Survey reveals waste industry investment push

Australia’s waste and recycling sector is set to back Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $20 million funding with greater investment in research and technology, according to an Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) survey.

AWRE Event Manager Andrew Lawson said the survey found 85 per cent of respondents were planning investments of up to $500,000, while 12 per cent planned to invest more than $1million.

“Organisations cited research and development, technology and innovation, and product development as their major investment priorities over the next three years,” Mr Lawson said.

“While 49 per cent of respondents said they plan to increase staff over the next 12 months, 43 per cent said there would be no staff changes.”

Mr Lawson said the survey revealed an overarching sense of optimism about the future, despite the short-term challenges following the loss of export markets.

“Not surprisingly, there is still widespread concern about China’s National Sword policy, which dramatically cut Australia’s export of plastics, paper, metal and other waste materials to that market,” Mr Lawson said.

“However, far from throwing Australia’s waste and recycling industries into crisis, most believe this presents an opportunity to develop homegrown solutions to the growing problem of waste.”

According to Mr Lawson, 54 per cent of those surveyed said they were confident that new recycling technology, especially in energy generation, would transform the sector over the next one-to-three years.

“A majority of respondents said this far neither federal nor state initiatives had helped their business navigate the challenging new landscape, so the Prime Minister’s recent focus on these issues will be welcomed by the industry,” Mr Lawson said.

“Asked to nominate the main drivers for bringing about radical changes to Australia’s waste and recycling sector, respondents nominated government policy, technology and international trends – with some also identifying climate change as a major influence on public policy and community attitudes.”

AWRE will run 30-31 October at ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour.

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Scott Morrison visits New York MRF

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has highlighted his commitment to working collaboratively with state governments and industry to grow Australia’s recycling infrastructure capacity.

The statements were made following a tour of the Sims Metal Management materials recovery facility (MRF) in Brooklyn New York.

Commenting on the scale and scope of the MRF, Mr Morrison said he was excited to see similar technology employed in Australia.

“What we’re seeing here is truly exciting, and it is truly achievable because it is commercial, and it’s a partnership between the public and the private sectors,” Mr Morrison said.

“I mean, up to about two thirds of the revenue that is generated here doesn’t come from the contracts they have with governments, it comes from the products and the revenue streams that are generated by selling that outside of this facility.”

Mr Morrison said the facility’s success highlighted that improving the recycling sector was achievable through public and private sector partnerships.

“There are many environmental challenges that we face, and we need to take action on all of them, but this one for Australia, in a highly urbanised society, one where our waste is our responsibility, these are the commercial solutions that we need to have in place,” Mr Morrison said.

“And this will be a centrepiece of our focus, not only on our domestic environmental agenda, but on our international environmental agenda.”

Sims Metal Management CEO Alistair Field said it was important that contractual arrangements with city governments were mutually beneficial.

“We work very closely with New York City, and in the times that we have ebbs and flows and commodity cycles, there has to be an understanding of how our business can manage through those cycles,” Mr Field said.

“We have seen instances here in the US and throughout the world where that has not worked. So that’s a really key arrangement and our commercial arrangement with business and government.”

When asked by media why similar technology wasn’t being implemented in Australia, Mr Morrison said the scale of operations was challenging.

The Prime Minister added that he would work closely with state governments and the Commonwealth to build that scale.

“The discussion I had with the states at the last meeting of COAG was a very enthusiastic one. I think there’s a real willingness to identify the things that can facilitate this sort of commercial activity,” Mr Morrison said.

“One of the things we are looking at is the procurement practices of our road building agencies, to ensure that they are incorporating recycled asphalt into their procurement in the tens of billions of dollars that we are spending on roads.”

Mr Morrison said higher energy costs in Australia were also a challenge, however noted the potential inherent in waste to energy processes.

“One of the exciting things about waste management is that it can generate its own energy, and plants like this can potentially become fully energy self-sufficient, through recycling waste and converting it through gasification and other processes into energy,” Mr Morrison said.

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Scott Morrison visits Downer CDEnviro recycling facility

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews have visited Downer and CDEnviro’s processing facility and asphalt plant.

During the visit, the Federal Government announced it would commit $20 million to grow Australia’s domestic recycling industry.

Downer Reconomy General Manager Jim Appleby said while visiting the facility, Mr Morrison highlighted the government’s support for recycling infrastructure, research and development and positive purchasing.

“It’s amazing to hear the government talking about turbocharging the recycling sector,” Mr Appleby said.

“We are really proud of this facility and how it’s transforming the way Australia sees waste, so it was great to demonstrate this to our Prime Minister and our Industry, Science and Technology Minister.”

Mr Appleby said Mr Morrison highlighted Downer’s sustainable Reconophalt asphalt product as innovative recycling.

“The Reconomy facility in Rosehill Sydney features state-of-the-art street sweeping recycling technology from waste management solutions company CDEnviro,” Mr Appleby said.

“There’s recycling and then there’s revolutionary recycling, and we want to demonstrate that revolutionary recycling is what the world needs.”

The facility annually diverts more than 21,000 tonnes of waste from Sydney road construction projects.

“This material is then used in road construction and applied as asphalt to the road networks from where the material originated,” Mr Appleby said.

“Reconomy and CDEnviro share a purpose in championing sustainability and zero waste.”

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Applications open for $20M CRC grants

The Federal Government has committed $20 million to innovative projects designed to grow Australia’s domestic recycling industry.

Funds are available through round eight of the Cooperative Research Centre grants program, which opened 13 August.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the funding was part of government’s commitment to work with the states and establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

“We are committed to protecting our nation’s environment while also building our capacity to turn recycling into products that people want and need,” Mr Morrison said.

“By engaging industry and researchers, we can make sure we’re seeing these changes introduced in a way that cuts costs for businesses and ultimately even creates jobs.”

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said the funding would help create Australian jobs, while also reducing global plastic pollution.

According to Ms Andrews, recent figures suggest only 12 per cent of the 103 kilograms of plastic waste generated per person in Australia is recycled each year.

“This funding will strengthen Australia’s recycling industry and help us achieve higher recycling rates,” Ms Andrews said.

“Boosting our onshore plastic recycling industry has the potential to create over three times as many jobs as exporting our plastic waste, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future.”

Applications close 24 September 2019.

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New parliamentary role created for waste reduction

Re-elected Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new parliamentary position, Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister.

The role has been awarded to Queensland MP Trevor Evans, who was elected to the House of Representatives for Brisbane in 2016.

Mr Morrison has also announced his new cabinet, replacing Environment Minister Melissa Price with Sussan Ley.

Ms Price served as Environment Minister since August 2018, after previously serving as Assistant Minister to the portfolio.

Since being elected to parliament in 2001, Ms Ley has served as Health Minister, Education Minister, Sport Minister and most recently Regional Development Assistant Minister.

“Australians hold strong views on caring for our environment, both locally and globally, and I look forward to listening to the variety of perspectives and ideas that will be put forward,” Ms Ley said.

“As well as implementing our government’s strong range of policy initiatives in this portfolio.”

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the national industry body welcomed both appointments.

“WMRR congratulates both the minister and assistant minister, and looks forward to working with them on the commitments made by the government ahead of the election. Once the dust settles WMRR will be engaging with Minister Ley on how we can move forward,” Ms Sloan said.

“Effectively drawing that link between the environment and the economy so our essential waste and resource recovery industry maximises the opportunities at hand, to not only protect the environment, but grow local jobs and the economy.”

Australian Council of Recyclers CEO Peter Shmigel said the appointment of Sussan Ley and Trevor Evans represents unprecedented national leadership on recycling,

“This is the first time there’s direct ownership and accountability for recycling results at a ministerial level. The creation of the assistant minister role is a really welcome innovation by Prime Minister Scott Morrison,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The assistant minister helps guarantee the delivery of the government’s very substantive and useful recycling promises, including infrastructure funding and product stewardship progress.”

Roles within the Environment and Energy Department have also been re-shuffled, with responsibility for emissions reduction transferred from environment minister to energy minister.

Ms Price has been removed from cabinet all together and will serve as defence minister, while Angus Taylor remains in his role as energy minister.

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Election results for the waste industry

The Coalition, which promised $203 million to the waste and recycling sector, has been re-elected with a likely majority.

While votes are still being counted, the Coalition currently holds 75 of the 76 seats needed to win government – with ABC election analyst Antony Green predicting a final result of 77 seats.

The lead up to the 18 May election saw significant waste and recycling policy promises from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“We will increase Australia’s recycling rates, tackle plastic waste and litter, accelerate work on new recycling schemes and continue action to halve food waste by 2030,” Mr Morrison said earlier in May.

While Melissa Price has been re-elected to the seat of Durack Western Australia, it is unclear whether she will return as Environment Minister.

The Coalition’s campaign promises include:

— $100 million to develop the Australian Recycling Investment Fund to support the manufacturing of lower emissions and energy-efficient recycled content products including recycled content plastics, paper and pulp.

— $20 million for a new Product Stewardship Investment Fund to accelerate work on new industry-led recycling schemes for batteries, electrical and electronic products, photovoltaic systems and plastic oil containers.

— $20 million to find new and innovative solutions to plastic recycling and waste through the Cooperative Research Centres Projects grants program.

— $16 million to support the Pacific Ocean Litter Project, working with neighbours in the Pacific to reduce plastics and other waste in the ocean.

— Up to $5.8 million for a range of initiatives through the Environment Restoration Fund to support Clean Up Australia, Keep Australia Beautiful, the Australian Council of Recycling, Planet Ark, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and OzHarvest.

— Up to $5 million through the Environment Restoration Fund for Conservation Volunteers Australia to coordinate community campaigns to clean up plastic waste in beaches and rivers.

— Continuing to work with state, territory and local governments on opportunities to get more recycled content into road construction – building on the funding provided to the Australian Road Research Board in the 2019-Budget.

The industry will now have to wait and see if the Coalition’s promises are put into action.

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NWRIC welcomes Coalition waste policy

The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has issued a statement of support for the Coalition’s proposed waste and recycling policy.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said the Coalition’s recent policy announcement would help facilitate a cleaner environment for all Australians.

“The announcement reveals a federal election which has seen the biggest tri-partisan commitment to waste and recycling in Australian history,” Ms Read said.

“The Coalition’s promises follow equally welcome commitments by the Labor Party and the Greens.”

Ms Read highlighted the Coalition’s $100 million Australian Recycling Investment Fund, Product Stewardship Investment Fund, $20 million investment in new and innovative solutions to plastic recycling and commitment to continue working with state, territory and local governments on opportunities to get more recycled content into road construction.

Ms Read said while party commitments vary in focus and values, the lead up to the election has seen a recognition of the waste and recycling challenges facing Australia.

“This is welcome news for all Australians because irrespective of who they vote for, they all put their bins out,” Ms Read said.

“Furthermore industry’s priorities are clear, more jobs, better services and less pollution – there is really nothing to disagree with about delivering this essential community service.”

NWRIC is concerned however about the lack of targets for government procurement of recycled goods, incentives to producers to increase recycled content in their products and packaging or willingness to drive state harmonisation of waste regulations and levies.

“Having six states and two territories enforcing different laws, levies and standards limits industry investment in innovative waste management and resource recovery infrastructure and services essential to building a circular economy,” Ms Read said.

“Good policy combined with funding is the key to effective outcomes and greater certainty for industry investment.”

Ms Read said for the proposed Product Stewardship investment to achieve meaningful outcomes, it must be underpinned by smart, simple regulations that create a level playing field and ensure full producer engagement.

“The National Waste Recycling Industry Council is calling for the appointment of a National Waste Commissioner to drive these necessary reforms and a tri-partisan approach to harmonising the regulations framing our industry,” Ms Read said.

“This process has been a clear success for work health and safety and heavy vehicle laws.”

Ms Read said every household and business in Australia purchases waste services and most purchase recycling services.

“The Commonwealth can cut costs for all Australians and stimulate industry investment by driving collaboration between states, industry and producers and essential regulatory reforms,” Ms Read said.

“It is critical that whichever party wins the upcoming federal election that they work proactively with industry to create jobs, serve communities, protect workers and reduce pollution.”

Earlier in the election cycle NWRIC similarly praised Labor’s policy commitments, specifically noting the development of a national container deposit scheme, National Waste Commissioner and the $60 million investment in a National Recycling Fund.

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Liberal Party releases waste and recycling policy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that if elected, the Liberal Government will invest $203 million to increase recycling and reduce waste, protect Australia’s biodiversity and restore waterways

Mr Morrison said he wants to ensure the protection of Australia’s environment for future generations.

“We will increase Australia’s recycling rates, tackle plastic waste and litter, accelerate work on new recycling schemes and continue action to halve food waste by 2030.”

The government’s waste and recycling initiatives include:

  • $100 million to develop the Australian Recycling Investment Fund to support the manufacturing of lower emissions and energy-efficient recycled content products including recycled content plastics, paper and pulp.
  • $20 million for a new Product Stewardship Investment Fund to accelerate work on new industry-led recycling schemes for batteries, electrical and electronic products, photovoltaic systems and plastic oil containers.
  • $20 million to find new and innovative solutions to plastic recycling and waste through the Cooperative Research Centres Projects grants program.
  • $16 million to support the Pacific Ocean Litter Project, working with neighbours in the Pacific to reduce plastics and other waste in the ocean.
  • Up to $5.8 million for a range of initiatives through the Environment Restoration Fund to support Clean Up Australia, Keep Australia Beautiful, the Australian Council of Recycling, Planet Ark, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation and OzHarvest.
  • Up to $5 million through the Environment Restoration Fund for Conservation Volunteers Australia to coordinate community campaigns to clean up plastic waste in beaches and rivers.
  • Continuing to work with state, territory and local governments on opportunities to get more recycled content into road construction – building on the funding provided to the Australian Road Research Board in the 2019-Budget.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel said the government’s new recycling policy was a win for the industry.

“With the kerbside recycling part of our sector under pressure, this package is an appropriate, awesome and advantageous investment in Australian recycling’s domestic sustainability now and into the future,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The Coalition has kicked one strongly through the policy posts that will result in less waste to landfill, recycling industry co-investment, community confidence in their efforts, value-adding jobs in regional centres and resource security in a competitive world.”

Mr Shmigel said the Labor Party’s recycling policy was also strong and substantial, with commitments in the areas of industry infrastructure, product stewardship and procurement.

“Australian voters, some 90 per cent of whom voluntarily participate in recycling, can be confident that both our major parties and the Greens have provided substantive policies for this election,” Mr Shmigel said.

“All three choices are positive and ACOR will compile a comparative scorecard based on its 10 point plan in the next week.”

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New Federal Minister for Environment sworn in

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has selected his new cabinet ministry and appointed a new Minister for Environment to replace Josh Frydenberg, who has been appointed treasurer.

Melissa Price will now serve as Minister for Environment, after previously serving as the Assistant Minister to the portfolio.

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She was responsible for reviewing Australia’s national waste management strategy, preserving the country’s biodiversity and overseeing the transition to new management plans for marine reserves.

As Assistant Minister, she helped set national targets to reduce Australia’s waste and encourage the industry to transition to more sustainable practices.

The previous portfolio has been split in two, with Angus Taylor being appointed the Minster for Energy. Ms Price will now focus solely on Australia’s natural resources and preserving the environment.

“It is a great privilege to take full responsibility for this portfolio and I welcome the opportunity to continue the Government’s work in delivering a cleaner future for Australia,” Ms Price said.

“I also represent an incredibly diverse regional electorate that covers roughly half of Western Australia, where some 20 per cent of all threatened species in Australia are found.

“My appointment also marks the first time a woman from regional Western Australia has served in the Cabinet, an achievement that I am both proud and deeply humbled to acknowledge,” she said.

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