Why coffee cups are a recycling nightmare

Over one billion disposable coffee cups are used by Australians every year. They fill up our bins, overflow into the streets and parkways, and blow into our waterways and beaches. They also create great recycling confusion. They are primarily made from paper, right? So why can’t they go in the recycling bin?  The circular economy …

Game changer in soft plastics stakes

Australian Paper Recovery (APR Plastics) is tackling the soft plastic issue at its Kerbside Material Recovery Facility. The company’s Soft Plastics to Oil initiative aims to provide a solution to help tackle Australia’s soft plastic pollution problem. 

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Net zero targets and landfill methane emissions

There have been a few pieces in Inside Waste in the last year, which continue the rent seeking tradition of the alternatives to landfill in Australia. Mike Ritchie’s critique on the basis of carbon storage is typical. Of course, landfill remains as the only waste disposal option that actually stores carbon, but what about the …

ABS Civil fined by Vic EPA over ‘mess’

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) has fined skip bin business ABS Civil more than $5,000 for stockpiling industrial waste at Lovely Banks, on the outskirts of Geelong.

The company had built up a pile of broken concrete, plasterboard, wooden pallets, plastic, bricks, rock and soil when members of the public reported the mess to EPA in November 2021.

EPA Southwest Regional Manager Carolyn Francis says the company, ABS Civil, was given every opportunity to clean up the mess and avoid a fine.

“We found the company was receiving, sorting and storing industrial waste at the property on Lovely Banks Road, Lovely Banks, without the appropriate EPA permissions,” Francis said.

“Operators can’t just make it up as they go along or pretend they don’t have a responsibility to the environment and the community. They must comply with the Environment Protection Act 2017, plus any EPA permission conditions specific to that activity and that site,” she said.

EPA officers issued an Environmental Action Notice requiring the company to cease operations and remove all industrial waste from the site. They later allowed an extension in recognition of the impacts of the pandemic, but an inspection in May 2022 confirmed there was still a stockpile of waste.

The company was fined $5,452 for failing to comply with the official notice. This will be over and above any cost to remove the remaining material.

“It might seem easier and cheaper to avoid complying with Victoria’s environmental law, but discarded waste like this is pollution and any Victorian can report it to EPA,” Francis said.

“The hotline is available 24 hours a day and most of our investigations start with either an EPA inspection or a call from the public,” Ms Francis said.

The Environment Protection Act took effect almost a year ago and introduced a General Environmental Duty that requires any business or person to take reasonable actions to reduce the risk of harm from their activities to human health and the environment, from pollution or waste.

Clothing obsession causing mayhem at landfills

The global symbol of recycling – the iconic Mobius Loop – was created in 1970 and it’s everywhere worldwide. When we see that symbol, the vast majority of us envision paper, plastic or glass being recycled. But, what about clothing and textiles? The Australian textile industry in 2018 generated close to one million tonnes of waste. That year, it also had the second lowest waste recovery rate in Australia. This resulted in 77 per cent of textiles ending up in landfill. This begs the question, “Why aren’t we putting out our council controlled ‘clothing recycle bins’ every Thursday evening?”

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