Tag Archives: Policy

Recycling Victoria: A New Economy

The Victorian Government is seeking to improve the performance of the waste and recycling sector, and has released a 10-year policy and action plan – Recycling Victoria – to reform the system with a focus on the circular economy.

Victoria exports approximately 1.27million tonnes of paper, plastic and cardboard each year overseas, and this includes 30% of all recycling collected from Victorian households.

The figures are compelling; it is estimated that by 2046, Victorians will create 40% more waste than in 2017-18. The extent of the activity and industry development is significant as highlighted by the total quantum of funding that has poured into Victorian waste and resource recovery initiatives; $134 million from the Victorian Government since 2015.

You can download a copy the Recycling Victoria policy here.

A four bin waste and recycling system, a container deposit system (CDS), a circular economy business innovation centre, landfill levy reform and increased funding for infrastructure, are among the package of measures outlined in the policy.

The policy in part talks about the transition to a circular economy and the importance of taking action across the life-cycle of materials to maximise value and minimise waste.

Four specific goals

Four specific goals guide the process of moving from a take-make-waste model, to a more system-wide approach that seeks to be circular, sustainable and economically responsible.

These four goals are aimed at taking a smarter approach to making, using, recycling and managing products, buildings, infrastructure and materials.

Goal 1 – Design to last, repair and recycle

Generate less waste in businesses through innovation and design; use recycled materials in products and consider impacts across product life cycles; and support business to explore new circular economy business models.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15 per cent reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with an interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Cut the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2025.

Goal 2 – Use products to create more value

Help people make smart purchasing decisions and extend the life of products and support the reuse economy; repair goods where possible.

Targets and outcomes include:

> 15% reduction in total waste generation per capita between 2020 and 2030.

> Support Victorian communities and council to reduce waste.

> Prevent plastic pollution.

> Support the reuse economy.

Goal 3 – Recycle more resources

Reform kerbside collections to generate more value from waste; improve the separation of recyclable materials; develop markets for recovered materials; plan for and boost investment in recycling infrastructure; embed the waste hierarchy in the management of materials; support the development of appropriate waste to energy facilities.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Divert 80% of waste from landfill by 2030, with and interim target of 72% by 2025.

> Halve the volume of organic material going to landfill by 50% between 2020 and 2030, with an interim target of 20% reduction by 2030.

> 100% of households have access to a separate food and organics recovery service or local composting by 2030.

Goal 4 – Reduce harm from waste and pollution

Protect communities and the environment from high-risk and hazardous wastes.

Targets and outcomes include:

> Support safe and effective high-risk and hazardous waste management.

> The Vic Gov will consider the potential introduction of new levies for waste being stockpiled for long periods, recover avoided waste levies and disposal fee for illegally stockpiled wastes, ensure adequate disposal point of asbestos across the state.

> The Victorian Government spends an estimated $58 million each year in clean-up costs at abandoned waste sites and $105 million each year to respond to stockpile fires. Clean-up costs and lost landfill levy revenue from illegal dumping equates to $30 million a year.

Monitoring and measuring progress

Of course, accurate data and transparency will be key to monitoring the reforms and their intended outcomes. More specifically the Victorian policy outlines it ‘key commitment’ to expanding Victorian’s waste data systems by:

> Establish a framework for monitoring progress towards the circular economy, including the identification of indicators and metrics

> Introduce a new waste and recycling data system to enable better waste management and circular economy monitoring

> Continuing to provide public waste and recycling market intelligence reporting.

The reforms in the Recycling Victoria policy herald an important and necessary opportunity for government, industry and the community to work together to improve kerbside recycling, invest in priority infrastructure and better manage high-risk and hazardous waste.

Recycling Victoria also outlines additional initiatives that can support waste avoidance and behaviour change, further develop waste to energy options and meet community and local council expectations for reliable services.

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients across diverse industries and sectors to adopt specific elements and aspects of the Recycling Victoria policy.

If you have any questions about the  policy and how your organisation can benefit, implement or comply with specific goals, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

Governments Move on Waste Exports

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) held its 48th general meeting in Sydney on 13 MARCH 2020. The discussion focussed on several key issues of national significance including a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

The Communiqué released from the COAG meeting noted that:

“Leaders agreed to introduce a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, fulfilling the commitment they made in August 2019. The ban will be phased in, commencing from 1 July 2020. Leaders also agreed a national response strategy to drive implementation of the ban and help reduce the amount of waste ending up in landfill. In line with the response strategy, governments will expand on work with industry to invest in growing the Australian recycling industry and build markets for recycled products.”

Improving our waste and recycling performance is now being addressed on a national basis and with a higher degree of cooperation and coordination than previously experienced.

In particular, the Federal Government is taking a strong leadership role with commitments to review the used packaging NEPM while also investigating regulatory options and the possibility of co-regulatory or mandatory product stewardship schemes for tyres, solar panels and batteries.

Also positive, is a stronger position  by all Governments to support procurement measures that can underpin recycling and recycled content  in construction, manufacturing and infrastructure projects.

The COAG outcome is certainly trending in the right direction and represents noteworthy cooperation across Governments. It also signals a new level of accountability and transparency in policy setting, program delivery and measurable outcomes.

Effective execution and implementation of the COAG response strategy will be essential, as will timely deliver of programs and investment.

A copy of the response strategy can be downloaded here:

Phasing out exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres: Response strategy to implement the August 2019 agreement of the Council of Australian Governments

Do you have queries about the COAG response strategy?

If you have any questions about the COAG outcomes, please contact the Nick Harford at Equilibrium on 0419 993 234


The Future of Waste and Recycling in NSW

Waste and recycling are firmly on the agenda at all levels of government. Various industries and sectors are also confronting the challenges and opportunities head-on, including an increasingly informed and aware public.

In response, the NSW Government has commenced consultation on the development of a 20 year waste strategy as well as some very focused planning in response to plastics pollution. The NSW approach stands out with a view to addressing core challenges while also being pragmatic and mindful of community expectations.

The consultation process is comprehensive, timely and underpinned by expert advice, analysis and future-oriented thinking and planning. In many respects it demonstrates some considered thinking about where and how waste and recycling fits into the circular economy ambitions. The figures and statistics outlined by the NSW Government are compelling:

Public consultation on the issues paper – Cleaning Up Our Act: The Future of Waste and Resources – is now open and submissions from all interested stakeholders are encouraged. For more information about making a submission and sharing your views look here.

The issues paper outlines four key directions which seeks to test a number of options that represent specific stages in the circular economy. This approach and thinking reflects some of the more advanced work being conducted at a State Government level.

The four directions are:

1: Generate less waste by avoiding and ‘designing out’ waste, to keep materials circulating in the economy.

2: Improve collection and sorting to maximise circular economy outcomes and lower costs.

3: Plan for future infrastructure by ensuring the right infrastructure is located in the right place and at the right time.

4: Create end markets by fostering demand for recycled products in NSW (particularly glass, paper, organics, plastics and metals) so that recovered materials re-enter our economy and drive business and employment opportunities.

A diverse range of options sit under each of the directions and reflect a sound and holistic view of what the solutions and actions might entail. The ‘Future of Waste and is asking the right questions and posing solutions for consideration. It also has the potential to achieve next level change at scale if and when implementation is adequately resourced.

For more information about the 20 year waste strategy and providing feedback look here.

Redirecting the Future of Plastics in NSW

The NSW Government is also acting on plastics. Their discussion paper,  Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastics in NSw, provides the basis for reform and solutions to help advance the management of plastics in NSW.  The discussion paper sets targets to:

> reduce the amount of plastic generated;
> increase recycling rates;
> reduce plastic pollution; and
> make NSW a global leader in plastic research and solution development.

The NSW Government is consulting with the community and stakeholders before finalising the NSW Plastics Plan. Input from the public is invited with a particular interest in the proposed targets and  priority directions, with a view to this feedback informing the development of the NSW Plastics Plan.

As we know, plastics saturate our existence like few other materials. They have become a recurring topic of discussion at many levels, and while we can acknowledge their unique characteristics and benefits, the public has developed a distinct distaste for plastics and their application across diverse product and packaging categories.

In many ways, the NSW Government is considering how we can produce and consume plastics within a context of environmental and social sensitivity, while also remembering practical and functional value of plastics. NSW acknowledges public anxiety, ecological impacts and industry concerns and highlight why action is required on plastics pollution.

This discussion paper sets out the following four key outcomes for each stage of the life-cycle of plastic, each supported by a proposed target and priority directions.

Outcome 1: Reduce plastic waste generation
Proposed target: Phase out key single-use plastics 

Outcome 2: Make the most of our plastic resources
Proposed target: Triple the proportion of plastic recycled in NSW across all sectors and streams by 2030 

Outcome 3: Reduce plastic waste leakage
Proposed target: Reduce plastic litter items by 25% by 2025 

Outcome 4: Improve our understanding of the future of plastics
Proposed target: Make NSW a leader in national and international research on plastics 

The deadline for feedback on the discussion paper until 5.00pm Friday 8 May 2020. For more information about NSW Plastics Plan and providing feedback look here.

Do you need help with your submission?

Equilibrium will be assisting its clients in the preparation of submissions to this important strategy consultation process.

If you have any questions about the 20 Year Waste Strategy or the Plastics Plan and how your organisation can benefit from making a submission, please contact the team at Equilibrium:

Nick Harford on 0419 993 234 or Damien Wigley on 0404 899 961.

Climate Change Authority seeks input on Australia’s commitments under the Paris Agreement

The Climate Change Authority has released a consultation paper on updating its previous advice to Government on policies to meet Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Since the Authority last provided its advice to Government on the policy toolkit required to meet the Paris Agreement, a number of developments have occurred in Australia and around the world in terms of climate change science, economics and policy.

The updated advice will seek to provide recommendations that ensure Australia is well-placed to meet its 2030 emissions target and that are consistent with meeting subsequent targets with enhanced ambition that put Australia on a path to net zero emissions, consistent with the Paris Agreement framework.

The Authority is particularly interested in:

> What aspects of the Authority’s previous recommendations remain valid and why?

> What are the opportunities and risks associated with the global transition to net zero emissions and how can Government assist the positioning of the Australian economy to take advantage of the opportunities and mitigate the risks?

> What are the barriers (regulatory and non-regulatory) to realising emissions reductions and are there any additional supporting policies, regulations or government actions that could drive emissions reductions in cost effective ways?

> What role should the Government play in enabling the development and uptake of low‑emissions technologies and development of associated industries?

> What role should international units and carryover from earlier commitment periods have in Australia’s response to climate change?

Stakeholder contributions will inform the Authority’s final report, which the Authority is aiming to release at the end of 2019. The Authority encourages submissions from interested individuals and organisations until 23 August 2019.

As part of the work to inform the forthcoming update of advice, the Authority has today also released a stocktake of drivers for, and actions by, industry to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia, including new and emerging low emissions technologies.

The industry paper is one of a series of three stocktakes the Authority has released in 2019, which provide a summary of actions to mitigate emissions by governments and industry in Australia and taking place internationally.

The paper is available at www.climatechangeauthority.gov.au

China National Sword and its impact in Australia

The noise around China’s National Sword Policy has been significant and a trigger for diverse responses, some of which are measurable and forward-thinking, while others are more symbolic and reactive.

A key question is whether or not Australia has adjusted its recycling habits?

The China National Sword Policy formulated in September 2017, and announced by the Chinese Government to the world in January 2018, was centered on enforcing a new policy by banning 24 types of wastes and recyclables from entering the country.

Designed to improve its own environmental performance, the decision has changed globally how countries manage and process their recyclables. Twelve months along what has that decision meant to Australia and what really has changed in how we are processing and managing our recyclables?

Over a year on, Rick Ralph unbundles the facts around this complex policy decision with Nick Harford, managing director of Equilibrium and one of Australia’s leading experts on the subject.

Listen to the podcast of this conversation for an informed suite of insights and observations.

Download or listen here


NSW Government moves on Circular Policy

The goal of a circular economy is being discussed across sectors, industries and communities. Much of it with substance and strong intent, but some of it superficial and simplistic.

Most importantly, there is a recognition that new patterns of production and consumption are essential. This is especially relevant if we as an economy and community are to maximise resource productivity, minimise impacts and develop a new, more benign relationship with products and the materials they are made from.

The need for effective policy reform is timely, as is the need for economy-wide attention. Rebranding  waste and recycling initiatives as circular economy initiatives certainly fails to recognise the imperative.

As a contribution towards delivering positive economic, social and environmental outcomes for the community that are ‘circular’ the NSW Government is developing relevant policies. Specifically, it has released a draft Circular Economy Policy as well as a Circular Economy Discussion Paper.

The two documents provide a useful overview of the essential principles, including examples of how these can be applied to achieve the desired outcomes. Both the policy and the discussion paper are sensible starting points for informing and engaging interested stakeholders.

Unlike European Union initiatives which identify actions holistically across industries and sectors, the NSW documents are chiefly framed through a waste management lens, which may be more doable over the short-term however at some point will need to address the structural transformation needed to achieve a truly circular economy.

The discussion paper sets an inclusive tone and asks ‘what would a circular economy look like’ and invites ideas on how interested parties could get involved and what support they may require.

Consultation on the draft Circular Economy Policy is open from 22 October to 25 November 2018.

Submissions will inform the process and be used to finalise the policy. This will be followed by an implementation plan that sets out how the NSW Government will ‘work with business and local communities.

You can download the relevant documents and have your say via the following website:


Equilibrium is working with some of its clients and partners to prepare submissions over the coming weeks. We would welcome contact from any company, council or organisation wishing to discuss the process and their response to the discussion paper.

More information

Nick Harford
Managing Director – Equilibrium
Email:  nick@equil.com.au
Mobile: 0419 993 234

Equilibrium Joins C2P as a Knowledge Partner

Global advisory company Compliance & Risks tracks global policies, regulations and standards across key product and policy areas.

It is one of the most trusted names in compliance knowledge management, and provides a range of tools and services to help companies effectively manage the avalanche of global regulations as businesses struggle to keep up with market access rules.

Equilibrium is very pleased to announce that it has joined Compliance & Risks as a Knowledge Partner covering content for the Australian market.  We are well placed to share our knowledge and insights to the benefit of businesses who understand the broader benefits of being a sustainable enterprise.

A key tool in liberating businesses from an otherwise complex regulatory landscape is C2P: a comprehensive, online product compliance knowledge management platform. Compliance & Risks has developed and expanded C2P over many years of detailed development. It is supported by some of the best legal, business, supply chain and environmental specialists, who bring local regulatory news and insights from around the world.

Reporting on policy and regulatory initiatives in Australia

Specifically, Equilibrium will be contributing compliance news, alerts, key dates and commentary to C2P on a variety of topics including: batteries, climate change, conflict minerals, CSR, ecodesign and ecolabeling, e-waste/WEEE, waste management and resource recovery, energy efficiency, packaging, transport of dangerous goods and hazardous substances.

Equilibrium holds a wealth of experience related to many of these topics and will be able to share its knowledge with C2P customers around the world. This is increasingly important as many companies and governments transition to circular thinking and action.

Many of C2P customers include major blue-chip companies, OEMs and brands from the following industries:

– Electronics, lighting and telecommunications
Medical devices and chemicals
Energy and HVAC

Equilibrium’s contribution to C2P will reach companies in 120 countries around the world, and help ensure that they are kept abreast of key policy and regulatory developments in Australia. This includes the review of the Product Stewardship Act, proposals to develop a national battery recycling scheme, stewardship for photovoltaics and energy storage and progress on the e-waste landfill ban for Victoria.

Visit the Compliance & Risks website for more information about C2P, and make contact with Equilibrium about local compliance related issues.

More information

John Gertsakis
Director, Communications
Mobile:  0409 422 089
Email:  john@equil.com.au


Putting mattress recycling to bed

Mattress recycling has been a nightmare for many years, but we can all now sleep a bit easier as new approaches will be putting the problem to bed.

TIC Mattress Recycling has built Australia’s first automated mattress deconstruction facility, located in Melbourne’s western suburbs, and is on track to have another plant up and running in Sydney before the end of 2016.

The technology breaks down the problems that have plagued local government and consumers – namely that mattress recycling in Australia has to date been dogged by unsustainable operators, boom and bust cycles, and poor environmental and safety outcomes.

Indeed, TIC’s technological development has renewed government interest and support in mattress recycling, and the sector is poised to increase the recovery and recycling of mattresses nationally.

In January 2016, the New South Wales Government through the NSW Environmental Trust announced a $794,000 grant to TIC to enable fast-tracking of automated and advanced end-of-life mattress recycling for NSW.

TIC Mattress Recycling managing director, Michael Warren, says his company’s approach automates mattress deconstruction to provide greater economies of scale, improved environmental outcomes, and reduced health and safety risks.

“The TIC system automatically deconstructs up to 60 mattresses per hour with almost no manual handling and produces clean streams of steel, foam and textiles,” says Warren. “Our system is contained and includes dust extraction, so there is not only protection of human health, but [it] also minimises the risks that materials or pollutants may escape from the process.”

Estimates are that between 1.2 and 1.5 million mattresses are disposed of in Australia each year and, according to a November 2012 study, 85 percent of end-of-life mattresses could be ending up in landfill. The study, ‘Options for a Pilot Project to Increase Recycling of Mattresses’, was done for the Western Australian Department of Conservation and Environment and found significant resources were being lost due to lack of recycling.

Another issue for policy-makers, local government, mattress manufacturers and retailers is that even the mattresses being recovered for recycling are often poorly managed, resulting in very low levels of resource recovery.

TIC says local government, in particular, should be aware of the price it pays for ‘recycling’. Warren says he has seen councils choose providers because they offer a marginally cheaper service.

“A council may save 50 cents or a dollar per mattress but, in reality, it is not paying for a recycling service,” he says. “A lot of mattresses are going to shredding operations or similar processes and they recover about 35 percent of the mattress by weight. It should be called what it really is, size reduction.”

Having said that, Warren says TIC is not against shredding and size reduction of mattresses in limited circumstances. “Soiled, wet and damaged mattresses may be best shredded where handling and processing will cause safety risks or are deemed impractical,” he says.

“It may also be appropriate in some remote locations, as the movement of mattresses is expensive, and rural and regional centres can’t always access high quality recycling.”

Mattresses are readily recyclable. On average, Australian mattresses weigh 30 kilograms and the steel, foam and textiles that are readily recyclable account for between 24 and 26 kilograms of material.

A 2015 study for the Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) by Mobius Environmental found that the problem is growing. In Melbourne alone in 2015 the report found there were 427,000 new mattresses sold, and retailers report they are selling more mattresses every year as the population increases and mattress life decreases.

The report, ‘Mattress Recycling in Melbourne and Greater Geelong’, found that, of the mattresses being collected for recycling, almost half were being shredded. This resulted in the situation that from all of the mattresses being ‘recycled’, 45 percent of the materials were actually still going to landfill.

The report also identified high levels of illegal dumping and that local government continues to carry the bulk of the costs for collection and recycling.

In a recent statement, chief executive of MWRRG, Rob Millard, says the report supports councils moving to new procurement models in order to drive good environmental and financial outcomes.

“Using these findings we will work with councils to develop best practice approaches, seek processing options from the market and create new collective procurement contracts to recycle mattresses from council hard waste collections and transfer stations,” says Millard in the statement.

TIC’s Michael Warren says current recovery practices rely on manual dismantling or shredding of whole mattresses and, while effective to an extent, these approaches have limitations and cannot meet government and community expectations.

“Manual practices cannot process significant volume without a lot of labour,” he says. “Manual processing also has inherent occupational health and safety risks related to the handling activity, as well as the potential exposure of workers to dust and pollutants. While some operators have been able to maintain manual operations over a reasonable period of time, manual mattress processing has generally proved to not be financially sustainable.”

Many parts of the world have now enacted more stringent regulations and product stewardship schemes, and are rapidly implementing more sophisticated programs and driving more mattress recycling. The US, the UK, Canada and many countries in Europe are pursuing high resource recovery processes and growing mattress recycling.

In the US, a strong independent product stewardship scheme for mattresses has been established and California, among other states, now requires a levy of US$11 for each mattress sold. The money goes into a mattress recycling scheme where consumers can dispose of end-of-life mattresses for free and recycling is carried out by authorised recyclers to an audited standard.


The explosion of regulation and product stewardship overseas has fuelled interest in TIC’s technology. While Warren won’t detail specific enquiries, he says TIC is in advanced discussion with six other countries that want to purchase the technology.

Australian governments – national and state – have so far declined to support a product stewardship scheme for mattresses. A select group of Australia’s mattress manufacturers and retailers have commenced discussions to establish a take-back scheme; however, proposals to date still require consumers and local government to pay the cost of mattress collection and recycling.

Warren says he supported product stewardship and any such scheme must be open, transparent and accountable. “The key objectives of product stewardship are to respect the waste hierarchy and share waste management costs,” he says.

“If a scheme is to work and recover significant volumes of mattresses for recycling, then there must be strong standards and specifications that ensure participants are achieving good environmental and social results. And, of course, any scheme must have independence, strong governance and not be controlled by self-interest.”

“A well-designed scheme that gives the whole supply chain – manufacturers, retailers, consumers, collectors and recyclers – the ability to participate and encourages competition will ensure a sustainable approach to increased mattress recycling.”

TIC Mattress Recycling commenced operations in 2013 with a combination of manual and automated processes and, with the new facility now being commissioned, is transitioning to fully automated operations. TIC’s technology is based on the RetourMatras system from the Netherlands that has been further developed over the last two years and tailored for Australian conditions.

Corporate Waste Solutions https://www.fmmagazine.com.au/sectors/putting-mattress-recycling-to-bed/

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