SA launches new Which Bin campaign and draft waste strategies

The South Australian Government has launched a new Which Bin campaign to encourage South Australians to improve their household waste management.

According to Environment Minister David Speirs, the new statewide Which Bin campaign builds on the award-winning 2019 education program, which follows Vin and his family in their quest to recycle more effectively.

Read moreSA launches new Which Bin campaign and draft waste strategies

SA’s peak waste and recycling industry association welcomes new EO

South Australia’s Waste and Recycling Industry Association (WRISA) is set to strengthen its position, with a sharpened focus on its role as an industry advocate.

WRISA President Jim Fairweather said the association has an important role to play in the conversations and policy decisions impacting the management of waste and recycling, amid significant ongoing changes in the sector.

Fairweather explained that in addition to WRISA’s refined focus, the association is welcoming the appointment of a new Executive Officer – waste and resource recovery specialist Adam Gray.

“Mr Gray is an experienced Executive Officer and his knowledge in waste and resource recovery, stakeholder engagement and advocacy is a great fit, as WRISA moves to strengthen its position as a leading industry advocate,” he said.

“More than ever, we need to channel the industry’s voice – ensuring the views of large and small operators inform the legislation that will direct Australia’s approach to waste management and recycling for years to come.

“Since forming in 2017, WRISA has established a great foundation, offering a voice to South Australia’s industry, and we thank the association’s inaugural Executive Officer Chris Brideson for his valuable contribution,” Fairweather said.

Gray said he is looking forward to assisting industry partners see the value of a collective voice to promote the sector, optimise engagement with government and achieve collective business and community benefit.

“The waste and recycling sector has huge potential for growth and it’s an extremely exciting industry to work in,” he said.

“Given the cutting-edge developments and new technologies, the sector provides a mix of challenges and opportunities for legislators, regulators and industry alike – and the best way to optimise these for maximum benefit is to find common ground.”

According to Gray, a strong, collective voice and an ability to present evidence-based policy positions will allow the industry to advocate for quality, long-term outcomes for communities, businesses and the environment.

“For that to be a truly representative voice – from large corporates to smaller operators – the industry needs to seize the opportunity to have their views heard, so reaching out to current and potential members will be a high priority,” he said.

“I see a clear opportunity for WRISA to reset, encourage wider representation to inform critical conversations and build policy platforms, and create a new level of member value for South Australia’s waste and recycling operators.”

Gray has experience across local government, private consulting and peak industry associations.

His areas of speciality include waste and recycling, natural resource management, climate adaptation and street lighting.

“I’m looking forward to working with the industry to build a strong voice and positive future for South Australia’s waste and recycling sector,” he said.

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Parliament passes National Radioactive Waste Bill

The National Radioactive Waste Management Amendment (Site Specification, Community Fund and Other Measures) Bill has passed through the Federal House of Representatives.

The purpose the Bill is to amend the National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012, and give effect to the government’s commitment to establish a single, purpose built National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

“Governments have been attempting to find a solution to this issue for decades and today our government has taken a significant step in bringing the process to a conclusion,” Resources, Water and Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said.

The legislation will confirm a site near Kimba in South Australia as the home for the facility.

“The site was one of 28 across the country that was voluntarily nominated, followed by extensive engagement and consultation with the surrounding community that has shown broad support for the project,” Pitt said.

“There has also been extensive engagement with other stakeholders during this process, including with Traditional Owners.”

South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young disputed Pitt’s claims, stating that the facility does not have broad community support.

Hanson-Young added that communities living along potential transport routes had not been consulted.

“The Greens referred the legislation to a Senate Inquiry for scrutiny of the laws and the process that led to this point,” she said.

“That Inquiry has not yet reported, nor has it held hearings in affected communities.”

The legislation will now head to the Senate, with Pitt calling on Labor and cross-benchers to support the project.

“Suggestions that a site in the Woomera area could be used for the facility are simply not practical due to the increase in Defence Force training activities that will limit access to the area,” he said.

“The passage of this Bill, and the construction of the facility, is crucially important to the future of nuclear medicine in Australia, which will benefit two in three Australians.”

Hanson-Young is urging Labor to reconsider their support for the bill before it reaches the Senate.

“South Australians have already said no to nuclear. Today, every South Aussie should be asking why their elected representatives from the major parties have refused to listen to them,” she said.

In a statment released earlier this year, then Resources and Northern Australia Minister Matt Canavan said 80 per cent of Australia’s radioactive waste stream is associated with the production of nuclear medicine.

“Nuclear medicine is used in the diagnosis of a variety of heart, lung and musculoskeletal conditions and treatment of specific cancers,” he said.

“This medical waste, along with Australia’s historical radioactive waste holdings, is currently spread over more than 100 locations across the country, like science facilities, universities and hospitals.”

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SA allocates $1.6M in funding to tackle waste spike

Household waste production has spiked in South Australia, with more people staying home due to COVID-19.

According to Environment Minister David Speirs, preliminary data from the Australian Council of Recycling shows waste volumes are up by more than 10 per cent in the past two months.

“With increased purchasing and consumption due to COVID-19 restrictions, South Australian councils and the local compost industry are also reporting an increase in organics waste, a large portion of which is food scraps,” he said.

“To help reduce the amount of food waste sent to landfill, the state government is making $1.6 million funding available for councils to improve household food waste recycling programs.”

The Kerbside Performance Plus Food Organics Incentives Program, a Green Industries SA initiative, encourages councils to provide an effective food waste recycling service to residents by subsidising the cost of kitchen caddies, certified compostable bags and supporting education.

As it stands, as much as 40 per cent of the material in South Australian household waste bins sent to landfill is food and organics, which could be diverted through the green bin, Speirs said.

“With $1.6 million of funding now available, there is a great opportunity to stimulate a wider uptake of food waste recycling, particularly while householders are staying at home in response to COVID-19,” he added.

“Our aim is to ensure householders continue to recycle their food waste by reducing the cost of compostable bin liners provided by councils, and improving the accessibility of the bags.”

Only five South Australian councils currently provide an area-wide distribution of ventilated caddies lined with certified compostable bags.

“This funding will help councils improve their food waste collection and reduce their waste management costs,” Speirs said.

“To relieve pressure on council resources, Green Industries SA will pay the costs of delivering the certified compostable bags on request to housebound residents unable to access these due to closed council libraries and other distribution centres.”

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SA launches FOGO research to combat household compost

A new South Australian research project is aiming to encourage efficient FOGO disposal by understanding household behaviours around food waste. 

The what, where, and why of Household Food Waste Behaviour project is in collaboration with the Fight Food Waste CRC, East Waste, the University of Adelaide, Green Industries SA and sub-contractor Rawtec.

​Building on existing international research, the project will utilise detailed micro-waste auditing, ongoing waste disposal monitoring technology and novel household surveys from a broad cross-section of the community, to develop a comprehensive report on household  food waste bin behaviour.

Fight Food Waste CRC outlined in its plan that ultimately the project aims to successfully change household food waste behaviour in the long-term to achieve the recycling of food waste into a valuable commodity as opposed to sending it to landfill.

“Whilst this project will be focussed on Adelaide, similar benefits can be expected for councils in other Australian cities,” Fight Food Waste CRC said in its project plan.

Fraser Bell, East Waste Chair said that diverting food waste from landfill represents the single biggest financial and environmental opportunity for councils.

“Food waste is a valuable commodity and we hope to improve household bin disposal behaviour,” Bell said.

“Through this new research, we will build a picture of the behaviour of our residents, including the levers that can influence positive and sustainable changes in their practices moving forward.”

Dr Steven Lapidge, Fight Food Waste CRC Chief Executive Officer, said this SA project complements the Fight Food Waste CRC’s national research efforts focused on household food waste behaviour change.

“This is a big opportunity for Australians to save money through reducing household food waste, as well as to divert as much unavoidable food waste from landfill,” he said.

“Local governments across Australia can learn from this leading research project.”

Following this research project, the City of Mount Gambier has introduced a universal FOGO service for residential properties due to recently receiving $32,954 towards the initiative via the State Government Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Organics) Incentives Program.

City of Mount Gambier residents will no longer have to pay an additional fee to subscribe to the kerbside FOGO bin service from 1 July 2020, with council endorsing a plan to absorb the cost of the service into general rates for residential properties.

To date the service has been provided by council on an ‘opt in’ basis whereby residents subscribe through an annual payment of $85.00. Under the change residents will only be required to pay an initial fee to cover the cost of the official green organics bin if they do not already have one.

The most recent kerbside bin audit conducted by council staff indicated that on average 45 per cent of household waste going to landfill is organic matter that could be diverted and recycled through composting.

With 6,853 households currently subscribed to the service and the number set to increase, it is forecast the change will represent a loss of more than $500,000 from council’s operating revenue that will be absorbed through rate revenue.

Nick Serle, City of Mount Gambier General Manager City Infrastructure, said It is much more cost effective for council to dispose of organic matter to a commercial composting operation than it is for it to end up in landfill where it decreases the life of each cell and increases the emission of harmful greenhouse gases.

“This is a large investment however we are confident the savings and environmental benefits that will result from less organic matter entering and contaminating landfill will far outweigh the initial loss of income.”

He said the technology installed on the waste trucks will enable the contents of all bins to be closely monitored.

It is anticipated that by reducing the barriers to accessing the FOGO service that residents will be able to experience first-hand how easily they can reduce their volume of general waste simply by sorting it into the appropriate stream.

Lynette Martin OAM, City of Mount Gambier Mayor, said she is confident residents will see a big reduction in their general waste each week, just by utilising the kitchen caddy system.

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SA Council to trial ‘call and collect’ bulky waste

Residents in the City of Mount Gambier in South Australia will have the option to pick up kerbside bulky waste via a ‘call and collect’ system.

The City of Mount Gambier will trial a kerbside bulky waste collection over a six month period from 1 July 2020.

Each residential property will be eligible for one pick up of up to two cubic metres of bulky waste via a ‘call and collect’ system, part of the council’s initiative towards supporting residents during COVID-19.

The service is proposed to have cost implications of up to $200,000 over the trial period with resources allocated via the ‘Our City, Our Response’ COVID-19 strategy, which will seek to employ locals who are experiencing unemployment as a result of the pandemic.

Mayor Lynette Martin OAM said hard waste has been an issue for some time in the city.

“Council often receive feedback requesting a service of this type, so this presents an ideal time to test the service provision in a measured way,” she said.

“It is hoped that the trial will test if hard waste collection will be a suitable option long term to ensure that items are separated correctly to maximise recycling and reuse, and minimise waste to landfill.”

Conditions will apply to the service in terms of the types of waste that will be accepted with an aim to reduce waste to landfill and encourage responsible disposal of household items.

Aaron Izzard, City of Mount Gambier Environmental Sustainability Officer, said since the establishment of the ReUse Market, residents have had the option to dispose of good quality items for free at the Waste Transfer Station, however there are many residents who are unable to transport these goods.

Izzard said the overall goal is to ease the burden of cost and transport for disposing items, whilst also reducing illegal dumping.

“Examples of items that could be accepted include televisions, furniture, white goods and material offcuts such as timber, iron etc, while those that would be considered unacceptable include asbestos and other hazardous waste, car batteries, shoes and clothing, gas bottles and tyres and car parts to name a few,” he said.

Elected Members endorsed the ‘by-appointment’ waste option at Council May meeting on Tuesday May 19.

Further information about how residents can access the service will be released by Council in the coming weeks.

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ISA strategy details need for waste infrastructure investment

Further investment in waste recovery and processing infrastructure is needed for economic growth in South Australia, according to the state’s newly released 20-year infrastructure strategy.

Developed by Infrastructure South Australia (ISA), the strategy will be used to provide advice to government and enable informed and evidence-based decision making on infrastructure planning, investment and delivery.

In addition to waste infrastructure investment, the strategy outlines the need to develop appropriate waste policy settings that provide certainty and encourage private sector investment.

Premier Steven Marshall said the state government had delivered on a key election commitment to establish ISA as an independent body to provide expert and evidence-based advice.

“ISA’s first 20-year infrastructure strategy provides a road map outlining the crucial long-term infrastructure issues we need to address to grow our economy, improve government service delivery, support population growth and create more jobs,” he said.

According to the strategy, waste and resource recovery infrastructure planning and investment will play a role in supporting future industry development and economic growth.

“Recycled materials are typically low-margin products in some markets, and products are still relatively new or emerging,” the strategy reads.

“The development of a market for recycled products will encourage private sector investment in the infrastructure and processing of waste streams.”

Furthermore, the strategy suggests that new and expanded infrastructure will be needed over time to manage increased volumes of waste generation due to population and economic growth in the state.

“It will also assist national recycling and recovery efforts (e.g. plastics processing infrastructure based in South Australia may provide a solution for the effective recycling of plastic material generated interstate),” the strategy reads.

Key considerations for siting large-scale waste, recycling and re-manufacturing infrastructure include suitable separation distances, logistical considerations relative to sources and destination of inputs and outputs, technology used and access to services such as electricity, gas and water.

It is likely that larger-scale, more intensive waste and resource recovery infrastructure will be positioned within the Greater Adelaide Area, the strategy states, rather than in regional South Australia.

“This acknowledges the larger volumes of material generated in metropolitan areas, access to transport networks and proximity to many of the final markets for recycled products or ports for export to overseas markets,” the strategy reads.

ISA highlights that regions face unique challenges for waste management and related infrastructure, outlining a limited number of and access to landfills.

As such, one of the strategy’s key priorities is to develop regional waste management plans.

“With the relatively low margins generated by recycled products, it is a greater challenge for regional South Australia to economically process its waste,” the strategy reads.

“Further investigations are required to ensure that waste generated in the regions can be responsibly managed and delivered to recycling and processing infrastructure.”

ISA suggests that Green Industries SA support the updating and/or development of regional waste management plans to address specific logistics, and provide solutions for efficient waste management.

ISA also outlines that new strategies, technology and processes will be required to effectively manage new waste streams such as solar PV panels and lithium batteries.

“This is a national issue and South Australia can potentially position itself as a leader via development of an e-waste processing hub to create a market for processing these waste streams,” the strategy reads.

“Further work is required to develop a strategy to guide this and demonstrate economic viability. Green Industries SA should develop a strategy to support private sector investment in South Australia to recover and process these new waste streams.”

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SA delivers $1.7M in funding for council collections and transport

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.

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NRWMF to invest $4m in community grants

The National Radioactive Waste Management Facility (NRWMF) will allocate up to $2 million worth of grants under a new Community Benefit Program.

Currently, Australia’s radioactive waste is stored in more than 100 locations around the country. In January this year, the federal government identified Napandee, near Kimba in South Australia, as the preferred site to host the facility.

Applications for the community grants are for communities that were involved in detailed consultation about hosting Australia’s National Radioactive Waste Management Facility.

The department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources undertook a 4 year selection process for a suitable site involving community consultation and technical assessment.

In March, the Minister for Resources and Northern Australia determined that radioactive waste can be safely and securely managed by establishing and operating the facility at Napandee.

Communities around Kimba and Wallerberdina Station can now each apply for up to $2 million worth of grants and grants of between $5,000 and $1 million will be available for eligible projects under the program.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the $4 million in total funding would deliver long-term benefits to community groups, indigenous organisations, local businesses, not-for-profits and local councils.

“This investment will support the communities through projects and initiatives that can further build and diversify local economies as well as improve community wellbeing,” Pitt said.

The Member for Grey Rowan Ramsey said it will mark the end of the decision-making phase for the Kimba region.

“A clear majority of residents are looking forward to the legislation getting passed and works beginning,” he said.

Barndioota Consultative Committee Convener, Paul Thomas, said the new funding would provide a boost to Hawker and surrounding communities, within the 50km boundary.

“The funding recognises the long involvement that the communities around Wallerberdina Station had with this process, and while ultimately it did not proceed here, it is great that we will get some community benefits following what was a pretty significant effort,” Thomas said.

The new program builds upon the $5.76 million invested across 57 projects and initiatives in these communities since consultation on the proposed facility commenced in 2017.

Local infrastructure upgrades, services, youth engagement and mental health initiatives are just some of the projects that local communities can consider when completing their applications.

The government will be accepting applications until 11 August 2020.

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Majority of SA surface coating operators are complying

95 per cent of surface coating operators in South Australia are complying with all licence conditions.

Following results from a sector compliance report, surface coating operators across the state have been found to be placing the environment first.

Surface coating, which includes metal finishing, hot-dip galvanising and spray painting or powder coating, are covered under Schedule 1 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 (EP Act).

The primary risk to the environment from surface coating is the lack of appropriate bunding of chemicals and liquid waste, potentially resulting in soil and ground or stormwater contamination. Other environmental concerns from the activity are noise and air quality impacts. 

Naomi Grey, EPA Manager for South East and Campaigns said it was pleasing to see the greater majority of operators doing the right thing.

“The compliance of almost all of the surface coating sector shows that the industry is taking its responsibilities to protect the environment seriously,” Ms Grey said. 

A total of 40 South Australian surface coating operators were inspected by the EPA in late 2019. 

The sector compliance report revealed that 80 per cent of surface coaters undertake at least one or more activities of environmental significance. 

Out of 520 licence conditions, only 28 breaches were found due to lack of improper storage of liquid waste, with 50 per cent of those due to a lack of appropriate bunding.

“We will continue to monitor and work with operators who were found to have breached the regulations to ensure that they can operate effectively within the EP Act regulations, noting that these are difficult times for the industry during COVID-19 restrictions,” Ms Grey said. 

The sector compliance report has set out future actions for the EPA.

“All licensees are expected to undertake correct action to ensure they comply with licence conditions,” the report stated.

“The EPA will continue to monitor these actions and licensees, and take further regulatory action for any ongoing noncompliance and inspect all mobile surface coating businesses,

“Conditions on many surface coating licences will be updated to assist to achieve greater consistency in regulation of the surface coating industry.”

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