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Advanced Waste Management In Australia

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Executive Summary: After the widely talked about news on waste management issue in Australia and the denial of China to import the waste from Australia, there is a huge demand to recycle the curbside waste at a faster pace. This process involves financial and operational overheads. The main content of this paper revolves around the methodologies followed by different regions that led to success and performs a survey on this subject among the public, environmentalists and managers of such waste recycling centers.

The entire objective of this project is to suggest a systematic plan to the Australian government that can be cost-effective and realistic. There are 3 major findings in this project - public participation in this project can do wonders, there is a need for incentive program to involve more number of people in improving environmental performance and finally, the lack of awareness among people in converting waste into energy. These findings are just sufficient to inform the government and other stakeholders on where to start and how to address this problem. This is a completely feasible project.

Introduction: Waste management is an important topic of concern in Australia. After China has turned down the import of waste from Australia, it became mandatory for Australian government to initiate advanced waste management policies that can protect the environment and public health. The bottomline in this process is that the new plan has to cater to 64 million tonnes of solid waste each year. On the other hand, a part of Australia has already deployed new policies in terms of schedule for curbside recycling. The purpose of this project is to develop advanced waste management policies for waste discharged in Australia and ideate waste to resource conversion so as to transform the available waste efficiently.

The proposed project is useful at academic as well as industrial levels. At the academic level, this can widen the research and encourage more participants to research on this subject. However, at the industry level, this can entirely change how the recycling system shall work in Australia and maximize productivity. Most importantly, the research shall take inputs from waste management policies followed by other countries so that suitable policies can be implemented at a local or city level too. This can keep the government and policymakers informed about the benefits of implementation.

In this paper, literature review and methodology to approach this research shall be included and at the end, the project plan shall also be established.

Question 1: State-of-the-art/Literature Review: 1) What research areas are relevant, and 2) what the current understanding is along with any opposing views.

Answer: A lot of discussions have already been made by policymakers and environment department of Australian government to enhance the waste treatment process. As majority of the waste is produced by humans, Hird et al (2014) discusses on the role of public in mitigating waste management problems. Taking the example of waste diversion options followed by Ontario, Canada, the article provides a detailed analysis on how such options can benefit Australia as well. A small city based out of Ontario has faced unsustainable costs as a result of exporting waste to China, United States and other countries. Members of the public are encouraged to be a part of waste management and this has in turn improved the overall governance. Often when waste is de-naturalized, it raises concerns among public and government and turns into an issue. As the volume of waste increases, the public has to be presented with techno scientific solutions like incinerators, landfill clearance and waste to energy conversion technologies (Tam and Tam, 2006).

Zaman et al (2014) states the presence of zero waste movement in New Zealand and the lack of comprehensiveness in the plan unlike California that has an integrated waste management approach. It is essential for the state and federal governments to issue waste management policies that promote sustainable consumption and zero waste management. This approach can reduce the landfills and there is a possibility to achieve 100% diversion rate. It is interesting to note how places like San Francisco that deal with huge volumes of waste efficiently collect, convert and improve the waste management process (Bartl, 2011). Zero waste movement already initiated by New Zealand government will have to be implemented again with an integrated approach and access to essential infrastructure.

A similar concept is followed even in Banda Aceh city. Nizar et al (2018) identified the complexity associated with volumes of waste generated by gorwing population. This city follows an interesting approach. As soon as the garbage is collected in the final processing place, the already segregated and handled garbage becomes easier to process (Hao et al, 2008). The key to achieve zero waste at the city level is to handle waste right from the scratch and this include processes like waste avoidance, sorting, levies to the public based on disposal rate and provision of incentives if the disposal rate is low (Jackson, 2005). With this policy being implemented at the local level, it is possible to control the overall disposal rate and move the environment towards a zero waste approach. The complete change is based on the efficiency of government in diverting the individuals towards an environmental friendly approach.

Udawatta et al (2018) has been quite practical in understanding the barriers that affected the implementation of waste management practices in Australia. The study takes construction industry in particular. While household waste disposal practices are abundant, industrial waste is harmful and hard to recycle as soon as it is disposed. It has become difficult to apply waste management techniques in these construction projects due to lack of awareness, rigidity of practices followed and technical barriers (Young et al, 2011). While waste generation is unavoidable, it only needs experience as well as commitment to recycle or even dispose it in better ways. This industry is just an example and there are manufacturing industries that face similar issues as well.

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Question 2: Research Question, Aim/Objectives and Sub-goals: What is the main research question to be solved in reaching the project goal?

Answer: The research questions for this project are as follows:

Q1: Can public participation enhance the waste management process?

Q2: What is the ideal advanced waste management lifecycle that is both affordable and practical?

Q3: Are there any key barriers faced by Australia that are responsible for ineffectiveness of waste management policies?

The main objective of this project is to propose a realistic waste management plan that includes stakeholders and addresses barriers faced by Australian government. In short, the idea is to detail the ideal process of waste management in Australia right from scratch so it can be implemented immediately and the stakeholders also remain aware of the results. Qualitative analysis will be done in this paper so that necessary data is collected through surveys and then processed to identify answers to research questions and establish hypotheses.

The motivation behind this project is to establish a solution to the growing challenges faced by the environment department of Australian government. After China has denied importing waste from Australia, the number of challenges has increased as there is no concrete plan in place and Australia was highly dependent on China and the sudden denial has placed the environment department in trouble.

To achieve the goals of this project, all the information collected shall be documented and each task shall be identified and detailed in terms of resource owner, duration, start and end dates. Further, the participants involved in this study shall also be informed about the purpose so they can ensure truthfulness in the answers. The end result will include hypotheses and describe how waste management can be taken to a better level in the country with support from stakeholders. The project shall also include the budget involved towards process implementation. Though this is a large scale project, it is totally feasible as we implement it on part by part basis. For instance, it can begin with a small village and then extended to city and then to states and finally to the country on whole.

Question 3: Theoretical Content/Methodology: What is the theoretical basis of the work to be undertaken? Is there a hypothesis to be tested? Are a couple of theoretical approaches going to be used together in a hybrid approach. What are the steps to be undertaken in the project - linking to the objectives established in Section 3.

Answer: It is observed that Melbourne government (2015) already is in a plan to lower the landfill by 50% and there is a need to differentiate the waste based on the source, residential and commercial. In the case of commercial waste, there are over 35 companies that perform the entire lifecycle associated with waste management and the government enforces a landfill levy based on the landfill generated. Similar to Melbourne, there are initiatives taken by City of Sydney (2014) and this city aims to establish an economically viable solution thereby enhancing environmental quality.

H1: Direct involvement of public in managing waste can enhance the productivity of the process.

Developed countries have been importing waste from other countries because of a well established waste management system. According to Hasan (2011), it is perhaps essential to spread awareness among public and involve them in all the waste treatment plans. In a project that treated contaminated hazardous waste sites present in US, the public participation played a key role as they became aware of the consequences and it was possible to utilize collective participation for better wellbeing.

H2: Effective waste management begins with source categorization.

Australia generates 64 million tonnes of solid waste every year and this is a huge number. The recycling process has to address the entire volume. Shafy et al (2018) identified that solid waste issue has to be addressed by categorizing sources first and then differentiating the waste based on composition. It is the responsibility of the public to segregate the waste in prior to disposal. This small initiative from the public can reduce the human resource requirements in categorizing waste (Ziout et al, 2014). 

The purpose of placing source categorization as the first step is because of the toxic substances involved in each type of waste. For instance, waste generated by institutions and industries are chemically dangerous and they need to be treated in a separate facility. This is because of the harmful composition of rubbers, batteries, plastic, yard waste, textiles, paint containers and leather. On the other hand, waste generated by individuals on the streets would usually include plastic and food waste and these can be treated easily by spreading awareness among the public.

H3: A separate facility to treat e-waste is essential.

While it is a good idea to treat different types of waste within the same facility, e-waste needs a different facility and a separate environment. This is due to the health impacts caused by e-waste. According to Herat (2009), Australia ranks at 12th position under the list of largest ICT markets around the world. This separate facility can actually treat the e-waste generated by a state on the whole and this is certainly worth the investment.

H4: Environmental performance can be improved with incentive system.

It is perhaps true that environmental performance enhances when individuals are incentivized for their reduced landfills (Abbasi et al, 2012). This private-public association can also encourage organizations to install a local waste treatment plant inside the premises to control the harmful emissions and reduce the disposal levels. Countries like US already have an incentive system in place. Perhaps, Melbourne also follows a similar system to reduce the landfills by altering the curbside recycling collection and imposing levy system when there is an excess generation of waste (Begum et al, 2009).

H5: Lack of knowledge in converting waste to useful products is yet another barrier.

The increasing disposal rate is adding complexity to the entire waste management process. However, in the case of countries like China, disposed waste is segregated and converted into useful products like fuel and fertilizer and this can in turn increase the returns upon implementing this project (Yoo et al, 2014). As Australian government spends towards setup of waste management plants, it is possible to make some returns with this waste conversion process. This subject knowledge is important (Seydel et al, 2002).

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Question 4: Experimental Set-up: What is your laboratory set-up or in the field set-up, presented so readers can better informed and critical of any limitations etc of your research environment and set-up, etc.

Answer: The audience for this project would typically include public, environmentalists and waste managers of the state. Being an empirical analysis, we shall setup survey comprising of 20 close ended questions relating to waste source, disposal procedure followed and recycling process available. The waste managers in Australia can offer sufficient insights on the present state of this field and the real time challenges faced so that the research results can be framed accordingly.

The project does not guarantee 100% accuracy in the collected data as it is completely based on one's choice. However, every participant is well-informed about the objective of the project and is also asked to fill the written consent form to use the data for research. The researcher will have to possess adequate knowledge on this subject in order to answer the queries of the participant. Needless to say, there is a need to have a one-to-one interview with a couple of industrialists to know the scene and barriers faced that affected the flow of waste management process. As soon as the information is collected, it is analyzed further to test the hypotheses and establish results.

This project is of extreme importance to the industries, public and government on the whole as it gives a practical solution with evidences.

Question 5: Results, Outcome and Relevance: What data etc will you be working with, which variables and parameters, and what type of results do you want to investigate.

Answer: First of all, the questionnaires for different sets of audiences are not the same. In the case of public, the purpose is to test the awareness and identify the waste management process being followed at the moment. In the case of waste managers, the purpose is to gather insights on their thoughts about waste management policies and suitable solutions to address the growing waste problem in Australia. In the case of industrialists, it is all about understanding the waste management policy already followed and the problems faced. All the data collected will be compared to the hypothesis.

The relevance of hypothesis is now detailed by associating with suitable research questions.

Research question

Hypothesis

Q1: Can public participation enhance the waste management process?

H1: Direct involvement of public in managing waste can enhance the productivity of the process.

Q2: What is the ideal advanced waste management lifecycle that is both affordable and practical?

H2: Effective waste management begins with source categorization.

H3: A separate facility to treat e-waste is essential.

H4: Environmental performance can be improved with incentive system.

Q3: Are there any key barriers faced by Australia that are responsible for ineffectiveness of waste management policies?

H5: Lack of knowledge in converting waste to useful products is yet another barrier.

For the first hypothesis, participants shall be presented with a yes or no question. When more number of participants state affirmation, the hypothesis stands true and it will be used for the research further. 

For the second hypothesis, the participants are provided a question in the questionnaire that states the first step of the lifecycle.

For the third hypothesis to be presented to waste plant managers, a question shall be asked about the need for separate facility in order to treat e-waste. This is again a yes or no question.

The fourth hypothesis to be presented to public and environmentalists will be a couple of questions on presence of incentive system in the locality and effectiveness. The answers collected from both the questions shall be collated to achieve the desired result. When more number of participants state lack of awareness of incentive system, it means that the hypothesis will be dismissed.

The final hypothesis shall be posed to all the participants. It will include a question on the major barriers faced by waste management consultants/organizations and this question will include options like financial, lack of knowledge, complexity and operational overheads. When majority of participants choose lack of knowledge, this hypothesis produces the desired result.

Based on answers and truthfulness achieved for hypotheses H2, H3 and H4, answer for the research question 2 is identified and a policy is created.

Question 6: Project Planning and Gantt Chart: develop the intended work into work packages and then incorporate all that into a schedule of work through a Gantt chart.

Answer: Having identified the objectives and hypotheses to be tested for this project, it is essential to establish the project plan. The project is categorized into 4 stages and the table is presented below.

Stage number

Project stage

Duration (in days)

1

Project initiation (Kick-off review)

11

2

Project design and execution (Mid-term review)

35

3

Validation of results (Green light review)

15

4

Deployment of project

12

 

Total

73

The project plan is presented here:

Task Name

Duration

Start

Finish

Predecessors

Project initiation

11 days

     

Requirement gathering

3 days

Fri 01-03-19

Tue 05-03-19

 

Identify respondents

3 days

Wed 06-03-19

Fri 08-03-19

2

Create questionnaires

3 days

Mon 11-03-19

Wed 13-03-19

2,3

Arrange resources to conduct survey

2 days

Thu 14-03-19

Fri 15-03-19

4

Project design and execution

35 days

     

Conduct survey of public and environmentalists

8 days

Mon 18-03-19

Wed 27-03-19

5

Summarize 1st level findings

4 days

Thu 28-03-19

Tue 02-04-19

7

Conduct survey of managers

8 days

Mon 18-03-19

Wed 27-03-19

5

Summarize 2nd level findings

3 days

Wed 03-04-19

Fri 05-04-19

8

Interview industrialists

6 days

Mon 18-03-19

Mon 25-03-19

5

Prepare final findings

6 days

Mon 08-04-19

Mon 15-04-19

10

Validation of results

15 days

     

Evaluation of results

6 days

Tue 16-04-19

Tue 23-04-19

12

Comparison with literature review findings

4 days

Wed 24-04-19

Mon 29-04-19

14

Supervisor feedback amendment

2 days

Tue 30-04-19

Wed 01-05-19

15

Preparation of report

3 days

Thu 02-05-19

Mon 06-05-19

16

Deployment of project

12 days

     

Final report presentation

6 days

Tue 07-05-19

Tue 14-05-19

17

Submission of report to respondents & faculty

6 days

Wed 15-05-19

Wed 22-05-19

19

The Gantt chart for this project is mentioned here:

Gantt Chart.jpg

Gantt Chart 1.jpg

Conclusions: It is important to note that waste management in Australia is becoming an important topic of discussion and an effective waste treatment policy can be suggested only when supporting stakeholders are involved. The literature review of this project aims to compare the waste policies followed by other cities and drawbacks/barriers followed by Australian government in the implementation of waste management plan. The empirical analysis chosen for this project can offer in-depth insights on step by step process involved and the impact created among the public. 

It is observed that the project consumes 73 days to conduct survey, derive findings and evaluate results and establish project report that can be submitted to the environmentalists, waste managers and industrialists and requested for implementation. On a longer-term, the results can inform the plight of waste management policy from the public perspective and give areas of concern for managers to develop suitable solutions that are practical, flexible and cost-effective. This can be of greater relevance and purpose to the environmental department of Australian government.

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