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Susie McBurney // 11 May 2023
“We talk a lot about ‘how do you divert something from landfill’? The quickest way to do that is for landfill not to be an option.”
“Banning landfill gives certainty to industry to invest in the relevant infrastructure and investment required for processing and recycling.”
“If we are serious about meeting the NSW targets, and I really hope we are, this will require political courage and conviction now.”
TRANSCRIPT This is an edited transcript of introductory remarks given by Susie McBurney, REMONDIS Australia’s General Manager NSW/ACT, at the Waste Outlook: Infrastructure and Investment panel at Coffs Waste Conference on 10 May 2023 _ The challenges around investment and infrastructure in the waste management industry aren't new and is certainly familiar to REMONDIS. REMONDIS is a family run company that operates in 30 countries with an annual turnover of AUD$21 million, 47,000 employees and servicing over 200,000 industrial and commercial clients. We operate over 1,000 plants worldwide, including 16 energy recovery plants, seven plastics processing plants, 23 anaerobic digesters and a staggering 52 composting facilities.
Today I want to talk about the targets the NSW Government has set.
They want to halve food waste, and we're certainly a long way away from that. We want an average resource recovery rate of 80% and we want to triple the plastics recycling rate. These are certainly ambitious targets in the Australian context, yet completely achievable worldwide.
So how has this been achieved?
Now what I'm going to say might be slightly controversial.
They have banned landfill.
We talk a lot about ‘how do you divert something from landfill’? The quickest way to do that is for landfill not to be an option. It's the quickest way to facilitate change.
Germany banned landfill in 2005.
Increasing a local levy will get you there. However, let's be honest, it's much slower. It relies upon landfill becoming more expensive than recycling.
Banning landfill gives certainty to industry to invest in the relevant infrastructure and investment required for processing and recycling.
Banning landfill, though, requires an alternative, and that alternative is Energy from Waste. Energy from Waste – also known as EfW, energy recovery, or waste to energy – is widely used in Europe and has a superior environmental outcome compared to landfill.
This is certainly challenging in the NSW context. We need social licence for change and we certainly need to look at the four precincts model if we're going to move forward in that direction.
In addition, and as we heard yesterday, the targets are achieved in Europe with a better CDS system. Since the introduction of CDs in NSW, we've recycled 9.3 billion bottles with a $0.10 deposit and an average recovery rate of 65% in Europe. The deposit is more than $0.40 (in Australian terms) and they have an overall recovery rate of 91%, with Germany having 98%.
An increase to the container deposit value and expansion of eligible containers needs to be considered in order to step change our resource recovery rate. The recent announcement in Queensland to accept wine bottles is a great move in this direction.
With all this recycling, the material needs to go somewhere and have a viable offtake – something we're all too familiar with the recent RedCycle example. Europe has onshore processing facilities within the EU for recovered material, which is recycled back into raw materials for the circular economy.
This is similar for organics. Germany has required segregation at source of organics since 2015, which is used as a feedstock and aerobic digesters and composting facilities. The anaerobic digestion market is supported by opportunities for 20 year fixed energy offtakes price guarantee with relatively high energy pricing. REMONDIS operates 78 public private partnerships with councils worldwide covering 33 million inhabitants, providing services for Energy from Waste, composting, anaerobic digesters, paper and cardboard municipal collections. The list goes on.
This model facilitates certainty and risk sharing around feedstock, infrastructure investment, off take and term – all of the things contractors need in order to provide them with the best services for council.
It sounds simple, doesn't it?
In order to achieve this in the NSW context, the following things need to be addressed:
Government has a huge role here in creating the demand for offtakes too. So it was refreshing to hear Tony Chappel (NSW EPA) talk about that this morning in terms of procurement policy.
If we are serious about meeting the NSW targets, and I really hope we are, this will require political courage and conviction now.
Otherwise we'll still be talking about this in another 20 years. _ Explore the agenda for Coffs Waste Conference 2023 at > https://coffswasteconference.com.au/2023
Repute Communications Matthew Watson M +61 417 691 884
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