NACRO commends the Victorian Government on its commitment to developing a circular economy policy and the release of its Issues Paper for consultation.

NACRO is delighted to submit the attached feedback outlining the importance of the charitable reuse, recycling and retail sector as both early adopters of circular economy principals, and as charitable organisations with a full social licence. The sector contributes perhaps the greatest triple bottom line impact for Victoria in terms of the social, environmental and economic benefits it delivers.

We look forward to working together with the Victorian Government to transform to the circular economy – as a sustainable, prosperous, zero waste, low carbon-emitting economy that also serves the best interests of people, not just in Victoria, but around our planet.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has released a new application for the Community Service Exemption from the NSW Waste Levy.

A downloadable PDF called ‘Community Service Exemption Guidelines – Completing an Application’ is now available to help applicants navigate the new application and can be found here.

There is no change to how charities claim the exemption.  The only change is the application and application process.

Please click here to access the online application form.

For further information about Community Service Exemption from the Waste Levy please click here.

NACRO Incorporating Zero Waste Network has been invited to provide feedback to the Victorian Government’s Circular Economy issues paper released this week.

Charitable reuse, recycling and retail organisations are perfectly positioned to both support, and benefit from, the transition into a circular economy that will grow our economy, increase jobs and reduce impacts on the environment. Directly, as more consumers embrace reuse, it will also drive more sales for charity op shops and not-for-profit community reuse outlets.

All members are encouraged to participate in the consultation, either directly at https://engage.vic.gov.au/circulareconomy or with feedback to NACRO, which we will incorporate into our formal submission to the Victorian Government via DELWP.

DELWP has also asked us that if NACRO Inc ZWN members have initiatives they would like to share, to go to engage.vic.gov.au/circulareconomy/yourcircularstory.

The circular economy is also the keynote topic at NACRO’s Annual Conference in Melbourne on 14-15 October, and all charitable reuse and recycling organisations are encouraged to attend, and be part of this important conversation for us all to use materials more efficiently and avoid waste in all stages of making, using and disposing of the products and infrastructure we rely on every day.

NACRO is looking forward to providing feedback on behalf of the charitable reuse, recycling and retail sector, and working closely with EPA Tasmania. NACRO is pleased to see a commitment to support and accelerate charitable reuse and recycling in Tasmania, and will assertively assist the EPA with its commitment to the Circular Economy, and in leveraging the social, environmental and economic impacts of charitable recyclers.

At the same time, NACRO is also supporting the Circular Economy policy developments of other State Governments.

The role of charitable recyclers in the Circular Economy is also the Keynote session at the NACRO Annual Conference in Melbourne – and not to be missed. (Register today)

Please click here for a copy of the draft plan for consultation.

NACRO’s formal offer to integrate and merge the Zero Waste Network’s assets, members and influence into NACRO has been approved by the ZWN board and ratified by its members with overarching enthusiasm.

Both are not-for-profit charitable associations with much in common. The combined value proposition will scale our influence to uphold trust in, and promote the impact of the charitable reuse, recycling and retail sector as a collaborative and progressive network with a powerful voice to advocate on behalf of all member needs.

The integration will unify our sector and put charitable reuse and recycling organisations at the top of the agenda for local, state and federal government, as well as providing both sets of members access to more member services, greater benefits and enhanced influence together. NACRO is working through the transition with ZWN and a formal announcement will be made shortly.

For more information, please contact omer.soker@nacro.org.au or see the ZWN website.

Join leaders of the charitable recycling sector for the most important and thought-provoking two days of the year – at the NACRO Annual Conference at the Pullman Albert Park Melbourne on 14-15 October 2019.

Take a look at the Conference Agenda and book at Early Bird rates today.

Day 1 Recycling has Australia’s best speakers on the circular economy, sustainable fashion, product stewardship, recycling technology and reuse.

Day 2 Retail includes how to turn donors into shoppers, online solutions, outperforming commercial retail, disruption, innovation and donor trust.

The Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Environment will open the conference in person to set the tone for an amazing two days of future vision into our sector.

The Early Bird discount rates won’t last long, so book today before the conference sells out.

Rob Lucas – Treasurer of SA

Following representations to the South Australian Government and collaborative discussions with the EPA and Green Industries, NACRO is delighted that the Hon Rob Lucas, Treasurer of SA, has announced that a 50% reduction on the levy will be provided to charity organisations on unwanted waste they receive as part of the donation system. With the waiver eligibility criteria aligned with NACRO’s own membership criteria, the EPA is looking at fast-tracking the application process for NACRO members. Details have been sent to NACRO SA members with operational recommendations and actions they need to take right now to access the waiver.

In other waste levy news, the Victorian Landfill Levy Relief Program has been extended again, the Queensland Waste Levy Exemption comes into effect on 1 July 2019 for approved charitable recyclers and NACRO is in discussions with EPA NSW on a weight-based billing initiative designed to assist the implementation of the Community Service Exemption.

All up, NACRO is set to save charitable recyclers $4 million this year.

Australia’s recycling industry is concerned that Sunday’s 60 Minutes program didn’t paint the full picture of Australia’s recycling efforts and didn’t highlight the industry’s contribution of some 50,000 jobs and $15 billion in value, with real potential for more benefits.

The report included:a false claim that much of Australia’s plastic waste is being disposed of incorrectly in south-east Asia; didn’t sufficiently highlight recycling’s many upsides, and; should not discourage the vast majority of Australians who regularly recycle to keep doing so because their efforts matter.

Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO, Peter Shmigel, said:“Australian recycling is highly successful, despite some ill-conceived claims in the broadcast.In fact, up to90per cent of material collected for recycling is made into new products.”

Waste Management & Resource Recovery Association (WMRR) CEO, Gayle Sloan, said: “Australia’s industry is aiming to get even better through investment, innovation and community education to build a stronger domestic recycling system, and is therefore advocating a new labelling scheme for community confidence.”

National Waste & Recycling Industry Council CEO, Rose Read, said: “The community votes in favour of recycling through its very strong participation. We encourage householders to continue to separate and sort their recycling correctly to reduce contamination and realise the environmental and economic benefits of recycling.”

According to the National Waste Report 2018 undertaken by the Commonwealth Government,plastic exports from Australia decreased last year by 25 per cent.

It also found that:

  • Australians generated 67 million tonnes of waste (including 13 million from kerbside collections)
  • 37 million tonnes of waste was recycled(5 million from kerbside collections)
  • 33 million tonnes of the recycling was undertaken in Australia
  • 4 million tonnes of material was exported from Australia for recycling(over 50% being metal)

It is estimated that between 10 and15 per cent of kerbside recycling cannot be recycled because it is contaminated with nappies, soft plastics, garden hoses, bricks and batteries.

A claim was made by 60 Minutes that 71,000 tonnes of recyclable plastic was exported to Malaysia.“

If the claim that all these materials are not being properly processed is accurate, this is very concerning, as there are also legitimate processors in Malaysia. 71,000 tonnes represents less than 2 per cent of the 4 million tonnes of what is actually exported and less than 0.2 per cent of the 37 million collected for recycling,”Mr Shmigel added.

“The community want and support kerbside recycling. With better support from all levels of Government, the waste management sector is well-placed to achieve better recycling outcomes,” added Tony Khoury from Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA).

The local recycling industry, which employs more than 50,000 Australians and generates up to $15 billion in value, is currently making some of the most advanced recycling investments in the world in response to the impacts of restrictions across Asia, including high-tech infrastructure to improve sorting and processing to produce high quality materials from recovered waste from households, businesses and construction sites.

Recycling groups including the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia (WMRR), the Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA), Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA) and National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) have been urging greater investment, regulatory reform and policy support from Governments.

A recent Reachtel survey commissioned by ACOR found that almost 93 per cent of people said reducing waste and recycling products into new products is important to them and 87 per cent supported increasing recycling and reducing landfill by processing food and garden material from rubbish bins into useful products.

“There is not a shred of doubt that the industry wants to see maximum resource recovery. Our local industry is investing heavily and working collaboratively to upgrade local processing capacity which in the past were, to some extent, built to meet China’s previous specifications,” added Ms Sloan.

“We need a Made with Australian Recycled Content label which will do two key things –empower the community to take action and ownership of the materials they consume and incentivise manufacturers and brand owners to include recycled content in their packaging and products. This will create new markets for recycled materials and ensure a sustainable future for kerbside recycling, local resource recovery,and remanufacturing. Developing any industry is a collaborative effort and one that takes time. As we move forward, the industry is seeking leadership from all levels of Government.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Chris Hall (Primary Communication)
m 0419 607 909
chall@primary-pr.com

Frank Coletta
m 0468 987 295
fcoletta@primary-pr.com

NACRO calls on all State Governments to invest just $10 for each tonne of waste charities deal with each year, into three proven interventions to tackle dumping at charities, to increase reuse and recycling initiatives in the charitable recycling sector and to educate consumers on responsible donations. NACRO also challenges the Federal Government to get involved in this important conversation, and match the funding dollar for dollar so we can end dumping at charities, protect our environment and support our communities.

Policy Positions

NACRO launches a new policy position and 3-point plan to tackle dumping at charities, to increase reuse and recycling in the charitable recycling sector, and to educate consumers on responsible donations. Omer Soker, CEO of NACRO was invited to launch the plan live on air on Weekend Sunrise.

Policy Positions

It’s time to start telling a different story about Australia’s waste industry. That the China ban in fact represents the massive incentive our country needs to start looking for solutions. And more and more stakeholders are contributing to the conversation about the future focused solutions.

Fore more, click here.

For Charity Fraud Awareness Week, Scamwatch has revealed that charities are losing out on more than $320,000 in donations due to fake charity scams. Scamwatch is appealing to donors to be wary of fake charities or people impersonating real charities. In 2018, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) received almost 690 reports of scams.

For more click here.

The EPA NSW’s Product Improvement Program is open to applications, with individual grants of $50,000 to $1 million available.

The program supports co-investment in infrastructure projects that aim to improve the quality of recycled materials,  reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the process, increase the amount of waste materials recycled, and increase capacity to recover and reprocess waste materials (with priority given to mixed paper/cardboard, plastics and glass).

Round 1 will close at 5pm on Thursday 23 August 2018.

More information is available on the EPA website.

Vinnies NSW has launched a second Bulk Container Deposit Centre as part of the state’s container deposit scheme. The Unanderra facility can process up to 100,000 containers per day, and complements existing over-the-counter sites and reverse vending machines with an efficient way to process large volumes of eligible containers.

Container deposit refunds can be received on-the-spot, and are available to consumers, community groups, charities, social enterprises and businesses bringing in containers.

For more, check out the Vinnies NSW website.

ThredUp is an online retail platform seeking to reinventing second-hand shopping by disintermediating op shops and sending clothes direct to consumers. As Australian op shops look to develop their online offerings, ThredUp needs to be on the radar.

Here’s a product review and individual perspective from Cheap Chic.

Forget panning for gold or extracting copper ore. A new study shows that recovering metals from discarded electronics, a process known as urban mining, is far less expensive than mining them the traditional way. In 2016 alone, the world discarded 44.7 million metric tons of unusable or simply unwanted electronics. A Chinese study found that organisations could make a profitable business out of urban mining, which is 13 times cheaper than traditional mining – especially when government subsidies are factored in.

So what are the income opportunities from old electronics? Read on.

For most people, once they lift the lid and throw their rubbish in the wheelie bin, their household waste is out of sight, out of mind. Gunther Hoppe, chief executive of the Mindarie Regional Council in Western Australia is hoping to challenge this mindset by putting wheelie bin contents on display. As a trial to start a better conversation with consumers about reducing waste, 20 transparent bins will be used by participating houses over eight weeks so people can see waste more clearly.

Consumer initiatives like this all serve to help a better understanding and behaviour around not just waste, but potentially dumping as well. Read on.

Germany and Wales have seemingly mastered their waste problem. They could help Australia as it grapples with China’s ban on contaminated recyclable material. Having set an ambitious target to achieve zero waste by 2030, Wales could soon overtake Germany as the world’s leading recycling nation. Germany is so good at recycling they have even found a use for dead animals. Hunters can drop their deer heads at the depot and they’ll be rendered down for fat which can be used in a range of products like lip balm. When you’re in Sweden, you’re never more than 300 metres from a recycling station.

What more can Australia learn from innovators like these? Read on.

Emergency measures in response to China’s ban on foreign waste, like stockpiling, landfilling or trying to find other international destinations for our recycling are not sustainable long-term solutions. We need a broad debate on a long-term rethink for an innovative, sustainable recycling sector – with all stakeholders coming together.

Read The Conversation’s re-think suggestions here

 

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) has laid out a roadmap that starts with harmonising bins nationally ($28M), upgrading sorting centres ($33M), developing more factories to produce paper pulp and plastic pellets ($57M), using raw materials for infrastructure ($32M) and burning waste into energy.

ACOR’s strategic vision on strategic focus areas and where upgrades are needed is a powerful catalyst for discussions on how Australia can get serious about what we do with our own unwanted plastics, how we can work with waste to energy operators to understand the value of our excess product, and how we can market our sector as a vehicle to educate the community on great recycling behaviour.

Read ACOR’s roadmap here.

In the lead up to the Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM), the Greens released an industry blueprint on waste recycling, designed to expand the Australian waste management system to replace the need to export recyclables.

The Greens want to spend $500 million over five years on infrastructure and programs to improve recycling with a national container deposit scheme and waste streams for tyres, mattresses and e-waste.

Read the Greens blueprint here.

At the Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM) on 27 April 2017 the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Energy and the Environment Minister from each Australian state and territory agreed to:.

• Reduce the amount of waste and make it easier for products to be recycled.
• Increase the demand for recycled products, and create new markets for recycled materials.
• Increase Australia’s recycling capacity, and grow our domestic capabilities.
• Advance waste-to-energy projects, recognising the reduction, reuse and recycling of waste as a priority.
• Encourage waste reduction strategies through consumer education and awareness.
• Update the 2009 Waste Strategy to include circular economy principles.

Read the full statement here.

The Queensland Government has confirmed plans to reintroduce a waste levy in a bid to stop interstate waste entering the state. Full details have yet to be released but the Deputy Premier Jackie Trad has suggested that it may likely be around $50-$70 per tonne, and that it will be designed so it does not directly impact Queenslanders. ABC Story can be found at this link.

After nine years, my team and I are stepping down from managing the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations.

It has been an honour to serve the association and a privilege to work with a wonderful series of Chairs, namely Ken Richardson (Lifeline), Cathy Bray (The Smith Family), John Hillier (UnitingCare) and Michael Skudutis (Salvos Stores ST) and more recently Matt Davis (Salvos Stores). I am proud of our courageous efforts to protect the environment within which our members operate and to promote the benefits of the sector. We will miss the many wonderful people who work and volunteer within the sector.

On behalf of NACRO Chair, Matt Davis, I am pleased to announce that following an extensive executive recruitment search with the NACRO National Executive, Omer Soker has been appointed NACRO’s new CEO effective from 8 March.

Omer was formerly the CEO of the Australian Gift and Homewares Association, which he led through a period of significant change, progress and growth. After an earlier career in publishing and media, Omer also held the position as Retail Group Director of Reed Exhibitions, where he oversaw Reed Gift Fairs and Online Retailer.

Omer is passionate about ethics and sustainability and sees NACRO as an opportunity to support the various charitable aims of our members. I have been advised that he will be based in Sydney and regularly travelling interstate to provide support. Please welcome Omer as he makes his way around and gets to know the charitable recycling space. You will be able to contact Omer at omer.soker@nacro.org.au.

Best regards

Kerryn Caulfield, NACRO

Chief Executive of Salvos Stores, Matt Davis, said in a recent interview that the stark drop in donations — especially second-hand furniture — due to platforms such as Facebook and Gumtree is of concern.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve really begun noticing a drop in donations. We think the timing of Facebook Marketplace, Buy and Sell pages on the social media platform and sites like Gumtree have contributed to the drop,” Mr Davis told news.com.au.

The full article can be found at this link.

New York State Attorney General recently announced that over 4,700 donation collection bins throughout New York now disclose whether clothing or other items deposited in those bins are used for charitable or for-profit purposes in compliance with a new state law that imposes strict regulations on the placement, maintenance, and transparency of collection bins across the state.

“New Yorkers who drop-off personal items into collection bins deserve to know whether they are making a charitable donation or enriching a for-profit corporation,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “We are committed to ensuring that New Yorkers will know how their donations will be used.”

The General Business Law, which took effect in June 2016, was enacted to address the proliferation of collection bins across the state, and the lack of transparency regarding how collected items are used. Investigations also found that charities had failed to take adequate steps to ensure that their names and logos were not being used in a deceptive manner. The Attorney Generals statement can be found at this link.

Northumbria Police  and several UK newspapers have reported an arrested of six people after a number of dawn raids as part of an investigation into Modern Day Slavery in Newcastle – with potential victims believed to have been collecting charity bags. An investigation was launched last year after Northumbria Police received intelligence about a suspected Lithuanian organised crime group understood to be operating in the city.

Enquiries led officers to believe that a factory had been set up in the North Shields and men were being trafficked from Eastern Europe to work across the region. Police believe those carrying out the work would be housed in shared accommodation and their wages and benefits would be controlled by their employers. It is suspected that the men worked as charity bag collectors through a third party and that they would travel across Newcastle to collect donations of clothes.

Eastern European gangs are known to collect donated clothing before legitimate charities or set up fake charities to steal the garments.

HMRC is also running a separate investigation to establish whether any of the proceeds from the illegal business are going to the charities in question. Here is a link to the News item posted on the Northumbria Police website.

SCR recycling hub

SCRgroup is launching a number of new services in 2018, including a home pick-up service; and clothing and electrical “Drop-Off Hubs”.

Residents of Maribyrnong City Council now have access to 18 clothing and electrical drop-off hubs to dispose of unwanted textile and electrical items at six sites across the municipality. See the Maribyrnong City Council media release at this link.

It is worth noting that the City of Maribyrnong does not allow for charity donation bins to be located on council land.

The Queensland Member for Ipswich West, Jim Madden recently proposed the reintroduction of the landfill levy as a solution to reducing the level of dumping in Ipswich. Sadly the good Mr Madden has not linked the dots between increased levies and dumping on charities. Read the article at this link.

After four months the report into cross-border waste dumping has been completed. It is being prepared by the Department of Environment and Science before being presented to the responsible minister, Leeanne Enoch.

We’re excited to announce that our new and refreshed NACRO website is live after months of development. There’s a whole host of material, facts and figures, all to enhance the experience of the finding more about charitable recycling.The site even features an Op Shop locator.

When we started the project we had big ideas to inform the public, students, government, councils, environmentalists and potential volunteers. We’ve also created a host of new graphics, published a gallery’s worth of images, and made the site easier to use and the experience mobile and tablet friendly.

Please take a look around the site, and if you have any feedback, please let us know.

Sadly, the festive time of the year is reliably the worst for shameful behaviour by a select few who dump on charities. This year was no different. Members used social and traditional media to call for responsible donating. The media used strong terms such as “lazy idiots” but still the deluge continued.

Following are some headlines and links to the reporting:
Council sets sights on people who dump items outside charity shops
Mandurah residents ‘outraged’ by mess at Good Sammy drop off bins
We’re not your rubbish dump – sick of lazy idiots making Salvos waste thousands
Schools, train stations resemble rubbish tips as fake do-gooders dump their trash

In a recent article published and syndicated by the Herald Sun, NACRO criticized the diversion of charitable goods and services to private companies as a waste of resources.

In response to the proliferation of donations away from benevolent organisation, much of which is being enabled by local councils, NACRO forewarned a call on the State Government to consider a number of reforms, at the top of which is mandatory transparency and disclosure. “Victorians expect transparency and accountability from their charities and the commercial enterprises that target the kindness of Australian donors”.

“NACRO looks forward to working with the Victorian government to make it mandatory for commercial donation and recycling bin operators soliciting second hand clothing and household goods, to disclose their social purpose and impact, and the percentage of funds that support benevolent causes.” The article can be found at this link.

The latest Quarterly Market Analysis Report (July to September 2017) published by the UK Charity Retail Association in early December 2017, saw strong sales indicators, including a 5.7 per cent like for like income growth. Plus 80 per cent of the report respondents saw positive growth in donated goods sales.

Additionally, between Q3 2016 and Q3 2017, income from electrical goods and menswear saw growth up by 17.7 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively.  However, sales of furniture in general charity shops decreased by 1.4 per cent.

CEO of the UK Charity Retail Association, Robin Osterley, said the figures were in line with the recent Office of National Statistics report on retail sales, which indicated a strong overall performance from the charity retail sector. Clearly charity shops continue to meet the needs of people up and down the country, said Ms Osterley.

The blockchain community launched a Philanthropy Foundation in September 2017, to promote the use of Blockchain technology in the not-for-profit sector to generate income. Blockchain Philanthropy Foundation logo

The Foundation’s mission includes “building a new revenue stream for charities by providing a Blockchain-powered technology platform, as well as tools, training and support”.

The Harvard Business Review defines blockchain as the technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies. “Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.”

Read more …

Michigan’s Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against ATRS, a Texas-headquartered company that owns and operates 251 clothing donation bins in the state, for deceptively operating the collection bins.

The bins state that the Michigan Humane Society “receives 100% of the market value of every donation received at this location.” However, by contract, ATRS pays the Michigan Humane Society just $.02 per pound, according to a statement issued by the Attorney General Bill Schuette. 

Mr Schuette says in the claim that, for 2016, donations to the bins generated $835k in revenue for ATRS, an average of $0.34 per pound; ATRS paid the Michigan Humane Society $49k ($0.02 per pound) for these items, which equals just 6% of revenue generated from the bins. “These bins are deceptive and have misled Michigan residents regarding the true beneficiary of the donated clothes,” says Schuette.  The lawsuit seeks restitution, civil penalties of up to $10,000 per violation, and other relief.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report “A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future´ confirms members’ views that the steady production growth in fast fashion is intrinsically linked to a decline in utilisation per item, leading to an incredible amount of waste.

It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion production is disposed of in under a year, and one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.

Note from NACRO: Donations of goods to charitable recyclers are made up of clothing, textiles and homewares. The later can include the myriad of items found in our homes including kitchenware, furniture and indeed stuff from garages and sheds. Charitable recyclers benefit from 68% of these donations.

Waste sent to landfill tends to not to be clothing or textiles – but inappropriate donations which are mainly homewares, including broken and soiled indoor and outdoor furniture, toys, bicycles, white goods and unusables such as gas bottles, bbq’s and text books. Mattresses continue to be a burden for charities across the country. Rest assured charities use more than 96% of donated clothing.