Waste Management Review caught up with Veolia Australia and New Zealand’s Marc Churchin to discuss his vision for the newly created solid waste portfolio as the company moves towards a new organisational structure.
Around 44 per cent of batteries sold in Europe were collected for recycling, with Belgium reaching 70.7 per cent, according to new data from the European Union’s statistical office, Eurostat.
In total, the data found around 214,000 tonnes of portable batteries and accumulators were put on the market in 2016, with around 93,000 tonnes collected for recycling, meaning more than twice the amount of batteries that had been put on the market than were collected.
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Luxembourg reached 63.4 per cent collection rate, with Hungary and Lithuania reaching around 53 per cent. Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom achieved collection rates of around 45 per cent.
The EU target for collection rates of portable batteries was set at 45 per cent in 2016, meaning 13 EU member states did not reach the target.
Australia has a comparatively low recycling rate of batteries, with the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative finding only three per cent of batteries are recycled and 70 per cent are sent to landfill.
To improve Australia’s battery recycling rates, the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) has called for a regulated product stewardship program for batteries by 2020.
The NWRIC said such a low recycling rate means regulator intervention is the only option.
“With a combination of sensible regulation, targeted investment and consumer education, almost all of Australia’s used batteries can be safely recycled. This would reduce the risk of fires at recycling facilities and minimise the contamination of compost,” the organisation said in a release.
REMONDIS Australia has announced its intention to develop a $400 million waste to energy (WtE) facility at its Swanbank landfill in Queensland.
The company has advised the state government that it will make an application to develop the recovered energy through the State’s Coordinated Project process, with the project expected to begin construction in 2020.
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The proposed plant aims to generate 50 megawatts of baseload electricity for Queensland households and business by redirected 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year. This energy would be able to power 50,000 average homes and be available every day of the year.
REMONDIS Group has operated and built WtE plants for 24 years and operates 52 facilities which recover more than 4.2 million tonnes of waste per year in Europe.
REMONDIS Australia General Manager QLD Operations and Business Development Bret Collins said the WtE proposal does not rely on additional waste streams coming to the Swanbank site – instead it will divert existing waste streams to a beneficial use.
“REMONDIS has been encouraged by recent comments from governments across Australia that WtE technology could provide some relief to the challenges facing the waste management and recycling industry,” Mr Collins said.
“There is an opportunity for Australia to benefit from REMONDIS’ global experience, and other successful European and UK facilities, and incorporate waste to energy as part of the solution to sustainable, best practice waste management.
“Adopting WtE technology will ensure that wastes with recoverable value are not sent to landfill and, instead, are put to beneficial use,” he said.
Mr Collins said that while Australians may not be familiar with WtE technology, it is used throughout Europe and considered a tried and trusted contributor to best practice waste management and energy generation.
“WtE plants are constructed to the strictest European Union environment, emission and health standards and this is the technology we would bring to Australia,” Mr Collins said.
“There are hundreds of WtE plants throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, and many are part of the fabric of suburbs and communities – there are WtE plants in Paris, London, Copenhagen, Cologne, Zurich, Vienna, Palm Beach and Singapore, just to name a few.”
Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick welcomed the news and said it establishes Queensland as a major player in the waste‑to‑energy market.
“The introduction of our government’s waste levy provides a real incentive for projects like this, building a new industry as an alternative to landfill,” Mr Dick said.
“This project could create up to 200 jobs during construction and some 70 jobs during operations.”
Mr Dick said REMONDIS Australia is expected to submit an application to Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to declare the project a ‘coordinated project’.
“If the Coordinator-General decides to declare this project a coordinated project it will help streamline approvals and fast-track delivery of this significant project,” he said.
“A coordinated project approach also means that all the potential impacts and benefits of the project are considered in an integrated and comprehensive manner.”
Coffee company Starbucks has announced it will phase out single-use plastic straws from more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by 2020.
The company said it will be making a strawless lid or alternative-material straw options available around the world. Starbuck anticipates the move will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from its stores.
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Starbucks will also begin offering straws made from alternative materials, including paper or compostable plastic, available for customers by request.
Customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see the strawless lids implemented, with a global rollout to follow. The lids will arrive in Europe in select stores in France, the Netherlands and the UK.
According to reports, Starbucks is the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a global commitment.
President and Chief Executive Officer for Starbucks Kevin Johnson said this is a global milestone to achieve Starbuck’s aspiration of sustainable coffee served in more sustainable ways.
Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program says with 8 million metric tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year, industries can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.
“We are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space,” Mr Mallos says.
Director of Sustainability Research and Development and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) US Erin Simon said Starbucks’ goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 represents the company’s forward thinking.
“Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species. As we partner with Starbucks in waste reduction initiatives such as Next Gen Consortium Cup Challenge and WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision, we hope others will follow in their footsteps,” Ms Simon says.
With the United Kingdom steadily investing in waste to energy, Waste Management Review uncovers what lessons Australia could learn from UK projects.
The global solid waste management market is expected to exceed USD 340 billion (AUD452.8) by 2024, according to a new research report from market research firm Global Market Insights Inc.
According to the report, the solid waste management industry has been growing significantly in terms of remuneration, due in part to increasingly stringent regulatory norms and guidelines.
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The European market is also set to grow exponentially as countries like the UK and Germany adopt new recycling technologies and introduce comprehensive directives to lower air pollution and land usage, according to the report.
It estimates the UK solid waste management industry size will surpass a total processing capacity of over 35 million tonnes by 2024.
The region also has been characterised by the interest in waste to energy (WtE) facilities being set up, the report said. Hitachi Zosen Inova AG has also announded recently to build Turkey’s first WtE plant – planned to be the largest WtE project in Europe with the capacity to process 15 per cent of Istanbul’s solid waste per year.
The report also says that companies like Biffa Group, Hitachi, Veolia, Amec Foster Wheeler, E.L. Harvey & Sons, and Stericycle have been focusing on acquiring upcoming companies to fortify their presence in the industry.
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Tyre Stewardship Australia is hosting the second tyre industry conversation to focus on international factors that influence Australian markets.
In particular, the event will discuss how the Australian resource and recovery and recycling industry has been affected by recent change and disruption.
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It will also provide an update on the international state of play from European and New Zealand end-of-life tyre markets, which aim to provide insight for the Australian tyre recycling industry.
The event will include presentations from international speakers from the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Secretary General of the UK Tyre Recovery Association Peter Taylor will be a keynote speaker, who will bring experience from the largest market-based best practice program in Europe for scrap tyres. He was also awarded an OBE by the Queen for his services to the tyre industry.
Senior Policy Analyst at the Ministry for the Environment Meg Larken will also provide a keynote presentation, bringing her experience from four years at the Ministry and from the recent policy for end-of-life tyres.
The Tyre Industry Conversation will take place on 11 April at 9am – 1pm. It will be hosted at The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney. Attendees are asked to RSVP by 29 March.