Waste to high value products: New technology to stop recycling going to landfill and create regional jobs

Dubbo based business Regional Enviroscience, headed by NSW Regional Woman of the Year, Juliet Duffy is in early discussions with Prof Veena Sahajwalla and the UNSW’s Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre’s team, for research into utilising Green Microfactory technology to sustainably produce a new product that will provide a solution for hazardous waste management.

Initial discussions involve recycling the clothing and textile waste stream as the raw materials to manufacture this product, and there is plenty of it.  Australians are the world’s second largest consumers of textiles, buying an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing and textiles each year per capita, twice the global average.  In addition, the Australian National Waste Report 2016 said that clothing and textile waste per capita was double that of glass and just pipped at the post by plastics.  Textile waste also had one of the lowest resource recovery rates of any waste stream.

It’s not surprising then that 6000 kg of clothing is dumped in landfill every 10 minutes and only 15% of donated clothing is sold again in opportunity shops such as Salvos and Vinnies. The result is charities having to pay $13 million to send 60,000 tonnes of unwanted items to landfill every year.

There are not only environmental and economic benefits with this technology, we also have the opportunity to create jobs – where they are needed most in regional NSW – to manufacture, manage and market a high value end product.’ says Juliet Duffy.  She estimates 25 direct jobs are on offer and plans to focus on indigenous training & employment when the microfactory technology is implemented.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla says: ‘There is much that can be done right now (to reduce waste) given that scientifically-developed and proven methods are currently available through the green microfactory technology’Green Microfactory technology consists of small & modular machines that can be easily transported or relocated to where a stockpile of waste exists.  They can fit into a small room. The first e-waste microfactory transforms the components of mobile phones, laptops and printers into high value metal alloys, carbon and products such as 3D printer filament.   Research is currently underway to create the same for clothing and textile waste.  Costings show an investment in some microfactory modules can pay off in less than three years.

‘The investment in this technology means we can see tangible and sustainable benefits on the ground in a very short period of time.  We have a waste problem that can be turned into a sustainable solution for hazardous waste. It is a win in both social and environmental terms, we just need to get the numbers and research right, it is very exciting times.’ says Juliet.

Infrastructure projects will be the primary user of this new product and with $97 billion worth of projects currently engaged in the Infrastructure Sustainability (IS) rating scheme, demand for this new sustainable product is likely to be high.

Asbestos Awareness Training – should be a no-brainer

There is a lot of confusion around training and requirements with respect to asbestos.

While most of us know that asbestos removal requires a licence – you may not be aware of the Australian legal requirements that are imposed upon employers for asbestos awareness training.

Who should do Asbestos Awareness Training?

Australian legislation requires employers train any personnel who are working around asbestos to complete asbestos awareness training – a course that provides the skills and knowledge to understand the risks of asbestos, to be able to safely identify asbestos and to recognise the common occurrences and risks of asbestos contamination.

In regional areas, naturally occurring asbestos is also very prevalent, so information on how to identify these risks is important too.

Why Asbestos Awareness Training?

Aside from the legal requirement, and wanting to safely look after your valuable workforce, having employees who can safely identify asbestos is a key part of an organisation’s safety framework and risk management.

The more who can identify and be aware of asbestos, the less risk there is of asbestos products being accidentally damaged or asbestos fibres being released into the air creating potential exposures to your staff and or the public.

It’s about sensibly managing risk. Many employees are likely to be too young to remember the horrors of asbestos-related illnesses in the news.   This course teaches them how to take the risks surrounding asbestos seriously.

Easy Asbestos Awareness Training

I founded Regional Enviroscience in 2008 and with my 30+ years’ experience in protecting people from hazardous substances, I’ve had a lot time to learn the ins and out of what workers need to learn to stay safe and also the requirements of organisations like yours that need to comply with legislation having limited time & resources.

That’s why I created our suite of online courses – so it is easy for both workers and organisations to protect themselves – complete with the latest up-to-date information (such as asbestos imports and naturally occurring asbestos) and legislation – with courses meeting compliance requirements in all states (excluding the ACT).

Highly practical and interactive – most of the images you will see in this course come from what my colleagues and I have found in the field – and these practical, on the tools learning experiences really resonates with workers.

The beauty too, is that as staff come and go it is very easy to ensure all your team meets training requirements as it is simple and quick to enrol.

Usually $99, we’re offering a launch special of $77 per student for online asbestos awareness training until the end of August.  Just use the code LINKAUG at checkout for this special rate.

Click here to go to the course.

Look forward to your enrolment.

Cheers

Juliet

 

The Fear and the Fibre – Mr Fluffy found in Newcastle

The fear and the fibre: agency expects more
Newcastle Herald, Newcastle NSW  by Matthew Kelly 04 Jul 2018
THE discovery of potentially deadly loose-fill asbestos insulation in a Glendale house was almost certainly not an isolated case, the head of the federal government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency believes.

Peter Tighe said experience elsewhere in NSW and the ACT had shown that several houses within close proximity had tested positive to the material.

“We have found there have usually been clusters within a one kilometre radius,” he said. “This stuff was often sold door to door and so someone would see it getting installed in their neighbour’s house and they would have it done too.” The going rate to have a house insulated in the mid60s was between $50-$60.

In addition to door to door sales loose-fill asbestos was sold in bags at local hardware stores.

The Newcastle Herald reported on Tuesday that the state government had expanded its Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce to the Hunter following the first confirmed case of loosefill asbestos in the region at Glendale.

Jaye Hesse found the material in the roof cavity of a 1970s extension to a 1950sera weatherboard house.

Mr Hesse and his family have since abandoned the house with the majority of their belongings still inside.

The state government will now acquire the property, have it demolished and remediate the site.

Mr Tighe said the drastic course of action was needed because the highly mobile nature of the asbestos fibres.

“This stuff is particularly dangerous because it is 90 per cent amorsite (also known as brown asbestos),” he said.

“Because it is raw asbestos it migrates down into the wall cavities.

“Any movement at all will cause it to spread.

“That’s why you have to demolish the house.” Loose-fill asbestos insulation was used in at least 1000 homes in the ACT and an unknown number in NSW.

More than 65,000 properties have been tested in NSW since 2014 with 149 positive results. But to date, the Hunter had been untested as existing knowledge suggested loose-fill asbestos insulation was not used in the region.

Residents of Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Cessnock, Maitland and Port Stephens who live in homes built before 1980 will have the next 30 days to register for the free test.

“The best thing to do is put on V2 category mask and lift the man hole in your roof,” Mr Tighe said.

“If you think it might be there get it checked. It’s better to be safe.” For more information and to register for testing visit www.loosefillasbestos.nsw.gov.au or or Service NSW.

Enviroscience’s Juliet Duffy – dual category finalist in NSW Woman of the Year Awards.

Friday 9 February 2018
Today, the Minister for Women, Tanya Davies announced the finalists of the 2018 Woman of the Year Awards. A panel of leading NSW women have names four women finalists in each of seven categories, selected from hundreds of nominations.

Dubbo businesswoman Juliet Duffy of Regional Enviroscience was the only dual finalist for the awards, achieving the honour of finalist in both the Regional Woman of the Year and Business Woman of the year.

“A huge congratulation to each of the remarkable women nominated this year, who are without a doubt worthy contenders for these prestigious awards. Their personal stories of sacrifice, hard work and success are truly inspiring,” Mrs Davies said.

While the finalists are chosen by leading NSW women, the WINNER IS BY POPULAR VOTE! Voting for the Regional Woman of the Year is here http://bit.ly/2C7sor8 and for Business Woman of the year here http://bit.ly/2EPsZR6.

Winners will be announced at the NSW Women of the Year Awards breakfast ceremony at the International Convention Centre Sydney on March 8 – International Women’s Day.

Juliet Duffy Biography:
Nine years ago, Juliet started Regional Enviroscience, an occupational health and safety consultancy, out of her rental-property garage in Dubbo. Today, still the director, Juliet employs, more than 23 local people and provides serious career opportunities for both young and mature-aged workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
The success of Juliet’s organisation has meant significant employment and economic gains for regional NSW. Importantly, it has also made the community safer by improving its access to occupational hygiene expertise.
Juliet holds a Master of Sustainable Management from the University of Sydney and has been managing asbestos, hazardous materials and environmental issues since 1988, when the first national code was implemented.
Seen as an expert, particularly in the field of naturally occurring asbestos, Juliet is a sought-after speaker at industry conferences nationally and internationally and she frequently travels the state educating government organisations, including councils.
She takes her role as a leader in STEM seriously by mentoring young women and in her voluntary board positions with Western Research Institute, Regional Development Australia (Orana) and the Orana Arts.

Dubbo Entrepreneur Closing Regional Business and STEM Gender Gaps

Household names such as Lonely Planet and Boost Juice started as Australian Financial Review Fast 100 companies. Now a Dubbo entrepreneur closing regional and gender gaps has earned her place on the list, as one of the country’s

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fastest growing businesses.  Meet Juliet Duffy of Regional Enviroscience – AFR Fast 100 for 2017

The news story run by Win News can be seen below.

A Champion for Regional Businesses

The Dubbo-based founder of a firm that’s making a name for itself in national business circles is beating down the sandstone curtain and reaping growth in return.

Juliet Duffy reports that with regular flights it’s easy for Regional EnviroScience to service Sydney from its non-metro locations.

The employer of more than 25 people is pleased her operation is “bringing money back to the region”.

Regional EnviroScience was listed on the Australian Financial Review’s Fast 100 companies on Thursday.

As Ms Duffy celebrated the success with her staff, she told of her belief that other firms could follow suit because “there are a lot of good businesses in Dubbo and in the regions”.

The Fast 100 is ranked by average revenue growth over four years.

“If you look at it this way, when I first started there was no one out here doing it, and now we employ 25 people,” she said.

“That’s 25 jobs that were going to Sydney that now are here, we’re in Dubbo, Tamworth and Wagga.

“… If all the regional businesses can get a bit more of the slice of the pie, instead of it all contractually coming out of Sydney, employment would be fantastic.”

Regional EnviroScience is an occupational and environmental hygiene consultancy with specialty in asbestos, pollution incidents, meth lab clean-ups, contaminated sites and air and water

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monitoring.

A champion for regional businesses, Ms Duffy said there was untapped expertise in regional areas.

“Often the education and experience that lies within the regions is overlooked by decision makers in capital cities, adding great expense and additional resource use to manage projects,” she said.

“I hope EnviroScience’s national recognition can contribute to breaking down some of the false perceptions that being a bush-based organisation is some sort of barrier to talent.”

Ms Duffy encouraged any regional young graduates to consider the career.

“It’s really exciting in that you’re on different sites all the time, you’re doing a different problem,” she said.

Typically a male dominated industry, the EnviroScience team includes two young women who are both science qualified and licensed asbestos assessors, mentored by Ms Duffy.

“Being a woman [in the industry]… is not without its challenges – especially with perceptions, however it has never really been a problem with on-site work,” she said.

“All of our team, contractors and clients support each other in day to day operations. It has been easy and thoroughly enjoyable to grow the business to where it is today, and without their support we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this extraordinary growth.”

The Australian Financial Review is a Fairfax Media publication.

This article originally appeared in the Dubbo Liberal November 2017

Regionally-based… a STEM organisation and a woman at the helm – meet the Australian Financial Review’s most unusual Fast 100 lister.

Building a regionally based STEM organisation has proven no problem for Dubbo-based entrepreneur Juliet Duffy – whose business, Regional EnviroScience, has been listed in the AFR’s Fast 100 companies today.

The AFR Fast 100 is ranked by average revenue growth over four years.  Some of the household names that started out as AFR Fast 100 companies include; Atlassian, Booktopia, Boost Juice, Carman’s Fine Foods, Cellarmasters, Grill’d, Herron Pharmaceuticals, Lonely Planet, RedBalloon, SEEK and WebJet.

Regional EnviroScience is an Occupational and Environmental Hygiene consultancy with specialties in asbestos, pollution incidents, meth lab clean-ups, contaminated sites and air, & water monitoring.  EnviroScience protects the health of people and the environment through detecting and monitoring a range of contaminants in the air, water, soil and materials.  With offices in Dubbo, Wagga and Tamworth and recently in Maroochydore, Queensland, Enviroscience employs over 25 people, including 17 professional staff.

EnviroScience works with a range of public and private clients including state & federal departments and tier one civil, manufacturing and mining companies.

Being regionally-based,’ says Juliet Duffy, ’we understand the uniqueness of our natural environment, infrastructure and communities.  Living in the towns where we work, our team has the connections and support to get the job done quickly and efficiently, and recognition of our innovative approach to meeting legislative and safety requirements has amplified our growth’.

The company also specialises in naturally occurring asbestos which is prevalent in regional NSW, detecting and testing samples at their Dubbo-based NATA accredited laboratory.

Typically a male dominated industry, the EnviroScience team includes two young women who are both science qualified and Licenced Asbestos Assessors, mentored by Juliet. ‘Being a woman in STEM is not without its challenges – especially

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with perceptions, however it has never really been a problem with on-site work’ says Juliet, ‘all of our team, contractors and clients support each other in day to day operations. It has been easy and thoroughly enjoyable to grow the business to where it is today, and without their support we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this extraordinary growthI thank them all.’

The growth over the last four years can also be attested to Juliet’s sheer tenacity.  A recent breast cancer survivor, Juliet knows how to put up a good fight and is a champion for regional businesses and the untapped expertise in regional areas. ‘Often the education and experience that lies within the regions is overlooked by decision makers in capital cities, adding great expense and additional resource use to manage projects.’

‘I hope EnviroScience’s national recognition can contribute to breaking down some of the false perceptions that being a bush-based organisation is some sort of barrier to talent.’ Says Juliet.

For the future Juliet is keen to develop new products, technologies and staff that will help keep people safe from environmental hazards, both in Australia and internationally.  ‘Every day new hazards are being identified, and we strive to be on top of the impacts they can have on the communities where we live and work’.

Asbestos in your home? Check out these three risk factors

Approximately one third of all homes built in Australia contain Asbestos products so it’s important to be aware of the risk factors. These include:

1. When your house was built.

Asbestos containing building materials were manufactured in Australia up until at least the mid-1980s, so it is highly likely that your house contains Asbestos if it was constructed prior to that time.

Built before the mid-1980s: Highly likely to have Asbestos containing materials.
Built between the mid-1980s and 1990: Likely to have Asbestos containing materials.
Built after 1990: Unlikely to have Asbestos containing materials.

Asbestos containing building materials were manufactured in Australia up until at least the mid-1980s, so it is highly likely that your house contains Asbestos if it was constructed prior to that time.

2. The repair status of buildings.

The presence of Asbestos containing materials can pose a significant health risk, especially if a building is in a state of disrepair or weathered. Disturbing materials can also be a risk and some of the most common sources of Asbestos in the home or office include:

  • Roof sheeting
  • Guttering
  • Pipes and flues
  • Wall sheeting
  • Vinyl sheet flooring
  • Carpet and tile underlays
  • Imitation brick cladding
  • Fencing
  • Carports and sheds
  • Cement sheeting
  • Insulation
  • Concrete formwork

 

3. The source of the materials.

Asbestos has been banned in Australia since 31 December 2003, but it is still widely used in other countries around the world. It is illegal to import products containing Asbestos into Australia, but unfortunately, building materials laced with the deadly substances are still finding their way onto our shores. This is a threat to the safety of builders and home renovators alike, so it is incredibly important that people using imported, prefabricated building materials are certain of the quality and are aware that some Asbestos-free guarantees are not genuine.

The damage Asbestos can do is profound – Asbestosis, Mesothelioma and other related Dust Diseases have a harrowing effect on both the sufferer and their loved ones.

How to identify Asbestos.

Identify Asbestos using the Enviroscience Asbestos testing kit. Asbestos testing is undertaken using our in-house laboratory services, which are NATA accredited for Asbestos testing and identification using Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM) for bulk sample Asbestos analysis or Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM) for air samples. The Enviroscience Asbestos test kit which instructs you on the correct and safe way to take a sample of the suspect material and offers a free postage testing service that is NATA accredited. Download the Asbestos test kit here.

Juliet Duffy holds a Master of Sustainable Management from Sydney University, is a Licensed Asbestos Assessor and has been managing environmental health issues since 1988. Juliet is Director of Regional Enviroscience – an NATA Accredited Asbestos & hazardous materials laboratory and occupational health consultancy based in regional NSW – Hunter Valley, Central NSW and the Riverina.

Are you sure you don’t have Asbestos in your home?

With the TV show of The Block on air, DIY renos around the house are expected to be on an all-time high.  It also gets the spotlight back on the old concern of exposure to Asbestos. It’s good to keep in mind, that one in three Australian homes still contain deadly Asbestos.

Asbestos cement products were commonly manufactured from the early 1920s to 1987 therefore extreme caution must be exercised with homes built before 1987. Asbestos was extensively used as a construction material from the 1920s, through to the post-World War II housing boom and right up to the mid-1980s.  With that in mind we always suggest taking extreme caution with any house built before 1987.

Where can you find Asbestos?

Asbestos may be present in a number of building materials used around the home. These include the exterior walls, internal walls (especially in wet areas), fencing, roofing, shingles and siding, eaves, backing material on floor tiles and vinyl flooring and water or flue pipes.

Although not everyone who comes into contact with Asbestos will get sick, it’s important to keep in mind that for some, very low exposure is enough to trigger the disease.

Australia is the world’s largest per capita user of Asbestos and as a direct consequence, we have one of the highest incidence rates of Mesothelioma in the world.

How can you identify Asbestos?

Ientify bonded or non-friable Asbestos is to use the Enviroscience Asbestos testing kit. The Enviroscience Asbestos test kit which instructs you on the correct and safe way to take a sample of the suspect material and offers a free postage testing service that is NATA Approved.  You can download the Asbestos test kit here.

What is malignant Mesothelioma?

Malignant mesothelioma is a painful and invariably deadly cancer which is caused by the inhalation of Asbestos fibres.

Australia is now seeing a ‘third wave’ of people being diagnosed with Mesothelioma. The ‘first wave’ consisted of miners and manufacturers. This was followed by the ‘second wave’ of construction workers, carpenters and other trades people exposed to Asbestos fibers from building materials. Tragically, the ‘third wave’ of home handy people are now being diagnosed with this deadly disease – with those being exposed to existing Asbestos products in the home while carrying out renovations or maintenance.

Despite years of public awareness campaigns, this type of third wave exposure is becoming increasingly common. Research has indicated that in Queensland alone there were on average 169 mesothelioma cases per year in 2012, a significant rise from 17 per year in the 1980s.

Original article appeared in Slater and Gordon blog, 23rd August 2016

Asbestos Building Materials, why was it used?

Large-scale mining of Asbestos began at the end of the 19th century. Manufacturers and builders began using Asbestos for its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electricity, and affordability. Regional Enviroscience also provides as well as the risk assessment a scope of works for the contractors on-site to ensure that remediation works are carried out safely and in accordance with current legislation.

Juliet Duffy holds a Master of Sustainable Management from Sydney University, is a Licensed Asbestos Assessor and has been managing environmental health issues since 1988. Juliet is Director of Regional Enviroscience – an NATA Accredited Asbestos & hazardous materials laboratory and occupational health consultancy based in regional NSW – Hunter Valley, Central NSW and the Riverina.