South Australia is the first state in the nation to pass legislation to ban the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastic products such as straws, cutlery and beverage stirrers.
The South Australian Government has approved $1.7 million in funding for projects designed to reduce household waste sent to landfill.
Environment Minister David Speirs said the funding, delivered through Green Industries SA, will assist councils upgrade and modernise waste collection and recycling services and increase kerbside diversion rates through innovation and improved efficiencies.
“Twenty-two regional councils will also benefit from transport subsidies, which will support councils’ continued recycling efforts by offsetting some of the extra costs associated with processing and transporting collected recyclables,” Mr Speirs said.
Councils awarded under the Regional Transport Subsidies Program include the City of Mount Gambier, Berri Barmera Council, City of Port Lincoln and the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority, which represents Alexandrina, Victor Harbor, Yankalilla and Kangaroo Island councils.
According to Mr Speirs, funding is allocated under three programs – one to reduce food waste sent to landfill, another to help councils modernise their collection systems and the other for regional council transport subsidies.
“Improved waste management is not only good for the environment, but it contributes to South Australia’s economic growth by creating jobs and developing new business opportunities to recycle and reuse our resources right here in South Australia,” he said.
The largest area for improvement in council kerbside systems is food waste, Mr Speirs said, which makes up approximately 40 per cent of the weight of household residual waste bins sent to landfill.
“By supporting councils to improve their collection of food waste we can lower waste management costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a valuable resource like compost,” he said.
“I congratulate the seven councils awarded funding under the Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Organics) Incentives Program for their commitment towards implementing systems which assist with the diversion of food waste from landfill.”
Under the program, councils receive a subsidy for the cost of bench-top containers, compostable bags and production of householder education material.
Awarded councils include the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, which received $106,765 to reinvigorate an area-wide system for 20,900 households, and the City of Tea Tree Gully, which received $73,588 to improve its opt-in service for 8000 households.
Twelve local government organisations have also received funding to help modernise their collection services to increase landfill diversion, decrease contamination levels and improve data collection.
“Congratulations to the 12 local government organisations who are willing to push the envelope with investment in alternative delivery models and technologies such as smart bins to improve operational efficiencies,” Mr Speirs said.
Local government organisations awarded under the Council Modernisation Program include East Waste, which received $90,000 for Fight Food waste CRC audits and research, and Holdfast Bay, which received $97,900 for a weekly food and green organics collection pilot.
Clean-up is set to begin at two sites in Sedan, South Australia, where thousands of tonnes of construction and demolition waste containing asbestos was found dumped in 2017.
The sites, on Battens and Pipelines roads, were discovered after an EPA investigation involving the SA Police, the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and local government.
EPA Director Regulation Peter Dolan said the EPA had stepped in to remove the waste after the Port Adelaide-based demolition contractor alleged to have dumped the material failed comply with a clean-up order.
“We have engaged appropriately licensed contractors to carry out the work in order to protect the community and the environment,” he said.
“I can assure residents that the clean-up and transport operation is perfectly safe. Asbestos has to be inhaled to be hazardous to human health.”
According to Mr Dolan, the waste has been sprayed with glue to prevent the escape of exposed asbestos fibres.
“It will be wrapped and transferred in covered trucks to a specially lined cell at the Cambrai Waste Depot, which is licensed to receive asbestos,” he said.
“Air quality monitoring is also being carried out at both sites while work is under way.”
Transporting the waste from Sedan to Cambrai is expected to take one month, with trucks working between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday.
“The EPA is in the process of preparing a brief for the Crown Solicitor, seeking criminal prosecution relating to the dumping of the waste and cost recovery for the clean-up,” Mr Dolan said.
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A taskforce, with representation from 15 different organisations, has meet to help inform the next steps towards banning single-use plastics in South Australia.
The state government asked the taskforce to consider what impacts legislation might have on businesses and the community, and provide advice on what a phase out of single-use plastic straws, cups, drink stirrers and food service items might look like.
Environment Minister David Speirs said the taskforce is made up of a range of interested stakeholders, including environmental groups, business representatives, the hospitality industry and disability advocates.
“The group will discuss solutions and alternatives as part of any move to phase out single-use plastics, to ensure South Australians can transition smoothly,” Mr Speirs said.
“The taskforce will also seek presentations and meetings with those with a stake in any future changes to legislation, and will assist communication with the community and business.”
According to Mr Speirs, South Australia leads the nation in issues of environmental responsibility.
“The issue of our plastic use and plastic pollution is one of the most pressing topics of our time, and we won’t be left standing on the sidelines watching the impact on our environment go unchecked,” Mr Speirs said.
“We know that our interstate colleagues are eagerly awaiting the outcomes from our taskforce and from our plastic free precinct trials. We want South Australia to again lead the way nationally and provide a blueprint for how to reduce single-use plastics.”
Legislation banning single-use plastics in South Australia is expected to be introduced into parliament in the first half of 2020.
Members of the single use plastics task force include:
Australian Food and Grocery Council
Australian Hotels Association (SA)
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation
Conservation Council SA
Environment Protection Authority
Green Industries SA
KESAB environmental solutions
Local Government Association of SA
National Retail Association
JFA Purple Orange
Disability Elders of All Ages
Restaurant and Catering Industry Association
SA Independent Retailers
Waste Management Resource Recovery Association
Single-use plastics will be removed from multiple South Australian businesses, following the state government’s plastic free precincts announcement.
The Adelaide Central Market, The Parade (Norwood) and The Jetty Road Brighton Traders are the first three locations, with a fourth precinct encapsulating all 21 Surf Life Saving South Australia clubs across the state.
Environment Minister David Speirs said the Boomerang Alliance, who have run similar trials in Noosa in Queensland and Bassendean in Western Australia, will be working closely with traders, cafés, restaurants and retailers in these locations.
“It’s so exciting to see how some of our destination shopping precincts and the iconic Adelaide Central Markets commit to going ‘plastic free,” Mr Speirs said.
“I’m especially pleased that Surf Life Saving South Australia has put their hand up to be part of the trial. They are among the most motivated of volunteers, as our surf life savers are confronted every day with the impact of single use plastics on our coasts and beaches.”
Surf Life Saving South Australia Chief Executive Officer Damien Marangon said his organisation was thrilled to be one of the first single-use plastic-free precincts.
“As custodians of South Australia’s coastline, our organisation sees first hand the impact single-use plastics can have on our beaches and waterways,” Mr Marangon said.
“When the state government called for applications to become a plastic-free precinct, we jumped at the opportunity.”
Earlier this year, the state government called for expressions of interest to become a plastic-free precinct, as well as join the stakeholder taskforce.
Mr Speirs said the stakeholder taskforce would provide input and advice to assist in making the precinct trail as successful as possible.
“The taskforce will make sure the views and opinions of all South Australians are heard when it comes to the next steps for banning single-use plastics in our state,” Mr Speirs said.
“We’ve invited 13 representatives from across South Australia including local government, businesses, the hospitality sector and disability advocates to form the first stakeholder taskforce.”
Mr Speirs said the the government expected more plastic free precincts would follow, given the high quality of applications across the state.
“Our government is seeking a wide range of input on what any future phase out or replacement for single use plastic might look like, and the stakeholder taskforce will play an important role in our decision making,” Mr Speirs said.
Organics recycling, composting and renewable energy manufacturer Peats Group have opened a fourth compost and renewable energy site in South Australia.
The site, located in the Upper Spencer Gulf Region, is the first of many planned for the region as part of the Regional Jobs and Investment Packages grant incentive – awarded to Peats Group in September 2017.
Peats Group Managing Director Peter Wadewitz said the site will produce renewable energy and valuable soil improvement products.
“Redirecting organic recyclable materials from homes and businesses away from landfill means ozone depleting methane gas is redirected into captured biogas for renewable energy production, without affecting the production of the valuable soil improvement products,” Mr Wadewitz said.
“The official opening aims to be a celebration of both growth in renewable energy technologies in the Upper Spencer Gulf region and the expansion of a proud South Australian company with a great vision for the future.”
Mr Wadewitz said the new site will also expand the company’s practice of converting grease and liquid waste into biodiesel fuel.
“The biodiesel plant installed at Peats Brinkley site separates fats from water using Peats proprietary technology and converts it into biodiesel to fuel its vehicles,” Mr Wadewitz said.
“Call it a mix of old fashioned “Flintstones” basics with futuristic “Mad Max” fossil fuel.”
The production of compost product has commenced, with the renewable energy plant expected to be fully operational by 30 June 2020.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorised a group initiative of SA councils to jointly procure kerbside waste collection services.
The councils of Adelaide, Charles Sturt, Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield have been authorised to appoint a single provider for kerbside waste collection services.
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In the context of procuring waste services, councils may be considered to be each other’s competitors, which is why authorisation from the ACCC was required.
Broadly, the ACCC can grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any detriment.
Interim authorisation was granted on 20 July 2018, which allowed the councils to commence the tender processes. The tender closes on 12 December 2018 and will cover around 180,000 rateable properties.
According to the ACCC, it is common practice throughout Australia for local councils to jointly tender for waste services to reduce transaction costs, pool resources and expertise and achieve economies of scale. The ACCC has authorised 30 of these agreements so far, after concluding they were likely to benefit the public.
ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said a joint tender process is likely to improve the four councils’ purchasing power and encourage more competition from suppliers than if each council conducted a separate tender process.
“It is common for groups of local councils to jointly procure waste services. The ACCC has authorised many such arrangements across Australia over the years,” she said.
“The joint tender process is likely to result in cost savings through encouraging more competitive bids, reducing transaction costs, and other efficiencies. These cost savings can be passed on to Adelaide residents in the form of lower costs or improved services,” Ms Court said.
The ACCC considered information both for and against the joint tender arrangement.
“Some suppliers raised concerns that the size of the proposed contract would deter some suppliers from tendering, resulting in a worse deal for ratepayers,” Ms Court said
“While there may be some companies that choose not to participate, the larger tender is also likely to attract additional bidders, and overall we consider most of the potential suppliers which would bid if the councils contracted separately are also likely to compete for the joint contract.”
“The councils have the experience and incentive to decide whether running a single tender process for a larger volume of work or four smaller, separate tenders, is likely to deliver the best outcomes for their respective communities.”
The ACCC also considered the longer-term impact of the joint tender on competition for waste collection services in Adelaide and found unsuccessful applicants will continue to have other opportunities to provide waste management services in other parts of the city.
More than $3.2 million in funding has been approved by the South Australian government for 17 recycling infrastructure projects.
It is part of the state government’s $12.4 million support package announced in May in response to China’s National Sword Policy.
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The funding was delivered through Green Industries SA and covers a range of recycling, waste management and resource recovery projects.
More than $600,000 has been invested into infrastructure that deals directly with recovering and recycling plastic waste.
Around $424,000 has been invested into improving Material Recovery Facilities in Mt Gambier and $357,000 for end of life vehicle recycling.
Projects that improve the infrastructure to recycle post-consumer paper in the Australian market have also received $250,000.
SA Environment Minister David Speirs said China’s National Sword policy was a catalyst to increase the range of our recycled materials and develop local markets as a priority.
“This funding supports a range of projects in both the private sector and local government, across metropolitan and regional South Australia,” he said.
“This investment in the remanufacturing, re-use, and recovery sector helps maintain our world leading diversion results, where 83.4 per cent of all our waste is diverted from landfill.
“The State Government funding of more than $3.2 million has been matched by the applicants, unlocking more than $7.9 million of investment for 17 projects that support an estimated 36 full time jobs,” Mr Speirs said.
The next round of grant funding to support and develop recycling infrastructure is now available.
ResourceCo is reusing Adelaide’s construction and demolition waste to build new roads, homes and buildings.
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) South Australia, with the assistance of South Australia Police (SAPOL), the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) and local government have disrupted illegal waste operations in late May.
The crackdown involved a number of search warrants executed at businesses and residential premises across metropolitan and regional SA in relation to the illegal activities.
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EPA Chief Executive Tony Circelli said this has been a complex investigation with significant outcomes and serves as a warning to those who operate illegally in the waste industry
“The lawful South Australian waste industry provides an essential service for our community and businesses managing around 4.5 million tonnes of waste annually and being responsible for around 5,000 jobs. The legitimate industry works to meet required environmental standards and supports our leading recycling culture,” Mr Circelli said.
“The EPA is committed to maintaining confidence in existing and planned investments by ensuring that unlawful operations are brought to account and do not undercut sound operations.”
Mr. Circelli said the four-month long investigation involved extensive surveillance and resources, and required the EPA to draw on special powers warrants introduced in 2017.
“This law allows the EPA to better regulate waste generated from construction, demolition and earthworks to ensure appropriate and safe transport and disposal,” he said.
The investigation identified more than 1000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste, including material containing asbestos.
“This operation is a great demonstration of the new powers and collaboration across multiple agencies working together to target the illegal operators and support the legitimate waste industry,” Mr Circelli said.
The Waste and Recycling Industry Association of SA (WRISA) President Jim Fairweather said there is no place in the waste, recycling and resource recovery industry for illegal or poor-quality operators that tarnish the reputation of the industry.
“WRISA supports the work of the EPA in upholding environmental standards and licence conditions as steps towards helping to maintain a waste and recycling industry that has the public’s confidence,” Mr Fairweather said.