Immersed in industry: VWMA Waste Expo site tours

The Victorian Waste Management Association’s recent industry site tours took delegates through a range of resource recovery and manufacturing facilities.

The partnership between the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) and Waste Expo Australia was particularly significant in 2019, given current challenges facing the Victorian arm of the sector.

While the event had a national focus, Mark Smith, VWMA Executive Officer, says Victoria was lucky to have Waste Expo located in Melbourne.

“We support Waste Expo because of the relevance this national event brings to the Victorian landscape, with thought provoking discussions and presentations on everything important and impactful to the sector,” he says.

As a strategic Waste Expo partner, VWMA ran three concurrent industry tours on the Friday following the expo, a first for the leading waste and resource recovery event.

Hosting a wide range of delegates including representatives from the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group, industry heavy weights such as TOMRA, local government agents and small business owners, VWMA’s tours were designed to educate and stimulate conversation.

The day’s events included a construction and demolition tour, an organics tour and a packaging process tour.

“Working with industry partners Alex Fraser, the Australian Packaging and Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the Australian Organic Recycling Association (AORA), VWMA ran the tours to bring the steps industry is taking to support Victoria’s recycling agenda into focus,” Mark says.

As attendees gathered at the Melbourne Convention Centre on Friday morning, many expressed difficulty over choosing which tour to attend.

After an opening address from Mark, delegates piled into three separate buses, each with an industry specific tour guide.

The construction and demolition tour, sponsored by Alex Fraser, included site visits to Bingo Industries West Melbourne Facility, Alex Fraser’s Sustainable Supply Hub, a Level Crossing Removal Project site and the Toll Shipping’s terminal at Webb Dock.

Bingo Industries West Melbourne Facility is established on a site acquired 18 months ago by the company, with Bingo pouring $23 million into the facility since then. The site allows Bingo to convert waste into seven different products and has capacity for around 300,000 tonnes per annum. The company aims to achieve a 75 per cent recovery rate on-site.

At Webb Dock, Alex Fraser has worked with contractor Civilex to develop a heavy-duty pavement which incorporates reclaimed asphalt pavement (RAP) that meets VicRoads guidelines. The pavement base layers are comprised recycled glass sand and recycled concrete.

As part of the Level Crossing Removal Project, the Western Program Alliance used Alex Fraser’s recycled sand as bedding material for the combined services conduit housing the communications and power cables. The grade separation was undertaken at Kororoit Creek Road in Melbourne. The low embodied energy material replaces virgin sand with all 900 tonnes diverted from landfill at a lower cost.

Finally, Waste Management Review got to explore where Alex Fraser’s recycling happens, touring its Laverton North supply hub where more than one million tonnes of C&D waste, and one billion bottles of glass waste is reprocessed to make the quality construction materials needed to build greener roads.

A climb to the top of Alex Fraser’s high recycled technology asphalt plant topped off the excursion. The new $18 million faciliity is capable of producing over half a million tonnes of green asphalt per year, utilising the recycled glass sand and RAP produced in its collocated recycling facilities.

Shifting material focus, the Organics and Composting Tour’s first stop took attendees to the South Melbourne Market, where they were told about the market’s 32 tonne a year dehydrating compost initiative.

From there, VWMA and AORA directed the tour bus to Sacyr’s new indoor compositing facility. Michael Wood, Sacyr Environment Australia Consultant, guided the group through the 120,000 tonnes per annum facility, and explained the challenges associated with adapting a European model to an Australian environment.

The group was then guided through Cleanaway’s South East Organic Processing Facility and food depackaging unit.

Melinda Lizza, Cleanaway Development Manager, explained the depackaging unit’s 150,000 tonnes per annum capabilities, before handing the tour over to Michael Lawlor, Cleanaway Operations Supervisor.

After the tour, the group had lunch with the Cleanaway crew and discussed interactions with the EPA and growing levels of scrutiny on the compost industry.

From there, the group was driven to Bio Gro’s Dandenong South Facility, where Sage Hahn, Bio Gro General Manger, explained the company’s approach to organics diversion and composted mulch production.

After taking the group through the Bio Gro site, Sage fielded a range of technical questions and detailed the mineral additive process of mulch manufacturing.

Doug Wilson, AROA Victoria Admin Officer and compost group tour guide, says the day allowed delegates to closely inspect organics processing.

“At the very time when the state government is bringing the circular economy into focus, the organics tour took delegates on an interactive experience with some of Melbourne’s most exciting and innovative organics recovery technology,” he says.

The APCO packing tour, which was delivered in partnership with the Australian Food and Grocery Council and Australian Institute of Packaging, took attendees to Ego Pharmaceuticals, the South Melbourne Markets and recycled plastic manufacturer Replas’ Carrum Downs site.

Of the APCO tour, Mark says industry is at a critical time where collaboration is essential to address challenges in the packaging supply chain and achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets.

“Great stuff happens all across Australia by the waste and recycling industry and many organisatsions that we partner with,” Mark says.

He added that these were areas of interest that were not spoken about enough.

“It was exciting to see demonstrations of the circular economy in action. Parts of our sector are leading on this front and there are scale interventions that only really need the appropriate government policy to delivery environmental, economic and social benefits to Australia.”

He says this was clearly demonstrated on the tours in the Victoria context.

“Industry is leading on parts of this and it’s important to acknowledge the good work being done locally.

“A big thanks to all our partners for coming on board and collaborating with us.”

This article was published in the December issue of Waste Management Review. 

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Waste talks

Last year’s Waste Expo Australia saw a record number of delegates converge on the Melbourne Exhibition Centre to examine new opportunities in a changing sector.

At last year’s Waste Expo Australia, Pete Shmigel, Australian Council of Recycling, opened his presentation with a question: when you think about the waste and resource recovery industry over the last 12 months, would you give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down?

Audience reactions were mixed, with one delegate calling the system a mess, and another applauding the sector’s ability to acknowledge its problems and move forward. For an industry in a state of flux, this lack of consensus should come as no surprise.

But Mr Shmigel was positive, highlighting rising construction and demolition (C&D) and commercial and industrial (C&I) recovery rates.

“What kind of animal would I use to describe recycling? I’d say a bear, and what’s a bear? It’s surprisingly fast, it grows really fast and it sleeps for about half the year,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Amazingly fast growth in C&D and C&I, and then we look at kerbside recycling and it’s asleep.”

A solution for kerbside’s slumber, Mr Shmigel said, is further funding and harmonisation across jurisdictions.

According to Mr Shmigel, the Australian Council of Recycling recently conducted an analysis across 110 councils in NSW, finding 3824 collection and recycling process variations.

“There’s an argument for standardising the types of packaging that goes in, and there’s an argument for standardising the types of systems councils themselves run,” Mr Shmigel said.

“If Canada can do it, why can’t Australia?”

Supporting a stronger kerbside system was the focus of multiple Waste Expo Australia presentations, with over 100 speakers and 120 exhibitors navigating opportunities in the changing market.

According to Event Director Cory McCarrick, 2019 saw record attendance, with early reports indicating a 33 per cent increase from 2018.

“We are thrilled with the large increase in visitation at last year’s Waste Expo Australia, with a number of people travelling from interstate for the event,” Mr McCarrick said.

“Waste Expo Australia has truly cemented itself as the must-attend event for the waste management and resource recovery sector.”

The two-day event was opened with a keynote from Victorian Energy Environment & Climate Change Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, who outlined actions her department is taking to improve the state’s resource recovery system.

“Our country is facing some major challenges in the waste and resource recovery sector and that, of course, includes restrictions on the export of recyclable materials,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“It has also made us think differently about how we manage our waste domestically, and it’s been a bit of a wake-up call to many of us, because we know that we can do better.”

Ms D’Ambrosio highlighted the state’s forthcoming circular economy strategy and waste infrastructure investments, including a $500,000 grant to Advanced Circular Polymer for Australia’s largest plastics recycling plant.

“We are committed to strengthening and growing the waste and resource recovery sector as we transition to an economy with less waste and better reuse and recycling,” the minister said.

“My commitment to all of you as industry players is to be available and to listen and work with you as we manage the transition the community expects us to undertake.”

Policy drivers that would help Ms D’Ambrosio’s plan to strengthen the sector were then addressed by Rose Read, National Waste and Recycling Industry Council. Ms Read highlighted the importance of market development, landfill levies, product stewardship, environmental regulation, product bans, standards and education.

In reference to product stewardship, Ms Read highlighted the success of the used oil recycling scheme, the National Television and Computer Recycling scheme and state-run container deposit schemes (CDS).

The topic of CDS was further discussed at the Victorian Waste Management Association’s (VWMA) post day one discussion dinner, with presentations from Peter Bruce, Whenceforth Consulting, and David Cocks, MRA Consulting.

Mr Bruce, who recently served as Exchange for Change CEO, presented state-by-state CDS comparisons. He specifically highlighted variations between who owns the collected material, how cashflow is managed and how different schemes designs facilitate convenience.

While attendees appeared largely in favour of a Victorian CDS, questions were raised over long-term efficacy, material recovery facility liability and kerbside glass collection as a CDS substitute.

Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser, also addressed the importance of glass separation.

On the C&D stage, Mr Murphy discussed innovative recycling approaches and the consequence of increased recycled content in pavements and roads.

Following the presentation, Mr Murphy faced a steady stream of questions, highlighting
an understanding of the central role sustainable infrastructure will play in the transition towards a circular economy.

George Hatzimanolis, Repurpose It, expressed similar sentiments, with a presentation on the company’s approach to C&D transformation via best practice technology.

“The principles of our business are based on the concept of industrial ecology, taking a product at the end of a lifecycle and converting it into a product that begins a new lifecycle,” he said.

Mr Hatzimanolis went on to discuss the importance of urban recycling facilities located close to generation points and Repurpose It’s C&D washing process.

The contrast between urban and rural capabilities and needs was further discussed in a session chaired by Mark Smith, VWMA.

With presentations from Matt Genever, Sustainability Victoria, Isabel Axio, Just Waste Consulting, and Joe Agostino, Yarra City Council, the discussion emphasised the multifaceted nature of resource recovery, with distinctions made between what is appropriate in city centres and what works in the regions.

Ms Axio explained how to adapt urban concepts to regional landscapes, and suggested challenges such as low populations and transport costs were enabling characteristics rather than barriers.

Mr Genever then broadened the scope, focusing on what Sustainability Victoria has learnt over the past seven years.

He specifically stressed the importance of closing the market development, sustainable procurement and new infrastructure loop.

Similar arguments were made at day two’s Towards a Circular Economy Partnership Panel, chaired by Toli Papadopoulos from Prime Creative Media.

During the panel, Sebastian Chapman, DELWP, highlighted the importance of data, and said while the department doesn’t fully understand the flow of material in the Victorian economy, it is working to improve.

Pushing the point, Cameron McKenzie, ASPIRE, referenced the axiom that data is more valuable than oil. Without data, he said, waste cannot be sustainably managed.

While each panellist presented different perspectives, the consensus was clear: for a circular economy to thrive, action needs to extend beyond waste to reuse, repair and sharing economies.    

As the expo wrapped up its final day, delegates discussed waste-derived products, destructive distillation and optical sorting.

The extensive and varied nature of the Waste Expo Australia program was perhaps best expressed by Steven Sergi, South Australian EPA: if anyone still thinks waste management involves simply putting material in a hole, they’re behind the eight ball.

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Is Victoria ready for a CDS?

With Victoria the only state yet to commit to a container deposit scheme, Waste Management Review speaks with industry stakeholders about scheme potential.

In the absence of an overarching waste policy, Victoria’s waste management and resource recovery sector lacks market certainty and centralised oversight.

As such, an inconsistent approach to waste management created an environment that may have been more attractive to rogue operators.

Challenges arise when bulk processing and limited end markets exist in the same region, as evident in Victoria’s recent spate of non-compliant stockpiles.

Mark Smith, Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA)  Executive Officer, says current procurement practices encouraged a concentration of processing capacities, and this inherently concentrated risk.

Mark adds that the recent SKM Recycling shut down highlights the risks inherent in any system that doesn’t seek to secure end markets for materials and appropriate protocols for any shocks to the system.

“A series of events related to how contracts are written, commodity pricing and how businesses establish themselves brought us to where we are now. It’s not something that happened overnight,” Mark says.

“I believe our current resource recovery issues present an opportunity to change the way government and the private sector operate which must see the private sector as a partner with the government in delivering messages and engaging with the public.”

Mark adds that the introduction of a Victorian container deposit scheme (CDS) could serve as a catalyst for tackling our current recycling issues, but can’t be done in isolation or on its own.

When the Tasmanian Government earlier this year announced it would introduce a CDS by 2023, Victoria became the only state or territory without a scheme forthcoming or in place.

At VWMA’s August State Conference, Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told delegates that the state government had no current plans to develop a CDS. That was, despite demonstrated success in other states. Ms D’Ambrosio recently told the 7:30 report that government is closely watching other states’ CDS closely, a statement she reiterates regularly.

Seeking to offer up potential solutions to Victoria’s recycling and waste management issues, the VWMA hosted a CDS discussion and knowledge transfer event in October. At the event, delegates analysed schemes and results from other states. Mark says the information will be compiled and presented to delegates attending, which included a number of vocal local governments and other associations, such as the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV).

The MAV is similarly active, launching its Rescue Our Recycling action plan earlier this year. The plan identifies five actions each tier of government should take to help achieve a sustainable recycling system, with a CDS nominated as a key action for the Victorian Government.

The MAV’s submission to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management, lodged May 2019, likewise urged the state government to introduce a scheme.

Coral Ross, MAV President, says she is hopeful the parliamentary committee will recommend a scheme be introduced.   

“Container deposit schemes are celebrated for their strong record of success in increasing recovery of beverage containers, reducing waste to landfill, delivering community, environmental and economic
benefits and decreasing litter,” the submission reads.

“In light of trials and studies underway, consideration should also be given to how a separate kerbside collection for glass may complement or supplant a CDS. Either way, it is imperative that the principles of product stewardship and extended producer responsibility apply.”

CRUSHED GLASS

Contamination from crushed glass in the general recycling stream is a central driver for CDS implementation. Another solution however, introducing a fourth kerbside glass bin, is also gaining traction, albeit only in preliminary trialling stages.

The City of Yarra in Melbourne’s inner east launched a kerbside glass collection trial across 1300 households in April, following a successful FOGO collection trial in 2018.

In September, Chris Leivers, Yarra City Council City Works and Assets Director, told Waste Management Review the trial has been successful so far, with a notable decrease in contamination observed.

He added that Yarra will look to expand the service throughout the city upon the trial’s completion.

While Coral applauds the success of individual council trials, she cautions against assuming state-wide implementation would be straightforward and doable.

“There is significant diversity across councils and regions in terms of the recycling services councils offer. Proximity to materials recovery facilities, community willingness and ability to pay, and budget and resource constraints are all relevant considerations,” she says.

“Also, the Yarra and Macedon trials are small scale, so we can’t yet know how the service would work on a state-wide level.”

Another issue, Coral says, is whether or not councils can find a processor to take the material.

“In the case of Moyne Shire Council and their intention to roll-out separate glass collection municipality-wide, we understand that having a ready local end market for that material was key to the council making that decision.” she says.

“Not all councils may be able to achieve that, plus, there’s a real question about Victoria’s infrastructure and beneficiation capacity if 79 councils all start collecting glass separately.”

For these reasons, Coral says the local government sector strongly supports the introduction of a CDS as an immediate state-wide priority. She also notes that she doesn’t consider CDS to be the silver bullet that will fix everything but rather a key component of a suite of reforms needed to improve recycling outcomes.

“We have to remember that removing glass from the general stream not only reduces the contamination of paper and plastic, but enables better quality glass recovery,” she says.

“Ideally we want to see glass bottles and jars remanufactured into glass bottles and jars. Achieving a clean stream of material is key to that.”

Mark has similar infrastructure capacity concerns and issues with a ready market for materials, highlighting the amenity impacts of glass collection in high density areas. He adds that the rise of multi-unit dwellings also needs to be considered when analysing the efficacy of a fourth kerbside bin.

Mark says that waste operators already face bin collection challenges including traffic congestion, level of street access and bin placement – added to that could be a fourth collection round with noisy material.

“How is that going to impact residents? And what will resident pushback look like once those collections start? It’s a concerning proposition for many VWMA members but may also be a broader traffic challenge as well.”

IMPLEMENTATION

A recent Total Environment Centre report shows that 84 per cent of Victorians support the idea of a CDS. However, the state government refuses to heed introduction calls.

According to Mark, a CDS would require systematic changes to how parts of government operate, which may explain their hesitation.

“There hasn’t been a consistent line from the state government on what Victoria’s future recycling program will look like,” he says.

“I think that’s a problem, because we end up tinkering on a lot of little activities instead of looking towards a big fundamental shift and that shift has to take into consideration the direction the other states are taking and the region.”

Many states, including New South Wales and the Northern Territory, position their CDS as a litter management initiative.

Mark say that results from other jurisdictions and globally has seen CDS work as an effective platform to educate and engage with the public on waste, litter and recycling issues.

“The minister has said multiple times that a CDS won’t adequately address current challenges, and yes it wont fix everything, but there’s never going to be a silver bullet,” he says.

“It’s about identifying key challenges for the state, and then chipping away at problems that has support from all the revevant partners in the sector”

Another issue, Mark says, is minimal investment in public waste education from the state government.

“New South Wales has had ongoing public programs to engage the public on recycling and waste for years, while Victoria hasn’t had a state wide program or investment in this space for over 10 years,” he says.

“The state government could utilise a very small component of the Sustainability Fund to finance similar programs here.”

In addition to education, Mark says the state government would need to incentivise end markets for recycled materials that would see greater business uptake of recycled materials but also educating the public to seek out products made with recycled materials.

“If we look at the wider waste situation, the private sector invests $815 million each year, while the state government invests very little, with the bulk of the funds allocated going to infrastructure projects. The private sector have repeatedly spoken about the appetite to invest if they know there is market certainty. For me, this poses a question over the role state governments should play in market intervention,” he says.

“While introducing a CDS will undoubtably require additional costs at the start, what we’ve seen in other states, especially New South Wales, is that the state government only have to make minimal investment for set up and roll-out.”

Mark says government and industry also need to expand their focus beyond the immediate horizon and be conscious of future challenges and the future direction of the region.

“We don’t want to set up a system that in two or three years becomes obsolete, or actually becomes some sort of barrier for embracing a national push on product stewardship, because Victoria decided to introduce a CDS [for example] that is in complete contrast with the rest of the country and region,” he says.

While Coral says a national scheme would be ideal, she believes Victoria needs to start addressing its current challenges now.

“A federal scheme in line with product stewardship was on the table a few years ago but didn’t go anywhere, and now we’ve seen each state roll-out, or commit to rolling out CDS, so it would be a grave mistake for Victoria to sit back and wait for a national CDS,” she says.

“You can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

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VWMA hosts National Recycling Week business breakfast

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA), in partnership with Frankston City Council, is hosting a business breakfast on 14 November as part of National Recycling Week.

With the support of Frankston City Council, Corio Waste Management and Functions by the Bay, the VWMA is aiming for a zero food waste to landfill event.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the event is open to anyone, but is particularly focused on businesses in the Frankston Municipality.

“The Choice Energy sponsored event by will feature expert speakers from across the sustainability field, including Equilibrium, Beyond Zero Emissions and the Sustainable Australia Fund,” Mr Smith said.

“The business breakfast, held at Functions by the Bay, will include energy efficiency advice, material efficiency advice, access and explanations of tools and services to support business, and will be followed by coffee and networking.”

Mr Smith said the event is aimed at talking about waste, recycling and energy efficiency to businesses outside the waste sector.

“This event is all about making it easier for businesses to understand the steps and strategies they can begin straight away, or the areas they can make strategic investments in to reduce their waste and energy costs and increase efficiency,” Mr Smith said.

“There are a lot of government programs and grants out there for business, but these programs often have lengthy application processes with little certainty of when funds will come through if successful. What we’re hoping to create with this event is a one stop shop for businesses to gain an in-depth understanding of proven approaches to become more sustainable and more profitable.”

Frankston City CEO Phil Cantillon said the city was commitment to understanding the needs of Frankston’s diverse business community.

”Late last year we carried out a survey of our business community to understand the areas where they wanted our support to become more sustainable. This event is the outcome of that work, and we hope for a great turn out,” Mr Cantillon said.

“It’s great that the opportunity we’ve created with the VWMA includes benefits for business who register, including free energy assessments from event sponsor Choice Energy.”

Choice Energy CEO Christopher Dean said the current state of power prices is a challenge for businesses.

“Energy costs are one of the highest line items for business, alongside tax and payroll,” Mr Dean said.

According to Mr Dean, Victorian businesses are often confused when it comes to electricity, which inhibits their ability to make good decisions about their energy supply.

“This event will help to demystify energy bills, and empower people to take back control and reduce their costs with practical advice and solutions,” Mr Dean said.

The Frankston City Business Breakfast will be held 14 November between 7:30am to 9:00am at Functions by the Bay – Cnr Plowman Place and Young Street, Frankston.

VWMA members and businesses residing within Frankston will receive special rates. For more information including how to book your place visit the VWMA website.

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VWMA CDS discussion dinner

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is hosting a dinner on 23 October, where attendees will hear from industry experts about container deposit scheme (CDS) implementation and results.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the event will examine what Victoria and Tasmania can learn from CDS roll outs in NSW, ACT, QLD, WA and SA.

Mr Smith said New Zealand is also in the process of implementing its own national scheme.

“CDS’s aim to reduce the amount of beverage container litter and increase the amount of recycling through financial incentives,” Mr Smith said.

“However, not all schemes and rollouts workout to be the the same. What can Victoria and Tasmania learn from the States leading on this front?”

Mr Smith said the event, which is part of Waste Expo Australia, is open to all attendees and anyone interested in the topic of CDS’s.

“In addition to a scrumptious dinner and drinks, we’ve organised experts to present on a state by state comparison of CDS, and an overview of what happens with the cashflow of these schemes,” Mr Smith said.

“Big thanks to event sponsors MRA Consulting Group and RSM Group for making this event possible.”

For more information click here.

Nominations open for VTA’s Freight Industry Awards 2019

Nominations are now open for the Sustainable Environment Award, as part of the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) Freight Industry Awards.

The awards recognise achievements across a range of categories, with the winners to be announced on the evening of the event.

Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) Executive Officer Mark Smith said there are six awards available including the Sustainable Environment Award, Investment in People Award, Best Practice Safety Award, Application of Technology Award, Female Leadership Award and Young Achiever Award.

“Reflecting on the last 12 months we’ve seen some amazing projects realised by big and small operators,” Mr Smith said.

“I encourage those businesses to apply and share their good news stories. We need to hear them, especially now.”

According to Mr Smith, the Sustainable Environment Award acknowledges the close relationship between the VTA and the VWMA, and recognises implementation of a policy or program and or technological innovation that improves sustainability.

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said the company was honoured to be recognised at last year’s awards for its work with problematic glass waste.

“It was wonderful for our people to be recognised for their innovation, hard work and commitment to getting better outcomes for the planet,” Mr Murphy said.

Alex Fraser won the Waste and Recycling Award, now named the Sustainable Environment Award, for its efforts turning waste into valuable infrastructure building material.

Nominations are open until 28 August.

The event, themed Queen, will be held Saturday 7 September at Crown’s Palladium Ballroom in Melbourne.

Tickets to the event cost $320 (excluding GST), with a table of 10 costing $3000 (excluding GST).

For more information and to book tickets, click here.

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Industry welcomes COAG recycling pledge

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the Federal Government’s pledge to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

The decision was made at the 9 August Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, with the intention of developing Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the decision would help create market certainty among the private sector, which is the biggest investor in Victoria’s waste management system.

“For too long there’s been an air of uncertainty around Victoria’s recycling challenge, fuelled by finger pointing and short-sighted solutions, so it’s promising to see COAG agree on the urgent need for a new approach,” Mr Smith said.

“In order to successfully manage our waste needs, now and into the future, we need appropriate investment in the people, system, processes, education and engagement to drive sustainable change.”

According to Mr Smith, as the primary employer, purchasers and manager of waste and recycling assets across Victoria and Australia, business has an integral role to play in developing the sector.

Mr Smith said VWMA has long called for all levels of government to work together with the private sector and other key stakeholders on a sustainable solution to the state’s ongoing recycling challenge.

“The private sector supports more than 23,000 Victorian jobs and invests over $800 million into waste and recycling services and infrastructure annually,” Mr Smith said.

“COAG’s agreement to build the sector’s capacity to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste will be very welcome and serve as a catalyst for investment and innovation.”

Mr Smith said while it’s still early days, the COAG’s announcement is a step in the right direction.

“VWMA looks forward to continuing to work with local and state government, as well as councils and other expert bodies, to arrive at a solution that benefits all Australians,” Mr Smith said.

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VWMA urges ongoing recycling

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is urging Victorians to continue recycling despite temporary interruptions to the state’s waste and recycling network.

Despite recent challenges, VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the sector collectively delivers an efficient waste collection service to all Victorians.

“The private sector supports 23,000 Victorian jobs and invests over $800 million into waste and recycling services and infrastructure annually,” Mr Smith says.

“We have the potential to create sustainable solutions out of this current crisis. I hope we capitalise on it.”

Mr Smith said the current approach to waste management and recycling had evolved over decades.

“Current procurement practices have encouraged a concentration of processing capabilities across large operators and sites focused on volume processing, which has traditionally been a lower cost option,” Mr Smith said.

“A series of events over the last 18-20 months has demonstrated the inherent risks of the state’s waste and recycling network when we drive low cost options.”

Over the next procurement period, VWMA strongly recommends government procurement and tendering address ongoing issues and challenges.

“For Victoria and Australia to successfully manage our future waste needs, we must invest appropriately in the people, systems, processes and education to drive sustainable change, with the private sector as a partner for local and state government,” Mr Smith said.

According to Mr Smith, the state will see materials traditionally destined for recycling end up in landfill as the system transitions.

“We may need to accept that this temporary interruption could last a few weeks, as our waste and recycling system adjusts and adapts to this most recent challenge. Temporary interruptions shouldn’t discourage people doing the right thing and disposing of their waste in the right bin,” Mr Smith said.

“I also encourage impacted members or industry to attend our conference next week. The State Conference is about Victorian issues and opportunities – this is a critical time for the industry. Come along.”

Mr Smith added that the average Australian generates roughly 2.7 tonnes of waste a year — equivalent to the weight of a Toyota HiAce.

“By global standards that’s high and is not sustainable,” Mr Smith said.

“People can support the current challenges we are having by reviewing their own habits and behaviours, including buying things made locally from recycled material.”

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VWMA State Conference returns

This year’s Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) State Conference will be returning to the Yarra Valley Lodge 30-31 July.

The VWMA State Conference is the only Victorian specific event and will bring together a mix of organisations and presenters from across local government, state government and the private sector.

VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the two day program had been developed to address key challenges for the sector including EPA updates, legal insights into regulatory changes, labour laws and overseas workers, procurement and landfill discussions as well as technology updates.

“We’ve had another challenging year and things aren’t slowing down for business, but I want our members and the sector to know we’re working hard to ensure their voice, their issues and their concerns are being addressed,” Mr Smith said.

“We’ve crafted a program that will deliver everything businesses need to be aware of for the next 12 months in one place. We’ve secured the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, who will open the conference, deliver a speech on the Victorian Government priorities and activities to support a strong, sustainable sector.”

Mr Smith said VWMA create these events and opportunities so members can engage and participate in important conversations, and shape and influence how VWMA can support them.

“We received such positive feedback to our conference last year that related to the tangible benefits our conference offered their business, either by engaging with government officials, networking and connecting with people to provide solutions to their challenges,” Mr Smith said.

The conference will also feature an assessment of Victoria’s infrastructure needs and one month check ins of prescribed industrial waste tickets and the e-waste ban.

“We take a different approach with our events. The topics aren’t abstract or high level, only dealing with future opportunities,” Mr Smith said.

“We ground everything we are doing back into what it means for business today, tomorrow and next week. We also bring a sense of fun, our storeroom at work is jam packed with gifts and prizes we have lined up for our delegates. It’s going to be intense but fun 1 and a half days.”

Topics at the conference include:

  • Recycling update
  • Community attitudes and perceptions of the sector
  • Reducing operating costs through smarter power options
  • Managing brand and crisis communications for the sector
  • Battery Stewardship Scheme Design
  • E-Waste and PIW check-ins  (one month on)
  • Workforce discussions (on mental health, drug and alcohol policy, overseas workers and more)
  • High-risk dangerous goods taskforce
  • VicRoads updates
  • EPA Act 2.0
  • As well as workshops and information sessions on: drones; solar; new tech; multiunit development challenges; and the dos and donts for grant applications.
  • Plus a heap of networking opportunities

For more information contact VWMA or access the conference program here.

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Enforcing e-waste

With Victoria’s e-waste ban commencing 1 July, Waste Management Review explores what supporting infrastructure has been put in place and some of the uncertainties surrounding compliance.

Read moreEnforcing e-waste

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