The MUD dilemma

With multi-unit dwellings on the rise, Waste Management Review speaks with industry and government stakeholders about overcoming the associated waste management challenges.

As populations grow and property prices increase, Australian cities are facing a period of unprecedented shift. While the suburban ideal of a detached residence on a block of land might be aspirational to many, under present-day economic and urban planning conditions, multi-unit dwellings (MUDs) are increasingly becoming the norm.

In 2006, Bill Randolph of the University of New South Wales’ City Futures Research Centre said high-density housing, principally delivered by urban renewal and infill development, is expected to be the main source of future residential growth in major urban cities.

Almost 15 years later and Professor Randolph’s projections seem to be coming to pass, with 2018 Housing Economics Group data showing that MUDs rose from five to 25 per cent of total housing commencements between 1998 and 2018.

Whether this shift is positive or negative is a subjective matter, but data does suggest that high-density properties experience greater than average recycling contamination rates.

Contamination comes down to a number of unique challenges, according to research from the University of Technology Sydney. These include physical barriers such as distance to recycling bins, and social barriers such as a sense of anonymity or lack of responsibility for disposal and recovery.

Responding to these challenges, the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) initiated a project to improve MUD recycling in 2018. Specifically focused on reducing contamination through waste infrastructure availability and resident facing engagement, SSROC conducted bin audits at 75 MUDs. While University of Technology Sydney evaluations found the project was well delivered, final analysis was unable to detect any impact on recycling behaviour.

Similar issues are equally present south of the border, with the Victorian Auditor General’s 2019 report Recovering and Reprocessing Resources from Waste suggesting that despite growing recognition of the issue, there is limited guidance or direction on MUD waste management from a planning or legislative standpoint.   

Council kerbside waste collection is unavailable to most existing MUDs, the report notes, with private operators sometimes engaged to ensure new and existing MUDs offer recycling collection services.

This is due to insufficient kerbside space for bins, the report suggests, and an incompatibility between the collection infrastructure needed to manage large multi-storey buildings and council equipment.

Furthermore, the report highlights that while councils can influence how much space new MUDs allocate for waste infrastructure through the planning process, they don’t currently require new or existing MUDs’ serviced by commercial operators to offer commingled recycling services.

As such, the report suggests that as the level of MUDs increases, overall recovery rates will decrease.

“Most MUDs have only one waste collection service – for landfill,” it reads.

PLANNING PROVISIONS

In Victoria, much like the rest of Australia, the prevalence of MUDs has grown significantly over the last 10 years, mainly in the CBD and inner metropolitan Melbourne.

According to Sam Trowse, Sustainability Victoria Land Use Planning Project Lead, this growth has typically occurred without specific waste and recycling guidelines for high-density residential development.

“This has created issues for councils and the resource recovery industry in ensuring correct design and management options are implemented to maximise recycling,” Sam says.

He adds that as a consequence, recycling rates are lower in MUDs than in single residential dwellings. Additionally, while some planning tools and other policy guidelines exist across Victoria, Sam says these differ from council to council.

“This can make it difficult for developers and waste management consultants to design waste and recycling systems effectively across different councils, and highlights the importance of seeking early council input into design,” he says.

To address these issues, Sustainability Victoria (SV) developed its Guide to Better Practice for Waste Management and Recycling in Multi-unit Developments in 2019.

The guide, Sam says, focuses on a number of challenges including limited space for infrastructure and collection services, collection contractor requirements and a disconnect between council waste management officers, land use planners and building officers.

“The guide also focuses on emerging themes such as waste generation rates, which enables building designers to understand likely needed storage space and options to increase organics recovery, dependent on the characteristics and size of the MUDs in development,” Sam says.

Another focus is the existence of opportunities for precinct-scale MUDs, such as onsite treatments, like waste-to-energy, and automated waste collection systems such as vacuum waste.

While the guide is extensive and separated into types such as low-rise apartments, mixed use and precinct scale developments, essential requirements include hygiene, system simplicity and indemnity and waste service flexibility.

Examples of design considerations also include adequate storage space for the easy manoeuvring of bins and vehicle access and turning areas free from obstacles.

While they are just guidelines, Sam notes the document was added to the Victorian Planning Provisions in 2020.

“This is a positive move towards reinforcing the guide through land-use planning decision making.

“It also means that developers will need to meet the requirements of the guide when submitting planning permits for MUDs to councils,” he says.

TRICKLE DOWN

According to Mark Smith, Victorian Waste Management Association Chief Executive, MUDs pose an array of challenges to the association’s industry members. The dwellings are problematic, he explains, as there is little consideration of the waste needs of residents, especially in newer builds.

“It’s not uncommon to see beautifully designed buildings that feature elements helping to address energy and water efficiency, but failing on simple considerations like providing space for standard size waste trucks to access the site,” he says.

“MUDs are also great examples of how one or two poor behaving neighbours can have a huge impact on the efforts of the majority, leading to significant contamination issues.”

Recognising that the demographics of MUDs are very different, Mark says in addition to infrastructure concerns, what is often lacking is consistent community education on what goes in which bin. If recent challenges have taught VWMA anything, Mark says, it’s that the community is heavily engaged and passionate about waste management. He adds however that not all communities are afforded the same access to services, which is evident at MUDs.

While the Victorian Government is certainly taking strides in its approach to waste management in MUDs, planning responsibility often falls on council shoulders. As highlighted by Sam, guides and best practice can vary significantly between councils, and as such, harmonised design and education programs can be a challenge.

In an attempt to foster centralisation, the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG), which works on behalf of 31 Melbourne councils, developed its “Improving resource recovery in multi-unit developments toolkits” in 2018.

According to Jillian Riseley, MWRRG CEO, the toolkit is designed to help councils adopt and implement waste management considerations into the planning approvals process.

The toolkit features a waste management plan template, guide and checklist, enabling the user to calculate and record the number of bins required for building development, as well as collection frequency and storage management.

“The standard plan template can also be used as a base to customise and reflect council’s servicing capabilities, before providing it to developers to complete and submit with their planning permit application,” Jillian says.

She adds that MUDs can be a challenge for councils due to poorly designed collection areas, varying levels of collection services and limited opportunity for residents to recycle.

Onsite issues, such as inappropriate collection infrastructure or storage and bin and transportation access, can also limit the number and size of bins available to sort different streams of material, Jillian says. Furthermore, she adds that collection services and contracts vary depending on whether they’re provided by council or commercial contractors.

“In turn, this can make it more challenging to educate residents and standardise the type of materials suitable for collection, as well as manage contamination and compaction rates,” Jillian says.

Developed after extensive consultation and independent analysis, the toolkit helps councils align waste management plans with state objectives. “The toolkit helps councils save time and resources, with waste plan requirements able to be checked during the planning permit assessment process,” she says.

“The straightforward assessment list ensures a basic level of consideration for waste and resource recovery before the waste management plan is sent to a specialist waste management officer.”

Since MWRRG developed the toolkit, Jillian says multiple councils have developed their own parallel MUD guidelines.

“Councils are also trialling and implementing waste and recycling programs tailored to MUD residents including onsite composting, food and green waste recycling collection, hard waste services, onsite furniture reuse and new onsite signage,” she says.

Despite a number of positive movements in the MUD space, Mark says the Victorian Government’s recent four-bin announcement might force the state to reexamine its approach to waste management and MUDs.

“While the Victorian Government instituting a four-bin kerbside system is certainly a positive step, it will pose a number of challenges for MUDs, as space for existing infrastructure is already a challenge for bin placement and pick up,” Mark says.

“The VWMA will be working closely with the Victorian Government on the rollout.”

This article appeared in the April edition of Waste Management Review. We look forward to updating industry on this issues as it relates to current circumstances with many people working remotely.

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MWRRG opens EOIs for advanced waste processing facility

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has opened expressions of interest to design, build and operate an advanced waste processing facility for Melbourne’s household rubbish.

According to WWRRG CEO Jill Riseley, the tender is largest of its kind ever undertaken by Melbourne councils.

“Advanced waste processing solutions will play a significant role in achieving the Victorian Government’s new target to divert 80 per cent of household rubbish from landfill by 2030,” she said.

“Sixteen councils from the south east of Melbourne are involved in the tender, and together the councils collected over 490,000 tonnes of residual rubbish in 2016. This is forecast to grow to over 700,000 tonnes a year by 2046.”

Starting with the call for expressions of interest, Ms Riseley said the procurement process would take approximately two years.

“The procurement will focus on the financial, environmental and social outcomes councils want to achieve rather than specify a technology,” she said.

“It will be up to bidders to recommend proven and appropriate solutions, and to demonstrate how they deliver on councils’ objectives.”

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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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Filling the gaps: Jillian Riseley and MWRRG

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group’s new CEO Jillian Riseley discusses the agency’s plans for 2020, including a new C&I strategy and advanced waste processing procurement.

When the City of New York announced a “zero waste” to landfill plan by 2030 in 2015, the Department of Sanitation looked to significantly expand its kerbside organics collection.

While the plan was announced well before China’s National Sword impacted the global markets, the city’s strategy is redolent of a global shift towards finding replacements for landfill.

With half the population of New York City, Melbourne has looked to progressively reduce a reliance on landfill, with an organics network spearheaded by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to fill that gap.

Much of the agenda began to be implemented after the release of the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan in 2016, which aimed to minimise the need to schedule any new landfills before 2026 and find alternatives, especially in the southeast.

MWRRG’s plan for landfill alternatives continues and is now being led by Jillian Riseley, who joined MWRRG as CEO on 2 September. She replaces Rob Millard, who led the organisation for 12 years.

Jillian has extensive experience in senior roles in complex, multi-stakeholder and regulated environments where she has led significant national consumer affairs and recycling initiatives and implemented procurement strategies in complex essential service markets.

Waste Management Review sat down with Jillian to discuss MWRRG’s upcoming policy work in collaborative procurement, its Back to Earth Initiative, a planned commercial and industrial (C&I) strategy and advanced waste processing (AWP) procurement.

Progress against the initiatives are recorded in MWRRG’s 2018-19 Annual Report. Tabled in Victorian Parliament in October, the Annual Report acknowledges that the waste and resource recovery sector was forced to navigate significant changes over the past year, both local and international.

It includes a number of comprehensive actions both finalised and set for completion in the coming year, including facilitating a litter prevention program, improving multi-unit dwelling waste management and the development of a Sustainability Hub at Fishermans Bend.

Jillian says her background and passion for sustainability and collaborative procurement is what drew her to MWRRG.

“There are huge opportunities as we’re seeing a step change in the way that we, as a state, manage resource recovery,” Jillian says.

“For example, the opportunity to incorporate recycled content, recover resources and reuse them in roads is a massive opportunity.”

She says that with the Victorian Government’s circular economy policy coming out later this year, there is an opportunity for MWRRG to work with councils and the C&I sector towards reducing waste and increasing resource recovery.

MWRRG continued its support for councils through collaborative contracts, capacity building, procurement and education to ensure services continued as normal. It established the feasibility for a collaborative procurement approach for an alternative to landfill through the Metropolitan Regional Business Case for Advanced Waste Processing.

To that end, AWP is one part of MWRRG’s strategic and integrated approach to waste management. Metropolitan councils were invited to work with MWRRG, culminating in one of the largest collaborative procurements in the country. Sixteen council’s in Melbourne’s south-east are working together on a joint AWP procurement while councils in the north and west are assessing their needs.

DERIVING COLLABORATIVE VALUE

Jillian says that collaborative procurement, more generally, creates significant value for councils not just in price, but helping to build a sustainable sector, with governance and social indicators also part of that.

She adds that the collaborative procurements are very much council driven, with the local government sector identifying the best possible model to solve their local challenge.

“Our AWP procurement is often misunderstood as it’s technology agnostic. The initial stage of the project is going out and looking at the best infrastructure in the world to find a solution to the challenge of diminishing reliance on landfill,” she says.

In addition to finding an alternative to landfill, MWRRG has continued to support councils to respond to changes in the recycling sector, most recently with the collapse and subsequent sale of SKM Recycling. In the short-term, it is coordinating panel contracts to allow councils to access a recycling processor.

In the long-term, MWRRG is awaiting the release of the Circular Economy Policy, which may have implications on the available volumes and composition of recyclables.

“We have a vested interest in making sure the waste and resource recovery industry is strong and sustainable both environmentally and financially,” she says.

“That holistic look we’ll get from a circular economy policy should hopefully strengthen the whole chain not just that little piece from an SKM risk perspective, but looking globally and at the whole system.”

Earlier this year MWRRG conducted 180 waste audits and industry workshops to inform a C&I strategy that will initially focus on reducing the volume of plastics and food going to landfill.

“It will be interesting to see where we land in the development of our C&I strategy as we’re now going through the data,” Jillian says.

She says that a substantial amount of paper is going to landfill in the C&I sector.

According to the National Waste Report, around 31.7 million tonnes of materials were processed for recycling, with C&I representing 37 per cent of this. The report highlights that in many instances, C&I recycling rates are lower than they could be due to the cost of additional bins and collections being seen as prohibitive.

“Plastics also feels like an obvious place to start, but having worked a lot with both the corporate and C&I sector, the way in which those sectors work and their sub-sectors within sectors work are very bespoke and unique,” she says.

“So, whatever the strategy is and whatever we decide to focus on, we will need to tailor the strategy to that sector.”

Jillian says MWRRG is looking at releasing a draft C&I strategy at the start of next year.

“Utilising existing networks and the trusted stakeholder relationships we have built over the last decade will be really useful,” she says.

The Back to Earth Initiative, a successful organics social marketing campaign with 28 councils, is also being expanded in 2019-20.

“We commissioned some social research last year looking at the kind of messaging that resonates with people and encourages them to change their behaviour, so we’re now rolling out a new version of Back to Earth, offering it to more councils and including a focus on food waste recycling,” she says.

Jillian says MWRRG provides councils a complete FOGO support service, from planning to implementation, evaluation and social marketing. It comes as the capacity of its organics processing network already exceeds the Metropolitan Implementation Plan 2021 target of 120,000.

“We’re working with our colleagues at Sustainability Victoria to support the work they do around Love Food, Hate Waste, so we’re looking at the whole continuum, from what you buy and how you prepare it to what you do with what’s leftover.”

Supporting that was the development of a FOGO guide in late 2018 which provided practical tools and advice for planning and implementing a service in six stages.

“There’s been great pick-up of the guide with councils actually using it and following the steps in order to plan and implement their own FOGO or conduct their own trials,” Jillian says.

“Since launching in August last year, we have delivered follow-up workshops and training to staff from every council in metropolitan Melbourne and several regional councils who have valued the practical steps outlined in the guide,” she says.     

In tackling buffer protection, MWRRG also reached a memorandum of understanding with key agencies on a whole-of-state government approach. It delivered three hub plans in West Melbourne, Dandenong South and Epping, which are being implemented, and is providing support at another six sites.

While there are numerous challenges ahead, Jillian looks forward to tackling them collectively with industry.

“The silver lining is the average Victorian is much more aware of waste and recycling and there is a groundswell of support for finding solutions to our national challenges and taking increased responsibility for recycling,” she says.

“With visibility and motivation comes opportunity, supported through a circular economy policy and the introduction of FOGO.”

This article was published in the December 2019 edition of Waste Management Review. 

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Veolia and AORA make Back to Earth Initiative pledge

To mark World Soils Day, industry and councils are renewing their commitment to the Back to Earth Initiative.

The Back to Earth Initiative is run by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) in partnership with 24 metropolitan councils in Melbourne, and four regional Victorian councils.

According to a Back to Earth Initiative statement, World Soils Day serves as a reminder for the importance of soil health, and how compost made from household food and green waste is nourishing Victorian soils.

As part of the Back to Earth Initiative pledge, industry and councils commit to support the successful operation of organics processing facilities and community education.

Veolia and the Australian Organics Recycling Association have made the pledge.

“We commit to supporting the Back to Earth Initiative which promotes food and green waste recycling to the community,” the statement reads.

“We will continue to work with the community, councils and MWRRG to help the community correctly recycle food and green waste.”

The Back to Earth Initiative aims to show how food and green waste is turned into valuable compost.

“By working collaboratively to promote food and/or green waste collection services, councils—supported by MWRRG and industry—can provide clear and consistent information to the community,” the statement reads.

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MWRRG develops Sustainability Hub business case

Business cases for an Inner Metropolitan Sustainability Hub and Western Waste and Recycling Centre of Excellence have identified opportunities for a variety of sites.

The business cases, developed by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) in collaboration with key stakeholders, were prepared to inform the Victorian Government’s upcoming Circular Economy Policy.

According to a MWRRG statement, the Inner Metropolitan Sustainability Hub business case investigates the creation of a sustainability hub in Fishermans Bend.

This includes informing them of opportunities for the construction of a water recycling plant, an anaerobic digester, a resource recovery centre, community facilities and additional space for private investment opportunities.

“The concept of a sustainability hub to co-locate all essential facilities sees major efficiencies in waste, water and energy use on a much smaller footprint,” the statement reads.

The second business case presents options for a Waste and Recycling Centre of Excellence in the western metropolitan region.

“The proposed Centre of Excellence is a small, multi-function innovation centre that would support communities, businesses, local government, and tertiary education providers to transition towards a circular economy through practical and scalable services,” the statement reads.

“This includes activities such as partnering businesses to trade priority waste streams, grant writing assistance, networking events and business workshops, assistance with research and development of circular economy projects, online resources and audits or material flow analyses.”

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MWRRG plans new C&I strategy

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group’s (MWRRG) 2018-19 Annual Report, tabled in parliament November 1, examines progress against the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan.

According to the report, MWRRG is developing a new strategy for commercial and industrial (C&I) waste and advanced waste processing (AWP).

“This year we began developing the evidence base to inform a C&I waste strategy, including 180 waste audits and industry workshops,” the report reads.

“The strategy will initially focus on reducing the volume of plastics and food waste going to landfill.”

Other implementation plan objectives include reducing waste sent to landfill, increasing organic waste recovered, delivering community, environmental and economic benefits and developing a plan for Melbourne’s growing population.

MWRRG’s 2018-21 business plan outlined 45 Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Implementation Plan deliverables, with the 2018-19 report listing 19 completed, a further 19 ongoing and 15 continued.

The highest level of deliverables was achieved in the reducing waste sent to landfill objective, with 6 completed, 9 ongoing and 2 continued.

According to the report’s Message from the Chair and CEO, MWRRG continues to support local government through capacity building, collaborative contracts procurement and education.

“Reducing waste sent to landfill continues to be a priority for us,” the report reads.

“We are achieving this in a number of ways, including recycling more green and food waste, a new strategy for commercial and industrial waste and AWP.”

The report lists AWP as a core element of MWRRG’s strategic and integrated approach to reducing waste sent to landfill, alongside recycling, composting green and food waste, and continuing landfill contracts for waste that can’t otherwise by recovered.

“Our work this year has continued to build resilience and strengthen the operation of the waste and resource recovery sector – helping to ensure regular services for the community and a lower environmental impact,” the report reads.

“For the longer term, we have laid the foundations – to reduce waste to landfill, increase organic recovery and recycling – for investment, transparency and diversity in the sector.”

MWRRG 2018-19 highlights include:

Effectively managing $100 million in council contracts annually including four landfill contracts on behalf of 26 councils, one recycling processing contact on behalf of five councils and three organics processing contracts on behalf of 21 councils.

Reducing commercial and industrial waste through 180 commercial and industrial waste audits.

Promoting green waste recycling through the Back to Earth Initiative eastern garden competition, which attracted 58 nominated projects, 18,400 votes from residents and reached 109,000 residents on Facebook.

Empowering councils to deliver effective food waste recycling through a new food and green waste collection guide.

Developing an evidence base to take action through three new social research reports on food waste recycling, advanced waste processing and illegal dumping.

Protecting communities and the environment through three plans for waste and resource recovery hubs, and leading a memorandum of understanding between key state agencies to implement a whole of government approach to land buffer protection.

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MWRRG welcomes new CEO

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has announced the appointment of a new CEO, effective 2 September.

Jillian Riseley will replace Rob Millard, who has led the organisation since producing the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Strategic Plan in 2009.

MWRRG Chair Colleen Gates said she was delighted to welcome Ms Riseley to the role.

“Ms Riseley’s commercial and not-for-profit background, networks and situational knowledge demonstrate an ability to embrace disruption, and use innovative approaches to lead organisational and industry transformation,” Ms Gates said.

“Furthermore, Ms Riseley’s experience and skill as a strategist, people leader and relationship builder, will be of great value to the organisation and the waste and resource recovery portfolio more broadly.”

According to a MWRRG statement, Ms Riseley is recognised for her work delivering innovative and sector-wide solutions to environmental issues in local communities.

“Ms Riseley’s extensive experience in senior roles includes complex, multi-stakeholder and regulated environments,” the statement reads.

“She has led significant national consumer affairs and recycling initiatives, and implemented procurement strategies in complex essential service markets.”

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EOI’s to open following SKM shut down

Victoria’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has announced that expression of interest for recycling services will open this month, following the temporary closure of SKM Recycling facilities.

SKM, which has contracts with 33 Victorian councils, announced it would not accept material from 26 July, following EPA regulation and compliance issues.

According to a media statement, MWRRG has been in daily contact with affected councils, state government, the Municipal Association of Victoria and other recycling service providers to assess their capacity to take extra recyclables.

MWRRG is now progressing plans for new collaborative procurements for recycling services, working with 11 council clusters comprising more than 60 councils across the state.

“By councils working together, larger contracts will be offered to the industry to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and technology, and to attract new candidates to the Victorian recycling sector,” the statement reads.

“Industry will be asked to provide an expression of interest on the collaborative procurements in August, with detailed submissions expected by the end of the year. Contracts are expected to be in place by June 2020.”

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EPA Victoria orders recycler to stop accepting material

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) is initiating a range of measures to support councils, following a EPA Victoria notice that SKM Services stop accepting recyclable material at its Laverton North site.

EPA issued the recycler with notices on 19 June that required it bring outdoor stockpiles at Maffra Street, Coolaroo and Laverton North into compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy by 3 July 2019.

An EPA media statement said regulatory action followed an inspection that revealed waste on site had increased following an extension of time for compliance.

Additionally, a fire broke out at the Laverton North site 9 July that EPA believes began on a conveyor belt.

“EPA is of the opinion that SKM understood its obligations under the notices, but had not demonstrated a move towards achieving compliance at the Laverton North site,” the statement reads.

“The company will still be able to process waste at its Laverton North site while the notice is in place, but will not be able to receive any new materials until EPA is satisfied that it has achieved compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy.”

MWRRG is seeking confirmation from SKM that it has alternative provisions in place to ensure it can continue to provide service to up to 10 affected local councils.

MWRRG CEO Rob Millard said MWRRG’s focus is on ensuring minimal disruption to residents by working with affected councils, other recycling facilities and landfill operators on immediate and long-term solutions.

“Following China’s decision to limit the importation of recyclables, MWRRG has been developing collaborative procurements for recycling services, working with 11 council clusters comprising more than 60 councils across the state,” Mr Millard said.

“By councils working together, larger contracts will be offered in the industry to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and technology, and to attract new candidates to the Victorian recycling sector.”

Mr Millard said industry would be asked to provide expressions of interest on the collaborative procurements in August, with detailed submissions expected by the end of the year.

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