof that that Queensland needed a waste levy.

“The state government’s waste management strategy will stop interstate waste and increase investment in the industry to encourage more recycling and create jobs,” Ms Enoch said.

NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy draft released

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The NSW Government has released a draft of its Asbestos Waste Strategy, which aims to make it tougher to illegally dump asbestos and safer to remove it.

The strategy outlines new measures to close loopholes for transporters and increasing transparency of waste generators.

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This includes tracking waste vehicles that transport asbestos with GPS tracking devices and increasing the risks and consequences of being caught illegally dumping asbestos.

Penalties for not complying with directions from the NSW EPA could be increased within a six-month timeline, with additional regulatory actions implemented to deter unlawful behaviour. Sentencing provisions would also be strengthened under the changes in the draft, with courts able to determine the monetary benefits gained through illegal business models and included within their sentencing decision.

To make legal disposal of asbestos easier, the draft outlines investigating the removal of the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos waste and implementing additional ways to properly dispose of wrapped asbestos.

The NSW EPA would also work with local councils and the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Activities to provide education and raise awareness to help change behaviours of householders and licensed asbestos removalists.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the government wants to make it easier and cheaper to do the right thing, strengthen regulation and penalties, close loopholes and disrupt illegal business models.

“The NSW Government is committed to reducing illegal dumping by 30 per cent by 2020 and this strategy is just one of the actions to fulfil that commitment,” Ms Upton said.

“In particular, we want to make the legal disposal of bonded asbestos cheaper and easier in NSW so the community and environment are safeguarded.

“Research commissioned by the EPA revealed the cost and inconvenience of legal disposal as major why asbestos is being illegally dumped,” she said.

Ms Upton said it is important that the community, local government and industry have a say on how asbestos waste is dealt with.

The draft of the NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy is available here, with consultations closing on 20 November 2018.

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