Three's (good) company

Three’s (good) company

Garwood is a household name in the waste trucks space and many would have seen or used its range of side and rear loaders, including the Dual Pact and Miner. McHugh told Inside Waste the acquisition of these new sweeper brands made sense because it now allows Garwood to offer a full package of equipment, from rear and side load trucks to sweepers.

He added that Garwood has maintained a long and healthy history of collaboration with these brands over the years, pointing to its maintenance and servicing work undertaken for the Schwarze brands over the past two decades. As such, McHugh has always been confident that these companies could do business together. Read more

Are you ready for responsive collections?

Are you ready for responsive collections?

Rubbish bins featuring compactors and fill sensors, powered by solar panels, are on the cusp of widespread deployment across Australia. Densely populated or highly-trafficked councils are leading the way, with the beachside tourist hotspots of Bondi and the Gold Coast joining a spate of recent or ongoing trials.

It’s prompted a sudden boom in Australian smart and solar bin competitors, with players big and small rushing to provide at-source compacting, sensor and telecommunications technology, monitoring software, or a power source of some kind. The concept is well over a decade old, but the slow development of the local market has meant little appetite until recently. Read more

Beyond Plastic Pollution: populism, policy, opportunities discussed

Beyond Plastic Pollution: populism, policy, opportunities discussed

If the takeaway coffee cup sculpture or Globelet’s returnable lanyards and reusable cups weren’t enough to signal this was an environmental conference, the compost bin for food scraps sure did.

Speaking to attendees, the strength of the Boomerang Alliance’s three-day Beyond Plastic Pollution: Pathways to Cleaner Oceans conference was its ability to gather an incredibly diverse range of people working on the issue. NGOs, businesses, industry, community groups and government sectors all gathered, with many a business card changing hands and promising collaborations discussed.  Read more

Rising above the flames

Rising above the flames

In Coolaroo, 19km north of the Melbourne CBD, SKM’s site went up in flames for the third time this year in July, with the most recent fire covering an area about the size of a football field, blanketing much of the city in ash, and taking 11 days for firefighters to bring under control. Experts have put the damage to the plant at about $32 million.

In an attempt to manage these incidents, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio launched the audit, designed to identify other facilities with dangerous stockpiles of paper and plastic. The government has also increased the power of the state’s EPA, giving the regulator additional interim powers to manage facilities, while a new licencing regime will be introduced to create an additional layer of obligation. Read more

Keeping up with the current

Keeping up with the current

The EV’s market penetration may be a little bit behind – back in 2010, industry experts said some 10%-20% of the market would have turned electric by now but in reality, this is closer to 1% – but Manco Environmental is ready for the inevitable evolution, launching its 100% electric Tom Cat 8, EV10, 8m3 rear loading compactor.

The first units were deployed in September and Manco sales manager Ryan Black told Inside Waste that while the evolution of electric trucks will take some time given the sheer mass that needs to be dealt with, battery and control technology have come a long way to the point where they are now sufficient to allow a reasonable daily workload on one charge for waste trucks ranging in the five-tonne to 12-tonne medium gross vehicle mass (GVM) range. Read more

TIC Mattress Recycling putting waste to bed

TIC Mattress Recycling putting waste to bed

With those volumes, you’d expect serious efforts towards tackling the problem. But recycling mattress is no easy matter. It’s traditionally been done manually, a procedure that’s labour-intensive and can expose workers to toxic dust and cutting hazards.

So it’s no surprise that their plant featuring state-of-the-art, automated processing machinery has garnered TIC Mattress Recycling a nomination for the Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards. The TIC Group has been providing inventory, supply chain and logistics solutions for more than two decades, but a mattress recycling initiative is fresh territory for them – and it’s pretty groundbreaking stuff for Australia, too. Read more

Inside Waste (Oct): Taking down the barriers

Inside Waste (Oct): Taking down the barriers

The scheme has undergone a few changes, from new co-regulatory arrangements coming on board as others left, to target changes in 2014 to solve some of the early teething problems, to implementation of the Australian Standard 5377. However, over the last two years, the scheme has not met its targets and as the federal Department of Environment embarks on its review of the Product Stewardship Act 2011, which established the NTCRS, key industry players have come forward with changes they’d like to see made to the scheme. Read more

MWRRG shares flexible plastic kerbside collection learnings

MWRRG shares flexible plastic kerbside collection learnings

The ‘Introduction of flexible plastics packaging into kerbside recycling services’ project was aimed at recovering flexible plastic packaging through existing kerbside collections from four partner councils: Cardinia, Hobsons Bay and Nillumbik, launched in November 2016, and Boroondara launched in February 2017 (after council elections).

The area’s 170,000 households were sent information packs which among other explanatory information included 10 sample plastic bags which could be used by residents to start bagging their flexible packaging in their kerbside recycling bin. Printed text on the bags also listed what could and couldn’t be included. These council-provided plastic bags are not necessary to enabling flexible plastic collection, but rather were part of the first steps in communicating the initiative and encouraging household behaviour change

The ‘bag in bag’ technique stemmed from a 20-week trial run by the MWRRG with the City of Darebin and Sustainable Research Use in 2012, where it was found to be an effective method for the project’s establishment phase. MWRRG program coordinator, Nina Thomas, told Inside Waste the learnings from this initial trial (funded by round one of the Metro Fund) lay the foundations for this most recent project.

The 2016 project was also facilitated by the fact that the four councils all had existing recycling contracts with SKM Recycling. Flexible plastics collected at the kerbside are transported to SKM Recycling’s materials recovery facility where the material is sorted, compacted and baled for recycling either locally or overseas. The sorting process is currently conducted manually however, the company has committed $280,000 towards installing automated optical sorting equipment (supported by a further $10,000 from the Australian Packaging Covenant) at their new materials recover facility in Laverton which is currently under construction.

When asked about the long-term viability of flexible plastics collection – in the context of limited end market demand in Australia where it is still cheaper to import virgin plastic – Thomas acknowledged the issues, describing the situation as a “chicken and egg scenario”.

“There is a lot of interest [in this project] which is great, but you don’t want to jump in too quickly without having those end markets established and everyone on board. We need to take a step back before any sort of further project expansion,” she said.

“We can’t boost that local plastic reprocessing capacity until we have those end markets established, but then it’s difficult to establish those end markets without having the capacity. So this is where we need to consult with state and local government, industry, reprocessors and collection groups. We need to have those discussions and conduct research before we look at boosting the capacity and also before we look at what markets are available for those recovered plastics.”

The results of the project can be gauged by its fairly successful household participation rates and very low contamination rates. While kerbside recycling bin audits suggested 28% of households were engaging in the project, household survey responses indicated 60% of homes were using the service.

“We are assuming that this difference is because not everyone that’s participating in the program is putting a full bag of flexible plastics in their recycling bin every fortnight, so some of those audits wouldn’t have captured everyone participating in the program. Some people might have those bags of flexible plastics still in their home and still be filling them up before they put them in the recycling bin,” Thomas said.

“We had really low levels of contamination of 1% or less which also indicates the success of the information that went out. It just goes to show how residents really understood the education material. Some of the contamination items were things like foil wrappers of a chip bag which can be recycled through other flexible plastics recycling programs, but not this program,” she added.

The information material did present one of the program’s biggest challenges as each council had to have the material approved through their own internal communications teams.

“We didn’t expect to at the start of the project but our organisation ended up stepping in and playing a key role in the communications side of things to make sure that everyone was across all the communications materials that were going out,” Thomas said

Significantly, the project’s communications generated a lot of positive community feedback, including unprecedented social media activity and direct positive feedback to councils.

Bag audits show the material recycled is a broad mix of packaging: product packaging (40%), HDPE carry bags (25%), fresh produce bags (10%), trays and punnets (10%), other film such as stretch wrap and bubble wrap (10%), and LDPE carry bags (5%). Based on the conservative average of a 28% recycling rate and a yield per household of 6.5 kg per year, the project’s final reports estimates a yield of 371 tonnes in its first year, growing to a total of 1696 tonnes over the first three years.

Thomas will be joined by Sam Di Giovanni, coordinator waste management, City of Boroondara, to deliver the ‘Flexible Plastics Recycling’ talk on Wednesday, October 10 from 11am to 12pm at Waste Expo Australia, held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Attendees can expect to hear about what was achieved, barriers and opportunities, risks and how they were mitigated, lessons learned, and next steps for increasing recovery of flexible plastics.

Click to read the project’s final reportcase study and household survey analysis.

Paradigm shift makes waste managers out of water utility

Paradigm shift makes waste managers out of water utility

The facility was strategically constructed next to their Aurora sewage treatment and recycled water treatment plants, as well as local food manufacturers and a wholesale market. It is designed to divert 33,000 tonnes of waste per year from landfill as well as power both Aurora treatments plants. Any surplus energy will be contributed to the grid.

The project emerged at the tail-end of the millennium drought in 2011 as recycled water was becoming a part of Yarra Valley Water’s services, presenting a significant increase in energy costs. Commenting on the business case, manager waste to energy services Damien Basset said electricity generation was critical. This involved taking assets off the grid as feeding directly into the grid did not stack up economically. Read more

Tracking NSW's infrastructure needs

Tracking NSW’s infrastructure needs

Between 2002- 03 and 2010-11, the volume of waste that was recycled rose from 5.3 million tonnes to 10.8 million tonnes. Significant investment in new recycling infrastructure has played a big part in this jump and over the years, independent infrastructure needs analyses commissioned by the NSW EPA has helped inform the development of Waste Less Recycle More (WLRM) I and the approval of the second initiative.

In July, NSW EPA manager waste and recycling infrastructure, Robbie Beale, presented the findings of the regulator’s latest waste and resource recovery infrastructure needs analysis conducted by KMH at the Waste Management Association of Australia’s NSW Branch mid-year industry update seminar. Read more