Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed a $249m boost for the waste and recycling industry as part of the Federal Budget announcement on Tuesday evening, in the hopes of stopping more than 600,000 tonnes of waste ending up in landfill and also creating industry jobs.
New research has revealed 85 per cent of Australian consumers want retailers and brands to be more transparent about the origins and sustainability of their products and whether they are engaging in ethical practices.
Industry has defended Australia’s recycling operations following an ABC Four Corners investigation on ‘plastic wars’ that revealed the actions of the American plastics industry are ‘fooling consumers’.
The Federal Government’s new $190M Recycling Modernisation Fund will generate $600 million of recycling investment and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity.
There is significant potential to double recycling across Europe for municipal, construction and electronic waste according to a European Environment Agency briefing.
An Independent Coca-Cola distributor has announced it has signed an agreement to build a new recycling plant in the Asia Pacific region (APAC).
Coca-Cola Amatil is one of the largest bottlers of non-alcoholic ready-to-drink beverages in the Asia-Pacific region and has entered into a Heads of Agreement with long-term packaging partner Dynapack Asia.
The agreement includes building a state-of-the-art bottle to bottle grade Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) recycling facility in Indonesia.
Coca-Cola Amatil and Dynapack will work together through a proof of concept phase, which is intended to to consider a potential plant’s economic feasibility, size, scale and location, end-to-end requirements and potential integration into each company’s value chains.
Kadir Gunduz, President Director of Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia, said the new facility is a significant step towards Amatil becoming self-sustaining in the plastic materials it uses, ensuring a closed-loop for plastic beverage packaging in Indonesia too.
“This joint venture represents a real environmental step-change in our move towards a more sustainable approach to plastic and a circular economy by bringing low-quality PET waste back to virgin-quality, food-grade PET, which also echoes The Coca-Cola Company’s ‘World Without Waste’ vision,” he said.
Gunduz said that the use of recycled plastic could reduce the amount of new plastic resin the company uses by an estimated 25,000 tonnes each year in 2022, aligning with the commitment as part of the steering board at NPAP (National Plastic Action Partnership) to support Indonesia’s National Action Plan in achieving a 70% reduction in the nation’s marine plastic debris by 2025.
Tirtadjaja Hambali, President Director of Dynapack Asia, said the company intends to collaborate with their customers to increase the use of recycled materials and products, strengthening the region’s recycling ecosystem and achieving a circular economy in South East Asia and China.
“To support our environmental responsibility, we have signed a global commitment with the Ellen McArthur Foundation to use at least 25 per cent of recycled resin material in our packaging products by 2025,” he said.
“This recycled PET resin facility is another step closer to achieving our commitment.”
Following the proof of concept phase, and formalisation of agreements, the parties will outline their intended program.
The world’s recycling industry has been preparing changes to operations following the ease of shutdown restrictions across global networks.
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) has collected feedback on the impact of the virus around the world, with specific regard to how it is affecting the recycling industry.
The BIR said in a statement that plastics recyclers face the challenge of low selling prices for their materials, while suppliers are unable to reduce their own selling prices owing to the high cost of shipping and the impact on availability of the lockdowns in exporting countries.
“The situation will improve only when all countries lift their lockdowns and resume their economic activities as before the COVID-19 outbreak,” the BIR stated.
According to the BIR’s statement, Asia’s demand for recycled materials is at only 30-40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels amid a slowdown in volumes requested by the plastics manufacturing industry and cancellation of overseas orders.
Recycling units in Europe have remained open throughout the crisis owing to their crucial role in waste management.
BIR stated that Italy’s metals sector reopened on May 4, which will help improve business in the waste sector as operations resume following many weeks of lockdown.
Europe’s recycling industry, especially in Italy, has sustained high costs through guaranteeing to stay open during the lockdown despite very low levels of business.
BIR stated that ASSOFERMET, UNIRIMA and ASSORIMAP, Italy’s three national associations covering recycling commodities, have drafted a letter to the government to reinforce this message and to call for a change of mindset now that the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated the essential nature of recycling and of waste management as a whole.
According to the BIR’s research, 73 per cent of recycling centres have remained open to receive materials in France.
Specific to recovered paper, mills in France are expected to encounter small shortages in May despite ongoing collection and sorting activities.
In the UK, the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has already issued an instruction for the reopening of local authority household waste and recycling centres.
“Reopening could provide a minor boost for some larger metal recyclers with contracts to collect the household metals gathered at these sites,” the BIR stated.
“The BMRA has advocated the reopening of these centres to counter increased dumping of large domestic appliances and to avoid the fire risk posed to metal recyclers by householders concealing small waste electrical and electronic equipment in bins collected from homes.”
Recyclers in the Middle East have returned to operation but the flow of scrap is less than 20 per cent of the norm.
“All ports are operating normally and exports are continuing to move to countries that can accept material,” the BIR stated.
“Social distancing must continue to be observed while manpower allowed on recycling premises is reduced and strict health & safety controls apply.”
The Australian Council of Recycling has launched a new industry survey to provide an up-to-date measure of confidence in the sector and support better decision making.
The City of Melbourne talks to Waste Management Review about the city’s Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy and recycling initiatives in the CBD.
The Victorian Government will tackle ongoing waste management issues with $11.3 million in immediate financial relief to councils and infrastructure investment.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said SKM Recycling were significantly undercutting the prices of other recycling providers, and since they stopped accepting waste, many councils are paying double what they were for recycling services.
“To alleviate this financial pressure, the state government will deliver a $6.6 million package to the 33 affected councils over the next four months, providing a rebate that will cover the additional costs they are incurring to deal with their recyclable waste,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“The state government also stands ready to work with the receiver of SKM Corporate, and any prospective buyer to remove the stockpiles at SKM-managed sites and offsite storage of material.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said it had become clear that the quality of Australia’s recyclable material is compromised due to its high rate of contamination.
“To that end, the state government will also work with councils and industry stakeholders on a major overhaul of kerbside collection to improve the quality of recyclables being collected by councils,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
Council’s hoping to receive assistance will have to provide evidence that alternatives to landfill are being sought, agree to participate in collaborative procurement and provide information on current contractural rates and conditions.
The government has also announced new grants worth $4.7 million, to support projects that will improve the quality of recycled materials through better sorting and processing.
“At the most recent Council of Australian Governments meeting, the Prime Minister acknowledged that recyclable waste is a national issue, as well as an opportunity to rebuild a domestic recycling sector that can provide products to local markets,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
“To achieve this, targets will also be considered to drive investment in end uses, such as glass for road base and railway sleepers made from plastics.”