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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NSW awards litter prevention grants

The NSW Government has awarded more than $930,000 to councils and community groups under the latest round of litter prevention grants.

Planning, Industry and Environment Department Circular Economy Executive Director Sanjay Sridher said funding has been awarded to 13 local councils in both metro and regional NSW.

“They include cleaning up and preventing litter at transport interchanges in Blacktown, preventing litter at tourist hotspots in Byron Bay and funding for solar smart bins in Forbes, which will send an alert to the council when a bin is full,” he said.

“Nobody likes to see litter in their parks or waterways, and tackling the problem at a local level – through the councils and groups that really know the area – is an effective way to prevent litter for the long term.”

According to Mr Sridher, eight community groups have also received funding.

Projects include reducing plastic at Lake Macquarie Cafes, support for the Airds Clean Up Crew in the Macarthur area and helping Tathra Surf Life Saving Club with its clean-up and litter patrols.

“Now it’s a matter of making sure the right programs are in place to clean-up hotspots and give tossers a nudge when it comes to disposing of rubbish properly,” Mr Sridher said.

The grants program is supported by NSW’s first litter prevention strategy, which sets out actions and timeframes to achieve the state government’s target to reduce the volume of litter in NSW by 40 per cent by 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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Bin Trim opens $4.9 million grant round

A total of $4.9 million in grant funding is now available to help NSW businesses cut waste and increase recycling, as part of the state government’s Bin Trim program.

Waste and recycling service providers, equipment providers, consultants, councils and not-for-profit organisations can apply for the grants, which range from $50,000 to $300,000.

Planning, Industry and Environment Department Circular Economy Executive Director Sanjay Sridher said reducing waste sent to landfill has environmental and economic benefits for everyone.

“NSW businesses send more than 1.8 million tonnes of waste to landfill each year. From cardboard, paper and plastic through to food waste,” Mr Sridher said.

“So much of this ends up in the general waste bin, when in fact more than 70 per cent could be re-used or recycled.”

Bin Trim, administered through the state’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funds waste assessments for NSW businesses with up to 400 full time equivalent employees.

Waste experts undertake free assessments, entering waste data into an online Bin Trim App that generates a tailored action plan. The assessor also provides support and implementation advice.

Additionally, participating businesses are eligible for a Bin Trim rebate to cover 50 per cent of recycling equipment costs, up to $50,000.

According to Mr Sridher, Bin Trim has helped over 29,000 businesses and diverted 70,000 tonnes of waste from landfill.

“Businesses taking part in the program are helping the environment, with 94 per cent of Bin Trim participants implementing actions to reduce the amount of waste they send to landfill,” Mr Sridher said.

Applications close 28 February 2020.

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Over 2.7 billion containers returned in NSW

Over 2.7 billion containers have been returned through NSW’s container deposit scheme Return and Earn, as the program celebrates its second birthday.

Parliamentary Environment Secretary James Griffin said Return and Earn now has over five million drink containers returned everyday, with a current redemption rate of 67 per cent of eligible drink containers supplied into NSW.

“This time last year we were celebrating one billion containers returned on the first anniversary of Return and Earn. The growth of the scheme has seen us knocking on the door of three billion a year later,” Mr Griffin said.

“There’s no doubt Return and Earn has been a great success and has fundamentally changed people’s thinking and behavior around litter.”

This summer, users can opt to donate their 10 cent refund to Bottles for the Bush to support fire and drought affected communities, according to Mr Griffin.

“Return and Earn was launched with the aim of reducing litter and it’s doing that. Other flow on benefits have been revealed as people find new ways to utilise the fundraising benefits of the scheme,” Mr Griffin said.

“Alongside scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator TOMRA Cleanaway, we look forward to continuing to work closely with industry to find new and innovative ways to make ‘Returning and Earning’ even easier and continue to grow.”

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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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NSW councils sign recycling target MOU

Leveraging collaborative purchasing power, the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) has set a new annual target of recycling 45 million glass bottles.

According to a SSROC statement, 11 member councils have unanimously signed a memorandum of understanding, which sets out how they will work together to develop a framework for regional procurement of recycled material in infrastructure.

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

“With the Council of Australian Governments set to ban the export of recyclable materials – following restrictions on Australian exports due to high levels of contamination – developing domestic markets for these materials is crucial to avoid stockpiling and landfilling of valuable resources.”

SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall said SSROC’s approach to joint regional procurement will create sufficient demand to influence market development, beyond what individual councils can achieve. 

“Not only will it allow councils to procure safe, affordable, and high-quality materials, but this model can be rolled out across the Sydney metropolitan area and indeed the entire state,” Ms Dougall said. 

Member councils will initially focus on introducing more glass and reclaimed asphalt pavement into road construction. Following which, they will begin investigating other materials such as plastic, tyre crumb and textiles.

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

“This has enabled this innovative process to be done in a safe and cost-effective way.”

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean praised the SSROC for their commitment to tackling waste in NSW.

“We need all levels of government and industry working together and embracing initiatives like this,” Mr Kean said.

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

The 11 member councils include Bayside, Burwood, Canada Bay, Canterbury Bankstown, City of Sydney, Georges River, Inner West, Randwick, Sutherland, Waverley, and Woollahra.

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Food waste diversion grants available

The NSW Environment Department is offering grants worth $100,000 to help food rescue organisations collect donated food and divert the material from landfill.

Environment Department Acting Director Waste and Resource Recovery Amanda Kane said Food Donation Grants are open to not-for-profit organisations and local councils, and designed to provide food relief agencies with extra resources to sign up more donors, work collaboratively and collect more surplus food for redistribution.

“Donating food is a great way to avoid food waste. Every year in NSW, almost a million tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill – 200,000 tonnes of this comes from businesses,” Ms Kane said.

“This funding will support projects that redirect surplus foods to places where it can be put to use, preventing it ever becoming waste at all.”

According to Ms Kane, the grants complement infrastructure funding provided by the NSW Government to food relief agencies for equipment such as fridges, freezers and refrigerated vans.

“Two rounds of the Food Donation Grants have already been successfully completed, with $1.7 million directed to support 21 food rescue projects,” Ms Kane said.

Grants between $5000 to $100,000 are available, with funding from the NSW Government’s $802 million Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

Applications close on 21 November 2018.

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$1 million awarded by NSW’s love food, hate waste program

In an Australian first, communities across NSW will deliver two-year whole-of-city approaches to food waste prevention, as part of the state government’s $1 million Love Food Communities grants program.

Grants have been awarded to the City of Sydney, Central Coast Council, Midwaste and North East Waste.

Environment Minister Matt Kean said roughly 750,000 tonnes of food is thrown away by households and businesses in NSW each year.

“I want to see less food being wasted across our communities and these grants will support the recipients to do just that by changing behaviour and giving people and businesses the tools they need to make informed decisions,” Mr Kean said.

“Together, these four newly funded projects will reach 17,000 households and nearly 500 businesses. This is a huge undertaking and will be the first time we see a whole-of-community approach taken to prevent food waste in NSW.”

Participants are required to undertake a food waste survey to understand how much food they are throwing out, implement a succinct program to amend some of their food practices, and at the end of the program re-measure their food waste.

As well as households and businesses, each project will target at least one other sector where there is scope to have a huge impact in food waste reduction such as aged care, schools, pubs and clubs and food manufacturers.

City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the city will work with its Green Building tenants and Sustainable Destination partners – Hilton, Accor Hotels, Hyatt – to achieve at least 20 per cent food waste reduction within their business.

“Food waste in our residents’ red-lid bins makes up approximately 35 per cent of the city’s general waste – waste that’s bad for our wallets and bad for our environment,” Ms Clover Moore said.

“We’re pleased to be working with the state government to increase awareness about food waste across businesses, apartment dwellers and tertiary education campuses to deliver a clear reduction in waste and create a more sustainable city.”

Hilton Sydney Executive Chef Kruno Velican said organisations must have professional sensitivity and a comprehensive acceptance of how global businesses can impact the communities they serve and environment in which they operate.

“Hilton Sydney has completed two rounds of the ‘Your Business is Food’ program and has reduced its food waste by 50 per cent, saving almost $860,000 from 2016 –2018,” Mr Velican said.

“Hilton Sydney has also partnered with Addi Road to deliver the daily surplus breakfast food to the community organisation and its patrons. This not only reduces food waste sent to landfill but also ensures that perfectly good food is enjoyed by people facing food insecurity.”

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The convenience model: TOMRA

Markus Fraval, TOMRA Collections Strategy Director, highlights competing Container deposit scheme models and Return and Earn’s success.

When the Tasmanian Government announced it would implement a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, it became the seventh state or territory to do so, leaving Victoria as the single holdout.

The CDS waste collection model is similarly growing overseas, with widespread uptake in North America and Europe. While all CDSs share a common goal, there are multiple implementation models including return to retail, convenience kiosks and large-scale drop-off depots.

Markus Fraval, TOMRA Collections Strategy Director, says most European CDSs operate under a return to retail system. He says this is generally supported by government regulated extended producer responsibility legislation.

“Businesses that sell drink containers are obligated to take the container back in some way, and because it’s so easy, those markets typically achieve 90-per-cent-plus return rates,” he says.

“We commonly employ South Australian style models in Australia, whereby people are required to go out of their way, generally to an industrial area, to return their containers.”

According to Markus, depot models require significant time and organisational commitment from consumers and, as such, are often ineffective. He adds that in lieu of return-to-retail legislation, conveniently positioned reverse vending machine kiosks are a more effective model for Australia.

Markus says despite New South Wales not having the benefit of a return to retail network, the Return and Earn system was designed to be as similar to the European model as possible.

He says this was achieved by positioning reverse vending machine kiosks in shopping centres and supermarket carparks throughout
the state.

“Accessible kiosks allow consumers to participate in the scheme as part of their normal routines and daily habits,” Markus says.

“This provides incentives for positive consumer behavioural change that are not too extreme or inconvenient.”

TOMRA, in a joint venture partnership with Cleanaway, was appointed Return and Earn network operators by the New South Wales Government in 2017.

The role incorporates network design, establishing new drop-off facilities and maintaining the
state’s more than 600 existing collection points.

“We know from our experience in over 40 global deposit markets that the big drivers for successful return rates are deposit value or financial incentive, and the level of returning convenience,” Markus says.

He suggests TOMRA’s focus on convenience and access is the reason that in just under two years, 55 per cent of New South Wales residents have participated in the scheme and return rates have been high.

Since commencing on 1 December 2017, Return and Earn has collected more than two billion containers through a combination of TOMRA kiosks and more traditional depot collection points.

“The first billion containers were collected in the first 12 months of the program, with the next billion collected in the following seven months. This suggests the scheme is still accelerating,” Markus says.

“Return and Earn is now averaging well above four million containers per day.”

While reverse vending machine kiosks represent only half of the total collection points in New South Wales, Markus says approximately 80 per cent of all returns come through TOMRA reverse vending machines.

“It is critical for a successful CDS to have a network of small footprint collection points capable of high capacity collections,” he says.

“It’s also important to facilitate an integrated supply chain that spans collections, logistics and processing.”

Markus says while collection quantity is key, CDSs need to operate as efficiently as possible to keep price impacts at a minimum.

“As network operators, TOMRA Cleanaway has processed well over 100,000 tonnes of material for commodity trading in domestic and international markets,” Markus says.

“For instance, we ship bales of aluminium cans overseas for smelting and remanufacturing into sheet metal, which can then be used to produce new beverage containers.”

Additionally, Markus says roughly half the plastic sold by TOMRA Cleanaway is used for domestic bottle-to-bottle manufacturing, with the remaining half exported oversees to make bottles, textiles and plastic films.

TOMRA’s optical sorting and reverse vending machine technology is available to all operators across the CDS spectrum.

“Our technology scans bottles from 360 degrees, taking one gigabyte of images per second,” Markus says.

“The speed and ease of use of our machines allow TOMRA to collect more than 40 billion containers through reverse vending machines around the world each year.”

According to a recent state government survey, over 85 per cent of New South Wales residents support Return and Earn.

“There are different models out there, and while I think it’s useful for people to understand the success of CDSs more broadly, there is something to be said for the New South Wales model,” Markus says.

“It is undoubtedly the most convenient scheme in Australia.”

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