Striving for a Circular Economy with the NSW EPA
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is leading the way in creating a circular economy in NSW.
The NSW EPA Waste Less, Recycle More initiative is Australia’s largest waste and recycling fund. Waste Less Recycle More is focused on creating long term, sustainable change, through funding large infrastructure projects, business innovation and education to ensure change occurs at every level.
Big goals like these can’t be achieved in isolation, and the EPA has been working with industry partners as well as local government and communities to make strides towards a circular economy.
The following circular economy programs have been implemented by industry with support from EPA grant funding.
The Bin Trim program has helped more than 30,000 NSW businesses divert waste from landfill and contribute to a circular economy. Bin Trim assessors, such as North East Waste are operating throughout NSW to give businesses a helping hand with understanding what could be avoided, reused or recycled.
A Bin Trim grant funded North East Waste’s Circular Cafés project to help cafés in the Northern Rivers region of NSW. Circular Cafes provides advice to help businesses make changes to their day-to-day operations, as well as connecting businesses to create stronger supply chains, business networks and more efficient businesses. These small changes could have a big impact on the cafe’s bottom line by saving time and money. This project aims to reduce waste going to landfill by 50%.
The Circulate grant program supports the recovery and reuse of commercial and industrial (C&I) and construction and demolition (C&D) waste from organisations across NSW. Recipients work with other industries to identify industrial ecology opportunities, increase efficiency, and save money by reducing waste sent to landfill.
Stephen Consulting Group was supported by a Circulate grant to deliver an innovative project that commissioned a customised mobile baler designed to bale soft plastics. This 18-month project dry cleaned and reprocessed 165 tonnes of soft plastic into cable covers, garden edging and root guard.
The NSW EPA is supporting the economic viability of organics waste recycling by encouraging demand for compost. This is being done in partnership with industry, through grants to increase knowledge and awareness of compost, improving product quality and demonstrating compost benefits in new and innovative markets.
One such example is the incredible work being done by Applied Horticultural Research to show how imported peat can be replaced as a growing medium in commercial mushroom growing with compost made from recycled organics. In partnership with Australian Native Landscapes, the University of Sydney and commercial growers in NSW, the project has demonstrated soil health, productivity and economic and environmental benefits through using compost in mushroom growing.
Robust markets for recycled materials are key to a successful and sustainable circular economy. The Civil Construction Market Program is developing these markets by supporting the reuse of recycled Construction and Demolition waste and post-consumer recyclate in civil construction projects.
Industry innovators, such as John Holland have been awarded a grant to develop and trial Geopolymer Concrete that contains recycled crushed glass as a replacement for virgin sand. Geopolymer concrete has substantial benefits as it has a lower embodied energy as it does not use cement – and up to an 80% smaller carbon footprint than ordinary portland cement.
Achieving a circular economy can only be realised with continual improvements and staying on top of emerging trends. The NSW EPA’s Product Improvement Program supports the NSW resource recovery sector to respond to changes in recycling markets and meet targets.
Astron Sustainability was awarded a grant from the NSW EPA to install specialised equipment at a new state of the art plastics recycling facility in Albury, NSW. The greenfield project is part of a joint venture involving PACT Group, Cleanaway and Asahi and will process more than 28,000 tonnes of post-consumer plastic waste. As a result of this project, Astron can sort, clean, and reprocess over 3,000 tonnes per annum of baled low-value post-consumer mixed plastics into high-value commercial grade recycled HDPE, PP and LDPE resins.
NSW EPA are the major partner for the AWRE Online Event. Haven’t registered yet? Simply click here to register free online.