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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SUEZ propose six-year expansion to Sydney landfill

SUEZ has proposed to expand its Elizabeth Drive Landfill at Kemps Creek in Sydney.

The expansion would increase the current height of the landfill by up to 15 metres which could increase by around 5 million cubic metres. No changes to the existing cell design, cap design or waste disposal methods are involved in the project plan.

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Proposed changes to the capacity of the landfill are estimated to extend the life of the landfill by approximately six years to 2030.

The proposal comes in response to an anticipated increase in waste generation from Sydney’s growing population and several large infrastructure projects in the areas.

Elizabeth Drive Landfill is one of the only sites in the Sydney Basin that is able to receive general construction and demolition waste, according to SUEZ.

SUEZ is currently preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the approval that will assess the likely impacts of the construction and operation of the project.

It will focus on topics including waste management, air quality, hazards and risks, noise and vibration, soil and water, traffic and transport, biodiversity, fire and incident management, visual amenity and heritage.

The EIS is expected to be put on public display for comment in late 2018 or early 2019 by the Department of Planning and Environment.

Approval from the Sydney Western City Planning Panel is required following this step before SUEZ can proceed with construction.

Project approval is expected to be decided by mid 2019 with construction aimed to begin in late 2019.

Sydney ranked as Australia’s most sustainable city

Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.

The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.

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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.

All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.

However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.

London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.

The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.

Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.

“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.

“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.

Australians believe recyclables going to landfill: research

Most Australians across all states and demographics believe the recyclables they put into their council bins are ending up in landfill, according to new research from the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

The series of surveys has also found that 49 per cent of people believe that green and eco-friendly efforts will not have an effect in their lifetime, with 63.8 per cent of those older than 65 seeing no benefits being realised.

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Key findings also report that 72.4 per cent of people would recycle more of the material if it was reliably recycled.

Confusion also surround which level of government is responsible for residential waste and recycling services, with some people thinking industry instead of government is responsible for waste management.

UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Director Veena Sahajwalla said rising stockpiles and increasing use of landfill, in the absence of a coordinated government solution to a waste problem, had not been lost on consumers.

“Each council is fending for themselves right across Australia and while the meeting of federal and state environment ministers earlier this year made an important announcement about a new National Waste Policy stating that by 2025 all packaging will be re-usable, compostable or recyclable, we don’t have to wait another seven years for this decision to come into effect,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“It is clear on this issue that people want action, and they want governments to invest and do something now.

“A number of councils and private business are interested in our technology but unless there are incentives in place, Australia will be slow to capitalise on the potential to lead the world in reforming our waste into something valuable and reusable.”

UNSW’s SMaRT Centre launched a demonstration e-waste microfactory in April, which is able to recover the components of discarded electronic items for use in high value products.

UNSW is also finalising a second demonstration microfactory, which converts glass, plastics and other waste materials into engineered stone products, which look and perform as well as marble and granite.

“Rather than export our rubbish overseas and to do more landfill for waste, the microfactory technology has the potential for us to export valuable materials and newly manufactured products instead,” Dr Sahajwalla said.

“Through the microfactory technology, we can enhance our economy and be part of the global supply chain by supplying more valuable materials around the world and stimulating manufacturing innovation in Australia.”

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