Industry responds to COVID-19 support packages

Waste Management Review will be running a four-part series throughout April on conquering waste industry challenges amid COVID-19 and possible future opportunities. In this first part, we highlight a summary of support packages available to the sector across each jurisdiction and what industry groups are hoping to see going forward.

Read moreIndustry responds to COVID-19 support packages

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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War on Waste season 2 fights bottles, straws, e-waste and more

The first episode of Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste season two will broadcast on the ABC at 8:30 pm on Tuesday 24 July.

More than 4.3 million viewers watched the original series in 2017, which sparked one of the ABC’s most successful social media campaigns with a video on dumping edible bananas reaching 20 million views.

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Season two’s first episode will look at new issues around plastic water bottles and straws, and e-waste.

It will also delve deeper into previously discussed issues of food waste and Australia’s recycling crisis.

A giant footprint made of plastic packaging was created on Sydney’s Manly beach to highlight the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in waterways.

With more than 10 million plastic straws being used every day in Australia, Mr Reucassel joins forces with the minds behind the #strawnomore movement to challenge pubs and fast food chains to ban the straw from their venues.

The show will also look at Australia’s fastest growing waste stream, e-waste. With tonnes of discarded computers, mobile phones and electrical goods ending up in landfill, Mr Reucassel highlights the dangers of the toxic elements within them leaching into the environment.

War on Waste season two also sees Mr Reucassel going undercover to expose the amount of food that is wasted when eating at restaurants.

Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW Executive Director Tony Khoury said the issues of disposable water bottles will be placed under the microscope.

“Last year’s series saw tremendous media coverage extend to disposable coffee cups, single-use plastic bags, household food waste and the wasteful policy of retailers,” he said.

Mr Khoury said collectors and processor can help the war on waste by providing better education for waste generators, provide a range of recycling options, use modern equipment, transport all waste and recyclables to a lawful facility and invest in training for workers.

“We all can lobby the NSW Government to invest more of the $700 million collected from the waste levy into waste management programs and much needed infrastructure to divert more waste from landfill,” he said.

Image credit: ABC

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