Melting for the Yarra: Applied Machinery

With a recent report revealing polystyrene to be the most common waste material in Victoria’s Yarra River, Daniel Fisher of Applied Machinery outlines an efficient equipment solution.

Polystyrene, which can take centuries to degrade, is the most prevalent litter item in Melbourne’s Yarra River, according to a new state government report.

The plastic was found at 80 per cent of sites in the Yarra River catchment monitored in a Cleanwater Group and Yarra Riverkeepers study.

“Since 2018, polystyrene has consistently been found to be the highest littered item found on the river,” the report reads.

“Being both a light-weight and brittle material means that the ecological impacts of polystyrene, which can unfold gradually over time, can be widespread and devastating for the river and Port Phillip Bay.”

According to Expanded Polystyrene Australia, an estimated 71,000 tonnes of polystyrene is used annually, growing at a rate of five per cent each year.

Add to ubiquity the material’s notoriously difficult to recycle composition, and Australia’s natural environment has a problem.

While the situation may seem dire to some, according to Daniel Fisher of Applied Machinery, recycling solutions do exist.

First showcased in Australia at the 2019 Waste Expo Australia, Daniel says Applied’s new range of Greenmax EPS recycling machines represent a technological step forward for polystyrene recycling.

When it comes to polystyrene, Greenmax is an internationally renowned specialist. Committed to providing complete polystyrene recycling solutions, Greenmax’s densifiers have been sold in more than 70 countries across the world.

Greenmax Mars C200 hot melt machines operate via a hot melting system, with material initially crushed before heat is introduced. Following this, the liquified material is squeezed out of the machine, and once cooled, shaped into plastic ingots for resale.

“After the shredding, heating and extruding process is complete, the end product has a volume reduction ratio of up to 90:1. This has obvious storage and transport benefits, with a once difficult-to-manoeuvre product transformed into high-value, densified blocks ready for reprocessing,” Daniel says.

Greenmax Mars’ melters are suitable for all kinds of polystyrene material, Daniel says, with a competitive price point for a quality and reliable machine.

He adds that the machines can process most forms of foam plastic waste, including EPE, EPS and EPP.

Daniel explains that given polystyrene’s lightweight and low-density nature, it can be extremely difficult to transport it economically for recycling.

“With Greenmax’s relatively modest footprint, however, the machine is suitable for installation at smaller-scale, local operations,” he says.

The Greenmax series features screw melting technology that enables continuous outputs, with high-density ingot weights of up to 25 tonnes per 40-foot-high cube container load.

The machine enables three temperature control stages to keep output colour as white as possible, with easy operation and no additional adjustment required when in use.

Applied Machinery is proud to be an Australian sales and service partner for Greenmax Recycling, Daniel adds, with the added value of Greenmax’s parent company Intco Recycling’s buy-back offer.

“Intco Recycling can buy the densified polystyrene for their local manufacturing, which Applied can facilitate for local customers, creating a further efficiency and economic benefit,” he says.

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City of Melbourne installs floating waste bins

The City of Melbourne has installed floating waste bins to stop litter washing into the Yarra River at Docklands.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said five Seabins have been installed at Yarra’s Edge Marina, following a successful trial earlier this year.

“Unfortunately an estimated 1.4 billion pieces of rubbish flow into Port Phillip Bay from the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers each year,” Ms Capp said.

“Using Seabins we can collect up to 200 kilograms of rubbish a day. The Seabin units catch cigarette butts and plastic packaging, as well as oil, detergents and micro plastics that can’t be seen by the human eye.”

According to Ms Capp, Seabins work like a pool skimmer and collect litter using an underwater pump.

“The Seabins are emptied twice daily and data is sent to Seabin Foundation’s Pollution Index and Tangaroa Blue to help monitor the impact of debris along Australia’s coastline, as well as to inform City of Melbourne strategies for litter reduction,” Ms Capp said.

“These include street-cleaning, litter traps, water sensitive urban design and storm-water capture.”

The Victorian Government also manages 18 litter traps on the Yarra River, nine of which are located within the City of Melbourne.

City of Melbourne Environment Chair Cathy Oke said food wrappers, cigarette butts, polystyrene, plastic bottles and rubber have all been collected by the Seabins at Docklands.

“Water quality begins with people disposing of rubbish more carefully in our streets and suburbs. The Seabins need to be seen as the last line of defence before waste enters the bay,” Ms Oke said.

“We’re urging Melburnians to recycle as much as possible, say no to single-use plastic and always dispose of rubbish mindfully.”

Seabin Project Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder Pete Ceglinski said the ‘smart bins’ have collected an estimated 1,000,000 kilograms of plastic in the last 12 months, from locations in 52 countries.

“The deployment of the Seabin fleet with City Of Melbourne is a critical first step in obtaining our objective of working with local, state and federal governments globally,” he said.

“Our ethos is simple, if we have rubbish bins on land, why not in the water?”

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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.