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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Cleanaway acquires SKM debt

Cleanaway Waste Management has acquired the senior secured debt in the SKM Recycling Group from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the largest lender to SKM, for approximately $60 million.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the debt is secured against all assets of SKM, with the exception of its Glass Recovery Services business.

“This includes the property, plant and equipment that form part of a network of five recycling sites, including three material recovery facilities and a transfer station in Victoria and a material recovery facility in Tasmania,” the statement reads.

“The site in Laverton Victoria includes an advanced plastic sorting facility, which separates plastics from material recovery facilities into clean, individual polymer grades for sale or input into a pelletising facility.”

Following the debt acquisition, Cleanaway appointed Mark Korda and Bryan Webster of KordaMentha receivers and managers for the entire SKM Recycling group, excluding its Glass Recovery Services entities.

“KordaMentha will immediately implement a three-point plan, with the aim to get the business back to capacity to help ease Victoria’s waste crisis,” the statement reads.

“The rescue and restructure package may include a sale of all or part of the assets. If a sale process is undertaken by the receivers, Cleanaway intends to participate in the process, and will undertake a thorough due diligence review of the business.”

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said the acquisition would allow Cleanaway to work with the receivers to examine viable options for SKM.

“If a sale process is undertaken, and if we are successful in purchasing any assets, we will return the assets to a sustainable footing,” Mr Bansal said.

“It will also present us with an opportunity to add to our network of prized infrastructure assets as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy.”

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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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Tasmania to implement CDS

The Tasmanian Government has announced it will implement a container deposit scheme (CDS) in an effort to become the tidiest state by 2023.

The announcement makes Tasmania the seventh state or territory in the country to implement a CDS, leaving only Victoria without a scheme.

Environment Minister Elise Archer said drink containers account for an estimated 41 per cent of litter by volume in Tasmania.

“We know one of the most effective ways to change littering behaviours is to introduce a container refund scheme, as has been seen in other Australian jurisdictions,” Ms Archer said.

“The benefit of a CDS is the ability to produce purer streams of recyclable materials, which are then turned into higher value, second life products with reduced levels of contamination – a move strongly supported by local government, with enormous opportunities for local businesses.”

The decision follows a 2018 model framework report commissioned by the state government.

The report recommended Tasmania implement a scheme similar to other states, with a target of 60 refund points and a redemption rate of at least 80 per cent.

“Work will now commence on a detailed model and draft legislation, including consultation with the community, businesses and industry,” Ms Archer said.

“Specialist advice from a number of departments, as well the establishment of an expert reference group, will be critical to the scheme’s success.”

After legislation is enacted a management tender will be developed and released.

The scheme is expected to rolled out by 2022.

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Results of National Litter Index survey released

The Keep Australia Beautiful 2017-18 National Report has published results from its National Litter Index survey, providing a separate more detailed report on survey results for Tasmania.

National results show a decrease of 10.3 per cent in the number of litter items counted in 2017-18 compared with 2016-17 continuing a long term national trend of reduced litter levels.

The most significant decreases were 16.8 per cent for takeaway food and beverage packaging, 15.2 per cent in other paper, 12.7 per cent in general other litter items, 14.0 per cent in beverage containers and 6.4 per cent in cigarette litter.

The results for Tasmania indicated a decrease of 6.4 per cent in litter items and 6.2 per cent in volumes of litter across most categories.

While decreases were recorded at major roads and highways, retail precincts, car parks and shopping centres, there were increases in litter recorded at recreational parks, beaches, and residential streets.

Industrial precincts, retail shopping precincts and shopping centres had the highest numbers of litter items driven largely by cigarette butts which account for around two thirds of the overall litter.

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TAS Govt discuss waste management strategies

Waste industry experts and stakeholders have come together in Tasmania to discuss current waste management issues at the Tasmanian Waste and Resource Recovery Forum.

The forum aims to give the waste and recycling industry a chance to discuss issues around waste policy following China’s implementation of the National Sword policy.

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Discussions at the forum focus around waste and resource recovery settings for Tasmania, waste avoidance and reduction, innovations in waste management and bringing a circular economy to Tasmania.

Held by the Waste Management Association of Australia, the forum follows consultation by the Tasmanian Government on its new waste strategy – the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan.

The state government has outlined several commitments and targets to reduce packaging waste, boost consumer awareness through industry, increase recycling capacity and boost demand though market development.

Other targets include making Tasmania the tidiest state with the lowest incidence of litter in Australia by 2023 by increasing penalties for illegal dumping, expanding the reporting of litter offences through an illegal rubbish app, providing additional support for Keep Australia Beautiful Tasmania and using Community Service Orders for rubbish removals from public areas.

The draft of the Tasmanian Waste Action Plan is expected to be released for public consultation in early 2019.

Oil recycling facility relocation proposal assessed by EPA TAS

EPA Tasmania will allow an oil recycling facility to relocate, with certain conditions in place to ensure the proposed development is managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner.

Gourmet Oil, trading as Hagen Oil, operates a facility that processes waste oil and related products which are collected in tankers and delivered to the site.

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These products are separated, recycled and packaged for re-sale or disposal, which processes approximately 3000 tonnes of recycled oil products each year.

Some of the conditions applied to relocation includes a 3000 tonne per year limit on raw material which is refined, produced or reprocessed, a daily record or all waste oil received by the facility must be made and kept for two years, instituting odour management measures as necessary and must not operate outside the hours of 7am to 5pm.

The facility also must not process waste oil is the nature of the oil is not clearly identified, exhibits odorous characteristics likely to exceed the plant’s odour emissions capabilities, contains polychlorinated biphenyls, or is mixed with any other contaminant that significantly increases the corrosiveness, volatility, reactivity or ignitability of the waste oil.

Any permit subsequently granted by Launceston City Council will be required to include the conditions from EPA Tasmania.

The proposal was considered by the Acting EPA Director Martin Read in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania.

“Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, particularly control of potential emissions into water and air by ensuring adequate onsite storage, treatment and spill response,” Dr Read said.

The Acting Director’s environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to Gourmet Oil and Launceston City Council.

To view the report, click here.

New information on Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme released

A Tasmanian round table discussion has seen local government and the waste industry agree to the creation of a Waste Action Plan, amid the release of a report on the potential framework for a Container Refund Scheme.

Consulting firm Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA) has detailed the model framework for a Tasmanian Container Refund Scheme (CRS).

The report concluded the scheme should include common features with similar schemes, such as the eligible containers and price.

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It has allocated 18 months to set up the scheme and found the total funding requirement over 20 years would be $239 million, of which $138 million are refunded deposits. The costs of running the scheme were found to be around $101 million, or 4 cents per eligible container.

A redemption rate of at least 80 per cent was outlined, with a target of at least 60 refund points. Graduated sanctions were recommended for failing to meet these targets, with a verifiable auditing and tracking system required to ensure the objectives are met.

Potential cost savings for local councils were found, with beverage container litter estimated to fall by half, with an 80 per cent redemption rate.

MJA said in the report that the market should be allowed to determine the operational details of the system. The firm estimates nominal price impacts on consumers who don’t redeem the containers would start at around 10 cents per container and rise over time to 16 cents, with cost impacts on redeemers being around 10 cents lower.

Another finding from the report said the CRS should be run by a single co-ordinator and operator, set up as a product stewardship organisation (PSO). This PSO would be overseen by a board of directors that is representative of the industry and ensures access to relevant expertise.

The Action Plan will aim to consider initiatives like the CRS as part of the broader context across Tasmania. It will be further developed following China’s increased restriction on solid waste imports.

With the implementation of stricter contamination levels for imported waste, the amount of recyclate and waste that it will accept has decreased significantly, affecting Australia’s waste industry.

Tasmanian Minister for the Environment Elise Archer said the government will continue to consider the views of local government, industry, business and the community regarding a CRS and a range of other initiatives in developing the Waste Action Plan.

Local Government Association of Tasmania President Doug Chipman said that local government has welcomed the round table.

“The impacts of China’s restrictions are being felt deeply by councils and the community’s interest in waste management in general has risen significantly,” Cr Chipman said.

“We have five motions on waste at our upcoming LGAT General Meeting and I look forward to collaborating with the State Government in addressing these issues.”

EPA TAS opens waste minimisation for Sustainability Award

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Tasmania has opened nominations to the 2018 Community Achievement awards.

The EPA Sustainability Award acknowledges businesses from any industry sector who have developed and implemented initiative that minimise waste, maximise resource efficiency, reduce pollution and conserve water and energy.

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Submissions should be a for a project that provides measurable improvements in waste minimisation, resource efficiency, water conservation or energy efficiency and results in wider community or flow on benefits for the sector.

Nominations are now open for the following categories:

  • EPA Sustainability Award
  • University of Tasmania Teaching Excellence Award
  • Ricoh Business Centre Hobart Community Group of the Year Award
  • Prime Super Business Achievement Award
  • Prime Super Employer Excellence in Aged Care Award
  • MAIB Disability Achievement Award
  • Get Moving Tasmania Physical Activity Award
  • Fonterra Australia Agriculture Award
  • Betta Milk ‘Make It Betta’ Health Achievement Award
  • Rural Health Tasmania Innovation in Mental, Social and Emotional Wellbeing Award

Nominations can be submitted here, and close on Thursday 23 August.

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