Staff Writer

Rottnest Island community switches to biodegradable paper straws

The Rottnest Island Authority, in consultation with island businesses and the community, has started phasing out plastic straws, with only biodegradable paper straws available upon request from May 1, 2019.

The ban on plastic straws comes at the back of the state government’s continued environmental and waste control initiatives such as the single-use plastic bag ban and biodegradable fishing bait boxes, according to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

The policy builds on the authority’s conservation and sustainability initiatives, including renewable energy, waste management and Plastic Free July.

The new plastic straw free initiative has been designed to see a 50 per cent reduction in plastic straw use immediately.

“Most plastic takes years to degrade, in some cases centuries. We want to do more to stop plastic ending up on Western Australia’s beautiful beaches and in our oceans.

“Taking plastic straws out of the litter stream is a significant step towards protecting our environment and A-Class reserves such as Rottnest,” Dawson said.

Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said visitor experience and accessibility are fundamental to Rottnest, so the island continues to look for ways to improve sustainability without impacting experience.

“Local businesses supporting the initiative have pledged to serve biodegradable paper or reusable straws, such as metal and silicone, to ensure there are accessible options for visitors.

“Rottnest is a certified eco-tourism destination and we need to ensure it will be enjoyed for generations to come,” said Papalia.



Environment Protection Authority cleans up “dangerous” waste stockpile

The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria is cleaning up a waste stockpile at Lara after it reported the previous operator let the recycling waste grow to “dangerous levels”.

The move will ensure that fire prevention can continue in the short term, ahead of a full clean up, according to the authority.

In a statement, the EPA said poor site management practices by the previous operator have resulted in an unacceptable risk to the local community, the environment and emergency services in the event of a fire at the site.

The previous occupier and owner of the site, C&D Recycling, have gone into liquidation and the funding available to the liquidators to maintain security and fire prevention measures on site has ended, which is why the EPA is stepping in to make sure community safety is maintained.

The Victorian government has provided initial funding of $30 million to maintain fire prevention measures and clean up the site – a job that could take several years as the site contains an estimated 320,000m3 of mostly construction and demolition waste, including materials such as timber, concrete, bricks, plaster, glass and ceramics.

The EPA has stated it will rigorously pursue the previous site occupiers, owners, company directors and any other relevant parties to recover the costs of the fire prevention measures and clean up.

The City of Greater Geelong will project manage the works on behalf of EPA and the government.

Since August 2017, EPA has had additional powers to support Victoria’s fire services and issue remedial notices to facilities not properly managing potential fire risks. These powers will be strengthened further under the new Environment Protection Act which will come into effect on 1 July 2020.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the government is stepping in to reduce the risk to community and the environment.

Member for Lara, John Eren, said it is excellent news for the whole community to know that the EPA will now take control of the clean-up.

“It’s time to get on with fixing the problem once and for all,” said Eren.

Inside Waste has not received a response from C&D Recycling.

In 2018, C&D Recycling’s David McAuliffe told The Age that it “was not a dump-and-forget situation”.

“We are not 70 or 80 per cent plastic. It’s demolition material and demolition material only,” he told The Age.

WMRR national president Garth Lamb re-elected

Garth Lamb has been re-elected as the national president of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR).

All members were invited to submit nominations, which closed on April 5, 2019, with Lamb as the sole nominee.

In a statement, WMRR said it is pleased to announce that Lamb will continue as the national president, after two years in the role.

It will be his final two-year term, which commences on May 8 at the 2019 AGM in Sydney.

WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan said WMRR’s profile has grown over the years through the efforts of its members and the board.

“Garth has played a pivotal role in ensuring WMRR maintains positive and productive relationships with our stakeholders during an exceptionally challenging time for our essential industry,” said Sloan.

“Those who have met Garth will know that his tireless efforts and passion for our essential industry, and the work that he does as president of WMRR has played a part in cementing the association’s role as the national peak body for the waste management and resource recovery industry.

“We are pleased that he will be continuing on as national president for a second term, ensuring continuity and stability for WMRR as we continue to tackle the various challenges head-on and drive our sector forward,” she said.

In addition to Lamb’s reappointment at the AGM, the updated constitution will also be adopted, and the CEO will offer an overview of WMRR’s operations in 2018.

Financial WMRR members are invited to the AGM, either in person or via teleconference. The event is taking place at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

Registrations to the event can be made here.