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Tag Archives: Recycling

Toy Industry to collaborate and develop sustainability solutions

The Australian Toy Association (ATA) has been supported with a through the Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC) delivered by Sustainability Victoria. This is a world first for the toy industry and another example of an industry taking responsibility for its products.

In collaboration with leading toy industry brands and retailers, the funding enables the ATA to develop and investigate circular economy options for toys. The project’s first stage will develop a material flows analysis, building an understanding of the movement of toys through the economy. The results of the analysis will link into the overarching project to develop solutions that will reduce the environmental impact of toys. 

Equilibrium congratulates ATA for their leadership and vision and is excited to partner with them on this project in developing circular economy options for toys.

New environmental laws in Victoria from July 1 2021

EPA Victoria will have increased powers from 1 July 2021 to prevent harm to public health and the environment from pollution and waste. 

The laws include sweeping changes which transforms EPA powers and requirements for business owners and operators. It is the responsibility of all business directors and managers to understand the new laws and how to comply. It is also your responsibility to make sure all employees understand requirements under the new laws.

One of the more pivotal and central changes is the introduction of the General Environmental Duty (GED). The GED is all-inclusive, applying to all businesses in Victoria, irrespective of size or type of operation. In short, under the GED, all Victorian businesses and organisations must take action to protect the environment and human health.

For many businesses in Victoria environmental risk management is already embedded into everyday operations, and the GED should require minimal change. However, now is the time to review systems against the new laws and be confident of compliance. It will be important to keep risk registers and risk management plans up to date and:

>Ensure environmental risk of pollution to land, air or water is assessed for all business activities.
>Action plans are in place to eliminate or control risks.
>Actions are implemented in a timely manner, and effectiveness monitored.
>Keep documented records of risk assessments and action plans to demonstrate

EPA Victoria provides guides and tools to help businesses comply with the GED, including:

>EPA Self-Assessment Tool – for supporting small business with action planning
>Assessing and Controlling Risk Business Guide – risk management framework for business
>Managing low risk activities
guidance for businesses with low risk, e.g. offices, cafes, retail.

ARENA launch $43 million Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency announced a $43 million grant program on behalf of the federal government to assist in identifying methods to cut industrial energy costs and emissions. The first round of the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program will offer $25 million to assist research and the development of business case projects for organisations in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing sectors, water supply, gas supply, waste services and data centres. Applicants can apply under one of two rounds: 

>Round 1A – Feasibility Studies (Up to $10 million available). Grants can be between $100,000 and $500,00 for up to 75% of eligible project costs
>Round 1B –
Engineering Studies (up to $15 million available). Grants can be between $250,000 and $5 million for up to 50% of eligible project costs.

The program aims to fund studies that deliver transformational improvements in de-carbonisation technology and energy efficiency practices for industry. Eligible projects must also demonstrate high replicability potential across similar industry settings.

Applications for the initial round of funding will be open on the 6th of July.

ARENA will be hosting separate information sessions for Round 1A and Round 1B in the week commencing 12 July, further information regarding these information sessions will be published on the Industrial Energy Transformation Studies Program website in the coming weeks.

Victorian Government announce state’s climate change strategy

The Victorian Government Climate Change Strategy aims to keep the state on track to meet the emissions target of net zero emissions by 2050. Victoria’s announcement marks all of Australia’s states and territories committing to a net zero target by 2050, despite the absence of the federal government’s embracing a national the goal. The strategy announced interim targets aiming to decrease emissions by 28-33% by 2025 and 45 – 50% by 2030. The objectives at the focus of the strategy include; 

>$100 million package for electric vehicle subsidies, granting $3,000 for all new zero emission vehicles that cost less than $69,000 and a target for 50% of all new vehicle sales to be electric or hydrogen by 2030.
>Public transport – all buses purchased from 2025 onwards are zero emissions.
>Gas substitution roadmap – encouraging users to shift to electricity and other fuels.
>Investing $31 million to support high-energy using businesses to adopt energy solutions to reduce costs and prepare for a low – emissions future.
>$380 million to deliver “Recycling Victoria” – a 10-year plan assisting businesses and households to improve their resource efficiency, recycling and reduce waste. 

The announcement signifies the push from state governments to reach net zero emissions and develop a harmonised approach to electric vehicle standards. 

Agriculture is one of the state’s largest carbon emitters, and an industry that the federal government is debating to exempt from the national  net zero targets. The Victorian strategy includes pledges for the agricultural industry announcing;

>$15.3 million invested in agroforestry, encouraging farmers to plant trees to sequester carbon and realise other on farm benefits such as protecting crops/animals from extreme weather
>Expanding the Agriculture Energy Investment Plan, providing an additional $30 million to support farmers to improve on-farm energy generation and efficiency.

The plan aims to ensure that farmers are well placed to be supported in using information and tools which will help realise emissions reductions opportunities on farms.

MMI open for recycling and clean energy manufacturing grants

Earlier this month, the federal government announced a series of Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) grants for major recycling and clean energy projects. The government is inviting applications under its Recycling and Clean Energy stream, offering grants on average of $4 million, ranging from $1 million to $20 million. The $1.3 billion in funding will assist manufacturers to scale up, commercialise and collaborate.

The MMI grant stream is now open and made up of two separate funding opportunities; 

>Manufacturing translation component: will assist manufacturers in expressing their ideas into commercial outcomes and encourage investment in non R&D innovation.
>Manufacturing integration component: will assist in commercializing innovative concepts, integrating into local and domestic supply chains.

The government has outlined examples of the grants, addressing the funding suitability to include activities which aim to enable greater use of recycled materials across supply chains, and/or that promote increased use of clean energy within their industrial systems.

Applications for these grants close on the 5th of May and businesses must provide co – funding.

National Plastics Plan maps longer term approach

The Australian Government last week launched the National Plastics Plan to reduce plastics waste through a multi aspect approach, looking at both the upstream and downstream methods to limit plastic waste. The plan aims to help ensure Australia meets its waste targets, prompting government to work alongside essential industry and other supply chain holders. The plan outlines wide ranging initiatives, acting on five different fronts;

  • > Prevention: Addressing plastics at the source, phasing out packaging products that do not meet the relevant compostable standards, plastic free beach initiatives, prompting industry shift to easily recyclable plastics and national packaging targets.
    >Recycling: Introduction of waste export bans, product stewardship programs, enforcing material performance standards and national packaging targets.
    >Consumer education: Achieve consistency in kerbside bin collections, container deposit schemes and better recycling information for consumers.
    >Plastics in our oceans and waterways: Take actions to reduce plastics leaking into the environment, such as pursuing a global coordinated action on marine litter and micro plastic pollution and initiating industry led cigarette butt litter stewardship schemes.
    >Research: Investment into new data systems and plastic technologies, designed to track how plastic flows through our economy. Develop a circular economy and roadmap and distribute cooperative research centre projects grants.

To read the plan in detail, visit The National Plastics Plan.

Considerations for Victoria’s single use plastic ban

Earlier in March, the Victorian Government announced a phase out ban of single use plastics by 2023. This includes products such as polystyrene containers, straws, plates, cutlery and cotton buds, with departments starting their phase out in 2022. Single use plastic items make up approximately one third of Victoria’s litter per annum, with many of the single use items classified as economically unviable or difficult to recycle. The government is encouraging reusable items instead of single use plastics, such as metal, paper or bamboo alternatives. Emergency services, scientific and medical activities that may require single use plastic will not be affected.

The government proposes to work with communities and stakeholders to finalise the delivery and design of the ban, emphasising the importance of education and behavioural change as a key aspect in achieving a phase out.

Equilibrium has worked extensively on packaging and problem wastes, leading a similar project with the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to improve the environmental impacts of packaging. Through exploration of this sector, there is a need to consider the following when delivering and the designing the ban:

> What is the evidence of defining single use plastic and prioritising any phase out? It is paramount to ensure an evidenced-based approach to definitions, criteria setting and identifying potential approaches to phasing out materials.
> Have the potential subsidiary outcomes been considered? For example, the reduced access to products for vulnerable sectors of the community? In this case, the hospitality industry has already cautioned that the ban may place the cost of the alternatives on the consumers.
>Whether there are appropriate viable alternatives, and what are the environmental impacts of using and or producing alternative products such as metal and bamboo cutlery?
>The scope of the ban, will support range from innovation right through the supply chain? To achieve genuine environmental improvement, support needs to start with manufacturers, brand owners and product retailers.

Western Australia boosting the recycling economy

Western Australia has been an early mover in partnering with the Australian Government to realise the importance of the Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) and this week announced $70 million in joint funding that will drive a total investment of $174 in new recycling infrastructure for the West.

Grants have been awarded to local businesses with eight new projects aiming to process about 140,000 tonnes of tyre and plastic waste every year. There is $20 million from the RMF and $15 million from the State Government supporting the projects.

There is a further $15 million from the RMF and $15 million from the State for a wastepaper pulping facility that aims to process 100,000 of fibre a year.

The grants are a matching fund between the State and National Governments and industry, and further to the grants, Government estimates that industry will invest an additional $100 million in the projects.

The projects include the significant investment in plastics recovery, recycling, and reuse:

    • > The Pact Group Holdings and Cleanaway: $9.5 million for plastics repurposing in Perth with a facility to process about 17,000 tonnes of plastic waste per year.
      > Chairay Sustainable Plastic Company: $5.6 million to construct a new 15,000 tonne per year plastics reprocessing plant and a 6,000 tonne sorting line for the Perth metropolitan region to recycle polyolefin and polyester plastics.
      > D&M Waste Management: $800,000 to recover HDPE and PET waste plastics in Kwinana and HDPE in Karratha.

      The tyre and recovery and recycling industry which, in order to meet the export ban by December 2021 has been awarded:

      >Kariyarra – Tyrecycle Pty Ltd: A joint project with Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation and Tyrecycle, is receiving $6.9 million to recycle 27,000 tonnes of mining tyres in the Pilbara Region.
      >Tyrecycle Pty Ltd: $5.2 million to invest in new equipment to produce 42,000 tonnes of tyre shred and 3,000 tonnes of tyre crumb in Perth metropolitan region.
      >Complete Tyre Solutions Pty Ltd: $3.5 million to develop a 9,000-tonne capacity turnkey tyre recycling plant. The plant will process waste tyres including truck, car, construction and off-road tyres, into crumb rubber to use in the construction of local roads.
      >4M Waste Pty Ltd: $2.9 million to expand its operations, allowing the recycling of up to 12,000 tonnes of used tyres annually as crumb rubber.
      >Elan Energy Matrix Pty Ltd: $357,867 for a high capacity shredder to use in a process line, turning tyres into products such as oil, carbon char and milled steel.

    All these projects represent a significant step change in recovery, reuse and recycling in Western Australia, supporting the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed position to phase out exports of mixed plastics and waste tyres not suitable for export to international destinations.

    For further information see this link

    If your business is interested in further information on similar grants, or would like assistance completing a grant application, please contact the Equilibrium team on (03) 9372 5356 or at info@equil.com.au

Call for collaboration and coordination on circular economy

The CSIRO has released a National Circular Economy Roadmap calling for a national strategy to address fundamental environmental issues and foster regional development.

The Roadmap is a strong call for collaboration and coordination however it is somewhat limited in its scope and thereby risks compounding the problem of circular economy just being another term for standard practice.

The CSIRO defines circular economy as continually seeking reduction of the environmental impacts of production and consumption and enabling economic growth through more innovative uses of natural resources and efficient recovery of materials.

However, the Roadmap focusses on the end-of-pipe issues. It presents the 2018 recycling report figures for plastic, glass and paper as the indicators of a need for a change in current systems and strategies.

Nonetheless, the central recommendation highlights the critical need for Australia to adopt a unified and innovative circular economy strategy to achieve a national shift in mindset with lasting results and impact.

The report highlights:

> Lack of consistency across Australia particularly in waste governance, consumer education and industry standards along with differing definitions and practises.
>An “end of pipe” focus rather than upgrading product design materials selection and manufacturing.
>That the “take, make and dispose” way of thinking and consumption pattern has barriers including more expensive primary materials and unacceptable ways of dealing with waste.
>Australia’s economy and reliance on imported goods creates the need for a symbiotic strategy that links and aligns with global forces and activities.

All participants in the circular economy have a shared responsibility to make it efficient and effective, it is not just an environmental shift but a whole new way of economic thinking.

Australian Governments are currently promoting circular economy as primarily a waste and recycling policy – which is a limited scope of the concept.

The Australian Council of Recyclers has recently noted that the fervent use of the term circular economy risks just being a rebadging of current activities and programs. Or as the University of Queensland Centre for Recycling of Organic Waste director Johannes Biala put it  ”…we are at grave risk of merely exchanging one buzzword for another without conceptualising and defining what we mean and what we want to achieve.”

Government, industry, community and research all play paramount roles within this hypothetical yet achievable system.

The priorities set out in the CSIRO Roadmap highlight some specific moves needed to advance Australia towards a circular economy, and consistency, collaboration and coordination will be a good step.

To read the CSIRO report in full visit this link.

 

Circulate – Industrial Ecology Grant Program

Applications for the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s industrial ecology grant program, Circulate, are now open until the 12th of February 2021.

Individual grants are available from $20,000 up to $150,000 for business, not for profit organisations, government agencies, industry bodies and product stewardship groups. The Circulate Industrial Ecology Program supports projects that will recover materials that would otherwise be sent to landfill, and divert them for other industrial, construction or commercial processes.

These grants are offered to support projects that will apply industrial ecology principles. Successful  recipients will develop synergies with other industries to identify and drive the diversion of construction and demolition (C&D) waste and commercial and industrial (C&I) waste.

Circulate has contributed to 39 projects since 2013, totalling in over $5.6 million of funding and diverting more than 75,000 tonnes of C&I and C&D from landfill.

See further details here