Tag Archives: SKM Recycling

What goes around comes around

THE REUSE SHOP at Nillumbik’s Recycling and Recovery Centre in Plenty reopened on October 25.
In an effort to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, the shop takes items delivered to the Recovery Centre that cannot be recycled, but are in good condition, and prepares them for sale on site.
In August 2018, the shop had to close while the intersection between the Recovery Centre and Yan Yean Road took place as part of the State Government’s Major Roads project.
With works now complete, the ReUse shop announced its reopening on Facebook, on October 18.
The reopening is yet another plus for Nillumbik residents and businesses in a month which has seen the tables slowly begin to turn in the war on waste.
On October 6, Nillumbik announced they had made a short-term agreement with KordaMentha, SKM’s receivers to send waste and recycling to the (then) newly reopened Laverton North recycling facility, with kerbside recycling services returning to normal on October 7.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan expressed Council’s joy in seeing normality resume.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
On October 10, Cleanaway Pty Ltd, who acquired SKM’s senior secured debt of $60 million from the Commonwealth Bank in August, announced the acquisition of all SKM assets — which includes three recycling facilities in Victoria.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal commented on the acquisition.
“The Acquisition provides Cleanaway with a strong recycling platform in Victoria and Tasmania as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy and our mission of making a sustainable future possible.
“The recycling sector is undergoing significant structural changes with a move to increase recycling within Australia to support a transition towards a circular economy.
“The Acquisition provides us with the infrastructure to capitalise on the growth opportunities created by these changes.”
Nillumbik Council has also confirmed the current arrangement to send recycling to Laverton North remains in place.
At State level, there are a number of policies and strategies in development to further enhance our ability to “reduce, reuse and recycle”.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) are currently developing a circular economy policy which aims to repurpose our waste though repair, recycled goods, and energy generation, in an effort to divert as much waste as possible from landfill.
An initial issues paper and a series of workshops occurred between July and September, with the final outcome and report expected to be released later this year.
Advisory body Infrastructure Victoria released an evidence-based report on October 20 which looked at Victoria’s waste and recycling industry and has outlined a number of solutions for the future.
One possible solution which has sparked interest in national press is the possibility that Victorian’s may end up separating rubbish into six or more bins (organics, plastics, paper, glass, metals and other are given as examples) to reduce the need to co-mingle which, the report suggests, will allow for cleaner waste transport streams which would reduce the risk of contamination and potentially stop recyclables being sent to landfill.
Although the circular economy and the proposal for additional recycling bins is still a long way from becoming a reality, at least the light at the end of the (waste)tunnel is a little bit brighter.
In the meantime, Warrandyte and surrounds should simply continue to do what we do best; take advantage of the monthly Repair Café, fossick and visit the shops like ReUse in Plenty.

 

Bag ban to stop litter before it begins

By SANDI MILLER

THE VICTORIAN Government has now banned single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags across Victoria.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the Labor Government would consult closely with businesses and the community on how best to implement the policy.
“Banning single-use plastic bags will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s pristine waters,” she said.
The trick for all of us will be to avoid adopting behaviours with an even greater environmental impact, such as relying on heavier single-use plastic bags.
Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time, becoming increasingly difficult to manage.
They can end up in our waterways, lakes and oceans — contributing to litter and posing a significant hazard to our marine life.
As seen in last month’s Diary, when local photographer Denise Illing captured a photograph of a platypus tangled in rubbish, our local river-dwelling creatures suffer from the pollution that ends up in the Yarra.
Reducing the number of plastic bags we use is an important part of addressing the overall impacts of plastic pollution.
The phasing out of bags in supermarkets is now well established, and local supermarket owner Julie Quinton has said that people are getting much better in remembering to bring their own bags.
Warrandyte Riverside Market has prepared stallholders for the ban, and has been suggesting market goers bring their own bag for some months in the lead up to the ban.
Dick Davies from the Market committee said they are taking the ban very seriously, with committee members checking compliance at the market.
“Any concerned customers can also report non-compliance to the market office marquee in the Stiggant Street car park,” Dick said.
He said customers also have a responsibility to bring their own bags and reusable coffee cups.
“Even plastic or cardboard cups labelled ‘eco-friendly’ are not bio-degradable if the appropriate disposable or recycling facilities are unavailable,” he said.
He said the market has attempted a number of times to provide reusable ceramic coffee mugs but “has run into problems meeting the required food hygiene criteria”.
“Our best advice to shoppers is ‘Bring your own bag and cup’”, Dick said.
The 2015/16 Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index reported that Victoria has the lowest litter count in the country for the fifth year in a row.
Let’s keep it that way.

 

Recycling service resumes in Nillumbik

AT THE ELEVENTH hour Nillumbik Shire Council have secured a short-term deal with SKM receivers, KordaMentha, to deliver all recycling material to the recently reopened Laverton North facility.
In a press release issued on Sunday morning, Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan welcomed the new deal.
“This is exciting progress for our residents, who are enthusiastic recyclers and have been waiting patiently for proper services to resume,” she said.
However, the new deal has a number of restrictions which means it is not exactly business as usual.
Bundled plastic bags will no longer be accepted and any resident wanting to dispose of them should take them to a REDcycle program receptacle at Coles or Woolworths.
Stores in Eltham, Greensborough, The Pines, Diamond Creek and St Helena participate in this program.
Council has also said it does not have capacity for additional collections which means residents who have been stockpiling their recyclable material, in anticipation of services returning to normal, will need to take it to Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road, Plenty.
The new deal is also putting Nillumbik, and its residents on the frontline in the war against waste.
“The new arrangement is a lot stricter. If our recycling is more than 10 per cent contaminated, it may be rejected and sent to landfill.
“It’s up to residents to do the right thing,” said Cr Egan.
If and/or when the Laverton North facility is sold to another company, Council will likely need to renegotiate with the sites new owners.
KordaMentha is the advisory and investment firm appointed as receivers and managers to SKM Recycling Pty Ltd in August.
KordaMentha also received a $10 million State Government loan to aid in the restarting of proper recycling processes for the groups seven sites.
Nillumbik used to deliver to a facility in Coolaroo, but that facility currently remains closed.
Nillumbik Mayor Karen Egan thanked residents for their patience as Council worked to find a way through what is a national crisis.
“Nillumbik residents are among the best recyclers in Victoria and I encourage you to continue your efforts through our kerbside collection,” Cr Egan said.
Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre is also open to the public to drop off paper, cardboard and metals for recycling.
The cardboard and paper is collected from there by Veolia and taken to the VISY paper plant in Coolaroo, where it is made into new recycled packaging.
The metals are taken to Ecocycle where they are sorted and then recycled locally and overseas.
The fallout from SKM Recycling Pty Ltd entering receivership is still plaguing the State.
Every week there is another story in national press about the mess left by SKM after they failed to pay their creditors.
While the 33 councils impacted by this recycling crisis look to find solutions that avoid sending waste to landfill; warehouses, such as the one owned by Marwood Construction in Derrimut (as reported in The Age on September 29), which has 10,000 tonnes of waste stored by SKM before it went into receivership, currently have no way of getting rid of it.
The ABC recently reported that Indonesia is preparing to send 100 containers of plastic back to Australia following a discovery that the waste, earmarked for recycling, was contaminated.
The bottom line is, while the resumption of recycling services is good news for Nillumbik residents, this issue is far from over, to emulate the words of Nillumbik’s Mayor, it is up to all residents, regardless of municipality, to do the right thing and to continue to reduce, reuse and recycle.

Council’s recycling respite

By DAVID HOGG

The DIARY continues to follow the ongoing recycling crisis which has forced Nillumbik Council to take recycling waste to landfill for the past few weeks.
A comprehensive statement of the current position was posted on Nillumbik’s website on August 30.
“SKM’s Laverton facility is expected to re-commence processing recycling within five weeks; however, timeframes are still unknown for the Coolaroo, Geelong and Hallam facilities.”
Nillumbik, along with the 32 other Councils affected by the closure of SKM, is hopeful that this is the beginning of the return to normal recycling practices.
Presently Nillumbik, like many other councils, has no alternative than to send this material to landfill, but is exploring alternatives to try and stop this from happening.
An earlier bulletin from Nillumbik gave indication of the complex and confusing series of contracts in place, the Diary sought clarification from Nillumbik’s Chief Executive Officer Carl Cowie.
Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to manage its recycling, and they in turn have a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd.
A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was the first to be placed into liquidation, and another company SKM Recycling Pty Ltd has a direct deed with Nillumbik Council for day to day contractual matters.
On August 21, mainstream media reported Cleanaway paid $60m to become the major lender and has put Cleanaway, effectively, in control of the recycling group.
Although the details of contracts and payment arrangements, which were renegotiated in June just before this crisis broke, have been kept as a closely guarded secret by Council, Mr Cowie clarified that Council does not continue to pay SKM or its receivers if they do not take recycling.
Recycling sent to landfill is subject to the Victorian government’s landfill levy.
The Victorian government recently announced financial support to councils to manage the impacts on their recycling system with the closure of SKM, but the specific detail of this financial assistance on a council-by-council basis is not yet fully understood.
As well as continuing to work with the MWRRG on alternatives, Council is applying for some of the $6.6 million recycling rebate on offer from the Victorian Government to help cover the cost of the landfill levy.
It is also exploring options to accept a broader range of separated materials such as glass and plastics at their Recycling and Recovery Centre.
Although Nillumbik and other councils will be relieved recycling sorting facilities are coming back online, this crisis is far from over.
Manningham Council is not affected at this stage, as its recyclables are handled by Visy Recycling.

Recycling crisis hits Nillumbik

Update: 14/8/19

ON AUGUST 13, Council released an update regarding the recycling situation in Nillumbik:

Council is working with the State Government’s Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) to find an alternative for the Shire’s recycling. Council has a contract with SKM through the MWRRG. SKM’s closure affects several councils and about half of Victoria’s recycling.

The broader, long-term issue requires a response from all levels of government. At this stage SKM, while temporarily closed, has indicated that it is working to recommence receiving recycling.

Council will continue to collect recycling bins as normal and encourages residents to continue their recycling efforts until this is resolved, it’s important we keep working together to meet the current challenges.

Unfortunately we expect this week’s recycling will be sent to landfill.

The capacity of alternative facilities in the north of Melbourne is limited and the MWRRG is working to find alternative arrangements.

FAQs

Why can’t Council follow Boroondara’s lead and use Visy or another provider for its new recycle facility?

Nillumbik Shire Council is one of five Councils that has a contract with SKM Industries Pty Ltd through the Metropolitan Waste Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG). A separate company, SKM Corporate Pty Ltd, was recently placed into liquidation. SKM Recycling have advised that SKM Industries Pty Ltd is still able to trade.

Notwithstanding current contractual arrangements, the biggest hurdle for alternatives to processing recyclables appears to be the lack of excess capacity in the northern region to be able to process the kerbside recycle materials.  Other Councils appear to be taking advantage of capacity in other regions. The additional transport costs associated with processing outside the northern region is currently being quantified to help assess the value of any alternative arrangements.

Not a single Councillor, staff member or community member wants to put recycling to landfill, it goes against everything we stand for, so you can be assured we are doing everything we can to get through this.

What does council recommend for residents and how can residents help?

Council’s Recycling and Recovery Centre at 290 Yan Yean Road Plenty accepts recycling paper and cardboard, metals (cans, aluminium foil, pots and pans) and e-waste free of charge.

These source-separated materials are sent to dedicated recycling facilities not affected by the SKM closure.

Residents can also help by avoiding and reducing the amount of waste generated in the first place, only placing the recycling bin out for collection once it’s full and taking soft plastics to Coles/Woolworths for recycling through REDcycle.

What are Council’s next steps?

In the immediate term, Council has no choice but to send kerbside recyclables to the landfill.

In order to understand and manage the contract risk, Council is currently having daily interactions with MWRRG given the situation with SKM is fluid.

In the medium term, the best outcome is that the recycling infrastructure currently owned and operated by SKM continues to operate to process municipal kerbside recycling, whether the operator is SKM or another party. This infrastructure is capable of sorting to the level required by markets both locally and overseas.

In the longer term, Nillumbik is participating in process initiated by MWRRG to explore a collaborative contract for recycling.

*******

ON AUGUST 2, the Supreme Court ordered recycling processing business SMK Recycling is now to be liquidated.
This followed a July 25 announcement that the firm would cease accepting Council recycling waste from 33 municipalities, including Nillumbik.
As a result, Nillumbik Council, which has been sending all its material from household recycling bins to SKM, may have to divert this material to landfill until a new solution is found.
Moments after news of SKM’s imminent demise was made public, Nillumbik issued a press release, advising residents of the situation.
The Council have continued to collect recycling bins as normal and encourage residents to continue their recycling efforts.
After the courts announcement, Nillumbik Mayor, Karen Eagan said residents can help by reducing the amount of waste they generate whether its recycling, food or general waste.
“Every effort is being made by Council to find short term, interim and long term solutions, including finding alternative recycling options.
“Like several other councils that are also affected, we’re very concerned about how we’re being forced to send recycling to landfill this week”, she said.
Cr Egan said Council will continue to work with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group and other councils to create sustainable solutions for managing waste.
Nillumbik has been in a long-term collaborative contract with Wyndham, Brimbank, Melbourne and Port Phillip Councils, with the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group as contract principal — this contract was not due to expire until 2026.
Cr Egan said the state’s recycling service is a state-wide and long term issue that “requires a stronger response and commitment from all levels of government”.
Apart from the obvious concern of all environmentally-conscious residents that recyclable material is once again going to landfill, there are serious financial aspects to this fiasco which will undoubtedly have a significant effect on Council rates in future years.
Sending this material to landfill comes at a cost, as all Councils have to pay a State Government levy for every tonne of material deposited in landfill — an extra expense that has not been budgeted for.
Additionally, any contract with an alternative collector would come at a significantly higher price than that agreed with SKM.
More worrying is that although we do not know what advance payments, if any, have been made to SKM, we do know that at the last Council meeting on June 25 the existing contract was amended to change the price.
That item on the agenda was held in camera, and despite our enquiries to Council as to whether additional sums over and above the original contract agreement had been paid to SKM in the last month, we are told that “the detail remains confidential”.

The bigger picture

Earlier this year, SKM was ordered to stop receiving waste at its Coolaroo and Laverton North sites after they failed a waste audit and SKM was fined $16,000 for failing to get its facilities back within regulation within the prescribed timeframe.
SKM has been in an insolvency hearing at the Supreme Court, facing liquidation from creditors, with debts reported to be in the millions.
The recycling company — who has contracts with 33 Councils in Victoria — had warned 400,000 tonnes of recyclables would be sent to landfill each year if the company was to permanently close.
There is genuine concern that this will become the reality.
As the recycling situation has deteriorated during the last month there has been no shortage of blame in the mainstream press.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio recently labelled SKM as a “rogue operator”.
Victorian Waste Management Association’s Chief Executive Peter Anderson criticised councils for continuing to send recyclables to SKM and of being irresponsible in maintaining their contracts with the company.
SKM pointed the finger at households for contaminating the recyclable rubbish.

Impacted Councils

There are a total of 79 Local Councils in Victoria.
33 Councils across Victoria had contracts with SKM to collect and process their waste.
The other 46 used Visy or similar waste and recycling contractors.

The 33 Councils which have been impacted by the liquidation of SKM are:

  • Melbourne, Port Phillip, Darebin, Nillumbik, Hume, Whittlesea
  • Wyndham, Brimbank, Moonee Valley, Hobsons Bay, Cardinia
  • Booroondara, Stonnington, Knox, Casey, Kingston
  • Mornington Peninsula, Geelong, Colac, Otway, Queenscliff, Surf Coast
  • Ballarat, Macedon, Hepburn, Golden Plains, Mildura, West Wimmera,
  • Yarriambiack, Buloke, Hindmarsh, Pyrenees, Glenelg.

At this point in time, all other Councils in Victoria are still able to collect and properly process recycling.

The War on Waste continues

Recycling: increasing costs and new initiatives

OUR ARTICLES on recycling in recent issues of the Diary have met with much interest. Our ongoing look at the issue has garnered feedback from both residents and government alike, but sadly, not the recycling companies themselves.

Local Councils

Increased costs

The separate Manningham and Nillumbik Council meetings on June 25 each made reference to these councils signing deeds of amendment to their contracts with Visy Recycling and SKM Recycling respectively to amend the pricing for delivery of recyclables to these operators.
This comes as a consequence of China’s restrictions on imports of foreign waste, although the specific details in both instances were
confidential and held in closed meetings.

Soft plastics

Manningham does not accept soft plastics in the recycle bin.
Nillumbik Council has confirmed with the Diary that it is accepting soft plastics in a tied bag in the recycle bin, whereas SKM Recycling’s website tells us that no soft plastics are allowed.
We are advised that Nillumbik Shire Council is one of four councils currently participating in a trial project to collect and recycle soft
plastics in kerbside recycling bins.
The remaining Councils that send recycling to SKM do not have this arrangement.
After the bags of soft plastics are collected, they are sorted via manual picking or optical sorting technology, compacted, baled and sent to a plastic recycler either locally or overseas for recycling into a range of items including other soft plastics, street furniture and children’s toys.
This trial is currently being reviewed by the partner councils and Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group in light of data
collected over the past 18 months and the current challenges in Victoria’s recycling industry, and will continue until further notice as the review progresses.

Co-mingling and sorting

Whilst welcoming the initiative to start recycling soft plastic, for this writer, who already sorts waste into
landfill (red), recycling (yellow), garden big stuff (green) and food, ash, lawn clippings, leaves into our own compost bin which makes wonderful nourishment for our garden, the need to further segregate soft plastics became somewhat of a logistical problem.
We tried hanging a plastic bag in the kitchen waste cupboard, but there was no room and it got in the way, so we hung it outside by the bins and the contents blew all over the garden in the next gale!
Councils do not sort rubbish; they pick it up and deliver it.
This means that the sorting of rubbish is done either by the householder at one end of the chain or the recycling company at the other.
Recycling companies are noting that the mixing of glass, paper, aluminium, steel, plastic and cardboard into one yellow bin (co-mingling) can cause difficulties.
Co-mingling of multiple classes of recyclable product in the one bin causes cross contamination, e.g. glass gets into paper and plastic.
Asian countries have not actually banned the import of Australian recyclable waste; they have reduced t h e percentage of allowable
contamination to levels which are very difficult and costly to achieve, so this effectively can be regarded as a ban.
And some of the solutions in the pipeline may require us to further segregate our rubbish into yet more bins in the future.
New initiatives such as burning landfill waste to generate power will require an extra sorting process.
Only 50 per cent of red bin (landfill) contents is burnable, so either the householder will be asked to sort it, or the receiver will have to accept the lot, sort it themselves, and take the remainder to landfill.

Recycling companies

The Diary has made every effort to interview SKM Recycling and Visy Recycling, offering to see how the
sorting process works, report on what happens to the sorted materials, and take photos; however, all our efforts have fallen on deaf ears.

Nillumbik Council

Nillumbik Shire Council had put the creation of a domestic recycling scheme on the agenda at the Australian Local Government
Association conference in Canberra in mid-June, and Council hopes it will be supported and added to a national advocacy campaign.
Nillumbik Shire Council Mayor Karen Egan said putting items such as recycling on the national agenda would benefit councils and residents across the country.
“Many councils are facing the same issues and we look forward to working collaboratively to address them and seek support from the Federal Government,” Cr Egan said.
“Nillumbik has led the way when it comes to recycling for so many years and developing a domestic industry would mean we would no longer be reliant on China and other counties.”

Victorian Government

The Legislative Council, the upper house of the Victorian State Parliament, is currently in the process of conducting an inquiry into
Recycling and Waste Management.
Sonja Terpstra MP, State Upper House Member for Eastern Metropolitan Region, visited Warrandyte last month to inspect the new bridge.
She was impressed with the level of community engagement within Warrandyte and was interested in our coverage last month of recycling
matters, as she is a committee member sitting on the current inquiry process which is ongoing as we go to press.
Speaking as the Member for the Eastern Metropolitan Region, Ms. Terpstra noted that of the 12.9 million tonnes of total waste generated by Victorians in 2016–2017, 4.2 million tonnes was sent to landfill and 8.6 million tonnes was diverted from landfill for recycling.
Of this recovered material, 86 per cent remained in Victoria and only 14 per cent was exported overseas.
2.3 million tonnes of the total waste above was attributable to kerbside collections, and 46 per cent of this was diverted for recycling as a State average, although our local councils are doing much better.
Ms. Terpstra noted that Victorians are excellent recyclers — by and large.
She was keen to stress the low percentage, 14 per cent, of recyclables that were exported and felt that recent publicity concerning the policy
change in China made the problem appear larger than it actually was.
However, this did not take away from the fact that community concern still exists about exporting of recycling to other countries, contamination rates and the like.
Ms Terpstra also drew attention to other initiatives being taken by industry including:

  • •A proposal by Australian Paper to proceed with Victoria’s first energy-from-waste project with plans to use kerbside rubbish to
    help power its Maryvale Paper Mill; the scheme is in fact very similar to — but on a much larger scale than — the initiative being
    taken by Manningham Council to convert tree waste to biochar and further development of that technology to produce power,
    as we reported last month.
  • Advanced Circular Polymers’ $20 million advanced plastics recycling facility in Somerton, which received a $500,000 funding
    boost from the Andrews Labor Government and is set to process 70,000 tonnes of plastic each year.
  • The Government has issued a statewide exemption for local councils to remove the administrative barriers to extend their recycling
    collection contracts to June 2021 and look at future shared contracting of recycling services across multiple municipalities,
    which will help local councils save money in management and procurement costs.
  • The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing an additional $35 million to strengthen and diversify Victoria’s waste and recycling industry.
  • Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019.
  • A complete ban on sending electronic waste to landfill came into effect on July 1.

Ms Terpstra observed shrewdly that we are spending a great deal of time working on how to get rid of rubbish, but perhaps our focus should include looking into why we are creating it in the first place.
Having just purchased a dashcam for my car which arrived in a plastic bag containing a cardboard box containing polystyrene and no less
than six sealed plastic bags containing things such as simple cables and USB adapters, which did not need to be wrapped, I have to question — do we really need all that packaging?

Repairing our throwaway culture

By JO FRENCH

THE INAUGURAL Warrandyte Repair Café went off with a bang, a snip, a screw and a stitch on Sunday, July 7 at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall.
The initiative of the Warrandyte Mechanics’ and Arts Association is only the third Repair Cafe in Melbourne and follows in the footsteps of the movement that started in Amsterdam.
The event was held from 10:30 to 12:30 and organiser David Tynan was encouraged by the number of visitors and repairers that took part in the event.
“A great turnout,” said David as he gestured to the crew of volunteers around the room that had made the day a success.
Jillian McKinn offered her skills in garment repair and upcycling.
“It’s is a wonderful idea for people to learn to repair,” said Jillian, “I loathe the idea of a throwaway society, and I was delighted to be involved.”
Jillian worked alongside Agnes Stuyfbergen and Denise Farran to help Hazel Rice recover an old faded footstool with bright red Burmese woven fabric.
Agnes’ sewing skills were also put to good use teaching a visitor to darn a woollen jumper.
“I showed her how to do one hole,”
said Agnes, “and then she went home to do more.”
“It’s really exciting, so many people came in with a variety of different things.”
Greg Lawrence was working on a few small mechanical repairs and had a happy customer leave with his pressure pump sprayer working again.
“It’s a great idea — on two fronts — it gets people together and helps people out.”
Brian Prewett and Roger Gray worked together on a few appliances.
“Of the three, we fixed a slow cooker but the vacuum cleaner and toaster were simply worn out,” said Brian.
“The Repair Café suits me,” said Roger, “I like the idea of fixing something rather than trashing it.”
Jock Macneish was also on the scene.
“The repair café is a wonderful device for delaying the terrible moment when I realise I will become old and useless,” he said.
“While I can still fix things, I can delude myself,” he said.
The grin that followed was evidence of the fun and companionship shared over the event, and all participants are looking forward to next month’s event.
The next Repair Café will be held Sunday, August 4.

National recycling problems deepen

AT A TIME when problems with weekly recycling collections have escalated beyond local council level to State and Federal Government, the Diary is still unable to find out exactly where the material we put in to our recycling bins ends up.

For this writer, and I suspect many of our readers, despite Councils’ best efforts to educate us, it has always been a problem understanding exactly what we can and what we can’t put in our recycling bin.

Different councils have different rules, some packaging carries a numbered recycling logo yet Councils say that some of these cannot be recycled, stuff that is obviously plastic such as coat hangers are not to be recycled, glass bottles are OK but drinking glasses and window glass are not.

We are told to put “soft plastics” into another plastic bag (Nillumbik only) but their recycling company tells us that nothing is to be inside plastic bags, and is that black tray that your BBQ meat came on made out of recyclable plastic or polystyrene?

It all gets much too difficult and I was slightly in sympathy with a non-politically-correct neighbour who told me, “I’ve never understood it; I just put everything into the green bin because it gets collected weekly and I don’t have to bother sorting it”.

But now even when we do get it right, we have to ask whether it actually gets converted into something useful or gets stockpiled or sent to landfill or, at worst case, left in a disused warehouse until it catches fire!

One of the problems is that the so-called recycling companies do precious little recycling themselves.

Their function is to collect the refuse from the local council, sort it, and then “make it available” to other companies, some of whom may be subsidiaries who do recycle the material, or they may export the material for processing overseas.

Local councils are very helpful in providing information; recycling companies are not.

Nillumbik

Nillumbik residents are some of Victoria’s best recyclers, consistently achieving at least 65 per cent diversion from landfill, compared to the State average of 46 per cent.

Nillumbik is one of five councils in a collaborative contract with recycling processor SKM Recycling, administered by the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group on behalf of the councils.

This contract requires SKM to manage kerbside recycling in an environmentally responsible way.

Nillumbik delivers approximately 7,000 tonnes of kerbside recycling to SKM annually.

Of all the material collected in the Yellow Bin, the big hitters are glass, at 27.96 per cent, paper at 23.41 per cent and cardboard at 17.66 per cent.

Whereas soft plastics come in at 1.48 per cent and Tetra Pak (or liquid paperboard) at a low 0.45 per cent.

It is expected that SKM will sort, bale and sell this material through local and overseas markets for processing into new products.

According to SKM’s website, more than 60 per cent of materials remain in Australia for use in local industries.

In regards to whether any materials are being stockpiled, Council has not been notified of any non-conformance since SKM’s Laverton North and Coolaroo sites re-opened in March.

Residents can find out what to recycle or how to dispose of something correctly on Nillumbik Council’s website.

SKM Recycling has not responded to the Diary’s emails or phone calls.

In the recently adopted 2019/20 budget, ratepayers will see an increase of around 3.5 per cent in charges for waste and recycling collection, bringing the standard waste charge to $263.40.

Manningham

Manningham have a similar arrangement to Nillumbik, but their contract is with Visy Recycling.

Visy would appear to have associated companies who produce PET plastic food containers and it would seem that their clients can select the inclusion of varying amounts of recycled content.

But as with all the “recycling” companies their website concentrates a great deal on “collecting” and “sorting” the waste and “recovering” the material but has very little to say on how it is reprocessed and what is actually produced from the material and where.

Our calls to Visy to find out about all of this fell on deaf ears, but Manningham Council were helpful in providing the Diary with the contact details of their person there.

However, despite numerous emails and phone calls, no-one at Visy has responded to us or returned our calls.

In the draft 2019/20 budget adopted in principle by Council in April with a final decision occurring at the June 25 Ordinary Council Meeting, Manningham ratepayers will see a domestic waste service charge increase of 2.25 per cent.

State Government

In February 2018, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio chipped in $13 million to help the Councils manage their recyclable rubbish, after China had refused to accept further plastic waste.

This was a stop-gap measure in the 2018/19 Budget.

In late May of this year, Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings announced that Infrastructure Victoria should look at what is needed to develop waste-to-energy projects and resource recovery from organic waste.

It comes at the same time as Malaysia announced that it would be returning plastic waste to Australia and after the earlier discovery of a dozen illegal waste sites in Melbourne’s north as well as toxic factory fires involving waste stockpiles at Campbellfield, West Footscray and Coolaroo.

Federal Government

The Australian Government has announced the appointment of an Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management.

The new Assistant Minister, Trevor Evans, was appointed on May 26 as part of Scott Morrison’s new cabinet.

Evans said he is humbled to have been sworn in as the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management and was looking forward to the challenges ahead and working as a strong advocate for protecting Australia’s environment.

No more time to waste

With the recycling industry now in a deepening crisis, it is time for government — at all levels – to come up with a plan, and hopefully some sort of standardisation across councils and packaging, so that we all know what can go into any yellow bin in Australia and have confidence that it will be properly recycled.

It is clear from the 2019/20 Budget that a solution to the recycling crisis has not been found.

Maybe it is time for the community to handle this problem on a local level.