Victoria boosted with Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre

Victoria now boasts a $7 million Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre with an initial focus on reducing food and organic waste. This work will build off Sustainability Victoria’s Love Food Hate Waste program that has helped reduce the 250,000 tonnes of edible food that is thrown away by households each year – enough to fill Melbourne’s Eureka Tower.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio launched the Centre, stating that that it will fast-track Victoria’s recycling revolution. She said the Centre will work with a variety of businesses – from farms and cafes to factories and appliance shops – to streamline the way they operate, reduce waste, and improve efficiency.

“This new centre will spark innovation and help businesses to make sustainable changes and reduce waste.” “This will gather some of the best minds and research about recycling innovation, so that Victorian businesses can get the most out of their materials.”

Expert advice 

The centre will do research and offer expert advice and resources through a virtual hub, facilitate collaboration and events, and offer grants and support for businesses. To mark the launch of the centre, the first round of the $10 million Recycling Victoria Business Support Fund has opened. The fund will help businesses, industry groups and not-for-profit organisations to improve resource efficiency, reduce waste to landfill, increase recycling and reduce their operating costs.

Meanwhile, the first round of the $3 million Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund is also now available. This funding will support partnerships between businesses, industry groups, research institutions, community groups and charities to identify, develop and scale-up more environmentally sustainable opportunities and business models. The centre is part of Recycling Victoria – the Government’s action plan and investment of more than $300 million to transform the state’s recycling sector, create thousands of jobs and set Victoria up for a more sustainable future.

Why WMMR thinks NSW government is hooked on levy not recovery

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet appeared to say all the right things – the budget will look beyond the present crisis to lay the foundations for a prosperous post-pandemic future?

That’s forward thinking! The NSW government will make it easier to do business? About time! The budget puts job creation front and centre, unleashing targeted, temporary stimulus to kick-start our jobs recovery? That’s exciting and welcome news!

And then, you realise it’s silent on the waste and resource recovery sector, despite the bold claim of the Treasurer that, “this budget is the NSW government’s commitment to leave nothing in the tank.”

It is terribly disappointing to hear the Treasurer talk about a budget that is all about economic recovery and prosperity and then to see that it is silent on our essential industry, save for a laughable one-year extension of Waste Less Recycle More, while the government appears to be banking on a 10 per cent increase in waste levy revenue by 2024.

How is it that NSW believes it will be increasing landfilling when the rest of Australia, led by the Commonwealth, is clearly on a path towards improving material management, reducing disposal, increasing recovery and recycling, and creating valuable Australian jobs?

This possibly confirms what industry has long feared, that NSW really is a one trick state, which relies on the waste levy rather than policy when working with our essential sector. The NSW government needs to move ahead quickly and catch up with the rest of Australia, recognising both the value and complexity of our industry, in order that we do not lose more jobs and investment in NSW; we cannot rely on the levy alone to create investment in a period of policy uncertainty and lack of strategic direction.

Australia – save for NSW it seems – sees clearly that not only does our essential sector play a vital role in protecting human and environmental health, it is an economic and job multiplier, which is much-needed right here and right now.

Why is this government and its EPA so out of step with all other Australian governments and the WARR industry? The federal and other state/territory governments have realised the importance of investing and supporting a strong domestic remanufacturing industry, given the ability to create four times more jobs than landfilling or exporting.”

It really is time that the NSW government sees the WARR sector as an economic opportunity to be realised, not just a landfill levy cash cow to be milked.The Budget is just one more kick for our essential sector in NSW, which for the past three years has been operating in a policy holding pattern coupled with tremendous regulatory uncertainty, continuously told to wait for a new plan that is on its third attempt in three years, while the rest of Australia marches on investing in recovery and jobs.

This budget is disappointing as it sends the message that NSW remains closed for WARR business, instead of seizing the opportunity for our sector to play a key role in the economic recovery.

Gayle Sloan is the CEO of The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia.

Tyre dumping scam surfaces in WA

A week after the Federal Minister for Waste, Trevor Evans visited the controversial Tyremil facility in Queensland, the West Australian government has issued a warning over a used tyre dumping scam that results in victims being thousands of dollars out of pocket and thousands of used tyres illegally dumped.

According to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) which is managing the investigation, the scam targets tyre retailers and vehicle wrecking yards in Perth, with the offender promising to dispose of worn-out tyres substantially cheaper than legitimate tyre recyclers.

The offender dumps the scrap tyres at properties they have leased. These have included storage lockers, vacant land lots and back yards of rented homes. The offender then abandons the property, leaving the owner with the problem – and cost – of disposing of the tyres. For one property owner this has resulted in a disposal bill of more than $100,000. The advice for tyre retailers and vehicle wreckers is to check that any contractor hired to dispose of their used tyres is legitimate.

Businesses need to be careful

Allowing used tyres to be transported by unauthorised operators is an offence under the Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2004 attracting a penalty of up to $25,000.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, senior manager of Waste Operations Matt Warnock, said business should tread carefully when it comes to tyre disposal.

“Businesses disposing of used tyres have a legal responsibility to ensure that any contractor who transports their used tyres is licensed to do so,” Warnock said.

“Used tyres pose an environmental pollution risk mainly due the potential discharges and emissions from tyre fires.

“If an operator’s price seems too good to be true, you can check whether they are licensed with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. The unauthorised transport of a controlled waste and abandonment of waste are serious offences. Under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (Section 49A), abandoning waste carries a maximum penalty of $62,500 for an individual and $125,000 for a body corporate for each offence.

Property owners and agents are reminded to perform due diligence before leasing a property and ensure regular inspections are carried out on properties to ensure illegal activities are not taking place.

This investigation is being managed by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Lanie Chopping encouraged landlords and property managers to carry out thorough checks of prospective tenants, as well as regular inspections of the property during the lease.

“Four property inspections a year are allowed for residential tenancies after giving at least seven days’ notice, so landlords should consider scheduling an inspection soon after a new tenant moves in,” Chopping said.

“I have issued bulletins today to landlords, and vehicle repairers and sellers, to warn them about the tyre dumping issue and how they can play their part in preventing this activity.”

Illegal dumping can be reported to DWER’s Pollution Watch Hotline on 1300 784 782 or to pollutionwatch@dwer.wa.gov.au.