Victoria’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) is leading a statewide collaborative procurement for processing kerbside recycling, in partnership with six regional waste and resource recovery groups on behalf of 79 local councils.
Waste Management Review speaks with MWRRG’s new Procurement and Contacts Director Rishad Syed about the group’s collaborative approach to procurement.
Nine South Australian councils have bought more than 17,000 tonnes of recycled materials during the first six months of a circular procurement pilot project.
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.
Fiona Jenkins, City of Charles Sturt Waste and Sustainability Coordinator, highlights the council’s recent decision to prioritise products made from recycled material.
Transport, infrastructure and planning ministers are asking Transport and Infrastructure Council officials to support the use of recycled material in road construction.
According to Environment Minister Sussan Ley, the request was made in a bid to support the forthcoming export ban and National Waste Action Plan.
“The 12th meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council has focused on practical steps to support our economy and protect the health of our communities, by better harnessing recycled materials, returning them to productive use,” Ms Ley said.
Specifically, officials have been asked to identify significant procurement opportunities over coming months, such as major road projects that could use recycled material.
Ms Ley said council was also asked to prioritise the development of standards to support the use of recycled materials in road construction.
“Establishing viable markets for recycled products is critical to our recycling future, and Australia’s infrastructure boom can play a major role,” Ms Ley said.
Officials will report on progress at council’s first meeting in 2020.
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.
In an Australian-first, nine South Australian councils have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prioritise the purchase of products made from recycled materials.
According to Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) President Sam Telfer, the MOU is the beginning of a circular procurement pilot project led by the LGA, with the assistance of a $96,500 Green Industries SA grant.
Mr Telfer said the goal is to increase local demand for recycled materials, support the development of a circular economy in SA and reduce waste and recycling costs for councils.
“China’s National Sword Policy has made waste and recycling significantly more expensive for South Australian councils,” Mr Telfer said.
Mr Telfer said it was vital to develop new markets for recycled materials in South Australia, and to support this, councils should prioritise the use of recycled materials in their procurement processes.
“This MOU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability,” Mr Telfer said.
Through the MOU, councils have committed to prioritising the purchase of recycled-content products through the procurement process, and tracking and reporting on recycled-content purchasing by weight.
According to a LGA statement, most will also adopt a rolling target for the purchase of recycled plastic products, and work towards eventually buying back recycled materials equivalent to half the weight of plastics collected in council areas.
“Examples of products made of recycled materials that can be purchased by councils include road and construction materials, street furniture, bollards, office stationery and compost,” the statement reads.
“The MOU was signed on-site at Advanced Plastic Recycling (APR); a leading manufacturer and designer of recycled wood plastic composite products made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste. Products produced by APR include bollards, boardwalks, fencing and street furniture.”
APR CEO Ryan Lokan said that by using materials sourced locally from kerbside recycling, APR prevent 1500 tonnes of plastic and 1500 tonnes of wood from entering landfill each year.
“The greatest benefit coming from mandatory buy back is the demand created,” Mr Lokan said.
“Demand drives innovation and it is companies like ours that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled material.”
South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said improved recycling and resource recovery not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, but also supports the state’s economy.
“This project will help drive local demand for recycled materials, supporting local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.
Participating councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect.
City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the circular procurement pilot project highlights councils working together to find positive and long-term solutions, to issues facing recycling in South Australia and across the country.
“This announcement builds on our plans – and those of other SA councils – to establish new material recycling facilities in our communities,” Ms Thompson said.
“Exciting projects like this help us become more self-sufficient, create circular economies and reduce our reliance on recycling companies, delivering major benefits to the environment and local economy.”
Adelaide Hills Council Acting Mayor Nathan Daniel said the program will lead to improved knowledge and understanding of circular procurement, through the increased purchase of products with recycled content.
“This will in turn provide stability and ongoing markets for recyclable material placed in the kerbside recycling bin. Adelaide Hills Council is committed to providing leadership in transitioning to a sustainable future that prioritises the use of recycled material,” Mr Daniel said.
“It’s essential that we continue to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Council hopes the pilot project will help develop local markets for recyclable materials by increasing market demand for recycled content products and materials.”
Federal Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans will reportedly unveil ambitious new targets for sustainable procurement by all state governments.
Mr Evans said he would seek agreement on proposed procurement targets at the next Meeting of Environment Ministers, adding the Federal Government would offer funding support to develop Australia’s remanufacturing sector.
Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, who said WMRR had been calling for procurement targets for over 18 months, meet with Mr Evans to discuss what the next steps would be.
“WMRR welcomes the minister’s announcements and it is pleasing to see movement on the federal level, after years of industry advocating for federal leadership on a number of fronts, sustainable procurement being one of them,” Ms Sloan said.
“It became very clear early in the meeting that the minister understands the significance creating demand and markets for recycled products has on driving our industry forward.”
According to Mr Sloan, Mr Evans’ work in the retail industry, as CEO of the National Retail Association, has given him much-needed perspective and experience in supply chain management.
“Mr Evans has a wealth of knowledge on the roles, responsibilities and market demands within a supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.
“WMRR also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of national leadership in creating a level playing field and developing a common approach to levies and industry development as Australia, despite having seven jurisdictions, is one common market.”
Mr Sloan said WMRR also discussed the federal government’s role in driving resource recovery and remanufacturing through harmonised, effective and appropriate regulatory, policy and market settings.
“WMRR looks forward to our continued engagement with the minister and all levels of government, as we look forward and keep our eyes on the circular economy ball,” Ms Sloan said.
A shift in business practices would support a significant increase in procurement of recyclables, writes Matt Genever, Director Resource Recovery at Sustainability Victoria.