DELWP proposes EPA Act and land-use planning integration

The Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is proposing updates to the state’s land-use planning system to bring it in line with the EPA’s new environmental protection framework.

According to a DELWP statement, the proposed updates will ensure the Environment Protection Act 2017 (as amended to commence on 1 July 2020) and its subordinate instruments function at commencement, and that effective interaction between the environment protection framework and planning system is maintained.

“This includes amendments that will integrate updated requirements for the management of potentially contaminated land within the planning system,” the statement reads.

Proposed updates include changes to Victoria Planning Provision clauses that refer to instruments under the Environment Protection Act. They also include updates to Ministerial Direction No. 1 – Potentially Contaminated Land, and Planning Practice Note 30: Potentially Contaminated Land.

Specifically, DELWP is proposing a requirement that applications provide adequate information on the potential for contamination to have adverse effects on future land use and an assessment confirming the environmental conditions of a site are suitable for proposed use and development.

Ministerial direction is also being amended to incorporate reference to new instruments under the Environment Protection Act. This includes a new preliminary risk screen assessment, and an environmental audit that can be scoped.

“This amendment supports the policy reforms outlined in recommendation 14.2 of the EPA Inquiry,” the statement reads.

Additional changes include new subordinate instruments such as an Environment Reference Standard, and updating references to EPA publications including Best Practice Environmental Management Guidelines.

“These updates have been developed in collaboration with the EPA and deliver on commitments in the government response to the Independent Inquiry into the EPA. They follow on from extensive public consultation held to inform the development of Victoria’s new environment protection laws,” the statement reads.

DELWP is inviting feedback on the proposed updates through the Engage Victoria website until 5 May.

After receiving submissions from the public, DELWP will consider the feedback and finalise updated planning provisions in June 2020.

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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

Leading the recycling revolution: Moyne Shire Council

A year after state-wide disruptions to Victoria’s recycling industry, a small municipality in the state’s south west has quietly taken matters into its own hands, Annette Cannon, Moyne Shire Council Waste Education Officer explains. 

Moyne Shire Council was among the first in Australia to introduce a four-bin waste collection system as part of a long-term solution to the recycling crisis.

Weeks before the Victorian Government announced plans to roll out a state-wide, four-bin system from 2021, Moyne Shire had already taken delivery of its first glass recycling collection.

The council took the bold decision to introduce a fourth bin for glass in September 2019, at a time when just a handful of municipalities were considering the idea.

Just 16 weeks later, the first kerbside glass recycling collection took place across Moyne Shire in early February 2020.

Moyne Shire Mayor Daniel Meade said glass accounted for about 40 per cent of recyclables in Council’s kerbside collections.

“China’s 2018 ban on importing a range of recyclable materials sent our waste management industry into a tailspin,” he said.

“Like a lot of other councils, we were forced to send all recyclables into landfill from about July 2019. Our council and our community decided we just couldn’t sit by and allow that to continue to happen.”

Aside from the serious environmental implications, Mr Meade said the cost of sending recyclable materials to landfill could not be sustained.

Moyne Shire, which takes in coastal Port Fairy and extends inland to the townships of Macarthur, Hawkesdale and back to the Great Ocean Road at Peterborough, has a track record for leadership in waste management.

It has provided a food and organic waste collection service since 2009, many years ahead of other municipalities. This includes provision of a benchtop caddy for food waste.

A NEW REGIME

Under Moyne Shire’s new four-bin regime, glass is collected monthly, recycling and FOGO fortnightly and landfill collected weekly.

In the first month over 40 tonnes of glass was collected with a less than five per-cent contamination rate. This is equivalent to more than 195,000 glass bottles.

Moyne Shire’s initial plan was to conduct a trial within the township of Koroit. However, with mounting concern over the re-routing of recyclables into landfill, council moved quickly to implement a more universal solution.

The formal council decision in September 2019 to implement a Shire-wide, four-bin collection service triggered a frenetic round of contract negotiations with new recycling suppliers.

Under the revised contract, recyclables are now processed by Australian Paper Recovery at Truganina, near Melbourne. Australian Paper Recovery can process recyclables that are not contaminated by glass.

Glass is processed locally for use as a substitute for sand in road construction. The contents of green FOGO bins are still composted for use as mulch across the Shire, while contents of red-lidded bins are directed to landfill.

BETTER4MOYNE

Community engagement and education proved to be key to the program’s early success.

A change in processor has meant that only certain plastics can be placed into the yellow recycling bin. Polyethylene terephthalate (marked with the recycling symbol 1) and high density polyethylene (recycling symbol 2) are both permissible. All other plastics must now be placed into the red bin destined for landfill.

A branded campaign, Better4Moyne, was developed to comprehensively engage with and educate the community about this and all other aspects of council’s new waste management regime.

Activities included regional media articles, frequent website and social media updates, letters to all residents, FAQ sheets, posters displayed in public spaces and displays of the new, purple-lidded bins in high traffic public spaces, including outside local supermarkets.

Council also created displays at regional community events, and officers spoke directly with numerous business and community groups.

A new Kerbside Waste Management Collection Guide was published detailing how to use the four-bin system. Together with a collection calendar, a hard copy of the guide was delivered to all residents with their new, purple-lidded bins.

WIN/WIN SOLUTION FOR DELIVERY LOGISTICS

The logistics of delivering 6000 new glass recycling bins across Moyne Shire’s 5500 square kilometres in time for the first collection was council’s next challenge.

The solution proved to be an innovative ‘win/win’ solution for both council and community.

Eight community groups were engaged to work with council to simultaneously hand deliver the new purple-lidded bins to each household.

These included the Koroit Cricket Club, MacArthur Men’s Shed, Woorndoo Mortlake Football Netball Club, Woorndoo Cricket Club, Nirranda Football Netball Club, Panmure Football Netball Club, Grassmere Primary School Parent and Friends and Port Fairy Football Netball Club.

Those groups received $5 for each bin delivered, creating a new fundraising stream for the groups.

MONITORING OUR SUCCESS

A rigorous inspection regime is an important facet of Moyne Shire’s new waste management program.

Kerbside inspections provide intelligence about recycling behaviour and contamination levels, while also presenting opportunity for more community education.

Where glass or recycling bins are found to be contaminated by incorrect items, a ‘bin reject’ sticker with a hand-written explanation to the householder is placed on the bin. The contents may or may not be collected, depending on the type of contamination.

Inspections during the first glass recycling collection showed relatively low levels of contamination. The primary concern was lids not being removed from glass bottles and jars.

External consultants will be engaged in the near future to conduct detailed kerbside audits. The results will help to evaluation the success of the new, four-bin system and will also inform ongoing community education messaging.

A LONG-TERM SOLUTION

The Victorian Parliamentary Enquiry into Recycling and Waste Management, tabled in November 2019, noted in part that one of the key ways to reduce contamination was by reducing glass in co-mingled recycling bins.

It called for greater source separation as a key measure for the long-term sustainability of Victoria’s waste management system.

Mr Meade said that as an early adopter of glass separation in Victoria and, indeed, the nation, Moyne Shire Council was playing an important leadership role.

“We hope other municipalities can learn from our experiences here at Moyne and ultimately follow suit,” he said.

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VIC infrastructure projects to prioritise recycled materials

Recycled First, a new initiative from the Victorian Government, is set to boost the use of recycled and reused materials in construction projects.

According to Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan, Recycled First brings a uniform approach to the existing ‘ad hoc’ use of recycled products on major transport infrastructure projects.

“We’re paving a greener future for Victoria’s infrastructure, turning waste into vital materials for our huge transport agenda and getting rubbish out of landfills,” Ms Allan said.

Recycled First will boost the demand for reused materials right across our construction sector – driving innovation in sustainable materials and changing the way we think about waste products.”

The program will incorporate recycled and reused materials that meet existing standards for road and rail projects – with recycled aggregates, glass, plastic, timber, steel, ballast, crushed concrete, crushed brick, crumb rubber, reclaimed asphalt pavement and organics taking precedence over brand new materials.

“Companies interested in delivering major transport infrastructure projects will be required to demonstrate how they will prioritise recycled and reused materials, while maintaining compliance and quality standards,” Ms Allan said.

Additionally, contractors will need to report on the types and volumes of recycled products used.

The policy will not set mandatory minimum requirements or targets, Ms Allan said. Instead, a project-by-project approach will allow contractors to liaise with recycled materials suppliers to determine if there are adequate supplies of the necessary products for their project.

“Work is already underway with current construction partners to ensure more recycled content is being used on major projects, in addition to the new Recycled First requirements,” Ms Allan said.

“The M80 Ring Road, Monash Freeway and South Gippsland Highway upgrades will use more than 20,000 tonnes of recycled materials, and 190 million glass bottles will be used in surfaces on the $1.8 billion Western Roads Upgrade.”

According to Ms Allan, recycled demolition material was also used to build extra lanes along 24 kilometres of the Tullamarine Freeway, as well as the Monash Freeway and M80 Ring Road.

“The state government is also reusing materials created by its own projects, with 14,000 tonnes of soil excavated from the Metro Tunnel site in Parkville now being used in pavement layers on roads in Point Cook,” she said.

“This material weighs as much as 226 E-class Melbourne trams and would otherwise have gone to landfill.”

Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy has dubbed the program an ‘accelerator for Victoria’s circular economy’.

“To have the state government strongly encourage the use of recycled content in these projects demonstrates very powerful support for resource recovery,” Mr Murphy said.

“We know that a strong market for recycled materials supports resource recovery, which diverts more material away from landfill and reduces stockpiling. It also preserves valuable natural resources which are increasingly difficult to access and costly to transport.”

According to Mr Murphy, Recycled First provides clarity for decision makers on Victoria’s Big Build, which includes more than 100 major road and rail projects.

“Many Big Build projects are located close to Melbourne, making recycled material from metropolitan areas the ideal supply choice. The use of locally sourced recycled content substantially reduces heavy vehicle use, which reduces congestion and carbon emissions,” he said.

“Victoria has long led the way when it comes to using recycled material in infrastructure. Having assessed other jurisdictions in Australia and overseas, I know Victoria is the envy of many. Many local governments are making good progress, and this initiative sets a great example.”

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Industry set to see immediate Recycling Victoria impact

Victoria’s landfill levy increase is set to have an immediate impact on recovery rates, according to Bingo Industries Managing Director Daniel Tartak.

The increase – $65.90 to 125.90 over three years – is one of many changes outlined in Victoria’s new circular economy policy Recycling Victoria, released earlier this week. Additional changes include the introduction of a container deposit scheme and a $100 million infrastructure investment.

Mr Tartak welcomed the levy increase, applauding the state government’s bold efforts to develop Victoria’s recycling economy.

“It will further encourage recycling, optimise the diversion of waste from landfill and promote the development of a truly circular economy; promote investment in recycling technology, and move Victoria towards international best practice diversion rates,” Mr Tartak said.

“The staged increase in the levy also works well for our customers, who can now plan ahead for this and other structural changes, such as the new EPA Act and increased safety and compliance regulations which will also impact the sector.”

According to Mr Tartak, the polices, commitments and actions outlined in the plan align with BINGO’s Victorian strategy.

“We’ve invested more than $100 million over the past three years in the acquisition and development of recycling assets in anticipation of many of the initiatives outlined in this plan,” he said.

“We recently received approval to operate our advanced recycling facility in West Melbourne for 24 hours per day, seven day per week, so we’ll be ready to accommodate the increased volumes we expect to receive from 1 July onwards. ”

Mr Tartak also highlighted the plan’s support for the development of waste-to-energy facilities, increased resources to monitor illegal behaviour and commitment to increasing the use of recycled materials in construction projects as positive.

According to Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy, Recycling Victoria’s long term measures will help Victorian recover from the recycling crisis and take a leadership position, including in the use of recycled content in infrastructure.

“We’re pleased to see that the Victorian Government has released its new circular economy strategy – Recycling Victoria – overhauling the state’s recycling sector and further reducing waste going to landfill,” Mr Murphy said.

“The industry requires long term decisions, and the 10-year plan features reforms to accelerate Victoria’s shift to a circular economy, including supporting businesses and communities, creating local jobs, and leading the way in the use of recycled materials.”

In reference to Recycling Victoria’s container deposit scheme announcement, Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said the move was a step in the right direction towards achieving a circular economy.

“At Cleanaway we have seen firsthand the environmental, economic and social benefits of a container return scheme,” he said.

“A system that encourages consumers to separate recycling at the point of disposal improves the quality of the recyclable material, which makes it an even more valuable commodity for reuse.”

Mr Bansal also applauded the Victorian Government’s efforts to improve the quality of recyclable material across the state.

“The introduction of a fourth recycling bin for glass is expected to reduce contamination and create a cleaner commodity stream,” Mr Bansal said.

“This, in turn, means more materials will be recycled and opens up opportunities for a circular economy for glass.”

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Landfill levy set to double under Recycling Victoria strategy

Victoria’s landfill levy is set to almost double, with the release of the state’s long-awaited circular economy policy Recycling Victoria. 

According to Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio, the increase – $65.90 to $125.90 over three years – will help support recycling reforms and provide a stronger incentive to invest in new waste technologies.

“Victoria’s landfill levy is significantly lower than our neighbouring states, meaning Victoria is too often used as a dumping ground for waste coming from New South Wales and South Australia,” she said.

“The change reflects an agreement reached by state and territory treasurers to work towards the harmonisation of landfill levies, and will provide a strong incentive to reduce and recycle waste.”

The 10-year plan, Recycling Victoria, outlines a more than $300 million package of reforms, including a statewide four-bin kerbside system, container deposit scheme, nearly $100 million to support resource recovery infrastructure and recognising waste as an essential service.

“This is the largest package of recycling reforms and investment in Victoria’s history. It will revolutionise household recycling, drive business innovation and create jobs of the future. Most importantly, it will give Victorians a truly circular economy and recycling system they can rely on,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

Furthermore, Recycling Victoria allocates $71.4 million to tackle waste crime, with more resources to stop illegal dumping and stockpiling and deal with high-risk sites and substances.

Ms D’Ambrosio said a dedicated Waste Crime Prevention Inspectorate will be established within the EPA, which will work closely with WorkSafe Victoria, emergency service agencies, councils and other regulators to improve information sharing and coordination.

“For too long, waste crime has undermined Victoria’s recycling sector with dangerous and illegal stockpiling. Our investment will help to clean up the industry and make it fairer for businesses that do the right thing,” she said.

Recycling Victoria also sets new goals for improved resource recovery including a landfill diversion target of 80 per cent. Additional targets include cutting total waste generation by 15 per cent per capita by 2030 and ensuring every Victorian household has access to FOGO services or local composing by 2025.

“These targets will create investment certainty for businesses, while promoting jobs and growth in the industry,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.

“The government will also provide $14.6 million to support local projects that boost recycling, reduce littering and take advantage of economic opportunities to reduce waste, particularly in regional communities.”

Sustainability Victoria welcomed the release in a media statement, calling Recycling Victoria a bold and transformative 10-year plan to shift the state to a circular economy that wastes less and recycles more.

“We are proud to have played a significant role in developing the policy and our work to transform the recycling sector is already underway, with the launch of $39.5 million in grants from the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund to boost recycling capacity in Victoria,” the statement reads.

“Reducing waste and creating a strong recycling system is a shared responsibility. We look forward to partnering with businesses, governments and individuals to move the state towards a circular economy that is built on innovation.”

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VIC Govt makes $100M investment in recycling industry

The Victorian Government will invest $100 million into the state’s recycling system to drive research and expand local processing and manufacturing.

The investment follows a suite of additional announcements earlier this week, including the introduction of a container deposit scheme and roll out of a four-bin kerbside system.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the measures are part of the state’s 10-year Recycling Victoria plan, which aims to reform waste management and create sustainable industry.

The plan, Mr Andrews said, will create an additional 3900 jobs for the sector.

“The $100 million investment will help local businesses give new life to old rubbish – better processing recyclable materials and getting more value from waste by making it available for end-market uses like recycled plastic in railway sleepers or recycled glass in footpaths,” Mr Andrews said.

As part of the package, the state government will double funding for businesses to invest in infrastructure to sort and reprocess recyclables for use in manufacturing.

Mr Andrews said the $28 million infrastructure boost will bring the total funding available through the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund to $56 million.

“The package includes $30 million in grants to make Victoria a leader in recycling innovation – creating new products from recycled materials like glass, plastic, organics, electronic waste, concrete, brick and rubber,” he said.

“The government will also provide $10 million in grants to help businesses improve resource efficiency, reduce waste and increase recycling in their daily operations – saving them time and money.”

A new $7 million Business Innovation Centre will also be established, to bring industry, universities and councils together to develop new technologies and collaborate on creative solutions to waste challenges.

“For waste that can’t be recycled, processors will also be able to access $10 million for waste-to-energy initiatives, minimising the amount of rubbish being sent to landfill, while $11.5 million will go towards treating hazardous waste – protecting the community from illegal chemical stockpiles,” Mr Andrews said.

According to Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan, the Victorian Government is leading the way by committing significant new funds to the industry.

“WMRR is pleased that the Victorian Government has flagged infrastructure investment as part of this package,” she said.

“This will be key to driving success as we work with government to continue to grow markets domestically for these valuable resources.”

Ms Sloan said that with 14 million tonnes of waste generated annually in Victoria, the investment represents a fantastic opportunity to transition the state’s remanufacturing industry.

“WMRR acknowledges that a sustainable remanufacturing base will take time to develop in Victoria, and its success depends on robust government regulation and policy that support market development and community and business demand for recycled material, which will go a long way in providing industry with certainty to invest,” Ms Sloan said.

According to Ms Sloan, WMRR will continue to work closely with Victoria’s leaders to provide feedback and input on the projects, policies, and investment priorities that will drive the sector forward.

“Market development and remanufacturing demand cannot however be achieved by one state alone,” she said.

“As we head towards the COAG meeting next month and impending export bans, it is vital that there be national action on creating markets and demand for recycled products, this includes emphasis on design, a mandated product stewardship scheme for packaging and national specifications.”

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VIC to introduce CDS and four bin kerbside system

The Victorian Government will introduce a container deposit scheme (CDS) by 2023, as part of a new suite of initiatives to reduce waste to landfill by 80 per cent over 10 years.

A four bin kerbside system will also be rolled out as part of a $129 million overhaul of the state’s waste and recycling sector, with seperate bins for glass, food and garden organics, household waste and plastic, metal and paper.

Premier Daniel Andrews said that by collecting glass separately, Victoria can ensure effective recycling, with jars and bottles transformed multiple times into different products, including new roads and footpaths.

“Separate glass collection will also make recovery of other recyclables – like plastic, metal and paper – simpler, with the food and organic bin significantly reducing the amount of waste going to landfill,” he said.

According to Mr Andrews, the bin rollout will begin gradually next year – informed by the needs of local communities and existing council contracts.

“There will also be special arrangements for remote regional households and people in apartments, to ensure everyone gets access to the new four-bin system,” he said.

“This represents a holistic approach to reducing, reusing and recycling our state’s waste. That’s good news for Victoria’s environment and good news for Victorian jobs.”

Waste management will also be classified as an essential service under the new system, to ensure a basic standard of service across the state.

Additionally, a dedicated waste authority will be established to help the state better govern its recycling system and hold waste service providers to account.

“An education and behaviour change campaign will support the rollout of the initiatives. It will target households, businesses, councils, community groups and charities – helping them transition to the new system,” Mr Andrews added.

The Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) has welcomed the changes, highlighting Victoria as the only Australian jurisdiction without a CDS currently in place.

VWMA CEO Peter Anderson said the association sees tremendous benefits for Victoria through the introduction of the scheme, including less rubbish sent to landfill, less litter from single use items covered by the scheme and the opportunity to further build public awareness about waste and recycling.

“The Victorian Government is to be congratulated for listening to stakeholders from the waste and recycling sector on the development of this CDS, which will transform how Victorians dispose of certain materials,” Mr Anderson said.

“It’s important that Victorians understand that this is not about imposing additional costs or inconvenience when it comes to disposal of recyclables. It’s about dramatically increasing the amount of waste that gets recycled and, conversely, reducing how much we send to landfill.”

The VWMA has worked closely with the Victorian Government to establish the scheme, Mr Anderson said, and looks forward to further engagement and consultation.

“As part of the transition to a CDS, change and adjustment will be required of every Victorian household and we may need to do things differently,” he said.

“Changes to the size of our bins and frequency of collection will be likely, and we look forward to working with the Victorian Government to help educate Victorians on the many environmental and economic benefits a CDS will deliver.”

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Toxic hospital waste attracts EPA fine

A shipment of hospital waste exposed to toxic chemicals has been secured and sent for proper disposal, during an investigation by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA).

According to EPA Western Metropolitan Regional Manager Stephen Lansdell, the waste was found at a container depot in Altona.

“EPA officers found two shipping containers that had been sitting for more than two weeks at the premises of Melbourne Container Transport, in Kororoit Creek Rd,” he said.

“Inside, they found plastic-wrapped pallet loads of cardboard boxes and plastic containers carrying surgical masks, gowns, gloves and other items used by doctors when applying cytotoxic chemicals used in some cancer treatments.”

The EPA has fined the company $8261 for depositing industrial waste at a site that is not licensed to accept that type of waste.

“The contents of the containers were safely incinerated by a licensed company on the day they were opened for inspection,” Mr Lansdell said.

“While it was resolved without any hazard to people’s health, a case like this is disappointing because businesses have a clear responsibility to know the rules and do the right thing by the environment and the community.”

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970 and the Infringements Act 2006, the company has the right to have the decision reviewed, or alternatively to have the matter heard and determined by a court.

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VIC offers $2M in grants to improve e-waste infrastructure

The Victorian Government is offering $2 million in grants for local councils and industry to improve e-waste infrastructure across the state.

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the funding will work to strengthen Victoria’s collection, storage and reprocessing of electronic goods.

According to Ms D’Ambrosio, the new round of funding will focus on building e-waste reprocessing capability and capacity, while continuing to ensure the collection of e-waste is conducted to the highest standard.

“The state government introduced a ban on e-waste to landfill in July 2019 to pave the way for electronic items to be safely disposed of and reduce the harm these items have on the environment and human health,” she said.

“We’re supporting local councils and industry to keep potentially toxic e-waste out of landfill. This funding will allow e-waste to be reprocessed locally into valuable products – boosting jobs, supporting local businesses and helping divert more waste from landfill.”

Sustainability Victoria CEO Claire Ferres said the latest round of funding is a part of the state government’s $16.5 million investment to strengthen the e-waste sector and raise public awareness about how to dispose of e-waste correctly.

“With e-waste growing three times faster than standard municipal waste, it is vital we build a strong Victorian e-waste sector that our community trusts to deliver safe and secure management of e-waste,” she said.

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