$22 million in grants now available

EPA grants worth $22.3 million are now available to NSW councils, private industry and not-for-profit organisations to support the construction of new large scale recycling infrastructure.

Environment Department Acting Resource Recovery Director Amanda Kane said the Major Resource Recovery Infrastructure grants are part of the NSW EPA’s $802 million Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

“The funding is aimed at accelerating and stimulating investment in waste and recycling infrastructure, to help NSW reach its target of 75 per cent diversion of all waste from landfill by 2021,” Ms Kane said.

“The capital costs of major infrastructure can be a significant barrier to the construction of new recycling facilities. This grant seeks to attract investment in major resource recovery infrastructure by reducing the pay-back period on new facilities.”

Ms Kane said earlier program rounds had already provided $51 million to projects to receive and recycle a range of resources including timber, plastics, aggregates, rubber, glass and metals.

“This includes $5 million to ResourceCo for a new facility at Wetherill Park, to recover metals and timber to produce refuse-derived fuel for use in energy generation,” Ms Kane said.

“Boral Cement successfully secured a $4 million grant from the EPA to upgrade its plant at Berrima, and replace up to 20 per cent of the coal it uses to generate energy with refuse-derived fuel, including from ResourceCo, reducing coal use and emissions.”

According to Ms Kane, five facilities supported through the program are already increasing the state’s processing capacity by 340,000 tonnes a year.

“More than 500,000 tonnes of additional processing capacity is expected to come on line over the next two years as further projects are completed,” Ms Kane said.

Environmental Trust Director Grants Tina Bidese said the grants are funded by the Environmental Trust and delivered through a partnership between the trust and the NSW EPA.

“Working together, the trust and the EPA are offering a major opportunity for co-funded investment in infrastructure to recover more household and business waste,” Ms Bidese said.

“In doing so, we’re reducing the environmental impacts of waste in landfill, making the most of valuable resources and creating new jobs for the people of NSW.”

The EPA is hosting an information session in August 2019 to assist potential applicants.

Applications close 27 August 2019.

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Analysis of Australia’s municipal recycling infrastructure capacity

A new government report has found collection and recycling services have limited capacity to process certain types of waste, including plastic and organics.

The Federal Government in October released an Analysis of Australia’s municipal recycling infrastructure capacity which assessed the infrastructure and capacity of local governments as well as materials recovery facilities.

The report draws on information and data from the newly-released National Waste Report 2018 and six other analyses commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Some of the key findings are that most Australians have access to municipal waste management and recycling, but kerbside municipal waste collection and recycling services are not available to most communities in remote and regional Australia.

Australia’s recycling infrastructure is generally capable of managing current volumes of waste, but collection and recycling services have limited capacity to process certain types of waste.

For example, it notes only 10 local government areas have municipal kerbside collections that can accept all types of recyclable plastic and plastic bags. It also highlights that 58 per cent of Australian households have no access to kerbside collection of organic.

Most of the nation’s materials recovery facilities lack technical capacity to sort commingled, highly-contaminated municipal waste into specific materials types that have low levels of contamination.

Some large businesses have responded to new international waste market restrictions, but most collection and recycling operators remain “vulnerable” to changing markets.

Broken down by stream, paper and cardboard recovery is considered relatively high (60 per cent) and about 92 per cent of local government areas (LGA) provide infrastructure for kerbside collection.

Plastics is considered low with only 12 per cent recycled and 27 per cent of councils (146 LGAs) have no infrastructure for kerbside recycling of plastic waste.

Metals recovery and recycling rates are considered high, with five million tonnes recovered for recycling in 2016-17, representing a total recovery rate of 90 per cent.

Around 56 per cent of Australia’s glass packaging is recovered, considered to be reasonable given the low commodity value when compared to plastic or cardboard.

“Existing collection and processing infrastructure is generally equipped to process current volumes of Australia’s recycled materials. However, current infrastructure is not well equipped to process all forms of recyclable waste, particularly all forms of recyclable plastic and organic waste,” the report says.

“Opportunities exist to increase Australia’s capacity to manage organic waste, including through provision of new infrastructure supporting kerbside collection of organic material, and processing those organics into compost and other products.

“There are also opportunities to develop infrastructure that enables alternative waste treatment options, such as removing organic waste from the landfill bin. Better management of organic waste will also reduce contamination in co-mingled bins and increase resource recovery rates.”

You can read the full report here.