Researchers develop solution for glass waste

A new process turning waste glass into everyday products could save millions of tonnes of glass from landfill every year.

University of Queensland PhD candidate Rhys Pirie and Professor Damien Batstone developed a method to extract liquid silicate from waste glass.

The process can be used to make thousands of products ranging from concrete sealers to toothpaste.

The method creates little waste with almost all glass being turned into saleable products.

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Mr Pirie estimates the process will be more than 50 per cent cheaper than conventional silicate production methods.

“It requires less energy, raw materials and capital, and that’s before you consider the reduced social and economic costs,” he said.

Pirie began looking into the possibilities of glass recycling after working with Batstone who specialises in converting waste into high-value products.

“My PhD has highlighted how we need to make use of both the raw materials in waste streams and the energy embodied in them during manufacture,” Pirie said.

The pair believe the process will create positive, far-reaching and virtuous economic cycles.

UQ’s commercialisation company, UniQuest, has filed a patent covering the process and is now looking for commercial partners.

The research was co-funded by the Cotton Research and Development Council and Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

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Fines for Western Australia plastic bag ban in action

The WA State Government has implemented its state-wide plastic bag ban as of 1 January, dishing out fines of up to $5,000 for retailers.

The ban also incorporates biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags, as long as there are handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less.

Acting WA Environment Minister Simone McGurk said the ban is making significant environmental improvements, with reusable bags leading the change.

“Since July 1, 2018, we have stopped around 225 million lightweight plastic bags ending up in landfill–or worse still–in our oceans,” Minister McGurk said.

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The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is partnering with the National Retail Association to assist in educating both the public and retailers on how the ban will work.

Small businesses were given six months to prepare for the change, however that grace period ended with the new year.

“Be prepared–always have your reusable bangs on hand… whether you’re picking up milk from the deli, bread from the bakery or takeaway food from your favourite restaurant,” Minister McGurk said.

Penalties extend to plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers who will face similar fines to retailers if found to be misleading clients about their products.

The National Retail Association will follow-up on all complaints submitted to their website; where retailers and the public are encouraged to report those supplying lightweight plastic bags.

WA CDS legislation enters state parliament

Container deposit scheme laws have been introduced into the Western Australian Parliament, with the scheme expected to start in early 2020.

The move is a major milestone for the scheme, which is projected to result in 706 million fewer beverage containers littered over the next 20 years.

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It also aims to increase recycling throughout the state and is expected to reduce the number of containers sent to landfill by 5.9 billion.

The scheme is expected to deliver a net positive benefit of around $152 million over the next 20 years and follows the state government’s waste reduction methods, which includes a ban on lightweight single-use plastic bags and a review of the WA waste strategy.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said Western Australians have been supportive of the scheme, with more than 3000 people supporting it during the public consultation period.

“The introduction of this legislation to Parliament marks a major milestone in bringing a container deposit scheme to Western Australia,” he said.

“Not only will we be diverting waste from landfill, this scheme is likely to create as many as 500 jobs as part of the new container sorting and processing facilities, and refund points across the state.”

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he is confident the container deposit scheme will reduce litter and increase recycling.

“It will also be designed to provide business opportunities for social enterprises and help charities and community organisations raise money to fund vital community work,” Mr Dawson said.

“This scheme will be a win for the environment and a win for the local economy.”

NSW EPA to develop 20-year waste strategy

The NSW EPA, in partnership with Infrastructure NSW, is developing a 20-year waste strategy for the state.

The strategy aims to set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network.

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It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.

Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.

This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.

A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.

A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

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.

WA freeway to use C&D waste as road base

Recycled construction and demolition (C&D) waste will be trialled as road base for use on the Kwinana Freeway widening project, WA.

The project is the first major road in WA that will use recycled materials as road base to boost the state’s recycling performance.

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The trial will take place between Russell Road and Roe Highway and will use about 25,000 tonnes of recycled C&D product.

Main Roads WA will work with the Waste Authority and the Department of Water and Environment Regulation (DWER) for the trial.

A new product testing scheme will aim to help C&D recyclers with the costs associated with meeting the appropriate specifications are free of contaminants and asbestos. An independent audit testing scheme aims to provide additional support.

The pilot aims to improve confidence in using recycled C&D products and supporting the state’s waste diversion target. Its findings will be used to establish the WA Government’s Road to Reuse program.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the demonstration project is the beginning of a new practice for the government.

“It will demonstrate to local governments and industry that recycled content is usable and value for money, redressing the concerns from many years ago that effectively stopped any reuse of valuable construction and demolition materials,” Mr Dawson says.

“This partnership between DWER, the Waste Authority and Main Roads is a huge step forward for the reduction of construction and demolition waste in Western Australia.

“By using recycled construction and demolition products in projects across the state, we can help meet our landfill diversion targets and focus on recycling materials.”

WA Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said the interagency partnership is key to ensuring the ongoing use of recycled material in WA.

“Roads to Reuse establishes a strict testing regime to reduce the risk of contaminants to below allowable limits – protecting people and the environment,” she said.

Pepsico ANZ partners with REDCycle to recycle chip packets

PepsiCo ANZ has partnered with REDcycle to help convert chip packets into furniture, bollards, signage and other sturdy products.

Consumers will be able to drop off chip packets and other soft plastics at participating supermarkets, which will go to REDcycle’s processing partner Replas to turn into fitness circuits, outdoor furniture and bollards.

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These recycled plastic products will be purchased by PepsiCo and donated to parks, public places and schools.

One of PepsiCo’s global Performance with Purpose goals is to achieve zero waste to landfill in direct operations by 2025 through efficient and responsible waste management.

Partnering with REDcycle complements PepsiCo’s strategy to design out waste by minimising the amount of materials used in packaging.

PepsiCo ANZ Environment Manager Janine Cannell said the company is pleased to be working with REDcycle.

“This is a great opportunity for us to recover what would otherwise go to landfill and use the recycled materials to better the communities we operate in,” Ms Cannell said.

REDcycle Director Liz Kasell said the company is delighted to have PepsiCo as REDcycle partners and looks forward to seeing what we can create using recycled materials.

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