Tenders open for TAS wastewater transfer system

Tenders are now open to construct stage two of Tasmania’s Darlington Precinct wastewater transfer system at Maria Island.

According to Environment Minister Roger Jaensch, the project aims to cater for the increasing popularity of Maria Island.

“Upgrades to critical infrastructure at Maria Island to protect the environment and support visitor numbers is continuing in preparation for the re-opening of Tasmanian parks and reserves after the coronavirus emergency,” he said.

“It is also important that planning, maintenance and upgrades continue during the closure of parks and reserves to help support jobs and regional economies.”

Mr Jaensch said works, which include connecting the Jetty and Penitentiary amenities block to the existing wastewater treatment facility through a new transfer system, are expected to begin before the end of the financial year.

“By getting on with tendering for this work now, we will continue to meet the commitments outlined in the Maria Island Re-Discovered Project, which aims to drive sustainable tourism and preserve this amazing natural and cultural asset for generations to come,” he said.

Works will be delivered through the Tourism Infrastructure in Parks and Improving Statewide Visitor Infrastructure Funds.

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Tasmanian council ceases kerbside recycling

A Tasmanian council will cease kerbside recycling operations from 2020, as part of an overhaul of the region’s waste management strategy.

According to West Coast Council General Manager David Midson, there is limited uptake of recycling bins in the area, with an average 10 per cent of households using the service.

“Recycling collected is often so contaminated that council must expend significant funds to have it sorted and cleaned or allow it to be sent to landfill,” Mr Midson said.

“To resolve these issues in 2020-2021, council aims to move away from kerbside collection and instead provide central separated recycling bins where residents will be able to dispose of recyclables free of charge.”

Other changes to council’s waste management strategy include proactively monitoring illegal dumping and trialling green waste collection at transfer stations for 12 months.

“Currently, green waste deposited at the transfer stations is highly contaminated, resulting in significant council expenditure,” Mr Midson said.

“If this continues, council will move green waste collection to the landfill only, and assess the potential for green waste collection bins.”

Additionally, waste transfer stations will only accept limited categories of waste including domestic waste, oil and green waste from 2020.

Items such as asbestos, tyres, car bodies, concrete, rock rubble and soil will only be accepted at landfill.

Mr Midson said waste management on the West Coast cannot continue as business as usual.

“Current practices do not meet our environmental obligations, our obligations to provide a safe workplace, or the expectations of the community,” Mr Midson said.

“If we continue down the current path, the cost of waste management to ratepayers will increase dramatically.”

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Tasmania seeking comment on Environmental Legislation Bill

The Tasmanian Government is seeking public comment on its draft Environmental Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2019, which contains a range of proposed improvements for Tasmania’s environmental legislation.

Proposed changes include refining the definition of clean fill, increasing transparency by publishing environmental monitoring information and introducing penalties for undertaking certain activities without approval, such as developing land without a permit.

The draft bill proposes clarifying the meaning of clean fill and establishing two new definitions.

“The current definition of clean fill is too broad. It allows various types of material to be included in clean fill which should instead be recycled, disposed of at an approved landfill or processed prior to use as clean fill,” the bill reads.

“The Director of the EPA will be able to specify maximum levels of chemical contaminants or maximum proportions of other inert materials such as wood, plastics and metals.”

The bill additionally proposes strengthening the EPA’s power to make environmental monitoring information provided by a regulated party available to third parties or the public, without the permission of the regulated party.

Environment Minister Peter Gutwein said members of the public are invited to make a submission on the bill to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment.

“The government will also be engaging with stakeholders about proposed changes,” Mr Gutwein said.

“Submissions received during the consultation period will be considered in the final framing of the bill, which is scheduled be introduced to parliament later this year.”

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Tasmania releases Waste Action Plan

Tasmania’s draft Waste Action Plan, released 29 June, sets a framework to develop the state’s recently announced CDS and a statewide landfill levy.

Acting Environment Minister Elise Archer has opened the draft for public consultation.

In a cabinet reshuffle last week, it was announced Treasurer Peter Gutwein would soon replace Ms Archer as Environment Minister.

“With a growing population and the recent restrictions of recycling product exports to China, it is important Tasmania takes a more strategic approach to the way it manages waste into the future,” Ms Archer says.

“Dealing with our waste is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and the community.”

According to Ms Archer, the proposed state wide levy is set to replace multiple council levies already in place, with funds to be reinvested in waste and recycling infrastructure and programs.

“The draft plan also contains a series of ambitious, but achievable, waste management, litter and recycling targets that align with targets in the recently approved National Waste Policy,” Ms Archer says.

Other proposed measures include ensuing 100 per cent of packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, reducing waste generation by 10 per cent per person by 2030 and achieving an 80 per cent average recovery rate from all waste streams by 2030.

Additionally, the plan outlines efforts to ensure Tasmania has the lowest incidence of littering in the country by 2023.

The state government will also work with local government and businesses to phase out problematic plastic by 2030 and reduce the volume of organic waste sent to landfill by 50 per cent by 2030.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel said the draft illustrated smart and progressive reform.

Mr Shmigel highlighted the CDS, waste reduction goals and the commitment to a new administrative structure for waste management as particularly positive.

“ACOR also thinks it’s terrific innovation that the Treasurer Peter Gutwein will also be Environment Minister,” Mr Shmigel said.

“It helps recognise that recycling is a great way to combine ‘green’ and ‘gold’ as it is both an economic and environmental positive.”

Mr Shmigel is calling on government to set the new levy at a sufficient level to drive positive results and industry investment, and make commitments to the positive procurement of recycled content products to boost local manufacturers.

Additionally, Mr Shmigel has encouraged state government to ensure the proposed resource recovery management body involves both local government and industry experts.

“This new plan can start turning the Apple Isle from a recycling laggard to a recycling leader, and that’s something our industry and no doubt the people of Tasmania support,” Mr Shmigel said.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said the plan shows a strategic approach to tackling waste, and highlighted its framework for addressing identified priorities.

“WMRR is pleased that Tasmania finally has a waste and resource recovery strategy and in releasing the plan, the minister has acknowledged that waste management is a shared responsibility between all levels of government, the private sector, and community,” Ms Sloan said.

“The minister should also be congratulated for listening to industry about the importance of a levy as an economic tool for prioritising resource recovery, as well as working with industry and the community to design and set the levy. This is a show of great leadership.”

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