$20M for NSW AWT industry and councils affected by MWOO

Councils and the alternative waste treatment (AWT) industry can apply for $20 million in funding from the NSW Government to improve kerbside waste recycling.

According to Environment Minister Matt Kean, the funding is part of the state government’s $24 million AWT transition package, designed to help councils and industry achieve better food and organics waste separation and innovate how they recycle.

The funding follows the NSW EPA’s 2018 decision to restrict the use of mixed waste organics outputs (MWOO).

“It aims to support councils and the industry to plan and introduce separate food and organics waste services at the kerbside, making the most of the valuable resource that is household food and garden waste,” Mr Kean said.

“This is about the government supporting innovative, sustainable resource recovery of general waste that will be environmentally, socially and economically beneficial.”

Available funding includes $12.5 million via the Organics Collections grants program, $5 million in Local Council Transition grants and $2.51 million in Research and Development grants for new or alternative uses for general waste.

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said councils want to work with the NSW and Federal Governments to save recycling, minimise waste and build a circular economy.

“This much-needed funding will assist councils and council-led AWT industries to help keep food and garden waste out of landfill – a goal that we share with Environment Minister Matt Kean to support our environment,” she said.

“I welcome this new NSW Government funding to support recycling in our communities, as only in partnership can we ensure we save recycling in NSW.”

The Organics Collections grants program aims help councils impacted by MWOO regulatory changes switch to garden only or food and garden organics collection services, with individual grants of up to $1.3 million.

A total of $16 million is available under this funding round, with an additional $3.5 million available to non-affected councils.

Similarly, Local Council Transition grants aim to support councils impacted by MWOO regulatory changes with a range of project options, including strategic planning, options assessment, community engagement, rolling out new organics collection services or improving their existing organics services.

Research and Development grants are designed to support initiatives to develop alternative end markets or new products for general waste, either to accelerate or enhance existing projects or fund new research and development.

An additional $3.75 million for processing infrastructure is scheduled to open for applications next month through the Organics Infrastructure Large and Small program.

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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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Urgent collective procurement: SSROC

Councils must band together to foster a viable domestic recycling market, writes Helen Sloan, Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils Program Manager.

Reading the article by NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean in December’s Waste Management Review, it was very gratifying to find him so supportive of the drive to take the waste sector into a new era of sustainability.

The 11 member councils of Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) have supported this concept for many years and have now gone beyond support to action.

Each council has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), undertaking to work together to develop a framework for regional procurement of recycled material, and drive investment in new remanufacturing infrastructure.

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

With the Council of Australian Government’s ban on the export of some recyclable materials, we need to develop our own recycling industry with some urgency. And domestic markets for the outputs and new products will be critical to the growth of that industry.

While councils conduct a lot of procurement, individually they may not need to purchase the large volumes of goods that might drive the development of an efficient, cost-effective and competitive industry.

By working together through their regional organisation, councils will send a powerful signal to potential suppliers that they are serious about products with recycled content, as well as demonstrating long-term demand.

The first procurement to be conducted under the new MoU is for materials for use in councils’ civil works – road maintenance, footpaths, bike paths and the like.

Given the 11 SSROC member councils – from the City of Sydney, inner west and eastern suburbs, to Sutherland Shire and Canterbury Bankstown – cover around 700 square kilometres, with a population of 1.7 million, that represents a lot of local roads and paths.

That is enough for the councils to set themselves a new annual target of recycling 45 million glass bottles.

Following the signing of the MoU late last year, Minister Kean praised the commitment from the SSROC, saying: We need all levels of government and industry working together and embracing initiatives like this to tackle waste in NSW.

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

Councils will first focus on introducing more recycled content in road-making materials, including recycled crushed glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement. SSROC demand for recycled glass in civil works is estimated at over 10,000 tonnes per year.

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

The next phase of the project will investigate applications for a range of other recycled materials, such as plastic, tyre crumb and textiles.

Mayor of Burwood Council and SSROC President, Councillor John Faker said: “This is a significant step towards solving the recycling crisis. We know how important recycling is to the community, which is why our councils are taking the lead to ensure our recyclables are put to good use and kept out of landfill. This is a win-win for everyone.”

Councils cannot do this in isolation. With the Australian Government in November targeting significant increases in government procurement of recycled materials, it makes sense to liaise with other agencies and organisations, as well as working together.

So SSROC is inviting other councils and regional and joint organisations to consider joining the initiative.  SSROC is also liaising with NSW Government agencies, particularly Transport for New South Wales, to ensure that the procurement process will deliver products that meet their specifications and are effective and safe for workers to use.

This pioneering approach to joint regional procurement, in collaboration with key players in industry, government and academia, is intended to generate sufficient demand to influence market development beyond what councils might do alone.

It will allow councils to procure safe, affordable and high-quality materials, and will demonstrate that the model can be applied throughout the Sydney metropolitan area and indeed the entire state.

SSROC procurement services focus on large and complex goods and services, driven by our member councils’ priorities.

They are generally part of the delivery of a broader program of change involving multiple different stakeholders and specialist technical expertise.

The plan is that procurement of recycled materials for civil works will be just the first of many projects under the Procure Recycled program. Watch this space!

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NSW targets zero organics in landfill by 2030

The NSW Government’s Net Zero Plan Stage One: 2020-2030 seeks to achieve net zero emissions from organic waste in landfill by 2030, with targeted actions to support councils improve services and product quality.

“Organic waste, such as food scraps and garden trimmings, makes up about 40 per cent of red-lidded kerbside bins. When sent to landfill, the decomposing material releases methane that may not be captured,” the plan reads.

“However, when this waste is managed effectively, through proper composting and recycling processes, methane emissions can be substantially reduced, soils can be regenerated to store carbon and biogas can be created to generate electricity.”

The plan outlines specific actions including supporting best-practice food and garden waste management infrastructure, and ensuring compost or other organic soils are of the highest quality for land application.

Furthermore, the state government will facilitate the development of waste-to-energy facilities in locations with strong community support, and update regulatory settings to ensure residual emissions from the organic waste industry are offset.

The NSW economy will see over $11.6 billion in private investment and 2400 new jobs as a result of the plan, according to Environment Minister Matt Kean.

“Where there are technologies that can reduce both our emissions and costs for households and businesses, we want to roll them out across the state. Where these technologies are not yet commercial, we want to invest in their development so they will be available in the decades to come,” Mr Kean said.

The plan outlines four key priorities: drive uptake of proven emissions reduction technologies, empower consumers and businesses to make sustainable choices, invest in the next wave of emissions reduction innovation and ensure the NSW Government leads by example.

Mr Kean said roughly two-thirds of the plan’s private investment will be directed at regional and rural NSW, “diversifying local economies that are doing it tough after the drought and devastating bushfire season.”

“Global markets are rapidly changing in response to climate change, with many of the world’s biggest economies and companies committed to reach net zero emissions by 2050. NSW already leads the nation with its economic and investment plans and from today, NSW will lead the nation with its Net Zero Plan,” Mr Kean said.

“Our actions are firmly grounded in science and economics, not ideology, to give our workers and businesses the best opportunity to thrive in a low-carbon world.”

The plan is financially supported by a $2 billion bilateral agreement between the Federal and NSW Government, announced in January 2020.

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NSW allocates $1M to tackle local litter

The NSW Government is calling on councils and industry groups to apply for more than $1 million in grants to tackle litter in their local area.

A total of $1.17 million – comprising $670,000 for round six of the Community Litter Grants and $500,000 for the inaugural Cigarette Butt Litter Prevention Grants – is available to councils, businesses and organisations.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said more than 200 projects have been funded under the program, with some recording up to 80 per cent litter reduction in their targeted hotspot.

“Cigarettes butts are consistently the most littered item in NSW every year. I look forward to seeing innovative projects to help reduce the millions of butts littered each year and by doing so, cleaning up our environment,” he said.

According to Mr Kean, the community grants can be used to fund a number of litter initiatives including community education and engagement, clean-ups, new bins, promoting programs aimed at addressing littering, and strengthening the capacity of environmental groups working in the sector.

“Our community groups and councils are fantastic partners to assist with tackling litter. It is local communities who know their litter hotspots and can develop practical and effective solutions,” he said.

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NSW proposes levy amendments and mandated govt procurement

The NSW Government will investigate waste levy amendments to ensure regulatory settings remain fit for purpose, according to the state’s newly released 20-Year Waste Strategy consultation paper.

According to the paper, the state government will review waste levy boundaries, levy exemption for problem wastes, national levy harmonisation and complementary price-based instruments such as pay-as-you-throw initiatives.

The paper also proposes standardised collection systems for households and businesses, place-based infrastructure development, waste benchmarks for the commercial sector and potential government procurement targets.

The announcement comes as the state government opens consultation on two draft strategies: the 20-Year Waste Strategy and Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastic in NSW.

Citing 2018 waste generation figures, Environment Minister Matt Kean said the state’s waste industry needs to be more sustainable, reliable and affordable.

“We need a smarter approach that makes use of all the levers available to us. We need to drive sustainable product design and waste reduction, and maximise the amount of used material that is recirculated safely back into the productive economy,” he said.

According to Mr Kean, the 20-Year Waste Strategy canvasses options to reduce waste and increase recycling, outlines opportunities and strategic direction for future waste and recycling infrastructure and seeks to grow sustainable end markets for recycled materials.

“The 20-Year Waste Strategy will be a vehicle that not only enables the state, businesses and the community to improve our approach to waste. It is also intended to generate new economic opportunities, reduce costs to citizens and businesses through a smarter approach, and increase our resilience to external shocks,” he said.

The NSW Plastics Plan, Mr Kean said, outlines a clear pathway to reduce single-use, unnecessary and problematic plastics.

According to the discussion paper, potential priority directions include making plastic producers more responsible for collection and recycling, and mandating 30 per cent minimum recycled content in plastic packing by 2025.

“It sets the stage for the phase-out of priority single-use plastics, tripling the proportion of plastic recycled by 2030, reducing plastic litter by a quarter and making our state a leader in plastics research and development,” Mr Kean said.

“Lightweight plastic bags are proposed to be phased out six months from the passage of legislation, with other timelines to be determined after feedback from the public consultation process.”

Local Government NSW President Linda Scott said the proposals were far-ranging and far-sighted, offering smart and innovative state-based solutions to Australia’s growing “waste and recycling crisis.”

“Together, NSW local governments have been campaigning to save recycling since 2018 – and it is clear Environment Minister Matt Kean and the Premier have not only listened, but heard our call,” she said.

“For two years councils have been asking for the waste levy to be reinvested for the purpose it is collected, and the Premier’s announcement that this levy will now be reviewed is very welcome news.”

According to Ms Scott, steps to reduce waste, including banning plastic bags in 2021, will play a critical role in helping to create a circular economy.

“Joining with the Commonwealth to fund council-led waste and recycling infrastructure proposals will help ensure our waste is managed more sustainably, creating jobs in NSW,” she said.

“Increasing state and local government procurement of recycled goods, while leveraging off existing procurement platforms, is long overdue. Local governments are also very supportive of state-wide education campaigns so everyone is able to do their bit to reduce waste and increase recycling.”

Waste Management & Resource Recovery Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan said with plastics at the forefront of the community’s mind, it’s encouraging that NSW is looking to align with other jurisdictions to design out unnecessary single-use items.

“It also appears that NSW is prepared to go further, with mandated recycled content of 30 per cent by 2025, and emphasis on designing out waste and making producers take greater responsibility for collecting and recycling in NSW, including the possible use of more extended producer responsibility schemes,” Ms Sloan said.

“These are all positive policies that may result in less reliance on councils and householders to meet the costs of these schemes.”

Consultation closes 8 May.

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NSW injects $24M into kerbside FOGO

The NSW Government will provide $24 million in funding to support local councils and the alternative waste industry improve food and garden waste kerbside separation.

The financial injection follows the NSW EPA’s controversial October 2019 reaffirmation of its 2018 mixed waste organic output revocation, which saw the material banned from agricultural land applications.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the funding will help local councils and industry adopt and improve sustainable organic waste management, while the government undertakes consultation for its NSW 20 Year Waste Strategy.

“We know from the $105 million investment currently provided under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative that recycling food and garden waste through a dedicated kerbside bin works. Already more than 40 councils across NSW have food and garden kerbside collections with good results,” he said.

“To help make this change, we’re investing $24 million to support local councils and industry operators that were putting organic waste in red bins to produce mixed waste organic outputs.”

According to Mr Kean, the initiative is financial viable and will create a beneficial product that helps improve soil health.

“That’s why we are providing this type of support for the alternative waste industry and councils. The $24 million will help councils implement or improve kerbside organic waste collections, purchase new equipment and upgrade facilities,” Mr Kean said.

The EPA and Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will also undertake organics research to improve investor confidence in collection and processing.

“This funding boost will support local government and industry while we develop the best long-term solutions for waste management and resource recovery through the NSW 20 Year Waste Strategy,” Mr Kean said.

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Landfill levy waived for bushfire victims

Landfill levies have been waived for residents in bushfire affected areas across Victoria, following an announcement from state Premier Daniel Andrews.

“As Victorians begin returning to their homes and land following the recent bushfires, the state government will make sure people can dispose of their bushfire waste without paying the landfill levy,” Mr Andrews said.

“This is practical and immediate support for people who are undertaking the heartbreaking task of cleaning up their homes and properties.”

According to Mr Andrews, bushfire waste includes debris from homes, businesses, sheds, stock, fencing and equipment that has been damaged.

“The levy waiver will also make it easier for people to dispose of dead livestock,” he said.

The Victorian EPA will work with landfill operators and councils in fire-affected areas to apply for the exemption.

“If residents or business owners have any questions or concerns about bushfire waste clean up and disposal, they can contact EPA for further information,” Mr Andrews said.

The exemption follows similar measures in NSW, with the state government waiving the levy in bushfire natural disaster areas in November 2019.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean said thousands of people across NSW are reeling from the effects of the November bushfires, which are still burning.

“We know that the effects of these bushfires will be felt for months, and even years to come, and we hope that this streamlined waste process can provide a little relief for those coping with the effects of these horrible bushfires,” he said.

The NSW exemption will apply until 29 February 2020.

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Tackling waste together: Matt Kean

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean lays out the government’s objectives for its 20-year waste strategy.

The origin of the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” may be lost to time, but its meaning has never been more relevant than today.

Australians treasure the concept of recycling and rightfully demand a recycling system that is effective, affordable and sustainable.

The readers of Waste Management Review are at the cutting edge of one of the biggest environmental challenges facing New South Wales and our country.

I’m committed to working with the industry to build a truly sustainable sector which enjoys public trust and confidence.

Our state is vast and the economics, infrastructure and issues of regional New South Wales pose different challenges to the ones we face in the city.

But people in the city and the bush are united in their clear expectation that when we say we are recycling, that is what we are doing.

They are united in expecting us to keep our word when we say we are protecting the environment and human health.

And they expect that the management of waste be efficient and effective, so the bins are collected on time and their local environment is protected.

The NSW Government is fully engaged with the Commonwealth and the other states as we work to meet the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreement to ban waste exports while building up the domestic recycling industry.

To make sure we do our part to create a truly national plan, and to get our response right to the challenges we face here in NSW, we are developing a 20-year waste strategy.

We are ending the cycle of knee-jerk policy that leads to poor outcomes.

To get the strategy right for the short and long term, we’re going to consult intensively with local government, the waste, manufacturing and remanufacturing industries, the charitable sector, waste and recycling experts and local communities around the state.

We have three objectives for the strategy and all our state waste policies: sustainability, reliability and affordability.

Sustainability means the NSW waste industry is self-sustaining, delivers improved environmental outcomes and avoids the human health impacts associated with poorly managed waste.

Reliability means putting consumers at the centre of the strategy. It means making sure that the bins are always collected and our waste is managed in accordance with community expectations, so if we say something is going to be recycled, it is actually recycled.

Affordability means ensuring that waste services are delivered at a reasonable cost and with the customer in mind.

The government must enable industry to extract value and support them through developing policies and creating markets through our commitment to a circular economy.

In February this year we published the Circular Economy Policy.

Moving to a circular economy will provide long-term economic, social and environmental benefits for NSW.

The policy specifies real action and timing and provides a roadmap on how we will transition to a circular economy.

It will inform the development of another key priority – the Plastics Plan, an ambitious, nation-leading comprehensive plan to deal with the issue of plastic waste in NSW.

The plan will look at options to reduce single-use plastics, prevent plastic litter, address the impact of microplastics and support plastics reuse in a circular economy.

Work on the plan is underway and community consultation will begin later this year.

If you want to see a model for how the government sees the future of waste management, you should take a look at the Return and Earn Scheme.

It’s the most comprehensive litter reduction scheme in the state’s history, and it delivers for the environment, the community and the industry.

More than two billion cans, bottles and plastic containers have been collected – waste that is definitely not going into our lakes, waterways, bushland or parkland.

More than $440,000 has been raised for important community work in New South Wales directly through Return and Earn.

And Return and Earn ensures high quality recyclables with low levels of contamination enters the recycling stream.

Many of these plastic, glass and aluminium containers collected under the scheme are processed for reuse within Australia.

The scheme is a benchmark of how industry, government and the community can work together to achieve great waste outcomes.

When we look at municipal solid waste – the everyday items we use and throw away – each person in NSW produces about 0.53 tonnes of waste. Across NSW, we produce around 21.4 million tonnes of waste per year.

Waste management is a huge environmental challenge. But it comes with enormous opportunity to innovate and do things differently, looking at new technologies to reduce the total impact of waste on our environment.

I am looking forward to working with industry, local government and our communities to deliver this ambitious agenda. We have an opportunity to deliver great outcomes for the people of NSW.

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ACOR launches NSW recycling app

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) and the NSW Government have launched a recycling app to help the state improve resource recovery rates.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said Recycle Mate identifies what suburb a user is in and provides tailored information to each council’s recycling collection system.

“It’s like having a huge recycling guidebook in your pocket – it’s the most comprehensive recycling app of its kind,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The app’s database is constantly being updated – more items are added every day as users photograph their waste and recycling. That means that everyone who downloads and uses the app is helping us to make it even better.”

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the app will simplify the recycling process.

“NSW has been recycling for more than 30 years, but with a changing landscape we need to be even more careful with what goes in our recycling bins, and this app will help us achieve that,” Mr Kean said.

“This app will make recycling easier, and more importantly, it will help sort our waste, which ultimately means more items can be recovered and reused, as we move closer to closing the loop and creating a circular economy.”

Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said the NSW Government is committed to helping the state’s 128 councils increase recycling rates.

“This app will keep recycling front of mind for residents across the state and help make local communities cleaner and greener,” Ms Hancock said.

“The government will continue to work closely with local councils to reduce waste and strengthen recycling.”

The project was supported with a $350,000 grant from the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

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