Trevor Evans inspects NAWMA

Federal Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans has visited the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) to observe best practice waste diversion and recycling processes.

According to a NAWMA statement, Mr Evans inspected NAWMA’s material recovery facility in Edinburgh, which received funding from Green Industries SA to expand its separating and regeneration processes.

NAWMA Chair Brian Cunningham said the visit was an important recognition of the authority’s commitment to 100 per cent onshore kerbside recyclables processing by 2020.

“We welcome the recent announcement from the Council of Australian Governments where Prime Minister Scott Morrison effectively endorsed NAWMA’s 100 per cent onshore model, along with the proposal to ban the exportation of recyclables as soon as practicable,” Mr Cunningham said.

“NAWMA was the first local government jurisdiction to publicly commit to keeping yellow bin recyclables in Australia in order to create new markets and jobs, and a secondary remanufacturing industry right here in South Australia.”

Mr Cunningham said NAWMA separates 21,000 tonnes of recyclables from northern Adelaide and a further 30,000 tonnes from the broader South Australian community.

“Importantly, NAWMA is working with its owner councils to develop policies to encourage the buy back of at least 50 per cent of recyclables for processing into content for roads, street furniture and other items in the northern region,” Mr Cunningham said.

“This will pull through demand for goods made from recycled content and further boost jobs and economic activity in the region, while simultaneously reducing costs for ratepayers.”

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Construction commences on $7M Veolia transfer station

Construction has commenced on Veolia’s $7 million purpose-built Whyalla Waste and Resources Transfer Station in South Australia.

Green Industries SA awarded the company a $250,000 grant to help develop the community resource recovery and re-use facility.

The sod-turning ceremony, held 25 Sept, was attended by council and community stakeholders including Whyalla City Council’s Mayor Clare McLaughlin and CEO Chris Cowley.

Veolia Group General Manager for South Australia and the Northern Territory Mark Taylor said Veolia was pleased to be delivering a new facility that would provide reliable, ongoing waste management services for the City of Whyalla and its residents.

“The Whyalla Waste and Resources Transfer Station will be operational by late May 2020, and is designed to improve material segregation and landfill diversion by recovering materials more efficiently,” Mr Taylor said.

“Veolia has operated in Whyalla for over 20 years, and looks forward to an exciting future working in partnership with Whyalla City Council and the community.”

Whyalla City Council Mayor Clare McLaughlin said the first day of construction was a significant milestone for Whyalla and an exciting major development for the city.

“Not only is this an environmental win for Whyalla and our region, it’s another major project that signifies we are continuing on the upward economic and city development curve,” Ms McLaughlin said.

“Veolia’s new waste transfer station is going to revolutionise the way we manage waste in Whyalla, with everyone benefiting as it promotes recycling and sensible landfill practices.”

Pictured: Council Acting Manager Environmental Health and Regulatory Services Jodie Perone, Veolia Projects Engineering and Asset Manager Stephen Cook, Veolia Commercial Services Manager Mark Inglis, Whyalla Mayor Clare McLaughlin, Whyalla Councillor Phill Stone, Council CEO Chris Cowley, Pascale Construction Managing Director Richard Zanchetta amd Pascale Site Manager Joe Franze.

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Waste Expo: the next generation

Waste Expo Australia is set to explore the future of waste and resource recovery in the country, with presentations from the Australian Council of Recycling and South Australian EPA.

Waste Expo Australia’s 2018 event saw record attendance numbers, with more than 4500 trade visitors – a growth of over 28 per cent from the previous year.

While national in focus, the expo’s Victorian location is sure to inspire enthusiastic conversations about current industry challenges and the role of government in addressing them.

As one of the most comprehensive free-to-attend conferences for the waste management, resource recovery and wastewater sectors, Waste Expo is returning to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre 23-24 October.

The conference will feature two individual programs, the Oceania Clean Energy Solutions Waste Summit Conference and the EnviroConcepts Wastewater Summit.

The waste summit will cover six targeted streams from resource recovery, waste-to-energy, collections, landfill and transfer stations, construction and demolition waste and commercial and industrial waste.

Organisers have curated a diverse schedule of speakers from local and state governments, industry bodies and the private sector.

Attendees will hear from Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, EPA Victoria Chief Executive Officer Cathy Wilkinson and Sustainability Victoria Director Resource Recovery Matt Genever. Campaspe Shire Council, City of Holdfast Bay, Yarra City Council and Albury City Council will also present case studies.

Ahead of the 2019 expo, Waste Management Review spoke with two presenters, Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel and South Australian EPA Regulatory Reform Projects Manager Steven Sergi, about their perspectives on the future of waste and resource recovery in Australia.

Building domestic markets

While discussions of recycling generally centre on social and environmental benefits, a strong and sustainable sector is essential for national economic growth.

According to Pete, economic drivers for recycling are dependent on competitive material prices and healthy end markets, both of which have been challenged recently.

Pete explains that the future sustainability of domestic recycling systems relies squarely on greater demand for recycled material – which will be the focus of his Waste Expo presentation.

“Recycling is three arrows: collection, sorting and remanufacturing, it’s the third arrow we have to incentivise better,” he says.

Pete says the waste and recycling sector has been nimble in response to China’s National Sword Policy.

“Australia actually increased exports to other parts of the world last year, but that can’t last forever,” he says.

According to the 2018 National Waste Report, Australian waste exports increased to Indonesia, Vietnam, India, Malaysia and Thailand in 2017.

Indonesia, India and Malaysia have since started reviewing their waste import policies, however, highlighting the need to establish substitute domestic markets.

Pete says dealing with the structural shake up of export markets requires investment in better infrastructure to drive recyclate material demand.

“With Asia changing the rules of the game, we need to build more recycling resilience and sovereignty in Australia,” he explains.

“It’s great to see proactivity by states who have formerly been accused of dragging their feet on recycling, but what’s desperately, and frankly, ridiculously, missing, is national coordination.”

Regulatory reform

As the waste and resource recovery industry calls for greater regulatory certainty on a national level, multiple state governments are implementing new policy.

In 2017, South Australia passed the Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Bill. The amendment gave the EPA greater powers to tackle illegal dumping and stockpiling, which, according to Steven, will assist resource recovery growth by penalising illegal operators.

Steven’s Waste Expo presentation, regulatory reform with the South Australian waste and recycling sector: Where to next, will explore these changes.

“The South Australian Government is seeking to help realise the economic potential from innovation in waste and resource recovery technologies, while at the same time protecting the environment,” Steven says.

“South Australia has introduced many waste management reforms over the past decade that have successfully promoted resource recovery in our state and established our reputation as a leader in this field.”

South Australia has one of the highest recovery rates in the country, 83 per cent – 87 per cent of which is reprocessed locally.

Steven says heightening EPA powers shows a commitment to establishing a robust regulatory environment, which supports sustainable waste and resource recovery operations.

“Key amendments through this act include explicit powers to enable regulation of material flow and stockpiling, expansion of the circumstances when financial assurances can be used and improved and proportionate powers for tackling breaches of licence conditions,” he says.

Steven’s presentation will also address the EPA’s commitment to establishing a robust regulatory environment.

“To support the sustainable operation of the waste and resource recovery industry, the EPA will support the best use of secondary materials in accordance with the waste management hierarchy, to provide certainty and fairness to lawful operators,” he says.

Cory McCarrick, Waste Expo Director, says no other waste event in Australia gives access to such thought-provoking content for free.

“Waste Expo Australia is about pushing boundaries and challenging operations and businesses to innovate, not just through technology but through workforce practices and policy reform,” Cory says.

“We have seen a large increase in speakers and suppliers taking part in this event and we are excited to address the major issues facing the industry this year.”

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South Australian councils sign procurement MOU

In an Australian-first, nine South Australian councils have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to prioritise the purchase of products made from recycled materials.

According to Local Government Association of South Australia (LGA) President Sam Telfer, the MOU is the beginning of a circular procurement pilot project led by the LGA, with the assistance of a $96,500 Green Industries SA grant.

Mr Telfer said the goal is to increase local demand for recycled materials, support the development of a circular economy in SA and reduce waste and recycling costs for councils.

“China’s National Sword Policy has made waste and recycling significantly more expensive for South Australian councils,” Mr Telfer said.

Mr Telfer said it was vital to develop new markets for recycled materials in South Australia, and to support this, councils should prioritise the use of recycled materials in their procurement processes.

“This MOU sends a clear message to industry about the types of products that councils want to purchase as part of their commitment to supporting the environment and improving their sustainability,” Mr Telfer said.

Through the MOU, councils have committed to prioritising the purchase of recycled-content products through the procurement process, and tracking and reporting on recycled-content purchasing by weight.

According to a LGA statement, most will also adopt a rolling target for the purchase of recycled plastic products, and work towards eventually buying back recycled materials equivalent to half the weight of plastics collected in council areas.

“Examples of products made of recycled materials that can be purchased by councils include road and construction materials, street furniture, bollards, office stationery and compost,” the statement reads.

“The MOU was signed on-site at Advanced Plastic Recycling (APR); a leading manufacturer and designer of recycled wood plastic composite products made from 100 per cent post-consumer waste. Products produced by APR include bollards, boardwalks, fencing and street furniture.”

APR CEO Ryan Lokan said that by using materials sourced locally from kerbside recycling, APR prevent 1500 tonnes of plastic and 1500 tonnes of wood from entering landfill each year.

“The greatest benefit coming from mandatory buy back is the demand created,” Mr Lokan said.

LGA CEO Matt Pinnegar and LGA President Sam Telfer.

“Demand drives innovation and it is companies like ours that will rise to the challenge to meet the requirements for recycled material.”

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said improved recycling and resource recovery not only reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill, but also supports the state’s economy.

“This project will help drive local demand for recycled materials, supporting local reprocessing and remanufacturing opportunities here in South Australia,” Mr Speirs said.

Participating councils include Adelaide Hills Council, City of Burnside, City of Charles Sturt, Mount Barker District Council, Rural City of Murray Bridge, City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, City of Onkaparinga, City of Port Adelaide Enfield and City of Prospect.

City of Onkaparinga Mayor Erin Thompson said the circular procurement pilot project highlights councils working together to find positive and long-term solutions, to issues facing recycling in South Australia and across the country.

“This announcement builds on our plans – and those of other SA councils – to establish new material recycling facilities in our communities,” Ms Thompson said.

“Exciting projects like this help us become more self-sufficient, create circular economies and reduce our reliance on recycling companies, delivering major benefits to the environment and local economy.”

Adelaide Hills Council Acting Mayor Nathan Daniel said the program will lead to improved knowledge and understanding of circular procurement, through the increased purchase of products with recycled content.

“This will in turn provide stability and ongoing markets for recyclable material placed in the kerbside recycling bin. Adelaide Hills Council is committed to providing leadership in transitioning to a sustainable future that prioritises the use of recycled material,” Mr Daniel said.

“It’s essential that we continue to look at ways to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. Council hopes the pilot project will help develop local markets for recyclable materials by increasing market demand for recycled content products and materials.”

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SA single-use plastic taskforce meets

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

Woolworths Group

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SA releases Recycling Activities Report

South Australia has achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia, according to the newly released Recycling Activities Survey Report.

Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia diverted 4.49 million tonnes of material from landfill between 2017-18.

“The state has once again achieved the highest diversion rate of any state in Australia. The increase in our diversion rate is driven by an increase in state infrastructure projects,” Mr Speirs said.

“While all of the long-term key indicators are trending in the right direction, we actually saw a slight increase in waste to landfill from 2016-17 to 2017-18, as well as an increase in waste generation per person, showing we need to remain vigilant.”

According to the report, 87 per cent of the states recovered material is recycled locally.

“Despite considerable impact on recycling as a result of China’s National Sword policy, South Australia’s recycling industry is transitioning by implementing measures to improve the quality of the materials recovered and diverted, and by educating the public on the importance of recycling,” Mr Speirs said.

“Our recycling results are world leading, however, we still have room to improve. South Australia set an ambitious target in 2003 to reduce waste to landfill by 35 per cent by 2020 and we’re at 29 per cent.”

Over 118 individuals from South Australian organisations involved in resource recovery were surveyed for the report.

The survey asked participants to provide the value per tonne of each material stream reprocessed by their organisation.

Using this data, the report lists metal as the greatest contributor to the market value of resource recovery at $177 million, followed by organics at $101 million and cardboard and paper at $40 million.

The overall market value of the South Australia resource recovery sector is estimated at $356 million.

Additionally, the survey highlights masonry and soil as the highest recovered material streams at 30 per cent, followed by organics at 24 per cent and metals at seven per cent.

The report was prepared by Rawtec for Green Industries SA.

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SA single-use plastic initiative begins

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.

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SA to ban single-use plastics

The South Australian Government is set to ban a range of single-use plastics, under proposed legislation to be introduced into state parliament.

Environment Minister David Speirs has released, Turning the Tide on Single Use Plastics: The Next Steps, which outlines how the legislation will ban products including plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers.

Mr Speirs said a range of other products including takeaway coffee cups, plastic bags and other takeaway food packaging would be considered for future intervention, following further consultation.

“To help inform the development of the legislation, a stakeholder taskforce will be established – comprising representatives of selected business, industry, local government and interest groups to ensure that impacts are mitigated and appropriate time is given for transition,” Mr Speirs said.

“The banning of single-use plastic products will also be piloted through voluntary business/retailer led ‘plastic-free precincts’, which will identify opportunities and challenges associated with transitioning away from single-use plastic products and inform the legislation.”

Mr Speirs said a discussion paper released earlier this year received strong feedback from South Australians.

“It is clear from the more than 3500 submissions that there is significant community and industry support for increased measures to address a range of single-use plastic products and other items,” Mr Speirs said.

“Nearly 99 per cent of respondents recognised the environmental problems associated with single use plastics, and nearly 97 per cent supported government intervention.”

Mr Speirs said draft legislation would be released for further public consultation later this year, with the intention of introducing it to the parliament in 2020.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan has welcomed the state government’s announcement.

“South Australia will be the first state in Australia to ban multiple single-use plastic items such as plastic straws, cutlery, and stirrers. Takeaway polystyrene containers and cups are next on the chopping board,” Ms Sloan said.

“SA is once again ahead of the pack, and the hope is that other jurisdictions will follow suit and take similar action against single-use plastics.”

Ms Sloan said she hopes the initiative will improve the quality of recyclable materials recovered by eliminating contaminants.

“Eliminating single-use items that have readily available re-useable alternatives is a great step in reducing waste generation and challenging the convenience paradigm that we have towards consumption,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR looks forward to continued engagement with the South Australia Government as it develops legislation for the ban.”

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Enforcing e-waste

With Victoria’s e-waste ban commencing 1 July, Waste Management Review explores what supporting infrastructure has been put in place and some of the uncertainties surrounding compliance.

Read moreEnforcing e-waste

Industry responds to SA waste levy increase

The South Australian Government’s decision to increase the solid waste levy from $100 to $140 from 1 January 2020 has left the waste industry ‘blindsided’, according to the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR.)

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said while industry supports government action that promotes resource recovery and market development, progress is not as simple as increasing landfill levies.

“Industry was prepared for the original $3 increase, however it has been blindsided by this new amount of $40, which is far greater than planned,” Ms Sloan said.

“The timing and notice of this new levy increase is completely unsatisfactory and does not allow businesses and local government with locked in 2019-20 budgets to prepare for the additional cost.”

According to Ms Sloan, South Australia was previously leading the way in resource recovery, though a blend of policy, guidelines and levy drivers that precluded the requirement for excessive cost structures.

“Part of the reason for South Australia’s success is the strong working relationship between all sectors of industry and the existence of a high-level advisory group to government,” Ms Sloan said.

“The fact that the levy increase was not discussed with this advisory group is extremely disappointing.”

According to Ms Sloan, the levy increase comes in addition to a raft of new and increased costs including increased licensing fees and new financial assurance requirements.

“South Australia should look to Queensland as a model for implementing such a rapid change in levy amount,” Ms Sloan said.

“The Queensland government also looked to implement such a change on 1 January, however this was moved and a years notice given, with mechanisms put in place to manage such a large impact on councils and households.”

Ms Sloan said while WMRR agrees landfill levies are an integral part of a successful waste and resource recovery policy framework, it cannot be the only response from government.

“Such a large increase, without policy support, has a real potential to lead to unintended outcomes such as illegal dumping,” Ms Sloan said.

“A good levy is a certain levy, with telegraphed changes that industry can plan for and respond to.”

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