NZ opens applications for $8M Waste Minimisation Fund

Creating jobs in the waste reduction sector is the focus of the latest application round for New Zealand’s Waste Minimisation Fund.

Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage said the fund would prioritise projects focused on food rescue and distribution, supporting existing waste sector organisations and advancing product stewardship.

“COVID-19 has challenged businesses and organisations in the waste and materials recovery sector. This year’s funding round, with up to $8 million available for grants, focuses on addressing immediate needs and upgrading waste systems so they are resilient for the future,” she said.

“A priority for all projects will be to demonstrate how they will support more jobs. This year we are looking for 10 to 20 projects of strategic importance to waste minimisation as New Zealand responds to COVID-19.”

According to Ms Sage, the Waste Minimisation Fund links with the Federal Government’s plan to invest in projects designed to reduce, reuse and recycle and ensure New Zealand has a leading track record on waste.

“Since 2008, more than $300 million of landfill levy revenue has been invested into more than 200 waste reduction projects and initiatives through the Waste Minimisation Fund, and distributed to councils to support waste minimisation,” she said. 

Examples of Waste Minimisation Fund projects include the rural recycling programme Agrecovery, which enables farmers and growers to more easily recycle or safely dispose of on-farm waste under a voluntary product stewardship scheme. 

Additionally, Māori waste movement Para Kore has received almost $2 million through the fund over the past decade.

“From a beginning in three Waikato marae, it now delivers education and training on recycling and how to minimise waste to more than 400 marae, kura and Māori organisations throughout the North Island,” Ms Sage said. 

The Waste Minimisation Fund is funded through New Zealand’s waste levy and was introduced under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008.

Under the Waste Minimisation Act 2008, 50 per cent of levy revenue is distributed to councils to spend in accordance with their Waste Management and Minimisation Plans.

The remainder –  minus administration costs – is used for the Waste Minimisation Fund, which is managed by the Ministry for the Environment.

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Reaccreditation for oil recycling scheme

Fulton Hogan’s oil recycling programme will run for another seven years, following reaccreditation by the New Zealand Government.

Recycling Oil Saves the Environment (R.O.S.E) was established in 2012, through a partnership between Fulton Hogan, Petroleum Services, Salters Cartage and the Federal Government.

R.O.S.E is one of 12 voluntary product stewardship schemes in New Zealand with ministerial accreditation, covering products ranging from tyres to lithium batteries.

According to Associate Environment Minister Eugenie Sage, R.O.S.E has collected more than 100 million litres of used oil.

“People and the environment benefit when businesses step up and consider what happens to products they use, and how to avoid harmful waste from them,” Ms Sage said.

“The R.O.S.E scheme is a good example of how we can shift away from a take-make-waste economy to a make-use-return one, where products are repeatedly re-used or recycled.”

Fulton Hogan South Island General Manager Craig Stewart said R.O.S.E recycled oil is used for industrial applications.

“We all know there’s no silver bullet. The answer lies in a mix of steps – researching, experimenting, blending, testing and refining various approaches, strategies and sources or material,” Mr Stewart said.

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Veolia signs $170 million NZ contract

Veolia has signed a $17 million per year contract to operate and maintain council-owned water services company Wellington Water’s four wastewater treatment plants.

Wellington Water’s Chief Executive Colin Crampton said the 10-year contract marked the start of a new and exciting focus for Wellington’s wastewater.

“We need to start thinking of wastewater treatment by-products as a resource, and Veolia is a leading company in this area,” Mr Crampton said.

“Veolia already has a long history of involvement in the region, having operated Wellington City’s Moa Point and Western wastewater treatment plants since 2004.”

Mr Crampton said progressively, all four treatment plants will be brought under one contract.

“This will not only provide better value for the region, but also increase opportunities for improved services in the future,” he says.

Veolia General Manager New Zealand Alexandre Lagny said the contract would allow Veolia to deliver better environmental outcomes for the Wellington region.

“Veolia operates approximately 3000 wastewater treatment plants globally and we look forward to bringing our international expertise to Wellington,” Mr Lagny said.

“Wastewater treatment is actually the area where the greatest technological innovation is taking place when it comes to three waters management.”

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Recycling biosolids into bricks

Image Credit: RMIT University

New research has found a way of turning biosolids from sewage into cheaper, higher performing bricks suitable for the construction industry.

A research team from RMIT University has developed a fired-clay brick as a sustainable solution for the wastewater treatment and brickmaking industries.

The bricks are made up of biosolids, a by-product of the wastewater treatment process, and were found to have a lower thermal conductivity than other bricks, meaning they will transfer less heat and potentially give buildings higher environmental performance.

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The research examined the physical, chemical and mechanical properties of fired-clay bricks incorporating different proportions of biosolids, from 10 to 25 per cent.

Researchers found brick firing energy demand was cut almost in half for bricks that incorporated 25 per cent biosolids, due to the organic content and could considerably reduce the carbon footprint of brick manufacturing companies.

Around five million tonnes of the biosolids in Australia, New Zealand, the EU, US and Canada currently go to landfill or stockpiles each year. By using a minimum of 15 per cent biosolids content in 15 per cent of the bricks produced, the research team estimates around five million tonnes could instead be used for construction.

The bricks have passed compressive strength tests and analysis demonstrated heavy metals are largely trapped within the brick. Biosolids can have significantly different chemical characteristics, so the researchers recommend further testing before large-scale production.

Lead investigator Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani said the research sought to tackle two environmental issues – the stockpiles of biosolids and the excavation of soil required for brick production.

“More than 3 billion cubic metres of clay soil is dug up each year for the global brickmaking industry, to produce about 1.5 trillion bricks,” Mohajerani said.

“Using biosolids in bricks could be the solution to these big environmental challenges.

“It’s a practical and sustainable proposal for recycling the biosolids currently stockpiled or going to landfill around the globe,” he said.

The results of a comparative Life Cycle Assessment and an emissions study conducted as part of the research confirmed biosolids bricks offered a sustainable alternative approach to addressing the environmental impacts of biosolids management and brick manufacturing.

The research, funded by RMIT University, Melbourne Water and Australian Government Research Training Program scholarships, is published in the “Green Building Materials Special Issue” of Buildings.

Pictured: Associate Professor Abbas Mohajerani. Image Credit: RMIT University

PVC Recycling in Hospitals scheme to reach 150 hospitals by end of 2018

The Vinyl Council of Australia aims to expand its PVC Recycling in Hospitals program to cover 150 hospitals by the end of 2018.

After launching in 2009, the recycling program has grown to operate in 138 hospitals throughout Australia and New Zealand. It is managed by the the Vinyl Council of Australia and its member partners: Baxter Healthcare, Aces Medical Waste and Welvic Australia.

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More than 200 tonnes of PVC waste from hospitals has been diverted from landfill to recycling over the past year. The material is redirected to reprocessors, which use the recycled polymer in new products such as garden hoses and outdoor playground matting.

The program partners also explore designs for new product applications for the material generated through the program.

Vinyl Council Chief Executive Sophi MacMillan says thanks to the great support and enthusiasm from healthcare professionals, the PVC Recycling in Hospitals program is now operating in every state in Australia, except the Northern Territory.

“It’s a great example of how the healthcare sector can demonstrate leadership in PVC sustainability and recover high quality material that can be genuinely recycled locally for use in new products,” Ms MacMillan said.

“We are currently looking at further end product applications for the recyclate.

“New South Wales is one of our priorities given it only has 11 hospitals participating in the program at the moment. As the state with the biggest population in Australia, the opportunity to grow the program there is really good.”