$190m recycling fund to turbo charge recycling capacity

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.

Read more$190m recycling fund to turbo charge recycling capacity

New Coca-Cola recycling plant in APAC

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.

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World recycling organisations commence reopening phase

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.”

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How confident are you in recycling?

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 recycling sector employs around 50,000 people. While this is indicative of the sector’s success to date, an unrivalled opportunity exists to increase that number exponentially.

Australia is one of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita and with that affluence comes increased waste generation. Currently, the sector accounts for 0.5 per cent total employment, with Australia ranked 17th in the world in recycling.

But as a vital part of the economy, recycling can punch above its weight with the right support. The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has been supporting the businesses that collect, sort and remanufacture materials into value-added products.

These are the businesses getting their hands dirty to beneficially manage materials from the residential, commercial, industrial and infrastructure sectors.

The Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) ban on select waste exports, in addition the upcoming NSW Government’s 20-year waste strategy, national container deposit schemes and updated infrastructure recyclate specifications, highlight the regulators’ appetite for reform. Nevertheless, quality data is a barrier to understanding.

It’s why ACOR has explored the gaps and discovered that the missing piece of the data puzzle – an understanding of business confidence. While organisations such as NAB run monthly business confidence surveys, there has not in recent times been a measure of confidence for Australia’s recycling sector.

Such datasets would prove useful for federal, state and territory and local government regulators, and help inform decision-making to supercharge the recycling sector, instead of it being stymied by outdated regulation.

According to ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel, understanding the recycling sector’s place in the overall economy is vital.

“We don’t do enough to gauge our own performance and trends and share that information with the public and decision-makers. Hopefully, the survey helps claim that opportunity,” Pete says.

He says the survey is a first of its kind.

“There’s lots of work about where the industry is at in terms of environmental performance, especially in ‘tonnage’ terms, for example how much we manage and various recycling rates. There’s less information about the economic side, such as business confidence going forward. That’s a key difference for this survey.”

Pete says that a schism between communications surrounding the so-called “waste crisis” and industry’s perceptions of the sector has created confusion.

“In all the media hype of the last few years, there’s been a fair bit of ‘blurring’ of different recycling markets. The reality is that while kerbside has its issues, we’ve been powering along in C&I and C&D with more than $500 million in investment in the last two years,” Pete says.

He says that interestingly, some businesses are integrated across these streams and have therefore been successfully hedging.

“Good decision-making requires a detailed understanding of the differences in our streams of activity.”

With COAG’s ban on waste exports and kerbside recycling undergoing dramatic changes, Pete says it’s important more now than ever that industry has the confidence to invest at scale and the right market signals.

“Domestic sustainability will require significant investment from many players, and that is assisted by industry insights.

“We’re literally only months away from the COAG ban being in place – on top of existing Asian pressures and in addition to further moves the Asians are likely to make. I’m hopeful that the survey gives us a better sense about how affected businesses and their supply chains are feeling about these very significant structural changes about to come down the pipe.”

The survey is broken down into MSW, C&I and C&D and allows respondents to answer various questions about whether they feel confident in their operations. Likewise, the survey covers government support and allows users to rank the issues most important to them.

To participate in this leading industry survey click here

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Lifting laneway recovery: the City of Melbourne

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.

Q. What were some of the key factors influencing the development of the City of Melbourne’s Draft Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030?

A. The circular economy concept underpins our Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030 (WRRS), which was endorsed by council 16 July 2019.

The strategy outlines an ambitious plan to transition to a 90 per cent waste from landfill diversion rate, reduce truck movements, improve public amenity and reinvigorate our recycling sector.

Q. What are the key ingredients that go into making an organics trial a success?

A. With food making up 50 per cent of household waste in our municipality, finding a solution for discarded food scraps is a key component of the WRRS.

Our residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17, and through our engagement with the community, we know people want a solution to avoid food going to landfill.

Later in the year we will look at a food and organic waste collection trial, to determine how collection services could work for residents with kerbside bins.

A third bin for organic waste would be rolled out and collected weekly, building on an earlier trial in 2017.

The trial will help us design an effective waste collection service for the whole municipality in the future.

Q. How has the Degraves Street Recycling Facility helped boost food diversion for businesses?

A. The Degraves Facility is a boutique response to the high-density café demographic, and is strategically located due to the high volume of businesses in the area.

By creating a local recycling hub, the City of Melbourne has boosted amenity by limiting the amount of rubbish bins on the street and reducing truck movements.

In 2013, none of the 100 businesses surrounding Degraves Street were recycling. The facility now hosts a food waste processor, a cardboard baler and co-mingled recycling bins.

Each week, 2.5 tonnes of organic waste is processed by the Orca and diverted from landfill.

The Orca uses aerobic digestion to break down the food waste, turning it into water that then goes safely into the sewer.

Q. How is the City of Melbourne addressing challenges such as population growth, high density collection, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change?

A. Ensuring Melbourne maintains its status of one of the world’s most liveable cities – as the daily population grows from 911,000 to 1.4 million by 2036 – is one of our biggest challenges and is therefore central to all our strategic plans.   

The WRRS seeks to streamline the waste system and reduce congestion on roads and footpaths, where some of our bins are stored.

To action this, we will introduce more shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city, and remove some commercial bins from the public realm.

We also want to expand the network of five communal waste compactors and recycling hubs in central city laneways, which currently take waste from more than 300 businesses. We can dramatically reduce the number of bins lining our laneways and the number of trucks on our streets by creating more central waste drop-off points.

Reducing the impact of waste is central to the city’s commitment to taking action on climate change, and will help us reach the key target of avoiding 1.2 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Q. What are the challenges and opportunities to boost City of Melbourne’s 25 per cent recycling rate?

A. Household waste makes up around five per cent of the total waste in Melbourne. Residents recycle only 25 per cent of their waste, which is low compared to the Victorian average of 45 per cent.

This is mostly due to a lack of organics recycling, with food waste representing half of household waste sent to landfill. Residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17.

We already have a number of initiatives to cut down on waste to landfill, such as offering our residents and businesses discounted worm farms and compost bins.

As for commingled kerbside recycling, at the moment we are one of 30 councils looking for an alternate solution following the closure of SKM Recycling sites.

Kerbside recycling will be taken to a landfill facility until other arrangements can be made.

We are disappointed with this outcome and expect our residents will feel similarly.

We don’t want people to lose their good recycling habits while this is happening. In fact, we’d like people to increase their knowledge of what can be recycled and minimise contamination as much as possible. [comments published in early August].

Q. Where do you see waste and resource recovery heading?

A. At present, the biggest challenge is the recycling sector. In the future we would like to see a robust, local recycling industry that is supported by an increase in the amount of recycled product used in future infrastructure projects throughout Victoria

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VIC allocates $11M to recycling relief

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.”

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Registrations launched for Waste Expo Australia

The future of waste management and resource recovery is high on the agenda at all levels of government as Australia’s largest and most comprehensive conference and exhibition, Waste Expo Australia launches registrations.

Hosting more than 120 brands and over 100 speakers across three conference stages, Waste Expo Australia will return to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on October 23 and 24.

Waste Expo Australia will offer free-to-attend conference content across the Waste and Wastewater Summits, attracting the largest gathering of waste management and resource professionals in Australia.

The Waste Summit Conference brought to you by Oceania Clean Energy Solutions will cover six targeted streams from resource recovery, waste-to-energy, collections, landfill and transfer stations, construction and demolition waste as well as commercial and industrial waste.

Key speakers will include Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian EPA CEO Cathy Wilkinson and Acting Executive Director for Waste Strategy and Policy at the NSW EPA Kar Mel Tang.

Other national and state-based bodies will be represented, along with case study presentations from local governments including Campaspe Shire Council, City of Holdfast Bay, Yarra City Council and Albury City Council.

Leading off day one of the Waste Summit, a panel will discuss the pressing issues surrounding Australia’s waste-to-energy (WtE) sector.

One of the panel members, Director of Enhar Consulting Demian Natakhan, will discuss the status of landfill solar generation and propose that the final resting place for municipal waste may be the beginning of new energy generation.

“Solar farming on former landfill sites offers a way to put otherwise unproductive land to a valuable use,” Mr Natakhan suggested.

“Where landfill gas is already collected in sufficient quantities to firepower generation, solar can be added onto existing grid infrastructure. In sites with lower landfill gas volumes, new solar generation with grid upgrades can unlock significant solar generation, avoiding the competition between solar farming and productive agricultural or industrial land.”

Confronting the challenges and opportunities in wastewater treatment will also be tackled at the Wastewater Summit brought to you by EnviroConcepts.

Waste Expo Australia Event Director Cory McCarrick said the event continues to grow with more speakers and suppliers on board this year than ever before.

“We have seen an increase in the total number of exhibitors this year to 120 and around 50 of these are exhibiting for the first time at Waste Expo Australia,” Mr McCarrick said.

Key exhibitors this year include Bost Group, Cleanaway, Caterpillar, HSR Southern Cross, Tricon Equipment, Applied Machinery and Hitachi.

“Add to this list our impressive line-up of speakers, there is no other waste event in Australia that gives you access to such thought-provoking content that address the major issues facing the industry coupled with the opportunities to be immersed among the key players and products for free,” Mr McCarrick said.

Waste Expo Australia is co-location with All-Energy Australia, Energy Efficiency Expo and ISSA Cleaning and Hygiene Expo — forming a significant showcase for the waste, recycling, wastewater, renewable energy, energy efficiency and cleaning industries.

Across the two days attendees will have access to industry speakers and suppliers across waste management, wastewater treatment, energy generation, energy efficiency and cleaning and hygiene.

Registration gives you access to all four events on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 October 2019.

To register visit www.wasteexpoaustralia.com.au

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VWMA urges ongoing recycling

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) is urging Victorians to continue recycling despite temporary interruptions to the state’s waste and recycling network.

Despite recent challenges, VWMA Executive Officer Mark Smith said the sector collectively delivers an efficient waste collection service to all Victorians.

“The private sector supports 23,000 Victorian jobs and invests over $800 million into waste and recycling services and infrastructure annually,” Mr Smith says.

“We have the potential to create sustainable solutions out of this current crisis. I hope we capitalise on it.”

Mr Smith said the current approach to waste management and recycling had evolved over decades.

“Current procurement practices have encouraged a concentration of processing capabilities across large operators and sites focused on volume processing, which has traditionally been a lower cost option,” Mr Smith said.

“A series of events over the last 18-20 months has demonstrated the inherent risks of the state’s waste and recycling network when we drive low cost options.”

Over the next procurement period, VWMA strongly recommends government procurement and tendering address ongoing issues and challenges.

“For Victoria and Australia to successfully manage our future waste needs, we must invest appropriately in the people, systems, processes and education to drive sustainable change, with the private sector as a partner for local and state government,” Mr Smith said.

According to Mr Smith, the state will see materials traditionally destined for recycling end up in landfill as the system transitions.

“We may need to accept that this temporary interruption could last a few weeks, as our waste and recycling system adjusts and adapts to this most recent challenge. Temporary interruptions shouldn’t discourage people doing the right thing and disposing of their waste in the right bin,” Mr Smith said.

“I also encourage impacted members or industry to attend our conference next week. The State Conference is about Victorian issues and opportunities – this is a critical time for the industry. Come along.”

Mr Smith added that the average Australian generates roughly 2.7 tonnes of waste a year — equivalent to the weight of a Toyota HiAce.

“By global standards that’s high and is not sustainable,” Mr Smith said.

“People can support the current challenges we are having by reviewing their own habits and behaviours, including buying things made locally from recycled material.”

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EPA Victoria orders recycler to stop accepting material

The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) is initiating a range of measures to support councils, following a EPA Victoria notice that SKM Services stop accepting recyclable material at its Laverton North site.

EPA issued the recycler with notices on 19 June that required it bring outdoor stockpiles at Maffra Street, Coolaroo and Laverton North into compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy by 3 July 2019.

An EPA media statement said regulatory action followed an inspection that revealed waste on site had increased following an extension of time for compliance.

Additionally, a fire broke out at the Laverton North site 9 July that EPA believes began on a conveyor belt.

“EPA is of the opinion that SKM understood its obligations under the notices, but had not demonstrated a move towards achieving compliance at the Laverton North site,” the statement reads.

“The company will still be able to process waste at its Laverton North site while the notice is in place, but will not be able to receive any new materials until EPA is satisfied that it has achieved compliance with the Victorian Waste Management Policy.”

MWRRG is seeking confirmation from SKM that it has alternative provisions in place to ensure it can continue to provide service to up to 10 affected local councils.

MWRRG CEO Rob Millard said MWRRG’s focus is on ensuring minimal disruption to residents by working with affected councils, other recycling facilities and landfill operators on immediate and long-term solutions.

“Following China’s decision to limit the importation of recyclables, MWRRG has been developing collaborative procurements for recycling services, working with 11 council clusters comprising more than 60 councils across the state,” Mr Millard said.

“By councils working together, larger contracts will be offered in the industry to encourage investment in recycling infrastructure and technology, and to attract new candidates to the Victorian recycling sector.”

Mr Millard said industry would be asked to provide expressions of interest on the collaborative procurements in August, with detailed submissions expected by the end of the year.

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