The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT@UNSW) brings together researchers from the discipline areas of Science, Engineering and design to work with industry on the development of innovative, sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.
Achieving sustainability targets set by industry has created a need for commercially relevant and globally significant R&D. The SMaRT Centre works with industry partners to develop the fundamental and applied science underlying sustainable materials and technologies.
SMaRT brings together the distinctive research capabilities of UNSW’s academics and a track record of delivering research and technology suitable for rapid implementation.
Goals of the Centre
The overall aim of the Centre is to develop innovative, sustainable materials and processes through world-class research collaboration with industry and research partners, with strong emphasis on environmental and economic benefits.
- To lead scientific and engineering advances in sustainability of materials and associated technologies and to strengthen links with local and international institutions and industries for research into developing sustainable materials and associated technologies through ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub – Transforming Waste Directly in Cost-effective Green Manufacturing, ARC Linkage Grants, ARC Discovery Grants, Industry Funds, and visiting researchers
- To deliver the science that will underpin the reduction of the environmental impact, and enhance community benefits associated with materials-related industries and technologies by developing novel and innovative materials and processes
- To facilitate rapid transfer of technology by addressing the scientific and engineering barriers to technologies for transforming industry
- To collaborate with industries to apply the research strengths of UNSW to enhance sustainable development
British Columbia Recycles its 15 Billionth Beverage Container at Encorp Pacific’s 20th Anniversary Event
British Columbia – The Hon. Mary Polak, M.L.A., Minister of Environment was recently on hand at the Queensborough Landing Return-It Depot in New Westminster to recycle British Columbia’s 15 billionth beverage container.
(L-R: British Columbia Minister of Environment Mary Polak with Scott Fraser, President & CEO of Encorp Pacific, recycling the province’s 15 billionth beverage container at the Queensborough Landing Return-It Depot in New Westminster.)
“This is a British Columbia success story about what can happen when we all work together for the greater good of the environment,” says Mary Polak, Minister of Environment. “A big congratulations to Encorp Pacific for the progress they’ve made, and to all British Columbians who have helped reach this milestone.”
“British Columbia is a North American leader when it comes to creating industry-led extended producer programs and Encorp Pacific is helping lead the way,” continued Minister Polak. “What a remarkable achievement for our province where 15 billion beverage containers have now been recycled.”
This event marked Encorp Pacific’s 20th anniversary as a not-for-profit product stewardship corporation with beverage container management as its core business.
“The success of our system for recycling beverage containers proves that millions of small acts can add up to a big win for the environment,” says Scott Fraser, President and CEO of Encorp Pacific. “Even with this extensive system though, British Columbia would not have one of the highest recycling rates in North America without consumers making the decision to do the right thing for the environment. British Columbians deserve a pat on the back for making a difference.”
British Columbia has one of the highest beverage container recycling rates in North America. Last year alone 80.1 percent of all beverage containers sold in British Columbia were returned and recycled. Almost 1 billion used beverage containers were returned for deposit and processed into new products. That includes 356 million aluminum cans, 340 million plastic bottles, 198 million glass bottles and 69 million drink boxes and cartons.
In 2013, Encorp Pacific collected over 90,000 metric tons of recyclable material, an equivalent weight of 60,000 mid-sized cars. Encorp Pacific’s data shows that recycling beverage containers in British Columbia saves enough energy to power 42,000 homes for a year, and reduces 94,700 tonnes of CO2 equivalent from being released into the atmosphere.
Encorp Pacific is the environmental stewardship agency that runs the Return-Itprogram. Its extensive network of over 170 independently owned Return-It depots across the province is the heart of the system, collecting 92 percent of all the beverage containers recycled in BC. Encorp ensures that deposits are refunded to consumers when containers registered in the system are returned to Return-It depots, major grocery retailers and liquor stores. Encorp also ensures that after collecting and sorting the empty beverage containers, they are transported to processors and then sold to end markets so they can be recycled into a variety of new products.
Recycling in a Global Economy
SMC Conference & Function Centre, 66 Goulburn Street, Sydney
9:00am to 1:00pm
The Global Product Stewardship Council and its members invite you to our latest thought leadership forum featuring Adam Minter, the author of best-selling book Junkyard Planet. Adam is a third-generation scrap dealer turned journalist who’s spent over a decade living in Asia, examining recycling practices first-hand and sharing his insights.
The GlobalPSC and electronics recycler TES-AMM are pleased to provide this first Australian opportunity to hear and meet Adam Minter. Adam’s presentation will be followed by a panel discussion with Adam and other international experts on the implications of Adam’s insights for Australia. Participants will include:
- Anna Minns, General Manager TerraCycle Australia & New Zealand
- John Lingelbach, Executive Director of SERI
- Justin O’Sullivan, Executive Director – Sales Operations of Dell Australia
- Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of SMaRT Centre, UNSW Australia
- John Gertsakis, Chief Sustainability Officer of Infoactiv Group and Product Stewardship Advisory Group member
- Dr Helen Lewis, Principal of Helen Lewis Research and Australian Battery Recycling Initiative Chief Executive
Discussions will be facilitated by GlobalPSC CEO Russ Martin.
Join us to learn and discuss:
- How is economic growth in China driving demand for recycled materials?
- How does the global trade in recyclable materials affect recycling in countries like the US and Australia?
- How can we ensure responsible recycling practices, particularly for e-waste and plastics?
- How do changing economic conditions both help and hurt recycling and reuse, especially for electronics?
- What role will the informal sector play in the future of recycling?
- What are the implications of global material flows for product stewardship?
- What are incentives and drivers for incorporating Design for Environment and the circular economy in product stewardship?
Registrations are $275 (GST-incl) for non-members of the GlobalPSC and $125 (GST-incl) for GlobalPSC members. Registration and payment information is available here. A light lunch will be provided for registered attendees.
Webinar – Battery Stewardship Developments in the U.S. A Joint Government and Industry Regulatory Solution for Single Use + Rechargeable Batteries
The United States is on the verge of breakthrough legislation for both primary (single-use) and rechargeable batteries. This shift from a voluntary approach to a regulatory approach covering both battery types has coalesced over the past six months, as an increasing number of government agencies have expressed interest in a legislative solution to household battery management. This webinar will discuss the unique differences between the single-use and rechargeable battery industries, key issues that are being addressed to find a unified legislation solution, explore lessons for other countries such as Australia (where consultation is underway on a national battery stewardship scheme), and outstanding challenges faced by US state and local governments, manufacturers, retailers, and other key stakeholders in the year ahead.
The date of the webinar is:
- if attending from Australia – Nov. 6th at 9 a.m. EST
- if attending from the US – Nov. 5th at 7 p.m. EST.
Speakers will include:
- Marc Boolish, Director of Technology, Energizer Battery Manufacturing Inc, and President, Corporation for Battery Recycling
- Carl Smith, CEO/President, Call2Recycle
- Jen Holliday, Compliance Program and Product Stewardship Manager, Chittenden County, Vermont
- Garth Hickle, Product Stewardship Team Leader, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
- Scott Casell, CEO & Founder, Product Stewardship Institute.
Introduction by Russ Martin, CEO, Global Product Stewardship Council and Independent Chair, Australia’s Battery Implementation Working Group.
Registration is free for Australian residents thanks to our sponsors the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative (ABRI), TES-AMM, Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and Canon, in partnership with the GlobalPSC. For details on how to register at no charge please contact Russ Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Product Stewardship Institute and Global Product Stewardship Council are offering 15% reciprocal membership discounts off the first year of membership. Current PSI partners receive a 15% discount off the appropriate GlobalPSC membership category and current GlobalPSC members are eligible for a 15% discount when joining PSI. The discounts will be applied when memberships are first applied for. Several members have already taken advantage of this opportunity to increase their knowledge of product stewardship and expand their network of contacts, all while saving money.
Those who are members/partners of both GlobalPSC and PSI have access to a diverse stakeholder group both within the U.S. and around the world that is directly active on product stewardship, and will have more opportunities to network and develop business opportunities within the product stewardship movement. Members/partners are also kept informed of the latest developments in the product stewardship movement in the though news updates, listservs, webinars, monthly calls and special events in addition to a full range of social media sources.
Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to take advantage of this offer. Considering joining both at the same time? We’ll help make sure the discounts apply to both memberships.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and Dell (a GlobalPSC Corporate Member) have signed an agreement to cooperate on identifying and implementing a sustainable solution model for e-waste management for developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Developing countries are expected to account for the majority of discarded electronics by 2016, and twice that of developed regions by 2030.
The memorandum of understanding signed by UNIDO’s Director General LI Yong and Dell Inc.’s Executive Director of Sustainability David Lear (pictured below with Jean Cox-Kearns, Director of Compliance – Dell Global Takeback), commits the two organizations to work together for a five-year period, with an option to extend the partnership.
“Enabling recycling infrastructure in developing countries has significant benefits for the environment and local community, and facilitates Dell with the recovery of valuable resources currently being discarded. Together with UNIDO we will work to establish or up-scale facilities to operate environmentally sound management practices that meet international standards for e-waste recycling and further powers the circular economy for IT,” said Lear.
Lear added, “We are going to continue to support governments in developing effective regulations and policies for e-waste management. Since policy development is a multi-stage process, Dell and UNIDO will support governments in the dialogue and dissemination activities to accompany the various stages of policy development, and this will include organizing and participating in consultation meetings with major stakeholder groups representing industry associations, civil society groups, formal and informal sector collectors, recyclers and representative associations.”
Through the collaboration, UNIDO and Dell aim to create awareness, build capacity, and engage in knowledge sharing and policy advocacy with regard to sustainable e-waste management; to support the creation of an operational and economically viable collection network, and dismantling and recycling facilities, to process e-waste in developing countries in a safe and environmentally sound way; and to support the development of local recycling infrastructure, contributing to the industrial development of these countries and creating sustainable, green economies.
UNIDO has an established e-waste program that addresses the full life cycle of ICT equipment by properly dismantling and recycling it once the equipment has become obsolete. The program aims to foster the development of an environmentally sound e-waste recycling industry in developing countries.
With the active support of 35 National Cleaner Production Centres, UNIDO focuses on promoting an environmental service industry in developing countries; preparing national e-waste assessment reports; establishing partnerships with national and international institutions from the public and private sector; and facilitating the establishment of local and regional e-waste dismantling and recycling facilities.
Dell began integrating sustainability features into its products and processes nearly 30 years ago with designs that were upgradable, serviceable and recyclable because it was good for business, customers, and the environment. Dell is building on this commitment through its recently launched Legacy of Good plan outlining its vision for 2020. As part of this plan, Dell has a goal to eliminate two billion pounds of used electronics by 2020, which will be achieved through Dell’s recycling programs for homes and businesses in 78 countries.
The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Alison Keane, Vice President for Government Affairs with the American Coatings Association. She is also the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Association’s PaintCare product stewardship organization.
Alison has been an active participant and speaker at Global Product Stewardship Council events, including the GlobalPSC’s International Product Stewardship Summit and Priority Product Stewardship Workshop.
Today’s paints offer consumers the aesthetic value they seek, as well as the protective properties necessary to safeguard their valuable assets. Additionally, environmental consciousness has pushed coatings technology toward creating more eco-friendly, sustainable products. The results are safer and easier to use paints that deliver top quality aesthetics and protection.
Despite its many valuable uses, paint – when disposed of – is often the largest volume product collected by municipal household hazardous waste (HHW) programs: an estimated 10 percent of the more than 650 million gallons of architectural paint (paint used to coat the interior and exterior of houses and other structures) sold each year in the United States goes unused. Much, if not most of this is latex – which is considered “non-hazardous” according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing protocols. This paint is typically managed along with other products in HHW programs as a hazardous waste, which can be very costly. In addition, management of latex paint poses a challenge for many municipalities and counties because liquid latex paint cannot be disposed of as “mixed municipal solid waste” in the regular waste stream. However, latex paint has potential for recycling and diversion from landfills, and as such, the paint industry favors not regarding leftover paint as waste but rather as a resource that is meant to be completely used or reused.
Yet, while leftover paint can be captured for reuse, recycling, energy recovery or safe disposal, doing so requires public awareness and a convenient and effective local collection system. Many municipal, locally operated HHW programs have been collecting paint for many years; however, as paint collection is expensive, many have discontinued collecting latex, instead directing the consumer to dry and dispose of it through their regular garbage. With continuing budget constraints, this is a trend that is gaining acceptance. Simply put, post-consumer paint collection is currently beyond the capacity of, and budgets for, many local governments.
Thus, the paint industry supports and has championed an extended producer responsibility (EPR) or product stewardship approach, an approach that is increasingly being implemented in the United States and in other countries for other products. Product stewardship is a principle that directs all participants involved in the life cycle of a product to take shared responsibility for the impacts to human health and the natural environment that result from the production, use, and end-of-life management of the product. EPR principles assert that it is in the best interests of state and local governments that manufacturers manage environmentally sound and cost-effective end-of-life stewardship programs for their products. These terms, EPR and product stewardship – often used interchangeably – allow a reduction of overall system costs by privatizing the end-of-life management for products and shifting the cost burden from rate and tax payers to users and producers of the products. All participants in the life-cycle of a product have a role to play – manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and government. However, if producers are going to have the primary responsibility for the end-of-life management of their products, they must be given the ability to develop, own and operate the programs – and not simply be forced to fund current programs.
The American Coatings Association (ACA), after more than five years of promoting a model solution for post-consumer paint management, was instrumental in securing passage of the first-ever paint product stewardship law in the United States in the state of Oregon in July 2009. Since then, parallel legislation has been enacted in California, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Minnesota, Maine, and Colorado. ACA has created a new 501(c)(3) organization – PaintCare® – to run the program, which directs an industry-led end-of-life management program for post-consumer architectural paint; that is, both oil-based and latex paint used for the interior and exterior of buildings that are sold in containers of five gallons or less. This model solution was developed as part of an agreement with federal, state and local government stakeholders.
The PaintCare® program institutes a true product stewardship model that ensures environmentally sensitive end-of-life management for leftover paint, while relieving local and state governments of their economic burden, without creating new, expensive local or state-run programs.
Model legislation was crafted through a dialogue facilitated by the Product Stewardship Institute, a sister organization and member of the Global Product Stewardship Council. The legislation was crafted to ensure that there would not be any free-riders (all producers must participate) and to establish a sustainable financing system. The financing system is termed a “paint stewardship assessment”. The law defines this as “the amount added to the purchase price of architectural paint sold in [the state] necessary to cover the cost of collecting, transporting and processing the post-consumer architectural paint managed through a statewide architectural paint stewardship program”. This assessment is paid to PaintCare® by producers for all architectural paint sold in states where the program is operating and is then uniformly added to the final retail price of paint in order to ensure adequate funding for the program and a level playing field for all producers and retailers.
In addition to using the funding for the operational aspects of the program – collection, transportation and processing – the funding also is used for administrative costs. These costs include submittal of a comprehensive plan to the state agency in charge of oversight as well as an annual report on the progress of the program. In addition, PaintCare® financing is used to educate consumers about the issue, including reducing post-consumer paint waste, collection and recycling opportunities and how the program is financed. Education and outreach on purchasing the right amount, using it up and recycling the rest is paramount to the program; if we can reduce the waste paint generation in the first place, we can save valuable resources and reduce the costs of the program over time. Identifying and supporting recycling efforts – leftover paint back into paint or other products – is also part of the program’s goals.
As mentioned above, eight states have enacted legislation to establish the PaintCare® program and it is important to mention that these laws have been consistent across the states. A primary purpose of the industry’s pro-action on the issue was to ensure that the industry would not be facing 50 different state solutions to the issue, but rather one nationally coordinated approach. PaintCare® has had remarkable success in just its first four years. In fact, the Oregon program was only intended to be a four-year pilot, but due to its incontrovertible success, the PaintCare® program was made permanent by law last year.
All in all, PaintCare® has over 1,000 collection sites for post-consumer paint in the 5 states currently operating and has collected and recycled in excess of 2 million gallons of paint. An ancillary benefit is the container recycling that has also been realized by the program with over 700 tons of plastic and metal cans having been recycled through the program. These numbers will only continue to grow as existing programs expand, Minnesota, Maine and Colorado begin implementation over the next year and new states come on board.
PaintCare® is a win-win, and state and local governments are carefully tracking the success of PaintCare®’s program throughout the states in which it is operating with an eye toward adopting the program. Other countries such as Australia, the UK, and Brazil are interested in the model. While ACA and PaintCare® owe much to our counterpart in Canada, Product Care, we are committed to growing to be the best, most effective program for paint stewardship on the globe!
For more information about PaintCare®, please visit www.PaintCare.org, or contact ACA’s Alison Keane (email@example.com) or PaintCare®’s Marjaneh Zarrehparvar (firstname.lastname@example.org) at (202) 462-6272.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.
Alison Keane is an environmental attorney with 20 years’ experience in both the private and governmental sectors. She is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs with the American Coatings Association, responsible for the Association’s advocacy activities on behalf of paint and coating manufacturers in the US. She is also the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Association’s PaintCare product stewardship organization. Other employment experience includes the Environmental Protection Agency’s Headquarters office, the Maryland State Senate and private practice. Alison has her BA in Biology from St. Mary’s College of Maryland and her JD from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She is admitted to the practice of law in both Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Guest Blog – E-waste Recycling in Developing and Emerging Economies: the Importance of Working with the Informal Sector
The Global Product Stewardship Council periodically invites thought leaders on product stewardship and producer responsibility to contribute guest blogs. Our guest blogger for this post is Brett Giddings, currently undertaking a PhD at UNSW focussed on e-waste and Manager, Member Services at the Australian Packaging Covenant.
The rate of ownership, and ultimately disposal of, electronic devices continues to increase year on year; the StEP Initiative estimating that 48.9 million tonnes of e-waste was produced worldwide in 2012, a figure that is set to increase to more than 65 million tonnes by 2017.
At the same time, devices such as mobile phones, laptops and televisions are becoming increasingly complex and challenging to recycle at end-of-life. Recycling the mix of valuable materials within this growing heterogeneous waste stream is important, but simply collecting products from consumers does not ensure recovery.
As highlighted by Adam Minter (keynote at the next GlobalPSC Thought Leadership Forum) in his 2013 book Junkyard Planet, inevitably some e-waste is shipped to locations where the manual labour, often better suited to dismantling complex products, is more cost-effective and within closer proximity to the manufacturers that will ultimately use the materials recovered. On face value, it is difficult for the public to support e-waste flows to these markets. While the situation is reported to be improving, the environmental and health impacts associated with poor e-waste recycling practices employed by the informal sector are well-documented, legitimate concerns with a quick Google search conjuring up images of youths burning PVC sheaths from copper wires and factory workers sitting in piles of broken CRT TVs and monitors.
Parallel to regulatory responses to these impacts is a growth in industry-lead supply chain transparency and certification, yet still the flows of waste (at times illegally) continue, and ultimately find their way to the informal sector. There have been many calls to stop the export of e-waste to regions that involve the informal sector, however there are inherent social benefits and value creation opportunities that should be considered and accounted for. These include the dramatic rises in ownership of refurbished electronic devices in these regions and the resultant social benefits that this access affords. At the same time, the developing world is producing its own increasing volumes of e-waste, with China now outstripping even the US in terms of total tonnes of e-waste produced each year. “Cutting and running”, as with many complex supply chain problems, is not the answer.
The viability of e-waste recycling is underpinned by the availability of high-value materials, including copper, gold, silver and palladium and the ease with which these materials can be separated and recovered from the units within which they are embedded. New, low-impact, practical and place-relevant solutions are required; solutions that mitigate the health and environmental impacts associated with practices such as chemical leaching and open copper wire burning, while maximising employment opportunities and resource recovery.
There is no right or wrong approach, but solutions should be systematic, linking effective manual recycling processes with the high-tech, environmentally sound, formal sector. They should be complementary rather than competing, also able to run in parallel and coexist with the formal sector, and empower both individual operators and those working in cooperative arrangements. One example is the East Africa Compliant Recycling operation in Kenya. Supported by Dell, HP, Microsoft and Philips, collectors are able to deliver electronic goods and receive fair payment. Electronic items are then manually sorted, dismantled, packed and shipped locally or globally for recycling.
Other solutions are technology-focussed. The Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT Centre) at UNSW, has demonstrated that processing printed circuit boards using pyrolysis at high temperatures in an inert atmosphere can be utilised to recover high-value material fractions in a manner that mitigates both the health and environmental impacts often associated with small-scale processing. Currently laboratory-based, I am involved in a research project to explore the viability of this technologies’ use by the informal sector and in an environment where waste streams are far from consistent, evolving with each product iteration. Professor Veena Sahajwalla, Director of the SMaRT Centre, will be discussing this project and others as a panellist at the GlobalPSC’s next Thought Leadership Forum.
The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Global Product Stewardship Council.
With a background in product development and environmental management, Brett Giddings has held roles that span the full lifecycle of products; from design through to recycling. Currently undertaking a PhD at UNSW focussed on e-waste, Brett is also the Manager, Member Services at the Australia Packaging Covenant. He has worked in local government in a waste management role, contracted to several environmental consultancies, held a research position at UNSW and was Visy’s Product Sustainability Manager.
Sydney, Australia – Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, announced today that FluoroCycle has been formally accredited by the Federal Government as Australia’s second voluntary product stewardship scheme under the Product Stewardship Act 2011.
Under FluoroCycle, organisations from the commercial and public lighting sectors (producers of 90 percent of waste lamps) commit to recycling their own mercury-containing lamps. FluoroCycle has 230 signatories including commercial users, building and facilities managers, government departments, recyclers and others involved in the recycling and re-use process.
“Fluorocycle is a good example of shared responsibility in action: the big users of lamps undertake the safe recycling of the products they use and the lighting manufacturers and importers work together through Lighting Council Australia to operate the scheme,” said Minister Hunt.
New regulations by the US Drug Enforcement Administration encourage safe medicine disposal and expanded take-back opportunities at pharmacies and hospitals to address prescription drug abuse.
Patients and family members can also use pre-paid mail-back packages to return unwanted medicines.
The changes apply to controlled substances including opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, stimulants such as Adderall and depressants such as Ativan that previously could not legally be returned to pharmacies.
Participation in the program will be voluntary.
US Attorney General Eric Holder’s video below outlines the intent of the new regulations.