AWRE to go ahead in November

After postponing the event due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing requirements, the team behind the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) have announced that the event will take place 25-26 November at the ICC in Sydney.

“We have been committed to finding a solution to deliver an event in Sydney, later this year, to ensure business continuity to the waste and recycling industry,” an AWRE statement reads.

“Our continued aim is to provide a platform for the industry to grow, learn and conduct business safely. We are working alongside our partners, exhibitors and visitors to shape AWRE 2020 based on the needs and wants of the community.”

AWRE will also look to adapt, the statement says, and introduce new opportunities for industry buyers and suppliers to connect over the coming months.

“We are grateful to our community – our exhibitors, speakers, partners and visitors in the waste and recycling industry, for your resilience and continued support during this unprecedented time,” the statement reads.

“We look forward to AWRE 2020 providing a forum from which the waste, recycling and resource recovery sector can re-establish ties with each other and continue to drive change.”

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BINGO opens new Sydney recycling centre

BINGO Industries has opened its newest recycling centre in Mortdale, Sydney, with a license to collect 220,000 tonnes of commercial and industrial waste each year.

Located in close proximity to major transport routes the M5 Motorway and King Georges Road, BINGO CEO Daniel Tartak said the new facility provides a convenient tipping location for South West Sydney’s construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste.

“This is an exciting milestone for our larger Sydney network redevelopment, and our Mortdale facility has been designed to play an important transfer and collections role within this network.” he said.

According to Mr Tartak, the facility has been built to comply with BINGO’s high standards of safety and environmental management, with advanced safety systems including fire protection hydrants, hose reels, sprinklers, water storage tanks, traffic barriers and CCTV inspection cameras.

100 kilowatts of roof-mounted solar panels have also been installed, which will see BINGO save roughly 2500 tonnes of carbon emissions over the life of the panels.

“The facility is a great example of what investment in recycling infrastructure can achieve, even at a smaller site. What was once an outdated waste facility is now leading the way in terms of fire protection, traffic flow efficiency and site safety,” Mr Tartak said.

“Space is at a premium at this site. To ensure we get our customers in and out as quickly as possible, we’ve installed four split weighbridges, meaning we can have trucks weighing in and out at the same time.”

Materials tipped at BINGO’s Mortdale facility will be sorted through the newly installed onsite plant. Material off-take will then be transferred to BINGO’s Eastern Creek and Patons Lane recycling plants, where it will be turned into BINGO’s ECO-product range of recycled building and landscaping products.

“With construction activity expected to increase across Sydney over the coming year, the opening of our Mortdale facility is well-timed,” Mr Tartak said.

“Sydney’s population and economic growth is fuelling an increase in waste volumes, and we need recycling infrastructure such as this to prevent waste from going into landfill.”

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Sydney recycling plant to close following “market collapse”

Polytrade Recycling, one of Sydney’s largest recycling plants, will close at the end of March following a collapse in market prices for plastics and paper products, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report.

“The company is the second largest recycler of contents from yellow-topped bins in Sydney, after Australian waste giant Visy,” the report reads.

“Polytrade has been operating the Rydalmere plant since 2013, handling tens of thousands of tonnes of kerbside recyclables a year.”

As a result of the closure, four Sydney councils – Fairfield, the Inner West, Willoughby and Lithgow – will be forced to find alternative facilities for their kerbside recyclables.

According to the report, Willoughby Council said it “may consider an increase in rates in the future,” due to the cost of an alternative recycler being more than double the price of Polytrade.

“Last week the council began sending recyclables to iQ Renew, which has a plant on the Central Coast, after Polytrade cited China’s waste ban and “subsequent collapse of the international and local recycling market” as reasons for the closure,” the report reads.

Polytrade Group General Manager Tony Lyons told the Sydney Morning Herald that it had become more expensive to recycle in Australia, and “someone needs to pay for it.”

“The lease is ending at Rydalmere and the intention to build a large-scale materials recovery facility in Sydney has been put on hold until we are confident that the gate fee being collected creates a price mechanism that allows that investment,” he said.

Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW Executive Director Tony Khoury said that with world-wide demand for recyclable commodities at a low point, prices have plummeted.

“At the same time, there is a need to clean-up these recyclable materials, as the buyers of these commodities are demanding much lower contamination rates. Our own Federal Government is currently proposing export bans on all manner of mixed recyclables,” he said.

“With councils across NSW currently proposing budgets for the 2020/2021 year, it would be very prudent for them to make a provision for additional recycling processing costs. The extent of these additional funds should be determined by councils in meaningful consultation with their processing contractors.”

The reality is, Mr Khoury said, that the cost of recycling is on the rise, and contractors require additional funds to process materials from kerbside recycling.

“To ensure that we have a sustainable recycling industry, local government, and indeed all waste generators, have to accept that price increases. If not, then it is likely that at some point in time there will be failures in the recycling system.”

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Simply Cups reaches 10 million milestone

Simply Cups, a coffee cup recycling program, has officially collected 10 million cups, with Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans depositing the milestone cup at an event in Sydney.

According to Mr Evans, the recycling scheme, founded by Closed Loop, collects almost one million cups every month, with nearly 1000 collection points at 7-Eleven stores, cafes, hotels, hospitals and universities across Australia.

“Australians love their coffee, so it’s vital that they can easily and reliably recycle their disposable coffee cup and reduce the huge number of takeaway cups that currently end up in landfill each year,” Mr Evans said.

“Rather than just being put into the rubbish bin and ending in landfill, Simply Cups collect and then reprocess the used coffee cups, transforming them into new items like outdoor furniture, coffee cup trays and even traffic solutions like roadside kerbing.”

By disposing coffee cups at designated collection points, Mr Evans said consumers could do their part to increase recycling.

“This is a great practical example of Australia’s growing circular economy in action, and shows how we will all benefit from an invigorated waste and recycling industry,” he said.

Closed Loop Managing Director Rob Pascoe said Simply Cups aims to recycle 100 million cups every year.

“It’s a practical solution that increases recycling rates and reduces waste, while creating supply and demand for products made from recycled material,” he said.

“Our circular economy will grow quickly if people choose Australian-made and recycled over other alternatives. After all, recycling doesn’t actually happen when you put an item in a bin, it only happens when that item is given a second life.”

7-Eleven Chief Executive Officer Angus McKay said that while saving 10 million coffee cups from landfill is a fantastic achievement, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We encourage customers to up the ante and deliver any brand of used coffee cup or straw to our cup collection points at store, and we’ll make sure they get recycled via Simply Cups,” he said.

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Woolworths partners with Sydney Zoo to rescue food waste

Animals at Sydney Zoo will soon be feeding on surplus fresh food rescued from Woolworths, after the zoo joined Woolworth’s Stock Feed for Farmers program.

According to a Woolworths statement, Sydney Zoo joins over 750 farmers and community groups that access surplus fresh food from the supermarket.

“Last year more than 32,000 tonnes of surplus food no longer suitable for sale or human consumption went to feed animals both on farms and in zoos,” the statement reads.

Woolworths Head of Sustainability Adrian Cullen said Woolworths first diversion priority is working with OzHarvest, Foodbank and Fareshare to feed people that would otherwise go hungry.

“We then work with local farmers and the likes of Sydney Zoo, so that surplus food, which cannot go to hunger relief, is used as feed for animals or for on-farm composting, to help further reduce any food waste,” he said.

Sydney Zoo Managing Director Jake Burgess said Woolworths’ support will allow the zoo to reallocate funds from food to conservation and education work.

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Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo announces speakers

The Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo has announced its upcoming 2019 Speaker Series, including a new stage addition.

Over the last 10 years AWRE has built a reputation for attracting some of the finest speakers from Australia and overseas to its two-day event, featuring leading minds from not only the waste and recycling industry, but all levels of Australian government and Top 200 ASX listed companies.

It appears 2019 will be no different, with speakers from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, Australian Battery Recycling Initiative and Veolia Australia & NZ.

Headlining the Industry Forum, presented in partnership with the Department of Industry, Planning and Environment, will be a panel discussion on ‘The Future is Recycling,’ which will deep dive into the core issues, insights and opportunities currently facing the waste and recycling sector.

Panellists include Veolia Australia & NZ General Manager Resource Recovery NSW Christine Hodgkiss, Renew Chief Operating Officer of IQ Renew Graham Knowles, SUEZ Australia & NZ State General Manager NSW Tony Grebenshikoff and Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association NSW Executive Director Tony Khoury.

According to an AWRE statement, the event will also shine a spotlight on the national issue of food waste, with the addition of the new Food Waste Stage.

“From sustainable package solutions, updates on the national food waste strategy to presentations from true food waste warriors, AWRE is driving the conversation on food sustainability,” the statement reads.

“Key speakers taking to the Food Waste Stage include industry experts from Coles, Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre, Australian Institute of Packaging, Yume Food Australia and many more.”

AWRE 2019 will take place on the 30th and 31st October at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour.

Register for free online here.

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Sydney trials kerbside food waste collection

A City of Sydney waste trial will see food scraps from up to 4000 homes diverted from landfill, and used to create green energy and plant fertiliser.

The trial involves separate collection and recycling of food scraps from residential properties in the council area.

Participating households have received a small kitchen caddy to store food scraps, an initial supply of compostable caddy liners and a food scraps bin to be placed on the kerb for pick up.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the trial was an important step in the evolution of waste collection, and a critical component of the city’s waste strategy and action plan, endorsed by council in 2017.

“There have been many advancements in waste separation technology, but the most effective method is when our residents separate the waste themselves at the source,” Ms Moore said.

“Food scraps generally make up one-third of the average red lid bin, so this trial will divert a significant amount of waste from landfill.”

The collected waste will be sent to EarthPower, Australia’s first food waste-to-energy processing facility.

“The scraps will be processed using anaerobic digestion technology, where microorganisms break down biodegradable material in a chamber without oxygen,” Ms Moore said.

“This process produces biogas, which is converted to green electricity and a nutrient-rich sludge that is dried and granulated to produce nutrient rich fertiliser.”

330 houses and 53 inner-city apartment blocks have been selected to take part in the trial.

“If successful, we’ll look at providing this service across the entire council area,” Ms Moore said.

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Businesses sign the Sydney Single-use Pledge

Industry leaders from the hospitality, accommodation, events and property sectors have joined forces with the City of Sydney to reduce single-use plastics.

More than 30 organisations have signed the Sydney Single-use Pledge, including the Sydney Opera House, Atlassian, Fox Studios and Star Entertainment Group.

Under the new pledge, businesses commit to implementing at least four actions that will reduce reliance on single-use plastic items.

The City of Sydney has taken a platinum pledge, committing to phasing out seven single-use items in its buildings, at its own venues and at events within local government areas.

According to Lord Mayor Clover Moore, Sydney will eliminate or reduce the use of bottled water, plastic straws, plastic serve ware, promotional flyers, single-use cups and single-use plastic giveaways.

“Studies show that up to one million plastic drinks bottles are purchased globally every minute, but less than 50 per cent are collected for recycling,” Ms Moore said.

“Plastic straws can last up to 600 years and many end up in our beautiful harbour and waterways. It is shameful that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.”

The initiative was driven by City of Sydney-led groups Sustainable Destination Partnership, Better Buildings Partnership and CitySwitch.

Ms Moore said by acting together, businesses can reduce their impact on the environment and show the world Sydney is leading the way to a zero waste future.

“The City has set bold targets to reach zero waste by 2030. We must reduce the amount of waste we produce, recycle as much as possible and treat what’s left over in the most sustainable way,” Ms Moore said.

“I congratulate the businesses who have signed this pledge, and urge others to get on board and commit to phasing out single-use plastic because it’s better for business and better for the environment.”

YHA, a budget travel accommodation provider, CEO Julian Ledger said the plastics pledge closely aligns with the organisation’s values and guests expectations.

“YHA Australia is striving towards sustainability, including a ban on the sale of bottled water at major youth hostels,” Mr Ledge said.

“By providing chilled water fountains and re-usable bottles, around 40,000 less single-use water bottles will be sold each year and travellers will be educated about how drinking tap water in Australia is safe.”

Property group GPT head of sustainability Steve Ford said organisations have a big part to play in fight against plastic.

“GPT recognises that waste is being generated at unsustainable rates. We’ve adopted a ‘closed loop’ objective to manage materials that tenants dispose of,” Mr Ford said.

“We recognise that wherever possible, it’s better to eliminate unnecessary single-use items. The single-use pledge is a call to action for all organisations to acknowledge they have a major role to play in tackling the problem of single-use items.”

Allianz Social Impact Manager Charis Martin-Ross said plastic is an issue that requires a united response.

“As businesses and as a community we need to come together to take action to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics such as straws, coffee cups and plastic bags,” Ms Martin-Ross said.

“That’s why Allianz is proud to sign this pledge and join the City of Sydney and the broader Sydney community in tackling this serious issue.”

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Bastille Festival announces sustainability plan

The Bastille Festival in Sydney has teamed up with SUEZ to transition into a more environmentally sustainable event.

Director Vincent Hernandez said the festival welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors over four days, generating an estimated 20 tonnes of waste.

“Tonnes of rubbish – plastic wine cups, food packaging, food waste, cigarettes buds and more. How can we do better?

“That’s precisely the question I asked myself after the success of last year’s festival but I needed an expert to lead us and SUEZ accepted the challenge to help us make a difference,” Mr Hernandez said.

SUEZ will implement the festival’s waste collection system to ensure waste is minimised and diverted from landfill.

SUEZ NSW General Manager Tony Grebenshikoff said simple changes such as installing appropriate recycling bins and raising awareness about what is and is not recyclable will make a significant difference.

Other changes include a plastic ban, and requirement that all stall holders use energy-saving LED lights.

Re-usable glasses and compostable cutlery and plates will be mandatory for food stall holders, and non-recyclable packaging will be eliminated for food consumed at the festival.

Wastewater and cooking oil will be collected separately and treated appropriately, and public transport will be encouraged.

The festival will also attempt to minimise the contamination of recyclable material and food waste by using separate organic and co-mingled bins, with a target of 75 per cent diversion rate from landfill.

Power generators will be shared by stall holders, operating on energy saver mode to optimise the use of electrical resources as well as using electricity generated from solar panels.

To support the effort, the festival will be working with local organisations, communities and individuals to help implement and manage the new policy.

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WSROC calls on NSW Government to reinvest waste levy funds

The Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) has called on the NSW Government to direct waste levy funds collected in the region to sustainable waste management programs for western Sydney.

According to WSROC President Barry Calvert, the NSW Government has reinvested only $20 million of the $225 million collected from western Sydney waste levies over the last five years.

“Each year councils pay the NSW Government a significant levy on waste sent to landfill, the aim of the levy is admirable – to discourage landfill and encourage recycling and reuse – however, only a small percentage is actually used for this purpose.

“Government should be using waste levy money for the purpose it was collected – to promote a more sustainable waste sector,” he said.

Levy rates for NSW are $81.30 per tonne in regional areas and $141.20 per tonne in metropolitan areas like western Sydney.

Mr Calvert said given that western Sydney processes the majority of the cities waste, improving recycling and resource recovery in the area is critical.

“We should be seeing $234 million invested in helping councils adapt to the new market conditions caused by the China National Sword Policy, investing in the development of local recycling markets and waste processing infrastructure, and implementing measures to reduce waste generation,” Mr Calvert said.

The state governments half yearly budget review, released late last year, showed the treasury collected $769 million in 2017-18.

At the Save Our Recycling Election Summit earlier the year Local Government NSW voiced similar concerns, calling for 100 per cent of waste levy funds to be re-invested into sustainable waste management initiatives for the state.

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