New Federal Minister for Environment sworn in

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has selected his new cabinet ministry and appointed a new Minister for Environment to replace Josh Frydenberg, who has been appointed treasurer.

Melissa Price will now serve as Minister for Environment, after previously serving as the Assistant Minister to the portfolio.

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She was responsible for reviewing Australia’s national waste management strategy, preserving the country’s biodiversity and overseeing the transition to new management plans for marine reserves.

As Assistant Minister, she helped set national targets to reduce Australia’s waste and encourage the industry to transition to more sustainable practices.

The previous portfolio has been split in two, with Angus Taylor being appointed the Minster for Energy. Ms Price will now focus solely on Australia’s natural resources and preserving the environment.

“It is a great privilege to take full responsibility for this portfolio and I welcome the opportunity to continue the Government’s work in delivering a cleaner future for Australia,” Ms Price said.

“I also represent an incredibly diverse regional electorate that covers roughly half of Western Australia, where some 20 per cent of all threatened species in Australia are found.

“My appointment also marks the first time a woman from regional Western Australia has served in the Cabinet, an achievement that I am both proud and deeply humbled to acknowledge,” she said.

Funding announced for $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund applicants

Successful applicants for Round 2 of Sustainability Victoria’s $700,000 Litter Innovation Fund have been announced, including councils, businesses and not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises.

Grants were offered in two rounds and provided up to $20,000 for innovative solutions to litter and illegal dumping that are delivered through a partnership.

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The package comprises of two funding streams, projects in the Yarra River and Port Philip Bay catchment and projects outside of these areas.

Successful applicants include Southern Cross Recycling Group, in partnership with the City of Whittlesea and Maribyrnong, for the Mobile Community Resource Recovery Hub, a purpose-built trailer that provides a collection point for small household items and clothing.

Monash City Council in partnership with Monash University have also been grated funding to assist the culturally and linguistically diverse student education project to reduce illegally dumped waste.

Boroondara, Nillumbik and Yarra City Councils have partnered with Connectsus to fund the Binasys project, which will install ultrasonic level sensor technology to provide a live demand profile of each public litter bin.

In an effort to tackle construction litter, Wydnham City Council, Wolfdene Property Development Group, Point Cook Open Spaces and Beach Patrol will use the funding to liaison with developers, builders and tradies using a pledge system.

EPA Victoria and VicRoads will assist the Macedon Ranges Shire Council to install infrastructure at identified hotspots to increase enforcement and behaviour change and reduce illegal dumping through education campaigns.

A roadside litter campaign will also be launched addressing litter from vehicles along major transport routes due to the funding provided to the Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group, VicRoads and local government authorities.

Nestlé

Nestlé to implement Australasian Recycling Label by 2020

Nestlé will implement the new Australasian Recycling Label and REDcycle logo across all of its locally made products by 2020 to educate consumers that soft plastic can be recycled through the in-store scheme.

The rollout will start in August and will roll out throughout 2019, starting with Allen’s lollies.

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The Australasian Recycling Label shows how each piece of packaging can be disposed of in the best possible way, indicating if the packaging can be recycled via kerbside recycling, conditionally recycled through programs such as REDcycle, or if it is not recyclable.

Nestlé previously announced it aims to make its packaging 100 per cent recyclable or reusable by 2025.

To reach this goal, the company will focus on three core areas, eliminate non-recyclable plastics, encourage the use of plastics that allow better recycling rates and eliminate complex combinations of packaging material.

Nestlé Australia CEO Sandra Martinez said the company is proud to adopt the new label to help consumers correctly recycle by providing the information on how to properly dispose of it.

“Consumers have good intentions when it comes to recycling but they need clearer information. The Australasian Recycling Label will help to remove confusion, increase recycling rates and decrease contamination in recycling streams by helping consumers navigate the process,” Ms Martinez said.

Planet Ark Deputy CEO Rebecca Gilling said the commitment from companies such as Nestlé was an important one.

“We need widespread commitment from industry to apply the Australasian Recycling Label if it’s to become effective in helping consumers improve their recycling habits.”

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Planning for national solar panel product stewardship underway

Research for a national product stewardship program for photovoltaic systems, which include solar panels, is underway.

Sustainability Victoria has appointed product stewardship consultant Equilibrium to analyse and assess potential options for a national product stewardship to help manage end of life products.

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Photovoltaic (PV) panels and associated products and equipment have been identified as a rapidly growing e-waste stream in the future. For the project, “PV systems” have neem defined to include panels and PV system accessories such as inverter equipment and energy storage systems.

Equilibrium has opened an online survey to gather input and information form manufacturers, installers, project developers, the energy industry, and peak bodies.

The information gathered by the survey along with other evidence gathered will support the assessment of potential options.

Organisations and individuals interested in the project can complete the survey here.

New appointments for VIC Waste and Resource Recovery Groups

The Victorian Government has appointed 25 directors to the state’s seven Waste and Resource Recovery Groups.

The directors, including nine reappointments, commenced their roles on 1 August.

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They bring a broad range of experience to their roles with diverse backgrounds including energy, engineering, resource efficiency, local government, infrastructure development, sustainability, waste management and environmental policy.

The appointees will aim to ensure the Groups have the skills and experience needed to deliver a safe, resilient and efficient recycling system.

Waste and Resource Recovery Groups are a part of the state government’s Recycling Industry Strategic Plan with local councils across Victoria.

Appointees have increased board representation of women, people with disabilities and Victorians from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds.

More than $100 million has been invested by the state government over the last four years to improve the Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio congratulated the appointees and said she looks forward to working with them to strengthen the state’s waste and recycling sector.

“We’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the people and resources it needs to reduce waste and costs to households,” she said.

A list of the appointments and directors can be found here.

Deakin researchers could recycle jeans into joints

Advanced textile recycling methods could see denim jeans transformed into artificial cartilage for joint reconstruction.

Deakin University researchers Dr Nolene Byrne and PhD candidate Beini Zeng have discovered how to dissolve denim and turn them into an aerogel that can be used for cartilage biosculpting, water filtration and used as a separator in advanced battery technology.

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Dr Byrne said the denim recycling technique would also help contribute to the fight against textile waste.

“Textile waste is a global challenge with significant environmental implications, and we’ve been working for more than four years to address this problem with a viable textile recycling solution,” she said.

“With population growth and the development of third world countries combined with today’s rapid fashion cycles, textile waste is always increasing, leading to millions of tonnes of clothes and other textiles being burnt or dumped in landfill.”

Dr Byrne said Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials team used an “upcycling” approach to get around cost-effectiveness issues.

“One of the main drawbacks of textile recycling efforts is that any advanced technique requires the use of chemicals, which can then make the procedure less cost-effective,” she said.

“We use environmentally-friendly chemicals, and by upcycling our approach to create a more advanced material we can address the limitations affecting other less cost-effective methods.

“We are now entering pilot-scale trials and look to be at commercial scale within 3 to 5 years with industry support.”

Dr Nolene Byrne (left) and PhD candidate Beini Zeng (right)

She said the process worked because denim was made from cotton, a natural polymer comprised of cellulose.

“Cellulose is a versatile renewable material, so we can use liquid solvents on waste denim to allow it to be dissolved and regenerated into an aerogel, or a variety of different forms,” she said.

“Aerogels are a class of advanced materials with very low density, sometimes referred to as ‘frozen smoke’ or ‘solid smoke’, and because of this low density they make excellent materials for bioscaffolding, absorption or filtration.

“When we reformed the cellulose, we got something we didn’t expect – an aerogel with a unique porous structure and nanoscopic tunnels running through the sample.”

Dr Byrne said she believed the sticky nature of the denim cellulose solution was likely responsible for the unique aerogel structure that resulted, something ideally suited for use as synthetic cartilage.

“That’s exactly what cartilage looks like – you can’t 3D print that material – and now we can shape and tune the aerogel to manipulate the size and distribution of the tunnels to make the ideal shape,” she said.

Isuzu to showcase new heavy lifter at AWRE

Isuzu Australia (IAL) is exhibiting its latest waste management heavy lifter at the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE), which will be held at the International Convention Centre in Sydney, 29-30 August 2018.

According to IAL, AWRE brings together the “latest thinking around waste and recycling, and the products that are employed in the waste collection, processing recovery and recycling processes”.

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IAL will present a truck developed by waste equipment company, Superior-PAK, in the AWRESOME product showcase.

The FVY, rated at 24,000kg gross vehicle mass and 36,000kg gross combination mass, is reportedly an ideal platform for waste applications with its “brawny” turbo-charged and intercooled diesel engine rated at 221 kw at 2,400 RPM and 981 nM at 1,450 RPM. The emission control system comprises cooled EGR with Exhaust Diesel Particulate Diffuser and is ADR 80/03 (Euro V) and EEV compliant.

“Offsetting the harsh stop-start nature of waste applications is the Allison 3500 automatic transmission and Hendrickson HAS460 rear airbag suspension both contributing to smooth and predictable operational behaviour,” IAL said in a statement.

“In addition to the Allison auto and Hendrickson rear airbag suspension, the Isuzu FVY benefits from industry-standard components, such as Meritor axles with cross-locks, Meritor ‘Q-Plus brakes with ABS, and in the cab, the ISRI 6860 air-suspended seat.”

IAL National Truck Sales Manager, Les Spaltman said Isuzu was pleased to be supporting AWRE in 2018.

“One key to Isuzu’s success lies in developing reliable and efficient trucks that can be adapted to broad range of applications and specifications including waste and recycling, and events like this help get the product in front of the right people.

“We’re continually striving to improve our offering and partnering and mixing with like-minded business and industry leaders ensures that we are exposed to the latest thinking and ideas.

“Isuzu and AWRE go back a long way and we want to continue to offer our services and support in their endeavours to facilitate better waste and recycling management,” he said.

EPA VIC to extend $6.5M program to tackle local waste issues

The Victorian EPA has extended its more than $6.4 million Officers for the Protection of the Local Environment (OPLE) pilot project for 13 council areas.

The program gives councils on-the-spot access to EPA capabilities and aims to build upon the EPA’s relationships with local governments to enable faster identification and resolution of smaller-scale waste issues.

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It will now run for an additional seven months until 31 July 2019 to address issues such as dust, odour, waste dumping and stockpiling, littering and noise pollution.

OPLEs began training in September 2017 and have responded to 355 incident reports and completed 299 inspections as of 30 June 2018.

The councils selected include Port Philip, Casey, Greater Dandenong, Wyndham, Surf Coast, Mildura, Greater Shepparton, Wodonga, Loddon, Buloke, Central Goldfields, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay.

Waste dumping and stockpiling was a concern in Mildura while sediment run-off and littering at new residential housing developments was a focus for OPLES in Surf Coast, Wyndham, Shepparton and Wodonga.

EPA CEO Nial Finegan said the program allowed expertise to be shared between EPA and councils to make a difference to issues that affected local amenity and liveability the most.

“We’ve received great feedback from councils and residents about the impact the OPLEs are having,” he said.

“At its core, the project is about creating meaningful change on a local level and using education to drive compliance.

“We will not shy away, however, from imposing sanctions when proactive measures are not effective and environmental and public health is put at risk. And by partnering with councils, a greater range of sanctions are available to address all aspects of an issue.

Mr Finegan said the program was identified through the Independent Inquiry into the EPA.

“By addressing smaller problems, we can stop them becoming bigger problems,” he said.

“Protecting Victoria’s environmental and public health is everyone’s responsibility.

“We’re committed to empowering Victorians to become environmental leaders, in their homes, communities and businesses, and the OPLE project is a key part of that.”

Nominations open for VTA’s Freight Industry Awards 2018

Nominations are now open for the Waste and Recycling Award as part of the Victorian Transport Association’s (VTA) Freight Industry Awards 2018.

The Awards recognise achievements across a range of categories, with the winners to be announces on the evening of the event.

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Seven awards are available, which include the Waste and recycling Award, Investment in People Award, Best Practice Safety Award, Application of Technology Award, Female Leadership in Transport, Young Achiever of the Year Award and the Personality of the Year Award.

Tickets to the event cost $300 (excluding GST), with a table of 10 costing $2800 (excluding GST).

Victorian Waste Management Association Executive Officer Mark Smith said the awards recognise the essential and great work of the sector.

“This award acknowledges the close relationship between the VTA and the VWMA and recognises implementation of a policy or program and / or technology innovation that improves sustainability,” Mr Smith said.

The event will be held on 1 September at the Palladium Ballroom at Crown in Melbourne.

The deadline for entries is Friday 17 August.

For more information and to book tickets, click here.

EPA VIC consider application for $12M waste to energy facility

Resource Resolution Pty Ltd has applied to establish a $12 million commercial food waste processing facility which has the capability of producing biogas for energy.

The proposed facility would process 30,000 tonnes of liquid food waste a year and produce 2.4 megawatts of power.

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Resource Resolution also aims to recover organic matter for use as animal feed or to generate renewable energy with an anaerobic digestion facility.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria received the works approval for the site, planned to be located at 19 Winter Road, Girgarre.

Resource Resolution has proposed to use the Biogass Renewables AD system, which is currently used in Perth, WA. It is estimated that the bioenergy operation will process 23,382 tonnes of dairy, 3,475 tonnes of food products, 2,421 tonnes of fruit and vegetables and 722 tonnes of supermarket and grocery waste.

EPA Victoria’s assessment of the application will consider best practice technology, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions and waste composition. It will also assess any potential risk to human health and the environment, including from emissions to air, noise, disposal of digestate, the waste water treatment system and operation contingencies.

An application for an amendment to the current planning permit is currently under assessment by Campaspe Shire Council.

Works approvals are required for industrial and waste management activities that have the potential for significant environmental impact.

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