Priority locations for future waste to energy facilities within New South Wales have been identified.
The New South Wales Sustainability Awards are open across a range of categories from biodiversity to net zero initiatives.
Return and Earn broke records for recycling over the Christmas – New Year period, setting a new daily record and processing more than 91 million drink containers.
NSW Government Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said a new state record was set on 2 January, when an incredible 6.8 million drink containers were returned across the state.
“Between 21 December 2018 and 7 January 2019, there were six days with more than six million drink containers returned a day, and the daily average is now 5.8 million drink containers a day being processed across the state,” Ms Upton said.
“This shows strong community support for the NSW Government’s Return and Earn scheme as more and more people are recycling drink containers rather than throwing them away.
“Since the scheme started, more than 1.2 billion drink containers have been returned, which is a massive turnaround in the way people dispose of their empty drink containers.
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Ms Upton said that as well as reducing litter, Return and Earn is creating jobs and helping charities create an alternate income stream.
“Employment charity Hoxton Industries is running Return and Earn bulk depots at Villawood and Ingleburn, enabling them to create jobs for people who would otherwise face barriers to mainstream employment,” she said.
Garry Carr, Director of Hoxton Industries, said running a Return and Earn depot has transformed the employment charity’s operations.
“Return and Earn meant we could expand our operations, employ ten additional staff, and return nearly $200,000 to the community,” Mr Carr said.
“Our mission is to create jobs for people who face barriers to mainstream employment, and we can now do this in new areas and with new employment skills.”
Ms Upton said that, as a result of Return and Earn, eligible drink container litter volume have dropped by 44 per cent and now represent an all-time low of 37 per cent of the NSW litter volume stream.
“At the same time, the state’s overall litter volume has dropped by 48 per cent.
“Return and Earn has been a success because it is backed in by the people of NSW and it’s fantastic to see them help to reduce the amount of litter in the environment,” Ms Upton said.
Coca-Cola Australia has partnered with social enterprise CitizenBlue to introduce more drink container recycling options at venues and events in Sydney and regional NSW.
The partnership will aim to strategically place drink container recycling bins in key venues and events, with the proceeds of the collected waste being sent towards environment and community charities.
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Drink containers collected in these bins will be collected and sorted through the NSW Return and Earn scheme.
The bins are expected to help collect around 7.5 million containers per year, leading to an estimated $750,000 in funds raised.
CitizenBlue is a collective of seven environmental not for profit organisations, including Total Environment Centre, Surfrider Foundation and Landcare NSW.
“We’re on a mission to stop waste from entering our waterways and Coca-Cola has a big goal to ensure that every drink bottle and can they sell is collected and recycled,” said Jeff Angel for CitizenBlue.
“This partnership is a first step towards both not-for-profit groups and a major beverage leader working together to tackle our waste issue.”
The NSW Government has reported a 44 per cent drop in drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017.
Surfrider Foundation Australia Chairperson Susie Crick said CitizenBlue’s aim is for these activities to enhance and promote the existing recycling efforts through the container deposit scheme in NSW.
“More organisations and businesses coming together to find solutions to tackle waste and recycling is better for the environment, the sector, not to mention a funding boost for charities,” she said.
The partnership forms part of Coca-Cola’s recently announced global sustainable packaging strategy, which includes a goal to collect and recycle and equivalent of 100 per cent of the packaging they sell by 2030.
Director Public Affairs and Sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific Christine Black said the company is focusing its efforts locally on designing packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable across its entire portfolio.
“This partnership is part of the next step for Cola-Cola in tackling drink container waste, whilst inspiring positive change to ensure our bottles and cans have another life beyond their first use,” Ms Black said.
The collection bins are expected to roll out in the early new year at festivals and venues in NSW.
Winners of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards have been announced and include the NSW container deposit scheme and a hospital recycling program.
The NSW EPA sponsored and presented two awards for waste management and litter reduction.
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Winning initiatives include Auburn Hospital’s Think before you bin it project to improve recycling and reduce hospital waste and the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s We Like Greenacre Litter Free, which resulted in a 54 per cent reduction in litter in Greenacre over three years.
The Vinnies Container Deposit scheme won the inaugural Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award, as the organisation have collected millions of containers at their automated depot and over the counter return points in NSW.
The Return and Earn school’s category went to Glenmore Park High School, which mobilised its school community to collect litter to fundraise for a minibus for the Special Needs Unit.
NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said these projects along with other winners demonstrate the power of acting locally to reduce waste and litter in communities.
“All of the winners demonstrate extraordinary leadership in waste and litter reduction initiatives in our communities, and I commend them all on their efforts,” Ms Levy said.
Ms Levy said the NSW Government is committed to reducing waste and litter in the environment.
“We have dedicated $802 million over nine years to 2021 as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative – the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia,” she said.
“We have also introduced the state’s largest litter reduction initiative, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, to help achieve the Premier’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in litter volume by 2020.
“More than 814 million containers have been returned to return points across NSW in just over ten months, and drink container litter volume has already dropped by a third since November last year.”
Litter in New South Wales has dropped by 37 per cent since 2013, with drink container litter being reduced by a third since the introduction of the Return and Earn scheme, according to new figures.
A report released from Keep Australia Beautiful has also found takeaway container litter has been reduced by 19 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
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Print and advertising litter has also been reduced by 35 percent from 2016 to 2017.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said Return and Earn’s impact can been seen by looking at the scheme coordinator’s figures for the three months from March to May 2018, which show it collected 67 per cent of all eligible containers supplied into NSW in that period.
“This shows the immediate positive impact the container deposit scheme is having on reducing drink container litter, which is the largest proportion of all litter volume in NSW,” Ms Upton said.
“Overall, there has been a 33 per cent drop in Return and Earn eligible drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017 – the month before the scheme was introduced on 1 December.
“On average three million containers a day are being collected at return points. More than 560 million containers have been processed by Return and Earn so far and as more collection points are rolled out, these results can only increase and the amount of litter will decrease,” she said.
Ms Upton said the NSW Government’s commitment of $30 million to 2021 to reduce litter and littering behaviour through the Waste Less recycle More initiative is having the right effect.
“Such a huge drop shows the NSW Government’s range of anti-litter initiatives are working,” she said.
“I encourage the NSW community to continue returning their eligible drink containers and in their other efforts to reduce litter in our communities.”
Plastic from around 176,000 plastic bags and packaging and glass from around 55,000 bottles has been diverted from landfill to build New South Wales’ first road made from soft plastics and glass.
Downer and Sutherland Shire Council have partnered with resource recovery and recycling companies Close the Loop, RED Group and Plastic Police to build the road in the Sydney suburb of Engadine.
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Toner from approximately 4000 used printer cartridges with more than 60 tonnes of recycled asphalt were also repurposed to create 220 tonnes of asphalt used in the construction of the road along Old Princes Highway between Cooper Street and Engadine Road.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said this achievement demonstrates how committed organisations can find innovative solutions to waste reduction.
“The NSW Government has a comprehensive funding program designed to find more ways to make sure waste is taken out of landfill and put to good use,” said Ms Upton.
“In particular, the Product Improvement Co-investment program and the Circulate program together provide $10 million in funding to help find creative ways to reduce the amount of waste and find better uses than simply throwing it away.”
Sutherland Shire Mayor Carmelo Pesce said Council is committed to showing leadership in sustainability and the use of recycled products.
“Sutherland Shire Council collects over 25 thousand tonnes of recycling in the yellow top bins every year,” Councillor Pesce said.
“Using recycled plastic and glass in asphalt to create new road surfaces is just one of the innovative ways Council can reduce its environmental footprint through the use of recyclable material.”
Downer General Manager Pavements Stuart Billing said the milestone event demonstrated the importance of partnerships with other thought leaders to create economic, social and environmental value for products that would more than likely end up in landfill, stockpiled, or as a pollutant in our natural environments.
“Through our partnerships and desire to make a difference, we’ve shown how to recycle and repurpose waste materials into new streams of use. It’s all about pulling products, not pushing waste.”
“Further to the direct sustainability benefits, this cost competitive road product, called Plastiphalt, has a 65 per cent improvement in fatigue life and a superior resistance to deformation making the road last longer, and allowing it to better handle heavy vehicle traffic,” Mr Billing said.
The project is co-funded through the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded from the waste levy.
“Our close partnership with Downer, along with our collaborative partnerships with RedCycle and Plastic Police has allowed us to design, develop and manufacture sustainable products using problematic waste streams. We are very pleased to see soft plastics used for the first time in a NSW road,” said Nerida Mortlock, General Manager of Close the Loop Australia.
REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility in late July.
It is part of the council’s new three-bin waste management system, which aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by as much as one third by recycling food refuse.
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Food and green waste will be recycled at the new facility and turned into compost products for reuse on parks, grounds and sporting fields.
The facility has a unique hybrid model of ‘in-vessel’ and ‘mobile aerated floor’ systems and includes a fully automated tunnel composting system to pasteurise food waste in two weeks
With a mobile aerated floor finishing. It also includes an automatic, cashless weighbridge system that gives users access to the facility with the swipe of a card.
REMONDIS CEO Luke Agati said the company is proud to be investing in Lake Macquarie and the Australian resource recovery sector.
“REMONDIS has been composting garden waste at Awaba for Lake Macquarie City Council since 2013, and this new facility will enable us to also convert food waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Agati said.
“The facility will convert up to 44,000 tonnes per year of organic waste into compost and soil amendment products.
“REMONDIS applauds forward-thinking local government organisations such as Lake Macquarie City Council for their dedication to building the vital recycling infrastructure that will create job opportunities, strengthen the Australian economy and reduce our environmental footprint.”
Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the Organics Resource Recovery Facility would see the City take a leading role in recycling and waste management.
“This is a significant step in our Waste Strategy and in our efforts to encourage people to think and act more responsibly about household waste disposal,” Cr Fraser said.
“By making it easy for residents to dispose of organic waste appropriately, we will encourage them to recycle and close the food consumption loop.
“About one third of household garbage bin contents is food waste, so this will divert significant amounts of organic material from landfill, extending the life of our Awaba Waste Management Facility and saving an estimated $4 million over 10 years in waste management costs.”
The project was supported by a grant of $2 million as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycled More initiative, funded from the waste levy.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the NSW Government was pleased to assist by contributing a $1.4 million grant to the facility and $0.6m for community engagement initiatives, from the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.
“This facility will improve the availability of organic compost for local primary producers and reduce unnecessary wastage of high quality organic material. I congratulate Lake Macquarie City Council in securing investment from a business with the calibre of REMONDIS.”
More than 100 contracting firms were engaged to build the facility, which also features an education centre where schools and community groups can see the recycling process.
Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility Branch Manager Gunther Neumann said REMONDIS is proud of its environmental achievements in Lake Macquarie.
“Since 2013, REMONDIS has diverted more than 100,000 tonnes of garden organics from landfill in the region, saving more than $13 million in landfill levies for residents,” Mr Neumann said.
“With the opening of the Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility, REMONDIS looks forward to a new chapter in organics processing that will deliver additional landfill levy savings and create new market opportunities locally, reinforcing our role as a valued member of the local community.”
Image: Lake Macquarie City Council
Almost 100 million containers have been returned since the NSW Return and Earn scheme began in December last year, according to the official website.
Reverse vending machine technology, alongside over-the-counter and automated depots have helped NSW reach this goal. As of Monday, the website showed more than 98 million containers collected.
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NSW Minister for Environment, Gabrielle Upton said more than five million drink containers had been returned over the second weekend of February.
Nepean Distributors, a drinks product supplier to schools and sporting club canteens, have been supporting the scheme and having a positive impact on the local community, according to EPA NSW.
In two months, Nepean Distributors has processed 133,034 containers, with over record of 11,879 in a day.
“It is making people, especially kids and teenagers, think about recycling. We want to help change their mindset to think about their environment and cleaning up their local park,” Managing Director of Nepean Distributors, Anthony Morrissey said.
They have also teamed up with local sports groups such as Macarthur BMX to help fundraise for the club and encourage locals to donate their refunds to charities like the African AIDS Foundation.
NSW police, government authorities and the waste industry have met to discuss their concerns on the issue of interstate waste transportation.
NSW Police, EPA NSW, SafeWork NSW, Stay Safe Committee and waste industry representatives attended a dedicated forum last week, facilitated by the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA).
The forum focused on the environmental and safety risks of waste transport from NSW to south-east Queensland, which has long been linked by industry representatives to the lack of a landfill levy in Queensland.
Convenor Dr Tony Wilkins stated that the industry is seeking to work with government to promptly find solutions to the issue.
The forum heard that the volume of waste being transported north by a combination of road and rail has now exceeded in excess of a one million tonnes per annum. The economic loss to NSW from unpaid waste levies exceeds $120 million per annum, WCRA highlighted.
Chief Inspector Phil Brooks from NSW Police stated in his presentation that the large volume of heavy vehicle truck movements, combined with police observations of fatigued drivers and poorly maintained truck and trailers, confirmed there is potential for even more serious accidents.
The forum resolved that all attendees write to the NSW Premier expressing their concerns and that WCRA would write to the NSW EPA requesting that it hold a second forum by 1 March, 2018. WCRA also committed to increase its promotion of Chain of Responsibility training across the industry.
The forum argued the NSW Government should be exploring further measures to curb the complex issue.
Some suggestions included: licensing waste transporters and waste by transfer facilities, regulating minimum environmental and safety standards on equipment used to transport waste over long distances, and banning waste levy rebates for exhuming landfilled waste and rebates for landfills that operate as de-facto transfer stations without development approval.