Dutch and Australian foundations sign circular economy MOU

The Holland Circular Hotspot Foundation and the National Circular Economy Hub, an initiative of Planet Ark, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a new online tool that encourages recycling.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in the presence of Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans and Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko said that under the agreement, the Holland Circular Hotspot will provide experience and knowledge to Planet Ark, with the aim of accelerating bilateral cooperation in the circular economy space.

“Planet Ark will promote dialogue and collaboration between Australian universities, businesses and governments to move Australia towards a circular economy,” Mr Klymenko said.

According to Mr Evans, the partnership will form the basis of future cooperation and knowledge sharing between Australia and the Netherlands on how to achieve a commercially-led circular economy transition.

The Circular Economy Hub will create an online marketplace to match buyers and sellers of waste resources.

“Having healthy markets for recycled goods and commodities avoids stockpiles of materials just growing and growing, which could then become a problem in itself,” Mr Evans said.

“With government, industry and communities working together to boost recycling, there is a tremendous opportunity to create a more sustainable future for Australia.”

Holland Circular Hotspot Foundation Director Freek van Eijk said the foundation hopes to accelerate the circular economy movement in Australia.

“European and Australian authorities agree that a new and circular model is needed, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible, have the maximum value extracted from them whilst in use, and are recovered and regenerated into new products at their end-of-life,” Mr van Eijk said.

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Trevor Evans inspects NAWMA

Federal Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans has visited the Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) to observe best practice waste diversion and recycling processes.

According to a NAWMA statement, Mr Evans inspected NAWMA’s material recovery facility in Edinburgh, which received funding from Green Industries SA to expand its separating and regeneration processes.

NAWMA Chair Brian Cunningham said the visit was an important recognition of the authority’s commitment to 100 per cent onshore kerbside recyclables processing by 2020.

“We welcome the recent announcement from the Council of Australian Governments where Prime Minister Scott Morrison effectively endorsed NAWMA’s 100 per cent onshore model, along with the proposal to ban the exportation of recyclables as soon as practicable,” Mr Cunningham said.

“NAWMA was the first local government jurisdiction to publicly commit to keeping yellow bin recyclables in Australia in order to create new markets and jobs, and a secondary remanufacturing industry right here in South Australia.”

Mr Cunningham said NAWMA separates 21,000 tonnes of recyclables from northern Adelaide and a further 30,000 tonnes from the broader South Australian community.

“Importantly, NAWMA is working with its owner councils to develop policies to encourage the buy back of at least 50 per cent of recyclables for processing into content for roads, street furniture and other items in the northern region,” Mr Cunningham said.

“This will pull through demand for goods made from recycled content and further boost jobs and economic activity in the region, while simultaneously reducing costs for ratepayers.”

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Collaborating with confidence: APCO

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation CEO Brooke Donnelly talks about the Collective Action Group and systemic models for action on packaging resource recovery.

A lack of policy centralisation has been a concern for the waste and resource recovery industry since the 2009 National Waste Policy stalemate. In response, following the 2018 Meeting of Environment Ministers, the Federal Government announced it would shift its policy direction by taking an increasing role in waste reduction and recycling policy.

The then-Environment Minister Melissa Price announced that in order to facilitate a unified direction on waste and recycling, a new National Waste Policy would be developed. Current Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans said an action plan would be devised through interjurisdictional collaboration later this year.

As part of this change in direction, the Federal Government also formally committed to the National Packaging Targets.

The National Packaging Targets aim to have 100 per cent of Australian packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier. Its an ambitious goal, given only 56 per cent of Australian packaging was recovered for recycling in 2017-18, according to a UTS Institute of Sustainable Futures study.

Additionally, the study shows of that 56 per cent, 34 per cent was exported overseas.

Endorsed by the Australian Local Government Association in 2018, the targets also seek to achieve a 30 per cent average recycled content rate by 2025, and have 70 per cent of Australia’s plastic packaging be recycled or composted by the same year.

Phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives is the final target.

Despite the bold goals, Australian Packagaing Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Brooke Donnelly is confident the targets can be meet.

“We’re in a position where we need to drive change while we have the opportunity, hitting the ground running,” Brooke says.

“Australian industry is vibrant, proactive and really driving the activity towards a circular economy transition, which will help us all achieve the targets.”

APCO, which has been tasked with leading the implementation process, has recently established the Collective Action Group (CAG) to oversee strategic delivery of the targets.

The group is comprised of 12 leading representatives from across industry and government, including Coles, Nestle, Coca Cola Amatil, Planet Ark, the Australian Council of Recycling, SUEZ and Visy.

Additionally, representatives from the Queensland Department of Environment and the Federal Department of Environment and Energy are members.

“We have two representatives from each sector of the packaging supply chain, such as brands, community, resource and recovery and retail and manufacturing,” Brooke says.

Managing multiple high-level stakeholders with potentially competing interests can be challenging, which is why APCO employs a best-practice model of governance for all CAG meetings.

“We have a really great chair, Dr Anne Astin, an independent chair with experience in product stewardship and co-regulatory organisations,” Brooke says.

“Dr Astin understands and appreciates getting the best from member diversity and is implementing a very structured approach.”

The first meeting of CAG was officially opened by Trevor Evans, the Federal Government’s Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management in June.

“It was really great to have Minister Evans with us – it’s wonderful to see his appointment and also his energy and engagement with supporting the industry,” Brooke says.

“It’s difficult to get such senior executives in one room at the same time, so it was a really lively and informed discussion, which is fantastic.”

Brooke says CAG’s first job will be developing a set of agreed definitions for key terms such as “problematic” and “unnecessary”.

“While agreeing on definitions might appear simple, it can be quite challenging and is a critical part of the process,” she says.

“Developing a full and shared picture of the packaging landscape is the only way to achieve effective change.”

The CAG will then work to establish baseline metrics for each of the four targets, before developing and endorsing the Sustainable Packaging Pathway white paper.

To create the white paper, Brooke says the CAG will co-design a systemic model for how Australia can transition to an advanced sustainable packaging ecosystem. The white paper will then outline the steps towards making the 2025 packaging targets a reality.

“The CAG will provide advice and guidance to support the outcomes, which are the results of the 22 priority project areas in 2019,” she says.

Project areas include consumption and recycling data, materiality testing, economic analysis of system interventions and sectorial circularity project delivery.

According to Brooke, project areas are managed through six APCO advisory groups that sit under the CAG. She says all APCO research flows up to the advisory groups for analysis, before it again flows up to the CAG.

The CAG will also oversee the results of comprehensive infrastructure mapping of the current resource recovery sector for packaging and explore alternative models.

“By the time we get to the white paper, which builds on the 2018 work APCO did on problematic material issues, we will have worked with over 200 organisations and every level of government,” Brooke says.

“A huge and diverse group of people will have participated in the development of the eventual roadmap.”

Brooke says while the targets are complex and challenging, cooperation is the key to achieving them.

“It’s our job and everybody’s job to contribute. If we all just do a little bit better today we can get there,” Brooke says.

“It’s all about creating a collaborative space so we can get to the targets.”

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Pacific Environment Ministers meet in Samoa

Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Assistant Minister Trevor Evans has meet with representatives from 21 Pacific Island Nations, New Zealand, the United States, France and the United Kingdom, to discuss key environmental issues facing the region.

Mr Evans attended the Talanoa Dialogue in Samoa, which is designed to facilitate participatory conversations about complex issues, as part of the 29th Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

SPREP Ministers called for urgent action to support the Pacific Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter 2018-2025, and urged members to accelerate policies and actions that embrace sustainable materials management and drive sustainable practices to reduce plastic pollution.

“A healthy and clean Pacific Ocean is essential to the quality of life and economic security of all Pacific Island Nations, and Australia is working with our Pacific family to make this happen, including investing $16 million to fund the Pacific Ocean Litter Project to tackle plastics polluting the region’s marine environment,” Mr Evans said.

“There are some tough and critical issues and no easy answers. But reaching shared solutions means having the conversation and mapping out agreed practical actions.”

According to Mr Evans, an Australia minister has not attended the biennial meeting in over a decade.

“Australia’s presence here builds on the outcomes of the recent Pacific Islands Forum, and reinforces Prime Minister Morrison’s message that Australia appreciates the issues faced by the Pacific are real and immediate,” Mr Evans said.

“Australia is fully engaged and strongly committed to working through these shared challenges in our region.”

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Reviewing the PSA

Waste Management Review explores the Product Stewardship Act review and industry expectations for the final report. 

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NWRIC meets with ministers

Ministers met with the waste and recycling industry in Melbourne to discuss recycling challenges, developing markets for recycled materials, new infrastructure capacity and how waste levies should be managed and reinvested into the sector.

Federal Waste Reduction Assistant Minister Trevor Evans and Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio meet with National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) members and affiliated representatives on 6 August.

NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards said active collaboration between government and the waste and recycling industry was crucial to an effective sector.

“With recycling services under threat in Victoria, growing stockpiles across the country, exemptions revoked for the recovery of organics from mixed waste in NSW, now has never been a more important time for industry and government to work closely together,” Mr Richards said.

“Topics of discussion included the critical importance of long term infrastructure planning coordinated across all levels of government, as well as consistent, regular community education campaigns to rebuild community confidence in recycling.”

NWRIC Secretary Alex Serpo said NWRIC members suggested local procurement of recycled materials, and setting appropriate recycled content levels for packaging and civil construction, could revitalise domestic recycling.

Fuel manufacture and energy recovery projects were also discussed, with industry ready to deliver projects that recover embodied energy from unrecyclable materials, reduce greenhouse emissions and extend the life of landfills.

The role of waste levies in addressing current challenges was another topic of conversation.

“This included the need for states, territories and the Federal Government to develop a national levy pricing strategy through the Council of Australian Governments,” Mr Serpo said.

“This pricing strategy could prevent the inappropriate disposal and movement of waste, stop levy avoidance activities, and ensure the resource recovery industry is viable and competitive.”

NWRIC is calling on all state governments to be more transparent and accountable for the total amount of levies collected annually, what proportion of the levies are invested back into the waste and recycling sector and what outcomes are achieved.

Waste of the nation

Waste Management Review speaks to Australia’s first Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans about his future priorities.

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Government to release procurement targets

Federal Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans will reportedly unveil ambitious new targets for sustainable procurement by all state governments.

Mr Evans said he would seek agreement on proposed procurement targets at the next Meeting of Environment Ministers, adding the Federal Government would offer funding support to develop Australia’s remanufacturing sector.

Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, who said WMRR had been calling for procurement targets for over 18 months, meet with Mr Evans to discuss what the next steps would be.

“WMRR welcomes the minister’s announcements and it is pleasing to see movement on the federal level, after years of industry advocating for federal leadership on a number of fronts, sustainable procurement being one of them,” Ms Sloan said.

“It became very clear early in the meeting that the minister understands the significance creating demand and markets for recycled products has on driving our industry forward.”

According to Mr Sloan, Mr Evans’ work in the retail industry, as CEO of the National Retail Association, has given him much-needed perspective and experience in supply chain management.

“Mr Evans has a wealth of knowledge on the roles, responsibilities and market demands within a supply chain,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR also had the opportunity to discuss the importance of national leadership in creating a level playing field and developing a common approach to levies and industry development as Australia, despite having seven jurisdictions, is one common market.”

Mr Sloan said WMRR also discussed the federal government’s role in driving resource recovery and remanufacturing through harmonised, effective and appropriate regulatory, policy and market settings.

“WMRR looks forward to our continued engagement with the minister and all levels of government, as we look forward and keep our eyes on the circular economy ball,” Ms Sloan said.

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Trevor Evans highlights industry-led initiatives

Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans has highlighted the importance of industry-led initiatives to reduce waste and improve recycling.

Mr Evans made the statements at the launch of a coffee cup recycling program in Brisbane.

“Simply Cups is Australia’s largest cup recycling program, and it is wonderful to have this innovative recycling program now operating at Howard Smith Wharves in Brisbane,” Mr Evans said.

According to Mr Evans, Howard Smith Wharves has invested heavily in equipment to recover recyclables on site – including rapid food waste composters, glass crushers, cardboard balers, soft plastic recycling and now coffee cup recycling.

“I was delighted to see first-hand the innovative partnership Howard Smith Wharves has with Closed Loop to better manage waste from the site,” Mr Evans said.

“Up to 400 kilograms a day of food waste is being processed in this way, with plans to double that capacity soon when more restaurants open. This is a fantastic example of industry taking practical environmental action on recycling.”

Mr Evans said the government is making substantial investment in recycling to move towards a more circular economy.

“We will be working closely with industry, communities and state, territory and local governments to achieve needed changes and focus on practical, meaningful actions that protect the environment and build our domestic recycling industry,” Mr Evans said.

“At the heart of the government’s strategy is the Australian Recycling Investment Plan, a package of initiatives totalling $167 million designed to grow and strengthen Australia’s domestic recycling industry, and to support industry and community initiatives to lift recycling rates in Australia.”

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Trevor Evans MP opens APCO Collective Action Group

Trevor Evans, the Federal Government’s Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management has officially opened the first meeting of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Collective Action Group (CAG).

The team of 12 leading representatives from across the supply chain and government will be tasked with overseeing the progress of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.

The 2025 targets were launched by government and industry in 2018. The CAG’s role is to work with APCO to oversee the development of a systemic model for how Australia can deliver the 2025 targets. The primary task for the CAG in 2019 is to develop a white paper setting out the roadmap for all stakeholders and identifying the critical interventions required to successfully transition Australia to a circular economy for packaging.

The CAG brings together representatives from the resource recovery, community, government, packaging, retail and manufacturing sectors to tackle Australia’s packaging waste challenges. It includes organisations such as Coles, David Jones and Country Road Group, Nestle, Coca Cola Amatil, EY, Planet Ark, the Australian Council of Recycling, SUEZ, Visy, Pact Group, the Department of Environment and Science (QLD) and the Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy.

Mr Evans told the CAG the Federal Government had endorsed the National Packaging Targets.

“We’ve provided $1.1 million to APCO to help drive the consumer education and awareness that we need to see as we go on this journey in relation to recycled packaging.

“At this year’s election, we put a package of measures valued at over $160 million together to support waste reduction and recycling in this country. That included, very importantly, $20 million on the table for product stewardship so that is to support the development of new industry led recycling schemes and another $20 million for research,” Mr Evans said.

He said noted that last year’s meeting of environment ministers agreed to a National Waste Policy that would set a new unified direction on waste and recycling.

“We’re going through the process of developing a strong national action plan and importantly that has to include appropriate funding, robust targets and milestones along the way.”

APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly said that the formation of the CAG is an exciting milestone in APCO’s work towards delivering the targets.

“It’s fantastic to bring together such a prestigious group of leaders for the task. The 2025 National Packaging Targets are some of the most ambitious and decisive environmental targets to be supported in Australia and their delivery requires collaboration from across industry,” Ms Donnelly said.

“We applaud all CAG participants and their leading organisations for stepping up as key players in the global movement to create sustainable packaging solutions that drive accountability, transparency and shared value for consumers, industry and government”.

Over the next 12 months, APCO will be delivering an extensive program of projects to drive the delivery of the 2025 National Packaging Targets. These will be facilitated by a team of APCO Working Groups, comprising nearly 100 participants from industry and government across Australia which will in turn provide analysis and resources to the overarching CAG.

The CAG met for the first time on Tuesday.

The projects include comprehensive infrastructure mapping of the current waste and recycling system and a series of models for alternatives; a range of research and trials to better understand compostability, remote and regional waste collection partnerships, phasing out of single-use plastics and consumer education initiatives to ensure a consistent approach to resource recovery in the packaging streams.

CAG Members include:

  • Jeff Maguire, Group Head of CDS Implementation and Packaging Sustainability, Coca-Cola Amatil
  • Margaret Stuart, Head of Corporate and External Relations, Nestlé Oceania
  • Raphael Geminder, Chairman at Pact Group Holdings
  • Richard Macchiesi, General Manager – Insights and Innovation – Visy
  • Fiona Baxter, Group Manager Responsible Sourcing, Coles
  • Lok-Man Shu, Regional Environment Manager, David Jones and Country Road Group
  • Louise Vickery, Assistant Secretary, Australian Government Department of Environment and Energy
  • Kylie Hughes, Director Waste Policy and Legislation, Department of Environment and Science QLD
  • Terence Jeyretnam, Partner, Climate Change & Sustainability, EY
  • Paul Klymenko, CEO, Planet Ark
  • Peter Shmigel, CEO, Australian Council of Recycling
  • Justin Frank, Director, Marketing, Communications and Key Accounts, SUEZ Australia & New Zealand
  • Anne Astin, Independent Director, APCO – Chair of CAG
  • Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO – CAG Secretariat
  • Helen Lewis, Professor, Institute for Sustainable Futures – CAG Secretariat

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