SOUTH AUSTRALIA'S CONTAINER DEPOSIT SCHEME passed its 40th year in 2017.
The scheme, the first of its kind in Australia, offers a 10 cent refund for people depositing bottles or cans for recycling. The scheme was inspired by that operating in Portland, Oregon, USA.
The system was legislated by the Dunstan state government in 1975, before coming into effect in 1977.
South Australia was the only state or territory with such a scheme for 35 years until the Northern Territory introduced one in 2012. New South Wales and Western Australia have introduced similar schemes and Queenslanders were able to collect cash for returning bottles and cans from 2018.
In 2006, South Australia's scheme was declared a heritage icon by the National Trust of South Australia.
The state has Australia’s lowest percentage – about 3% – of drink containers in its litter scheme. About 580 million drink containers are recycled in the state every year.
South Australia also is recycling and diverting from landfill about 80 per cent of its waste right across the board.
Projects relating to materials banned from landfill such as green organic matter collected by councils, plastic packaging, whole tyres, and vehicles past their use, have been prioritised.
The state’s waste and recycling sector employs almost 5,000 South Australians. The sector turns over $1 billion each year and contributes more than $500 million to Gross State Product.
AFTER RAMPANT DUMPING OF RUBBISH IN ADELAIDE CITY PARKLANDS IN 19th CENTURY
Adelaide city’s first major attempt at eliminating rubbish had a “waste not, want not” theme in making the most of recycling energy. In 1908, Adelaide City Council bought two acres between Halifax and Gilles streets, Adelaide, to erect a refuse destructor supplied by Heenan & Froude of Manchester. The destructor was to solve the problem that blighted Adelaide city’s parklands since colonial settlement in 1836: rubbish dumping. As late as 1910, 30 tons of rubbish daily were being dumped on 18 locations around the parklands plus many smaller ones. Before starting operations, the Halifax Street destructor, with its 38-metre 150,000-bricks chimney needed two months to heat the furnaces while masonry hardened to cope with 2000°F. It then burned 60 tons of refuse per day, around the clock, from the city and inner suburbs. The heat produced steam for an electricity generator that powered the site including a tin bailing press, clinker paver mill, a brewery, flour mill, biscuit factory, mortar mill, boot and vinegar factories and flag-making plant. The council charged Adelaide Electric Company £2,000 a year for excess power fed into street lights. The steam also was used to disinfect laundry. A quarter of an hour in the system was enough to sterilise garments and bedding. After steaming, items went into a steam laundry, followed by pressing with electric irons. For this service, individuals were charged a guinea per vanload and it was free for those too poor to pay. Residue from incinerated rubbish was milled and converted into concrete paving. A tar-distilling plant also made a road surfacing product.
Adelaide city corporation was proud of its Halifax Street incinerator as the most “perfect destructor in Australasia” that would “materially add to the health and general wellbeing of the city”. The destructor, operating from 1909, became a profitable and effective way of cremating the rubbish from 11 metropolitan council areas. But the emissions from its chimney were a new source of city pollution. Adelaide city residents constantly complained about its smell. They had to wait until 1952 when the Adelaide town clerk proposed closing the Halifax Street operations and a committee decided the “landfill method of refuse disposal (will) be instituted at Wingfield as soon as possible.” Wingfield rubbish dump, nine kilometres north of Adelaide city centre, was leased from the federal government in the 1950s and bought in 1986 when its 94 hectares received 70% of metropolitan Adelaide waste. But Wingfield involved Adelaide City Council in new pollution problems with large fires at the dump. In 1999, state parliament passed the Wingfield Waste Depot Closure Act, requiring all waste landfilling to stop by 2004. In response, the Wingfield Waste & Recycling (formerly Eco-Resource Management: WERM) Centre was started. It sorted all waste into recyclable products or waste products. The waste was transferred to landfill sites at Dublin and Inkerman, north of Adelaide near the Port Wakefield Road. The Wingfield centre operates as a “collaborative cluster" of commercial businesses, including Adelaide Resource Recovery that remediated thousands of tonnes of cleanfill soil used to cap the Wingfield rubbish dump.
Waste management company Veolia bought 20 hectares from the South Australian government in 2017 in a return to developing Gillman land in the north-western Adelaide metropolitan area for eco industry. The 407ha parcel of Gillman swamp land was picked in 1987 as site of the high-technology multifunction polis (MFP) project but abandoned in 1998. In 2007, the state government’s metropolitan Adelaide industrial land strategy envisaged a Gillman eco-industrial precinct using resources generated by the Wingfield Waste & Recycling Centre. In 2013, the state government gave the site a new direction by entering a deal with Adelaide Capital Partners to turn it into an oil and gas hub. The exclusive deal was opposed by the board of Renewal SA, charged with developing the land, and also criticised by the supreme court and Independent Commission Against Corruption. Veolia also took legal action against the deal that ultimately fell through. After its successful tender to buy 20ha of Gillman land, Veolia Group – with subsidiary Integrated Waste Services – has a five-year option to buy up to another 182ha on top of consolidating its head office, with 450 employees, a nation-leading energy-from-waste 50MW plant and metropolitan Adelaide’s largest solar farm at 75-100MW. Veolia can overcome Gillman’s main problem – filling the swamp – by using its own waste-recovered resources to develop eco-industrial allotments on the full 202 hectares. Veolia also had plans to create a research cluster and education site for sustainable cities, enabling Adelaide to become a world leader in this field.
AFTER KESAB (KEEP SOUTH AUSTRALIA BEAUTIFUL) CAMPAIGNS TO CHANGE ATTITUDES IN 1960s
Since 1966, KESAB (Keep South Australia Beautiful) has motivated people across the state to recycle and reuse and to reduce litter by engaging with communities, making industry alliances and working with local government. On its 50th anniversary in 2016, the state government gave $1 million over three years for education and litter awareness programmes. Another $25,000 went to Future50 Fund, engaging with business to support stronger recycling and cut waste, along with a new social-media litter awareness. Through the Office of Green Industries SA, the government supports campaigns by KESAB that helped South Australia achieve national and global leadership in resource recovery and waste management. Some of KESAB’s memorable campaigns include "Drop something, sport?", Gus the Garbo and its buggies on South Australian beaches in the 1980s. For more than 50 years, Keep Australia Beautiful National Association has rewarded communities for environmental solutions with tidy town awards. Criteria includes town action and leadership, water and energy conservation, and preserving heritage. Since 2006, Mundulla in South Australia’s southeast, with about 670 residents, has won four awards. Residents refurbished the historic pub corner, started three-bin recycling and waste system and produced a decorative town map for visitors. More than $3,000 from recycling cans has added to the town's popular adventure playground. Solar panels are a common on Mundulla houses and the town's residents all use rainwater – with no town supply.
South Australia again led Australia – and much of the world – in 2009 with a state-wide ban on lightweight checkout-style plastic bags. State premier Mike Rann initiated the ban in South Australia because around 400 million nonbiodegradable plastic bags were going into the local environment each year. Rann received the same response as premier Don Dunstan when he introduced South Australia’s drink container-deposit legislation in 1975. Some retailers saw it as “the end of civilisation and would damage business. It didn't.” South Australian shoppers were quick to embrace the state’s plastic bag ban for the sake of the environment. Research by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at the University of South Australia showed that more than nine in 10 shoppers took reusable bags to do their shopping, compared to about six in 10 before the ban. Stores began proudly proclaiming their green credentials and polls showed 80% support from South Australians for the move. South Australia included lightweight plastic bags with “100% degradable” printed on them in the ban as their breakdowninto smaller flakes were still damaging to the environment for many years. Only plastic bags thicker than 35 microns or compostable plastic bags that comply with Australian Standard AS4736-2006 were permitted in South Australia. Retailers offered heavy-duty reusable plastic bags at 15 cents each or green bags made from polypropylene for about $2. Soft plastics, such as bags, can be recycled through bins provided by REDcycle that uses the material to make street and park furniture.
South Australia was the first Australian state to ban electronic waste (e-waste) going to landfill. Whitegoods were banned from direct landfill disposal since 2011 and computers, televisions and fluorescent lighting from metropolitan Adelaide were banned from being disposed of directly to landfill in 2012. From 2013, those wastes and other e-waste are banned from direct landfill disposal across all of South Australia. E-waste comprises waste electrical or electronic equipment. Televisions, computers and their peripherals (mice, keyboards), whitegoods and fluorescent lighting are all e-waste. E-waste can contain hazardous materials including heavy metals and glass that, if broken or damaged, pose environmental hazards. Around 90% of what is used to make televisions and computers can be recycled. But e-waste has been liable to be landfilled interstate of exported to countries without environmental or health and safety rules. South Australia provided an important development for processing Australian e-waste, with the $514 million transformation of Nystar’s Port Pirie smelter in 2017 including a multi-metals recovery plant. Nyrstar was expected to expand the range of e-waste for processing. A global multi-metals business, Nyrstar would accept electronics such as printed computer circuit boards, cathode ray tubes, phones and related devices. The expanded plant was expected to take photovoltaic cells from roof solar panels, alkaline batteries and other batteries such as lead acid and nickel cadmium. Treatment of e-waste was expected to increase to more than 20,000 tonnes a year.
The South Australian government raised its solid waste levy from $76 a tonne in 2016 to $140 in 2019-20. The levy on waste dumped at landfill is collected by the government’s Environment Protection Authority and a portion is transferred to the Green Industry Fund that Green Industries SA draws on. The extra tens of millions of dollars raised from the levy increase was intended to go to grants to councils for infrastructure, waste education and collecting hazardous waste. The Environment Protection Authority would also get extra funding to manage contaminated sites as well enforcing waste control. Another large amount was marked for climate-change initiatives to move the state’s economy to a low-carbon future and make Adelaide a carbon-neutral city. The solid waste levy has been controversial with South Australian local-government councils. Waste management is one of the councils' largest expenses – costing them more than $191 million in 2015/16, with $22 billion waste management assets owned and maintained by local government. The councils have argued the solid waste levy is a state tax on waste landfill that makes council rates more expensive. South Australia’s strategic plan in 2015 set a target of reducing waste to landfill by 35% by 2020. The state government used the strategy to encourage businesses to avoid producing waste or to reduce, reuse, recycle and recover waste. The Environment Protection Authority is assigned to protect the environment by regulating the disposal, transport and treatment of industrial waste.
The South Australian government and Adelaide City Council in 2015 formed a globally unique partnership to make Adelaide the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2050. Despite doubters, the city council has maintained confidence in the target year, reduced to 2025, pointing to a 15% drop on carbon emissions during a 46% rise in residents, 35% more student enrolments and 42% more daily city users. In 2016, the state government and the City of Adelaide released the Carbon Neutral Adelaide Action Plan. It aims for carbon neutrality (offsetting any carbon emitted with equal energy savings) while driving economic and employment opportunities. Among the strategies towards the city becoming carbon neutral were: reducing emissions from waste, investing in energy efficiency and renewables, laws to allow building owners to access private finance to upgrade buildings’ energy efficiency, investing in low emission public transport and encouraging cycling and walking, accelerating the use of electric vehicles and installing solar PV on low-income housing. The state government and Adelaide City Council signed parallel international agreements on climate change – the Compact of States and Regions and the Compact of Mayors. In 2017, South Australia, Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, with the City of Adelaide and City of Hobart, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Electric Vehicle Council and Hydrogen Mobility Australia at the Climate Action Roundtable. The state and local governments committed to work together to drive progress on zero emissions transport.
Led by South Australia’s EPA (Environment Protection Authority), the state’s first jail sentence for illegal waste dumping was imposed in the environment, resources and development court in 2016. On 12 counts of unlawful disposal of waste and failing to comply with an Environment Protection Order, the offender was sentenced to four months and two weeks in prison, suspended for two years with a $100 good-behaviour bond. The offender was also ordered to pay $44,000 in cleanup costs. In 2016-17, 346 reports of illegal dumping were received by the EPA that issued environment protection orders redirecting more than 40,000 tonnes of illegally deposited waste to legitimate depots. Using regulations back to 1993, the EPA protects the economic, social and environmental objectives of the state. The EPA grants and oversees licences for waste depots, including inspecting waste transport vehicles. Landfill guidelines from 2007 spelt out conditions on aspects such as capacity and site. These improved landfill management and some operators closed small older landfills and used well-managed regional depots to satisfy modern environmental standards. The South Australian government’s levy on waste going to landfill, projected to rise of $103 a tonne in 2019-20, goes into a revenue pool with 45% to the EPA, 50% to the Green Industry Fund used by Green Industries SA, and 5% to the Environment Protection Fund. Waste to landfill for 2015-16 was 889,500 tonnes, a 29% drop from 2002-03. Resource recovery jumped from about 2 million tonnes in 2003-04 to almost four million tonnes in 2015-16
Australia’s first road made completely from recyclable materials was laid in Adelaide city’s centre’s south west in 2019. The new road laid on Chatham Street is made entirely from reclaimed asphalt pavement from nearby streets and recycled vegetable oil from local suppliers. The new street is 25% stronger than standard asphalt and will last longer. Many councils across Australia have tried asphalt recycling but the City of Adelaide is the first to achieve a 100% recycled road made completely from renewable materials after a push it started in 2018 to align street paving with the city council’s ambitions to become a leading smart, green, liveable and creative city. The new Chatham Street surface project was around the same cost as the standard process. The road was delivered in partnership with the Downer Group who process the asphalt at its Wingfield plant with state-of-the-art machinery and careful testing. The recycled road can reduce CO2 emissions from production by up to 65%, when mixed at a lower temperature (warm mix asphalt), compared to standard asphalt made with virgin materials. Chatham Street wasn’t a one-off exercise. Little Sturt Street and Little Gilbert Street were next to be resurfaced with different mixes including 63,158 plastic bags, 2,353 glass bottles and toner from more than 2,880 cartridges that were originally destined for a landfil dumpl.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT CONTRIBUTING TO RESOURCE RECOVERY
South Australia’s 68 local government councils (19 metropolitan, 49 regional) provide kerbside waste and recycling services to households, some small businesses and groups. Municipal waste collected by the councils is the largest part (38%) of solid waste that goes to landfill. Commercial and industrial waste (26%) and construction and demolition waste (36%) make up the rest. Waste management is one of the largest expenses for South Australia’s councils, with more than $191 million spent in 2015-16. Councils also own and operate most South Australian waste management plants and manage trucks collecting waste. The councils have formed regional groups or waste authorities sharing resources. Metropolitan waste authorities include: Southern (Holdfast Bay, Marion, Mitcham, Onkaparinga), Eastern (Adelaide Hills, Burnside, Campbelltown, Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, Mitcham, Walkerville, Prospect), Northern Adelaide (Salisbury, Playford, Gawler), Adelaide Hills Region (Adelaide Hills, Alexandrina, Mount Barker, Murray Bridge). Adelaide City, Charles Sturt, Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield have a single waste collector. Individual councils represented on the authorities' boards and can decide the nature of waste collection in their area. Councils have complained of bearing the cost of the state government levy on solid waste going to landfill. The government has pointed to support through its former Zero Waste SA in setting up three-bin kerbside waste systems that delivered a $22 million benefit to metropolitan councils. The Green Industry Fund, built from the levy, has supported councils’ waste programs and infrastructure.
The three-bin (general waste, recycling, green organics) kerbside waste collection, gradually adopted by South Australian local government councils since 2003-4, has significantly boosted the state’s rate of resource recovery. But the best resources recovery rate was achieved by a three-bin system plus households supplied with food caddies that can collect excess food in compostable bags in the kitchen and later placed in the green organics bin. This was the way to cut the 30% food-waste contents of general-waste bins still being found by audits. Audits also found that 13% of recycling bins and 2% of green organics bins were being contaminated by general waste. Overcoming contamination remains the education challenge to furthering South Australia’s resources recovery rate of about 80%. In 2012-13, 36 councils across the South Australia offered a three-bin system to their households, compared with 16 in 2003-04. Adelaide City Council introduced a three-bin system in 2008 with a major increase in recycling and 42% of waste diverted from landfill in 2009/10. Despite this progress, the council had to reset its target of diverting 60% of waste by 2012 back to 2020. It saw increasing those taking part in green organics service to 25% as a way to do that. The China National Sword policy, from 2018, placing strict contamination limits on imports of recyclable materials. South Australia was better placed to meet this challenge as a leader in recycling. Its recovered materials exported is relatively small compared with the amount reprocessed locally, with 87% of all recovered material reprocessed within South Australia, 8% processed interstate and 5% exported overseas.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA PROVING COMMERCIAL BENEFITS OF ELIMINATING RUBBISH
Waste management has become a major 21st Century factor in the South Australian economy, contributing $500 million a year to the Gross State Product (GSP), with an annual turnover of around $1 billion and employing around 4,800 people. South Australia continues to lead Australia – and be among world leaders – in managing waste and recovering resources from it. The state’s rate of diverting waste from landfill has hit 80%. The government’s waste strategy 2015-2020 set targets to divert 90% of metropolitan construction and demolition waste, 80% of metropolitan commercial and industrial waste and 70% of metropolitan house hold kerbside waste by 2020 from landfill. The Environment Protection (Waste Reform) Amendment Act 2017 gave the Environment Protection Authority greater powers to tackle illegal dumping and excessive waste stockpiling as well as supporting innovative resource recovery. But South Australia’s success in recovering resources also has benefitted from the involvement and foresight of the commercial waste companies. The Waste Management Association of Australia’s South Australian branch represents its members’ views and provides a link between the industry and state government and its Green Industries SA. It has working groups including Landfill SA, Carbon Committee and Waste Educators SA Working Group. The Waste Recycling Industry Association of South Australia was formed in 2017 with support from founding members Solo Resource Recovery, Peats Soil, Veolia, Mastec, Suez, Scout Recycling, ResourceCo and Bettatrans.
A world-first screening system, to remove contaminants such as plastic bags, boosted the quality of green organics collected by councils from most Adelaide households. The Recycled Organics Screening System (ROSS), designed and built in South Australia with Quarry and Mining Manufacture, was part of a $3 million plant upgrade for Jeffries Group, supported by $300,000 from the state government’s Zero Waste SA (now Green Industries SA). Jeffries Group recycles more than 100,000 tonnes of organic material each year, including most of greater Adelaide’s green organics through kerbside collections. Organics are taken to Jeffries' Wingfield transfer site for primary processing and then to Buckland Park. The three-storey ROSS system can take up to a tonne of metal a day from organic material. Three custom-made mechanical screens and two sorting rooms remove other unwanted material. Two magnets remove steel, two fans extract light plastics and a conveyor screens out rocks and plastic bottle caps. Jeffries’s composting involves placing organic material on concrete channels with pipes that deliver fresh air. Probes measure oxygen levels to ensure the correct temperature is maintained. Jeffries' compost, soil and mulch experts introduced the innovative commercial food organics recycling service, involving supermarkets, hotels and restaurants across metro Adelaide. The collected food is turned into compost, soil and mulch products. Jeffries is wholly owned by a fourth-generation South Australian family from 1842. It is internationally recognised as a leading organic recycler.
Adelaide Clean Green company, started in 2014, has gone national on the premise of combining sustainable cleaning and waste management. Adelaide’s Jordan Walsh, who started the business at age 24, soon achieved a 2016 Telstra South Australian Business of the Year award. Walsh had completed a law degree and balanced his day job with cleaning work he’d started as a teenager. His business was born with the difference of avoiding chemicals in its cleaning products. Next step was to offer a green-loop waste management for events, with bigger clients including the six campuses of the University of South Australia, Adelaide showgrounds and WOMAdelaide Festival. Adelaide Clean Green overcame resistance to having an extra green organics bin at events by supplying compostable plates that could go into the bin with leftover food. This has been most successful at WOMADelaide in Botanic Park where 98% of waste was diverted from landfill. Using 100% compostable cubs, plates, crockery and serviettes, collected waste was converted to organic mulch by Jeffries, with 16 tonnes delivered back to Adelaide Botanic gardens. From around 80 staff in 2015, Adelaide Clean Green with Adam’s Cleaning and 200 more staff came on board. Going national with sustainable waste management, Adelaide Clean Green has extended its involvement to events including Parrtjima: A Festival of Light in Alice Springs and Polo in the City, in five Australian cities. It continues its local high profile at Santos Tour Down Under cycling and RCC Fringe during the Adelaide Fringe Festival.
BiobiN® is an onsite capture-and-contain system to start composting organic material in an odour-free easily-accessible unit. BiobiN® was developed by Adelaide company Peats Soil and Garden Supplies, led by Peter Wadewitz, a leading recycler of organic material in South Australia, to reverse the large amounts of organic and wet materials being sent to landfill. For more than four decades, Peats have been turning what others perceive as “waste” into valuable nutrient- rich products and showing the way to a circular economy. The BiobiN® provides a cost-effective and sustainable solution for organic waste generated around the world. It is being used to process organic and wet materials in Australasia, North America, the Middle East, Japan, China and India. Its suitable for a whole range of outlets: from hotels, resorts, restaurants to food factories and farms. The patented BiobiN® aeration system initiates a composting that cuts bacteria and other pathogens. The composting also maximises organic material that can be collected by the BiobiN®. Once collected, the processed or partially processed organic material can be added to products such as soil conditioners, compost and biofuels – providing valuable nutrients, carbon and organic matter to agricultural soils, landscape supplies and alternative fuels. Peats Soils has bases in Dublin, Willunga and Brinkley, near Langhorne Creek. In 2019, its fourth advanced compost and renewable energy site opened at Whyalla City Council’s Mount Laura Waste and Resource Recovery Centre, with funding from the Australian government.
Kat Heinrich, a senior consultant with Adelaide-based Rawtec, specialising in waste and resource management, won the Green Industries SA Women in Waste Award for 2017. Mark Rawson founded Rawtec in 2007 to provide specialist advice on waste, recycling and resource management. Rawson was closely involved in waste and recycling for more than 15 years of industry experience, including manager of Cleanaway for South Australia and the Northern Territory. This role involved overseeing materials recycling, landfills, municipal collections, transfer stations plus large commercial and industrial collection fleets. He is also a chemical engineer. Rawtec has become a national consutancy in waste management, recycling and sustainability. Its clients include private enterprises, government and the waste and recycling industry. Rawtec’s team of consultants include engineering, economic and behavioural specialists. Senior consultant Kat Heinrich is chair the International Solid Waste Association Young Professionals Group, 70 young professionals involved in solid waste management representing more than 35 countries. Her role at Rawtec centred on the circular economy, a concept promoted by South Australian government agency Green Industries SA. With her international connections in Europe and the United States, Heinrich used her Women in Waste award to investigate best-practice food waste initiatives overseas that could be applied in South Australia. In 2017, Heinrich she started a blog, beyondfoodwaste, to share best-practice in managing food waste from cities globally.
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN WASTE LEADERSHIP GAINS ANOTHER FACET IN 21st CENTURY
Foodbank SA, part of Australia’s largest food relief and food rescue organisation, was serving 117,260 South Australians – 27% of them children – every month in 2018. Based on an American concept, Foodbank works with South Australian charities to redirect surplus food donated by supermarkets, restaurants, manufacturers, growers and the public. It also uses agencies, communities, councils or government departments to identify areas with food insecurity. Launched in 2000, Foodbank SA has food hubs in Berri, Mount Gambier, Whyalla, as well as Edwardstown, Bowden, Christies Beach and Elizabeth in the Adelaide metropolitan area. In a step away from the traditional model, Foodbank SA has started a mobile food hub to get food to families living in the regional areas of highest demand. The mobile food hub was expected to travel to Murray Bridge, Gawler, Victor Harbour, Barossa Valley and Port Adelaide/Enfield, particularly identified as being areas of greatest need with limited service or access to food relief. The mobile food hub has also been designed to assist families during natural disasters and support drought-affected regions. ElectraNet electricity transmission company sponsored the hub for the first four years, after the state government provided the initial start-up grant. Food to be available from the mobile food hub include pantry staples, healthy food options with free fruit and vegetables and meal packs. To access the Foodbank food hubs, attendees must have a referral voucher from associated agencies. Foodbank had more than 200 volunteers.
Grow Free is a concept, started by Andrew Barker on South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, that has spread interstate with an early foothold overseas. The grassroots community movement is built around placing share carts on streets where locals fill them with excess organic food produce from their gardens. People are free to take as much or little as they need from the carts. The location of carts on a map is shared via the Grow Free Facebook group. Grow Free also offers seedlings for heirloom vegetables, herbs and flowers. Grow Free founder Andrew Barker developed a taste for gardening when he moved onto a farm at Meadows on the Fleurieu Peninsula. But his epiphany came at a local supermarket where he was surprised by what people were buying and eating and passing these habits to their children. He realised even middle-class families weren’t able to afford organic food. Barker started what became Grow Free by giving away seeds and seedlings from his home. This grew into people wanting to help and be involved. Grow Free was soon helping people set up gardens, organising sharing carts, attending sharing markets, cooking at a meals program, and promoting good health in the community. Beginning in Victor Harbor and other Fleurieu towns Goolwa, Yankalilla and Strathalbyn, Grow Free carts have grown past 100, including appearing of the streets of Melbourne and Perth, as the “Take what you need and give what you can” philosophy spreads. Its excess produce is also donated to charities. Grow Free has attracted interest from the Netherlands, Iceland and the USA.
From the Adelaide suburb of Fulham, Alistair and Helena Martin have inspired thousands of people in their city and around the world to share what they grow in their backyards. Passionate about local, fresh and particularly rare and exotic food, the couple in winter 2012 noticed many local citrus trees full of fruit that nobody was eating. And yet stores were selling plenty of fruit, including imported. The pair launched a food-sharing website, Ripe Near Me, in 2014. It has attracted international attention and was one of 10 finalists in the AppMyCity awards for the world’s best urban apps. It was a finalist in the French OuiShare global awards, from 170 entries in 31 countries. The Ripe Near Me site allows people to enter their location and find sites where produce is available and those with extra fruit and vegetables can register their crops for others to enjoy. The Martins believed that, as well as food sharing, the site was also about people getting to know their neighbours. Their dream was to get everyone to grow their own food and the reduce food waste. Helena Martin’s green thumb was developed early, helping her parents tend fruit trees in Singapore and Malaysia where “everyone grew their own food”. Ripe Near Me was featured in 2014 at one of Adelaide’s largest food-swap events, Edible-izing Adelaide, staged by Sustainable Communities SA in the Burnside Ballroom, with guest celebrities from ABC television’s Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis and South Australia’s Sophie Thomson. Sustainable Communities SA is a non-profit member-based organisation in South Australia.
Robbie Davis's project to reduce food waste in agriculture saw her named 2016 South Australian Rural Woman of the Year. As chief executive of Potatoes South Australia, Davis had a particular aim to save misshapen potatoes from ending up as cattle feed. Every year, South Australian potato growers, in the biggest potato-producing region in Australia, rejected thousands of tonnes of unwanted tubers. A mindset had been created among consumers and growers by supermarkets that good potatoes had to have perfect skin, shape and size. South Australian growers produce about 385,000 tonnes of potatoes annually but an extra 20-40% went into stock feed or was dug back into the ground. That represented about $30 million wastage. Potatoes SA has worked with the Adelaide University on technologies that could lead to more profitable alternatives. Treatments to extend the shelf life of potatoes are among possibilities. Another is pureed potato product suitable for infants and older people, with Australian hospitals and nursing homes importing desiccated potato from Europe and New Zealand. A $10,000 bursary from 2016 SA Rural Woman of the Year awards sponsor Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation supported Davis’s research into other value-added options. Davis, with a bachelor of agricultural science and master of business administration from Adelaide University, was also a farmer near Meningie in South Australia's upper south east. She also worked in South East Asia, gaining experience in global markets before setting up her own agribusiness consultancy.
21st CENTURY FOCUS ON CHANGING LIFESTYLE HABITS
Paper coffee cups, without the plastic that had prevented recycling, were a revolutionary addition in 2017 to the range of Adelaide-based global specialty packaging maker Detpak. Detpak is part of the Detmold Group, founded by Colin Detmold as C.P. Detmold in 1948, making toilet rolls and other paper products in a small factory in Flinders Street, Adelaide. In 1955, the company moved to Brompton where it is still headquartered. After continued growth, Detmold Group is still owned and operated by the Detmold family. The group is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of paper and board products, employing more than 2500 globally, with manufacturing in seven countries, and 23 sales offices. Detpak was formed in 1981, dedicated to foodservice packaging. In 1984, the business expanded from Australia into Singapore, South Asia in the 1980s, China, North Asia and Middle East in the 1990s and South Africa in the 2000s. Detpak produced more than 1000 paper and board packaging and services to clients like KFC, McDonald’s, Hungry Jacks, Burger King and Starbucks. Detpak's innovations include the Ripple-Wrap™ hot cup. Its RecycleMe paper plastic-free coffee cup is a revolution in breaking down manufacturers' resistance to plastic-free cups. From 2017, Detpak, backed by Planet Ark, introduced a collection scheme for cups using specialist coffee outlets. Customers can drop cups in blue bins at stores across Australia. The cups can be recycled up to seven times. First Pour in Melbourne Street, North Adelaide, coffee supplier to 40 cafes, was among first to adopt the RecycleMe concept.
Wipe Out Waste (WOW) is a South Australian state-wide program delivered by KESAB (Keep South Australia Beautiful) to assist all schools, from pre-school to year 12, to support learning about and reducing waste in a whole-of-school community approach. Working with the state government department for education, KESAB staff audit and assess up to 60 metro and outer metro department schools to gather data on waste management practices. It identifies how to further reduce school waste going to landfill. Performances by mascot Wally the Wipe Out Waste Wizard are another way of getting the message across. KESAB also conducts Wipe Out Waste awards for schools with the biggest cut in waste.The 2016 primary school winner was St Raphael’s in Parkside who achieved a 80% fall. After a students’ excursion to Wingfield Waste and Recycling Centre and a KESAB waste audit, St Raphael’s introduced initiatives such as removing rubbish bins from the school. This challenged students, parents and staff to make more informed decisions on managing their waste. Labelled recycling stations, where students recycled everything from straws, tissues, soft plastics and drink containers, were a key driver. The school reduced its weekly waste output from 10 rubbish bins to two. Other initiatives were organics composting for the school vegetable gardens and students making sandwich wraps using fabric and wax to eliminate the need for cling wrap. Students from Immanuel Primary in Adelaide also achieved a goal to reduce the entire school’s waste to one wheelie bin per week.
SOUTH AUSTRALIANS EXPLORE DOUBLE BENEFITS OF RIDDING CONCEPT OF RUBBISH
The network of men’s sheds, with 13 in the Adelaide metropolitan area and 70 in the regions, received South Australian government support its activities in turning waste into resources, and extending the life of items through reuse, remanufacture and repair. The Mount Pleasant Men’s Shed's Complete the Circle project was an example of those receiving grants under Green Industries SA shared fabrication spaces infrastructure programme. The $27,850 grant funded the shed’s work on source waste materials from the local area then rework these resources into saleable and donated products. Recycling and repurposing a local waste stream contribute revenue for the shed and builds a shared hub of tools and equipment where shed members learn new skills, and practise and pass on skills in recycling, repairing and refabricating. South Australian surveys show that timber and wood is 8% of waste disposed to landfill by weight. Kerbside collection services don’t capture 44% of timber and wood waste. Sheds, such as Mount Pleasant, target this stream. Since 2012, members have raised $130,000 to build their shed, with Barossa Council giving a 21-year lease of public land to build the shed, along with a $32,000 grant for the project. Shed volunteers collect waste timber from businesses, groups or buildings. Damaged or discarded items from waste transfer stations can be salvaged, repaired and restored. The shed runs workshops in ideas using wood and building waste. South Australian Men’s Shed Association has information on shed locations that also offer the health benefit of social activity.
Makerspace Adelaide, due to open in Franklin Street in the city CBD in 2019, is an evolution of Fab Lab Adelaide, started in 2012. Funded through the state government’s Green Industries SA shared fabrication spaces infrastructure programme, the maker space provides anyone from the community with access to shared equipment, tools and of people who have knowledge and networks. People can develop skills and design, create, make and produce their ideas. The Adelaide Makerspace will promote the reuse, recovery and repurposing of materials to make the most of them – essential to creating a more circular economy. The makerspace will enable the community to use skills in diverse areas such as welding, 3D printing, laser cutting, computer-assisted design and digital production. It will also offer workshops and training programs, as well as developing partnerships with industry, schools, academic institutions and the not-for-profit sector. Since 2015, the volunteers behind the not-for-profit SA Makers organisation have been the driving force, fostering the maker movement in South Australia and producing the world-class Adelaide Maker Faire that became the largest event of its kind in Australia, although suspended in 2018. Access to Adelaide Makerspace is available to individuals as well as business and industry, to develop skills and access equipment needed to create rapid prototypes and concepts. A South Australian North East (SANE) Makerspace is based at suburban Holden Hill while related skill-sharing groups include Hackerspace Adelaide and The Adelaide Remakery.