City of Parramatta paving the way to a sustainable future

The City of Parramatta Council is trialling two innovative sustainable road solutions aimed at reducing waste materials and combatting heat. An asphalt product incorporating recycled soft plastics from plastic bags and packaging, waste glass and waste toner from used printer cartridges Reconophalt, will be used in the first trial in Epping and Ermington.

City of Parramatta, Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer acknowledged the growing problem that single-use plastics and other materials pose to the environment.

“Finding new ways to recycle and reuse materials means we can reduce the amount of waste that ultimately enters landfill,” he said. “By taking tonnes of plastic and glass from local recycling plants and using it to create roads, we are able to turn trash into treasured infrastructure.”

According to the manufacturer of Reconophalt, Downer, the equivalent of approximately 500,000 plastic bags, 165,000 glass bottles, and 12,500 toner cartridges is diverted from landfill for every 1km of a two-lane road.

Partial DPIE funding 

This project has been partially funded through the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s ‘Waste Less, Recycle More’ initiative, which has been funded by the waste levy.

The second trial, which is being conducted in partnership with Blacktown and Campbelltown councils and Western Sydney University, will examine how lighter coloured roads can help reduce the amount of heat being absorbed and retained by roads on hot days. Renoir Street, Old Toongabbie; Roslyn Avenue, Northmead; Corry Court and carpark, North Parramatta; and part of Binalong Park car park, Old Toongabbie are among the first roads in NSW to be coated with a new ‘cool’ seal coat, GuardTop CoolSeal, a light grey coloured coating, which can be 5-14ºC cooler than regular dark asphalt on a hot day. It is applied to asphalt surfaces to protect and maintain the quality and longevity of the surface.

Researchers from Western Sydney University will collect and analyse data taken from the trial sites, before determining the product’s overall impact in reducing heat.

“As Western Sydney can be several degrees hotter than suburbs in the east, it is crucial we explore ways we can keep our streets cooler – especially in the summer,” Dwyer said.

“Parramatta is going through an incredible period of growth and transformation, and Council is dedicated to building a sustainable and innovative City that will meet the needs of our community well into the future. These road projects are just two examples of how we are achieving this,” he added.

EPA stays fixed on regulation despite challenges

The NSW EPA has assured the waste and environment industries that it will continue to fulfil its responsibilities as the state’s primary environmental regulator while maintaining the health and safety of staff, communities, industry and other partners.

In reference to the evolving situation with COVID-19, the agency explained in a statement that this includes working to minimise any disruptions to its regulatory activities, offering the industry guidance if required, and asking for cooperation from industry and partners.

“Please be assured that the EPA will continue to be guided by the latest advice from NSW and Commonwealth health authorities and will consider the impact of that advice in the delivery of our regulatory functions,” the EPA said.

Business continuity plan

The EPA said that it has a business continuity plan in place which is being reviewed regularly in light of the most up-to-date advice, to enable us to meet our regulatory responsibilities. That includes planning to allow staff to work remotely where appropriate so that we maintain our compliance, enforcement and pollution response activities as best we can to prevent environmental and community harm.

That means that compliance with licence conditions and issue clean-up notices and prevention notices where necessary will continue to be required.

However, the EPA may consider requests for exemptions on a case-by-case basis in accordance with the provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997.

“As we continue to closely monitor the situation, we are providing on-going, up-to-date and appropriate communication with our employees, regulatory partners and government,” the statement said.

Expectations from the regulated community

As the country face the current unprecedented situation together, the NSW EPA has strongly recommended the implementation of a business continuity plan, if one is not already in place.

“That plan should take into account the updated advice being provided by NSW and Commonwealth health officials, including any sector-specific advice. Now is also the right time to check you have everything in place to enact your pollution incident response management plan,” it explained.

The EPA has asked all licensees to assist in managing risks during this period notifying it by email to info@epa.nsw.gov.au:

  1. If you anticipate any significant risk to your ability to comply with your licence or licences under which you operate.
  2. If you need advice on business continuity preparedness for your operations.

The EPA stressed that this is not a legal obligation but, rather a request to assist the EPA and the NSW Government in managing the current situation in the public interest.

It explained that a business continuity plan would help meet responsibilities for any environmental impacts from activities because as licence conditions and other regulatory responsibilities remain in place, associated obligations will also remain in place.

These include the priority responsibilities of maintaining and operating pollution control equipment, and storing, transporting and disposing of waste appropriately. The EPA said that it expected licensees in the waste industry to continue to maintain good communications with clients and the EPA, particularly around any predicted service disruptions. Licensees must continue to notify the NSW EPA of pollution incidents and other regulatory or compliance issues.

Grease trap industry challenged by shuttering economy

The grease trap collection industry is expected to continue to be negatively impacted by the general downturn in tourism and fewer people at events, stadiums and in public places. The directive for all restaurants, cafes, pubs and clubs to only serve take-away food is now expected to exacerbate its financial viability.

Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW executive director Tony Khoury told Inside Waste that this will lead to a decline in grease trap servicing as a result of lower food sales, and less grease being generated.

He said it was unlikely that these hospitality venues would plan ahead and contact Sydney Water to cancel or request some form of change to their grease trap collection service.

Khoury outlined a series of issues that he anticipated that his members would face:

These included:

  • Declines in grease trap waste volumes
  • Grease trap scheduling that would not decrease in Wastesafe and the transporter would still service the trap
  • Once the owners received a tax invoice, the charge would be disputed if their trade had reduced or the business had temporarily shut-down
  • In these situations, the transporter would be exposed to a possible bad debt

“As Sydney Water controls the scheduling of these collections, we have requested their urgent consideration to assist us to minimise the impact on our industry.

“The Association calls on Sydney Water to at least guarantee that they will reimburse licensed waste transporters for any bad debts that are incurred.”

 

 

 

 

 

NSW EPA re-assures industry that it will raise engagement

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has appointed Nancy Chang to head up the new EPA Regulatory Practice and Advice section within the organisation. She previously held the position of director regulatory strategy and performance within the NSW Department of Education.

In her role as EPA executive director regulatory practice, Chung said that she is focused on translating the NSW government’s 20-year waste strategy into operational themes. She addressed members of the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association (WCRA) attending a breakfast briefing in Sydney this week, aimed at reviewing key issues facing the industry.

After listening to a series of updates from Anne Prince, APC Consulting; David Clancy, Cleanaway; Brent Lawson, Concrete Recyclers; and Ros Dent, Bingo, who all called for a stronger and functional relationship with the EPA, Chung acknowledged that they had been heard.

“I have a clear remit to re-invigorate industry engagement,” she said.

This was underlined by NSW EPA chair, Carolyn Walsh who said that the EPA will organise to meet with the industry before the deadline for submissions on the 20-year waste strategy on May 8.

WCRA executive director, Tony Khoury welcomed the prospect of stronger engagement with the EPA following his opening statement at the breakfast.

“Businesses are looking for answers, I have never seen our industry so confused about its future,” he said.

Inside  Waste will be following up with the EPA’s plans regarding industry engagement and the 20-year waste plan.

Caption: Attending the WCRA breakfast briefing were l-r:  Harry Wilson (WCRA president) Anne Prince (APC Consulting) Tony Khoury (WCRA executive director) and Carolyn Walsh (NSW EPA chair).

$24m push to councils to stem organics in landfill

Local councils along with the alternative waste industry, will receive $24 million from the NSW government to support improved kerbside separation of food and garden waste and encourage other better uses of waste.

According to NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, the funding will help local councils and industry adopt and improve sustainable management of organic waste while the government undertakes consultation. He said that the initiative would help reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions from landfills, is financially viable and will create a beneficial product that helps improve soil health.

“We know from the $105 million investment currently provided under the Waste Less Recycle More initiative that recycling food and garden waste through a dedicated kerbside bin works,” Kean said.

“Already more than 40 councils across NSW have food and garden kerbside collections with good results. To help make this change, we’re investing $24 million to support local councils and industry operators which were putting organic waste in red bins to produce mixed waste organic outputs, Kean said.

The $24million investment includes:

  • $6.26 million Research and Development grant – available for alternative waste treatment operators to develop new products, purchase new equipment, undertake infrastructure and technology upgrades and develop new end markets for waste-derived products.
  • $5 million Local Council Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) grant – to support councils previously producing mixed waste organic outputs to plan for or improve FOGO collections through community education.
  • $12.5 million Local Council FOGO Infrastructure grant – to support councils previously producing MWOO to implement kerbside organic collection bins.
  • $240,000 The Greenlight Organics research package – to strengthen the evidence base and create momentum for kerbside source separation of organics.

According to an EPA spokesperson, along with the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, the EPA will also undertake research into organics to improve investor confidence in collection and processing.

The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) is working to have grant documentation available soon, with grants due to open by mid-2020.

Funding may be continued

If the funding is not exhausted in the initial rounds funding may be continued, depending on demand. This is an interim boost while the 20-year Waste Strategy is under development which will bring industry, councils and the community together to find the best, long-term solutions for waste management and resource recovery in NSW.

The spokesperson added that, the NSW Government will provide stimulus funding to support local councils and the alternative waste industry with improving kerbside separation of food and garden waste and other better uses of waste.

“Organic waste can be a valuable resource and we want to make the best use of it. We also want to encourage innovative solutions to waste management,” he said.

Inside Waste spoke with Morne Hattingh, Tamworth Regional Council manager, waste and resource recovery who acknowledged the high associated costs of improving kerbside separation of food and garden waste and encouraging other better uses of waste.

“There are also many aspects involved in creating a circular economy where good quality resource recovered products move from kerbside collection to the open market. The recent funding announcement by the NSW government will assist Tamworth Regional Council in improving the separation of food and garden waste within our Local Government Area. Whilst this a welcome first step in the right direction further funding will be necessary to materialise the circular economy,” Hattingh explained.

She added that the council will utilise the funding provided by the government to off-set the cost of implementing basic auditing systems and communication campaigns that will help educate residents on the importance of separating waste.

“Source separation is the first intervention point in the recycling system. Focusing on effective waste separation is imperative as it has a knock on effect that, if done well, can positively influence consumer behaviour.”

NSW signals imminent plastic bag ban

Two weeks after the Victorian government released a comprehensive resource recovery strategy and a week after Australia’s first Plastics Summit, the NSW Government has called on the state community to contribute to its plan to tackle single-use plastics, reduce waste and pollution and increase recycling across the State.

The government has released two papers which include a Plastics Plan aimed at managing plastic waste and pollution in the state, and an issues paper that will shape the 20-year waste strategy.

NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian said that the community had high expectations and the government needed to ensure it created the best plans for the future.

“We know that we need to do a better job of dealing with our waste and delivering sustainable solutions. The NSW Plastics Plan and 20 Year Waste Strategy will be key to ensuring that NSW is a leader when it comes to reducing waste, maximising recycling and protecting our environment,” Berejiklian said.

“We also want to make sure any businesses potentially affected by phase-outs have enough time to adjust and source sustainable alternatives.”

Clear pathway

The NSW Plastics Plan discussion paper Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastic in NSW, outlines a clear pathway to reduce single-use, unnecessary and problematic plastics in NSW and help build its circular economy. Feedback can be made on the discussion paper until Friday, May 8.

NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean explained that the Plastics Plan set the stage for the phase-out of priority single-use plastics, tripling the proportion of plastic recycled by 2030 and reducing plastic litter by a quarter.

“Lightweight plastic bags are proposed to be phased out six months from the passage of legislation with other timelines to be determined after feedback from the public consultation process.”

Meanwhile, the waste strategy canvasses options to reduce waste and increase recycling, outlines the opportunities and strategic direction for future waste and recycling infrastructure, and for growing sustainable end markets for recycled materials.

Government delay

NSW Labor shadow minister for environment and heritage, Kate Washington pointed to the state government’s delay in addressing the state plastics crisis with its decision to block a Labor bill to ban single use plastic bags in October 2019.

“This came despite broad support for action within the government and state parliament,” Washington said. She also voiced concern that this consultation would continue a cycle of inaction by the government.

However, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO, Gayle Sloan said that the NSW Plastics Plan and 20 Year Waste Strategy were encouraging and would  assist with getting the industry back on track in the state.

“Australia absolutely needs to transition away from the current take, make and dispose approach and recognise that valuable natural resources must be designed and used in such a way to manage out waste, and ensure the ability to re-use, repair and recycle. Unless this transition occurs, industry agrees with the government’s sentiment that we will never be able to achieve the targets set, or sadly, create the environment in which we want to live in,” Sloan said.

“Plastics remain at the forefront of the community’s mind and it is encouraging that NSW is looking to align with other jurisdictions to design out unnecessary single–use items. It also appears that NSW is prepared to go further, with mandated recycled content of 30% by 2025 and emphasis on designing out waste and making producers take greater responsibility for collecting and recycling in NSW, including the possible use of more extended producer responsibility schemes. These are all positive policies that may result in less reliance on councils and householders to meet the costs of these schemes,” she added.

Industry remains under pressure

Sloan also acknowledged that the papers’ discussions and plans for market development and infrastructure, were both important, particularly as NSW’s waste and resource recovery industry remained under immense pressure.

Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) executive director Tony Khoury told InsideWaste that the NSW waste and recycling industry was currently facing many challenges, including increased regulations leading to complexity and higher compliance costs, increasing insurance premiums, tightening end-product specifications, with decreasing end markets, loss of kerbside materials to CDS, decreasing revenues for commodities and compliance costs for C&D recycled products.

He added that there was also no agreed procedure for dealing with a small piece of asbestos in C&D recycling and that fires, fatalities and accidents had led to the formation of a WCRA WHS Group.

Key issues

Khoury was clear in describing these detailed requisites that the industry needed from its regulators:

  • a level commercial playing field
  • regulations that provide certainty
  • consultation and acknowledgment of the content of discussions
  • a regulatory environment that allows waste and recyclables to be managed in a safe, sustainable & environmentally sound manner
  • regulations, laws and proper practices to be enforced by all bodies
  • funding

“It is our hope that the much-anticipated NSW Government’s 20-year waste strategy addresses these key issues,” he said.

 

 

 

LGNSW says state government must increase recycling investment

The NSW government has been warned by Local Government NSW (LGNSW) that it must act soon on the state’s recycling problem, if kerbside recycling options are to be maintained and improved and the amount of waste going to landfill driven down.

LGNSW, with the support of NSW councils, has called on the NSW Government to Save Our Recycling by reinvesting the Waste Levy to:

  • allow councils to develop regional waste plans and deliver priority infrastructure
  • increase procurement of recycled goods made with domestic content
  • deliver statewide education campaigns to promote waste avoidance and recycling
  • introduce producer responsibility schemes for problematic materials.

LGNSW president Cr Linda Scott said this four-point plan was also designed to ensure recycling that would have previously been shipped offshore could be dealt with at home, creating jobs and boosting local economies.

She said Victoria had demonstrated the value of increased investment into recycling and the domestic recycling market, by its $96.5 million package this week to help support its state’s waste industry.

“Local governments are working together for a more sustainable future, but we cannot do this alone,” Scott said.

“Local Government NSW, alongside councils across the state, have been advocating for the NSW Government to reinvest the NSW Waste Levy in recycling for over a year.

“Councils are still waiting on the long-promised state waste strategy, meanwhile NSW is generating more waste than ever; household recycling and waste diversion rates are stagnating; and existing regulation and procurement policies continue to stymy innovation and the development of new recycled products and markets.

“With export bans on waste material quickly approaching and stockpiles of recycled resources growing in NSW, it is critical for more effort to be made to support the recycling industry to improve waste management practices and boost markets for recyclable materials. It’s time the state also mandated the procurement of recycled goods and services, boosting its spend on recycled materials for public projects,” Cr Scott said.

“Councils know waste is a product, not a problem, and we call on the NSW State Government to deliver the changes needed to ensure this becomes a reality in NSW,” she added.

 

Sydney household waste trends revealed in waste audit

The Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (SSROC) with 11 members councils representing 1.7 million residents holds the most comprehensive longitudinal data set of household consumption and waste disposal behaviour in Australia. The region is characterised by cultural and socio-economic diversity from the inner-city terraces to the leafy suburbs of Sutherland.
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