Melbourne City waste forum’s top 10 ideas

Around 80 retail and hospitality businesses have gathered for the City of Melbourne’s first waste forum, which looked at ways to assist medium sized businesses could reduce waste.

The forum resulted in more than 200 practical ideas and concepts which will be compiled and reviewed by the City of Melbourne as part of the council’s ongoing programs to assist small and medium businesses in the city.

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The top 10 ideas for waste reduction were identified in the forum and included installing more recycling bins across the city, installing additional organics recycling facilities and providing incentives for businesses to reduce their waste.

Additional ideas for businesses to reduce waste included the introduction of grants or loans and education to improve waste management.

Collaboration between businesses and waste collectors was also identified as a way of improving recycling.

Other ideas identified included the collection of unwanted office or shop fit out furniture for reuse and investigating a city-wide coffee/tea cup exchange system.

Participants included businesses involved in the council’s initial pilot program, which saw 27 businesses receive a $2000 grant to embark on waste reduction activities.

City of Melbourne Councillor Susan Riley recognised the need to look at ways to help small to medium sized retail and hospitality businesses to reduce waste.

“Reducing waste does so much more than just help to clean up the environment, it also can reduce costs, increase sales and even cut the number of garbage trucks on the city streets,” Cr Riley said.

“The level of insight and the number of opportunities for businesses to work together to reduce waste is inspiring.”

“Nothing is being ruled out, we’re open to all ideas and we want retailers and businesses to share their thoughts as we plan for a rapidly growing city.”

Image Credit: City of Melbourne

New mercury treatment plant to eliminate contaminated exports

One of the largest mercury treatment facilities in the southern hemisphere has opened and will eliminate the need to export mercury-contaminated waste from Australia.

Located in Karratha, Western Australia, the Contract Resources’ Gap Ridge Processing Facility is capable of handling all mercury contaminated waste produced by Australia’s oil and gas sector into the foreseeable future.

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It also fulfils the Australia’s obligations under the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between countries.

Contract Resources Chief Executive Adam Machon said the facility sets the international benchmark for best-practice in safe and efficient mercury waste management and recycling of all elements for alternate use. He says it helps avoid the need for mercury contaminated landfill or further processing, as required by other technologies.

“Through combining the world’s best practice processing technologies and Contract Resources’ 30 years of industry experience, the facility has set a new benchmark globally for the safe treatment, recycling and processing of domestic and export-destined mercury contaminated waste from the oil and gas sector,” Mr Machon said.

“The export of mercury contaminated waste has always and continues to concern us, due to the risks of the combination of road, rail and shipping transport, loss of the custody chain and recent high-profile cases of mercury waste being dumped illegally overseas,” he said.

Mr Machon said the opening of the facility demonstrates Contract Resources’ commitment to developing innovative, safe and environmentally complaint, mercury waste management solutions to ensure the safe treatment and recycling of mercury related waste.

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility.

REMONDIS and Lake Macquarie open new organics processing facility

REMONDIS Australia and Lake Macquarie City Council have opened a new organics processing facility at the Awaba Waste Management Facility in late July.

It is part of the council’s new three-bin waste management system, which aims to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill by as much as one third by recycling food refuse.

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Food and green waste will be recycled at the new facility and turned into compost products for reuse on parks, grounds and sporting fields.

The facility has a unique hybrid model of ‘in-vessel’ and ‘mobile aerated floor’ systems and includes a fully automated tunnel composting system to pasteurise food waste in two weeks

With a mobile aerated floor finishing. It also includes an automatic, cashless weighbridge system that gives users access to the facility with the swipe of a card.

REMONDIS CEO Luke Agati said the company is proud to be investing in Lake Macquarie and the Australian resource recovery sector.

“REMONDIS has been composting garden waste at Awaba for Lake Macquarie City Council since 2013, and this new facility will enable us to also convert food waste into a valuable resource,” Mr Agati said.

“The facility will convert up to 44,000 tonnes per year of organic waste into compost and soil amendment products.

“REMONDIS applauds forward-thinking local government organisations such as Lake Macquarie City Council for their dedication to building the vital recycling infrastructure that will create job opportunities, strengthen the Australian economy and reduce our environmental footprint.”

Lake Macquarie Mayor Kay Fraser said the Organics Resource Recovery Facility would see the City take a leading role in recycling and waste management.

“This is a significant step in our Waste Strategy and in our efforts to encourage people to think and act more responsibly about household waste disposal,” Cr Fraser said.

“By making it easy for residents to dispose of organic waste appropriately, we will encourage them to recycle and close the food consumption loop.

“About one third of household garbage bin contents is food waste, so this will divert significant amounts of organic material from landfill, extending the life of our Awaba Waste Management Facility and saving an estimated $4 million over 10 years in waste management costs.”

The project was supported by a grant of $2 million as part of the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycled More initiative, funded from the waste levy.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Scot MacDonald said the NSW Government was pleased to assist by contributing a $1.4 million grant to the facility and $0.6m for community engagement initiatives, from the EPA’s Waste Less Recycle More initiative.

“This facility will improve the availability of organic compost for local primary producers and reduce unnecessary wastage of high quality organic material. I congratulate Lake Macquarie City Council in securing investment from a business with the calibre of REMONDIS.”

More than 100 contracting firms were engaged to build the facility, which also features an education centre where schools and community groups can see the recycling process.

Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility Branch Manager Gunther Neumann said REMONDIS is proud of its environmental achievements in Lake Macquarie.

“Since 2013, REMONDIS has diverted more than 100,000 tonnes of garden organics from landfill in the region, saving more than $13 million in landfill levies for residents,” Mr Neumann said.

“With the opening of the Lake Macquarie Organics Resource Recovery Facility, REMONDIS looks forward to a new chapter in organics processing that will deliver additional landfill levy savings and create new market opportunities locally, reinforcing our role as a valued member of the local community.”

Image: Lake Macquarie City Council

Queensland Government establishes #odourbusters taskforce

The Queensland Government has established a taskforce to deal with nuisance odours in the Swanbank area.

The Odour Abatement Taskforce, also known as #odourbusters, will operate from a local base at Redbank Plains to crack down on offensive odours and other environmental concerns in the area for the next 12 months.

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Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the state government was investing 2.5 million in the program to respond to community concerns raised through an independent community survey this year.

“With the information received from 1435 local residents, we have moved swiftly to establish a taskforce of 10 specialist environmental officers,” Ms Enoch said.

“The team will be dedicated to investigating and responding to issues raised by the community.”

Ms Enoch said the community survey addressed waste management, air quality and water management issues within the Swanbank industrial area.

“Part of our response will be to introduce new technologies to monitor air, noise and water quality in Ipswich suburbs,” she said.

“In addition to on-the-ground investigations, the Odour Abatement Taskforce will intensively examine and review current industry regulation and practice.”

Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard said the Queensland Government will have a strong focus on and interaction with the Swanbank industrial area.

“In the past year, the Department of Environment and Science has received 302 reports of odour from 167 people alleging bad smells from landfill and waste recycling facilities in the Swanbank industrial area,” she said.

“Rest assured, we have some of the highest environmental standards in the world and Queensland has a strong record when it comes to compliance.”

Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden said the Palaszczuk Government ensured there was always strong compliance when it comes to waste management issues.

“Over the last financial year, the state’s environmental regulator carried out more than 7250 compliance checks state-wide to ensure our high environmental standards are met,” he said.

“Of these, 855 compliance checks were conducted in the Ipswich area.

For more information on the #odourbusters, click here.

Repurpose It named Westpac Top 20 business of tomorrow

Victorian recycling and resource recovery company Repurpose It has been named one of Westpac’s Businesses of Tomorrow for 2018.

The program showcases businesses that have shown adaptability, resilience, value to customers and a readiness to meet challenges of the future.

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Repurpose It was named one of the top 20 businesses and will receive a two-week study tour to Silicon Valley and a tailored $50,000 professional services package from their choice of select providers offering legal services, PR and communications, customer relationship management and management consulting.

Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis said the company is extremely proud to be recognised as one of this year’s top 20 Businesses of Tomorrow by Westpac.

“Selected from over 2000 applicants across multiple industries, we are honoured to represent the resource recovery sector and hope to demonstrate the innovative spirit that is strongly engrained across our industry as we convert waste to resource for future generations,” George says.

Repurpose It is in the process of installing Australia’s first construction and demolition waste washing plant, which will treat the residual waste from materials recovery facilities (MRFs) and process it back into materials suitable for civil construction. Based in Melbourne, Repurpose It will wash materials including rail ballast, glass, excavated materials and demolition waste fines.

The top 20 will also take part in a mentor matching program with notable Australian business leaders.

Westpac Business Bank Chief Executive and 2018 program judge David Lindberg said this year’s applicants demonstrated the scale of movement of the Australian economy into a digital world.

“The digital economy is predicted to be worth $139 billion by 2020 to the Australian economy – as a key driver of change in the future. This year’s businesses reflect the drive that’s disrupting and shaping the industries they operate in,” he said.

“Almost three quarters of the top twenty businesses are directly involved in technology or software development and this year also saw an increase in microbusiness applicants, including early stage tech businesses, which increased almost threefold from 2017.”

“This tells me leading Australian businesses are capitalising on the opportunities for growth. They’re breaking new markets, developing technology that helps people with autism gain employment, providing better analysis for solar energy users, using technology to make prescription glasses more durable and affordable and transforming waste into useful materials.”

Pictured: Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis.

McDonalds to phase out plastic straws by 2020

McDonalds to phase out plastic straws by 2020

McDonald’s Australia has announced it will phase out existing plastic straws from it 970 restaurants around the country by 2020.

It is currently working with local suppliers to find viable alternatives and will start a trial of paper straws in two restaurants from August.

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The move is part of the company’s global effort to identify sustainable alternatives to its current single-use plastic straws.

The trial will also help McDonald’s reach its goal of making its guest packaging from entirely renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025.

McDonald’s Australia Director of Supply Chain Robert Sexton said as one of the world’s largest restaurant businesses, the company has a responsibility and opportunity to make significant change.

“Together with the global business, we have been working for some time to find appropriate alternatives. We know plastic straws is a topic our customers are passionate about and we will find a viable solution,” he said.

Alongside the moves to eliminate plastic straws, McDonalds is also currently trialling cup recycling through a partnership with Simply Cups. The trial launched in April in eight restaurants and includes segmented dining room bins to separate liquids, plastics, paper cups and general waste.

“Beverage cups are a unique concern when it comes to recycling through normal paper recycling facilities due to the inner plastic lining,” Mr Sexton said.

“By separating the cups through designated bins, we can ensure cups are diverted to the right facility to recycle this material. Our trials will provide useful learnings that will help to determine next steps for potential wider restaurant implementation.”

National Sword could displace 111M tonnes of plastic waste by 2030

An estimated 111 million metric tonnes of plastic waste will be displaced by China’s National Sword policy by 2030 around the world, according to new research.

The Chinese import ban and its impact on global waste trade research paper published in the journal Science Advances reports that new global ideas are needed to reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials, including redesigning products and funding domestic plastic waste management.

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The report, authored by researchers at the University of Georgia, said China had imported 106 million tonnes of plastic waste since 1992, which makes up more than 45 per cent of total global plastic imports.

The National Sword Policy has implemented new restrictions on the contamination rate for imported waste, requiring a cleaner and more processed version of materials such as plastics, metals, paper, cardboard and textiles.

“The displaced plastic waste is equal to nearly half (47 per cent) of all plastic waste that has been imported globally since reporting began in 1988,” the report said.

“Only 9% of plastic waste has been recycled globally, with the overwhelming majority of global plastic waste being landfilled or ending up contaminating the environment (80 per cent).

“Plastic packaging and single-use items enter the waste stream immediately after use, contributing to a cumulative total of 6.3 billion MT of plastic waste generated worldwide.”

The report warns that if no adjustments are made in solid waste management, then much of the waste that would have been diverted from landfill by customers paying for a recycling service will be landfilled.

“Both the displaced plastic waste and future increases in plastic recycling must be addressed immediately. Initially, the countries exporting the most plastic waste can use this as an opportunity to develop and expand internal markets,” the report said.

“If domestic recycling of plastic waste is not possible, then this constraint reinforces the motivation to reduce use and redesign plastic packaging and products so that they retain their value and are more recyclable in domestic markets.”

SV release new tech guide

Sustainability Victoria has released a new guide that details the current and emerging technologies for resource recovery.

Sustainability Victoria Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said there is a need to find new and productive uses for waste as Victoria’s population grows.

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“With this Resource Recovery Technology Guide, we have analysed both current and emerging resource recovery technologies to support government and industry to make decisions about the most appropriate technology to suit their needs,” Mr Krpan said.

“In providing a summary of available technologies, their associated waste streams, regulatory requirements and potential costs, we want to make it easy to understand technologies that will help guide decisions to benefit the environment and the community,” he said.

The guide includes technologies found in traditional material recovery facilities, complex mixed facilities, mechanical and biological treatment, as well as energy from waste. And advanced fuels produced from waste.

“Some of these technologies have the potential to continue our move away from landfills, especially for residual waste which cannot be recycled and ends up in landfill. We know that resource recovery creates many new jobs and drives investment in regional communities,” Mr Krpan said.

“Victoria is thinking circular and we are committed to improving the way we manage our waste and generating value from our resources. This guide points us on the new directions and opportunities some of which are already being used and some which we may borrow that have been successful overseas,” he said.

Sustainability Victoria has also released a revised Guide to Biological Recovery of Organics to help readers understand the regulations, requirements and best practice methods for biological processing of organics.

“Organic wastes make up a large proportion of the waste generated in Victoria and the recovery of organics offers a significant opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts of landfill,” Mr Krpan said.

Mr Krpan said the revised guide helps local government, industry and community groups understand the biological recovery of organics. It discusses feedstocks, technologies, and the costs and planning involved.

“We have heard from local government that there is a great need for authoritative information and guidance on processing technologies and advanced resource recovery. We worked with industry experts to create really practical guides that we hope are used widely.”

Cans for recycling in a container deposit scheme

How many recyclables are affected by China waste ban?

Consultancy firm Blue Environment was asked by the Federal Government to analyse the amount of waste being sent to China before the ban on contaminants began.

China’s ban on waste with contaminants of more than 0.5 per cent have led to commodity price reductions, stockpiling and instability in the provision of recycling collection services, according to Blue Environment.

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The data showed that 1.25 million tonnes of waste was exported to China in 2016-17, with 920 thousand tonnes made up of paper and cardboard, 203 thousand tonnes of metal and 125 thousand tonnes of plastics.

Blue Environment also report that 99 per cent of waste from the 2016-17 period were affected by these new restrictions.

According to the data, China made up the majority of exported materials in plastics and paper and cardboards, making up 68 and 63 per cent of the total recyclable material exports.

Blue Environment said the data should be considered preliminary and may change with further consideration.

You can read the full data set here. 

Queensland Forum to discuss China waste ban

The Waste Recycling Industry Association of Queensland (WRIQ) is hosting the Queensland Secondary Resources Forum to address issues impacting kerbside recycling and international challenges.

The forum aims to discuss the Chinese Government’s decision to restrict the amount of waste being imported and how it effects Queensland domestic recycling capabilities.

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It also will attempt to highlight how Queensland can lead the nation in recycling rates to grow the sector locally and increase investment.

Keynote speakers and industry experts will be presenting at the forum and sharing insights and outcomes that outline how Queensland can deliver a new recycling business environment.

In particular, the presentations will address the impacts of the National Sword policy and how local recycling can be improved. Presenters of day one (afternoon) include speakers from the energy, metals and plastics industries as well as material recovery facility operators. Day two (morning) will focus on the state government policy updates and includes a workshop that will discuss and produce solutions and opportunities to deliver back to the Queensland Government for its policy consideration.

The event is supported by the Queensland Department of Environment and Science and the Bundaberg Regional Council.

The forum takes place on the 26-27 April and will be hosted in the Bundaberg Multiplex Centre, 1 Civic Street, Bundaberg West.

Tickets are $195 until 15 April and $220 standard (not including GST). Click here to register. 

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