claire moffat

Victoria’s Buy Recycled tool prompts buyers to consider options

Sustainability Victoria has launched its new online directory, Buy Recycled, which features local Victorian products containing recycled content.

The tool is designed to provide government buyers with easy access to suppliers and recycled material options when considering products for purchasing and infrastructure projects.

Products listed in the directory include:

  • fencing
  • furniture
  • pavement
  • piping and irrigation
  • playgrounds
  • road base

According to Sustainability Victoria, it’s increasingly important for government to consider the environmental impact of purchasing and infrastructure activities. Buy Recycled aims to provide buyers with options to achieve positive environmental outcomes and support organisational sustainability goals.

The Victorian Government’s Social Procurement Framework requires government buyers to consider opportunities to deliver social and sustainable outcomes in every procurement activity. Where appropriate, this includes sustainable material choices and buying products made from recycled content.

This directory is designed to state and local governments to consider environmental sustainability principles when making decisions about purchasing goods for public construction and infrastructure.

 

Victoria gets on with the weeding despite COVID

A small army of Victorians will clean up litter, remove weeds and help make local rivers and creeks more beautiful as part of the Victorian Government’s plan to keep Victorians working through the coronavirus pandemic.

Over 110 people will take on roles cleaning and protecting Melbourne’s suburban waterways through the Government’s $500 million Working for Victoria fund.

Victorian Minister for Water Lisa Neville said that the fund will create employment for people who have lost their jobs due to the impacts of coronavirus, while delivering valuable community services. The program has placed almost 7,000 workers since its launch in April.

More than 90 employees will remove rubbish, undertake invasive weed management and improve vegetation along the Yarra, Maribyrnong and Werribee rivers, as well as throughout the Dandenong and Bayside region.

The improvement works will be delivered in collaboration with the Yarra River Keeper Association, along with community groups and local councils along urban waterways.

A recent series of litter clean-up ‘blitz’ events along the Yarra and Maribyrnong rivers saw almost 40 tonnes of rubbish cleaned out, improving the health of the waterways and making them more enjoyable for Victorians getting out for essential exercise during coronavirus restrictions.

In addition, more than 20 new employees will work in administration roles for Melbourne Water, supporting the waterway health blitz and other important projects in the greater Melbourne catchment area.

The initiative builds on the $48 million for shovel ready water projects announced recently under the Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works program. These projects will modernise irrigation, secure water supplies through recycling and stormwater use and assist with bushfire recovery.

People looking for work and businesses searching for staff can register with Working for Victoria at vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria.

How Amsterdam is future proofing its waste management

An Automatic Waste Collection System (AWCS) is being installed in a residential area in Sluisbuurt, Amsterdam using energy efficient  technology with non-corrosive pipe networks.

MariMatic which developed the MetroTaifun technology was chosen by tender to deliver the new system to Sluisbuurt, a new neighbourhood comprising 5500 new homes and includes schools, shops and offices. In addition to the automatic waste collection system AWCS system, the area will be equipped with other kind of sustainable technologies, such as district heating from renewable energy.

Waste is collected and transported directly from the buildings through an underground pipe network by using vacuum conveying to a waste transfer terminal, eliminating noisy and polluting traditional waste trucks from the area.

Four different waste fractions are collected to separate containers located in the waste transfer terminal. The containers will then later on be picked up for further distribution to recycling centres.

The waste transfer terminal, which is part of the scope of the contract, called The Diamond, will be located in the park. The building is designed with high sustainability in mind, including solar panels, rainwater collection and even a charging point for the service cars. Part of the walls will be glass, giving the public possibility to view the pneumatic collection in action.

The public tender in Amsterdam was focused on technology, reliability, performance, quality, and a technical life cycle of 60 years.

300 mm diameter ‘composite piping’, is being used instead of the commonly used 500 mm carbon steel piping systems. Due to absence of corrosion, longer life cycle of the systems is achieved. Interruptions of possible blockages are minimized, as the waste easier fills up the pipe, giving higher vacuum force for conveying.

Development of MariMatic’s formator technology also enables the use of larger waste bags (150 litre) in 300 mm size piping while the company’s Ring-Line configuration allows change of air flow direction, to facilitate removal of possible blockages.

Study says policy makers need to make proper disposal of compostable cups easier

People are more likely to use re-usable coffee cups if they see others doing it, or if cafe owners charge extra for throwaway coffee cups, new research has found.

A study badged Coffee On The Run: Cultural and Institutional Factors in Waste Behaviours, by a group of Australian academics, has found people would be more likely to properly dispose of compostable cups if councils provided dedicated organic waste bins. Alternatively, councils could provide facilities allowing people to rinse compostable cups before putting them in a recycling bin

The need to find ways to encourage Australians to quit throwaway coffee cups has never been more urgent. The COVID-19 pandemic has reportedly driven a surge in throwaway cup use as many cafes refused reusable cups at the height of the pandemic.

In places where reusable cups are allowed, however, coffee drinkers, cafe owners and local governments can use insights from behavioural science to discourage use of throwaway cups.

Why imitation works…

The study interviewed consumers, café owners and policy makers in South Australia, and observed customer behaviour in cafes for around 50 hours. One finding became very clear: people mimic each other. Customers consistently told researchers that watching their colleagues bring in their reusable coffee cups (such as a KeepCup) made them change their habits. As one coffee drinker told us:

It appears that, as more consumers start using reusable coffee cups, the practice becomes ever more socially acceptable.

According to a customer, “At first, I would not walk across the road from work holding a cup coming here [to the cafe]. I’d just feel scabby. Because I would have been the minority. It probably was a bit less socially acceptable, but it’s probably more socially acceptable now because when I’m there I do see people walk in with their cups.”

…and discounts don’t

Although many cafe owners offer discounts to customers who bring in their own reusable cups, the findings reveal these are ineffective in changing consumer behaviour.

A cafe owner told researchers described how, despite providing a 20c discount for reusable cups, she didn’t think saving money motivated her customers.

“The regulars were people who’d happily drop in a dollar tip into the jar kept on the counter. They were therefore not that concerned about 20c discount,” she said.

Behavioural psychological literature reports that consumers are more likely to be what’s called ‘loss averse’ as opposed to ‘gain seekers’. In other words, people hate paying extra for takeaway coffee cups more than they like getting a discount for bringing their reusable cups.

Councils need to pivot

Customers often feel uncertain about how and where to dispose them. A council officer told researchers, “In the case of compostable cups, it is not solely a matter of ensuring that the cups end up in any bin, they must end up in the correct bin […] in order for compostable cups to be recycled, they must be placed in a bin dedicated to organic waste or, alternatively, rinsed and placed in a recycling bin.”

However, most cities don’t have enough organic bins or facilities to allow people to rinse compostable cups before putting them in recycling bins. Councils and city governments can address this by introducing organic waste bins as a part of the street waste infrastructure to reduce the number of compostable cups ending up in landfill.