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NSW Breaking News

From recycling to upcycling: A smarter way of dealing with plastic & ag waste



Federal Government’s COVID-19 Disaster Payments

From recycling to upcycling: A smarter way of dealing with plastic & ag waste

Researchers have developed a clean and cost-effective way to upcycle used plastic, transforming it into valuable nanomaterials and high-quality fuel.

Key points

New tech produces carbon nanotubes and clean liquid fuel from used plastic
Smart solution for upcycling plastic and agricultural waste simultaneously
Circular economy approach to help turn two massive waste streams into genuine revenue
Globally only about 20% of waste plastics are recycled. Boosting that figure remains a challenge as recycling plastic cleanly can be expensive and usually produces lower-value products, often making it financially unviable.

The new method from researchers at RMIT University can produce high-value products from plastic – carbon nanotubes and clean liquid fuel – while simultaneously upcycling agricultural and organic waste.

The team’s two-step process, revealed in the Journal of Environmental Management, converts organic waste into a carbon-rich and high-value form of charcoal, then uses this as a catalyst to upcycle the plastic.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Kalpit Shah said upcycling two massive waste streams through one circular economy approach could deliver significant financial and environmental benefits.

“Our method is clean, cost-effective and readily scaleable,” Shah said.

“It’s a smart solution for transforming both used plastic and organic waste – whether tonnes of biomass from a farm or food waste and garden clippings from household green bins.

“We hope this technology could be used in future by local councils and municipal governments to help turn this waste into genuine revenue streams.

“With Australia banning export of waste plastic from next year, it’s vital that we explore sustainable and cost-efficient alternatives beyond recycling.

“Upcycling plastic with home-grown tech would enable us to draw the greatest possible value out of our limited resources and bring us closer towards a true circular economy.”

Plastic unfantastic

The export of unprocessed single resin/polymer plastics will be banned from July 1, 2022, under new Australian laws designed to phase out export of waste plastics, paper, glass and tyres.

Australia’s national recycling target is for 70% of the country’s plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025, but a recent report found just 9.4% of plastic was recycled in 2017-2018.

Recycling and clean energy is one of six national priorities in the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

High-value nanomaterials

The new plastic upcycling approach offers a sustainable alternative for the production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

These hollow, cylindrical structures have exceptional electronic and mechanical properties, with applications across a broad range of sectors including hydrogen storage, composite materials, electronics, fuel cells and biomedical technologies.

Carbon nanotubes are in growing demand, particularly in aerospace and defence, where they can facilitate the design of lightweight parts. The global market for CNTs has been projected to reach $5.8 billion by 2027.

Turning old into new

The new method starts with converting agricultural or organic waste to biochar – a carbon-rich form of charcoal often used for improving soil health.

The biochar is used to eliminate toxic contaminants – such as Poly-cyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, known as PAHs – as the waste plastic is broken down into its components of gas and oil.

The process eliminates those contaminants and convert plastics into high-quality liquid fuel.

At the same time, the carbon in the plastic is converted into carbon nanotubes, which coat the biochar.

These nanotubes can be exfoliated for use by various industries or the nano-enhanced biochar can be used directly for environmental remediation and boosting agricultural soils.

The study is the first to use low-cost and widely available biochar as a catalyst for making contaminant-free fuel and carbon nanomaterials from plastic.

Shah, the Deputy Director (Academic) of the ARC Training Centre for Transformation of Australia’s Biosolids Resource at RMIT, said while the study only investigated one type of plastic the approach would be applicable to a range of plastic types.

“We focused on polypropylene as this is widely used in the packaging industry,” he said.

“While we need to do further research to test different plastics, as the quality of the fuel produced will vary, the method we’ve developed is generally suitable for upcycling any polymers – the base ingredients for all plastic.”

Hyper-efficient reactor

The experimental study conducted at lab scale can also be replicated in a new type of hyper-efficient reactor that has been developed and patented by RMIT.

The reactor is based on fluidised bed technology and offers significant improvement in heat and mass transfer, to reduce overall capital and operating costs.

The next steps for the upcycling research will involve detailed computer modelling to optimise the methodology, followed by pilot trials in the reactor.

The team from RMIT’s School of Engineering is keen to collaborate with plastic and waste industries to further the research and investigate other potential applications of the upcycling method.

The research was supported through an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship.

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NSW Breaking News





NSW Northern Rivers Breaking News


Australian Defence Force (ADF) reservists and their civilian employers across Australia have been recognised for their contribution to Defence capability through the 2022 Prince of Wales Awards.

Assistant Minister for Defence, the Hon Andrew Hastie MP, said the awards are an opportunity to thank reservists and their employers, who actively support them, through funding to undertake training and professional development.

“The ADF Reserve have made a vital contribution to Defence’s assistance to the community during the bushfire crisis and the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.

“Reservists are a critical capability for our nation and their contribution to national security cannot be underestimated.”

Each award is granted on merit, from a competitive field of recipients. Winners will receive up to $8,000 to participate in their chosen professional development activity.

“The Prince of Wales Awards recognise the dedication of our ADF reservists and the valued support they receive from their civilian employers,” Assistant Minister Hastie said.

“I congratulate the Navy, Army and Air Force reservists who will have the opportunity to develop new skills and undertake additional training beneficial to their civilian careers.”

More information on Defence’s support to ADF reservists and their civilian employers, and the full list of 2022 recipients, is available at

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COVID-19 Northern Rivers News

NSW latest Covid update as at 30 December




NSW latest Covid update as at 30 December

To Tuesday 28 December 2021 across NSW, 95 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and 93.5 per cent have received two doses.

Of the people aged 12 to 15, 81.5 per cent have received a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 78.1 per cent have received two doses.

The total number of vaccines administered in NSW is now 13,602,370 with 4,355,921 administered by NSW Health to 8pm last night and 9,246,449 administered by the GP network, pharmacies and other providers to 11.59pm on Tuesday 28 December 2021.

NSW Health encourages everyone who is eligible to book into a NSW Health vaccination clinic or another provider without delay through the COVID-19 vaccine clinic finder.

Booster doses of COVID-19 vaccine are now available for people aged 18 and over. We urge people to get their booster dose as soon as they are eligible, to best protect yourself, your loved ones and the community from the ongoing transmission of COVID-19. We also strongly recommend that people aged 12 years and over who are severely immunocompromised have a third primary dose of vaccine from two months after their second dose.

Sadly, NSW Health is today reporting the death of a woman in her 70s from the Central Coast who died at Wyong Hospital. She was a resident of the Hakea Grove Aged Care facility, where she acquired her infection. She was not vaccinated and had underlying health conditions. NSW Health expresses its sincere condolences to her loved ones.

There are currently 746 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 63 people in intensive care, 24 of whom require ventilation.

There were 97,201 COVID-19 tests reported to 8pm last night, compared with the previous day’s total of 157,758.

NSW recorded 12,226 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.

Forty-three COVID-19 cases have been excluded following further investigation, bringing the total number of cases in NSW since the beginning of the pandemic to 166,184.
Northern Rivers COVID Cases







Testing capacity in NSW is currently under enormous pressure and the only people getting a PCR (nose and throat swab) should be those who have COVID-19 symptoms; live in a household with a confirmed COVID-19-positive case; or have otherwise been advised by NSW Health to get tested.

This applies to people who are fully or partially vaccinated, as well as those not vaccinated.

Rapid antigen testing can be an additional precaution that you can take if you are planning to socialise with large groups of people, particularly indoors, or interacting with people who are elderly or have serious health conditions. Information on how to use rapid antigen tests is available on the NSW Government website.

Around a quarter of people exposed to COVID-19 may still develop their infection after seven days. For the subsequent seven-day period, they should exercise caution and avoid high-risk settings and large indoor gatherings, and use a rapid antigen test if coming into contact with vulnerable people.

Of the 12,226 cases reported to 8pm last night, 2,229 are from South Eastern Sydney Local Health District (LHD), 2,085 are from South Western Sydney LHD, 2,042 are from Western Sydney LHD, 1,767 are from Sydney LHD, 1,310 are from Northern Sydney LHD, 708 are from Hunter New England LHD, 612 are from Nepean Blue Mountains LHD, 291 are from Central Coast LHD, 247 are from Illawarra Shoalhaven LHD, 244 are from Northern NSW LHD, 120 are from Mid North Coast LHD, 107 are from Southern NSW LHD, 73 are from Western NSW LHD, 72 are from Murrumbidgee LHD, eight are from Far West LHD, three are in correctional settings, and 308 are yet to be assigned to an LHD.

If you are directed to get tested for COVID‑19 or self-isolate at any time, you must follow the self-isolation rules.

If you have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, get tested immediately and self-isolate until you receive a negative test result.

There are more than 450 COVID-19 testing locations across NSW, many of which are open seven days a week. To find your nearest clinic visit COVID-19 clinics or contact your GP.
COVID-19 vaccination update
COVID-19 vaccination update




* to 11.59pm 28 December 2021

** Please note: The 12 to 15-year-old vaccination rate has dropped slightly as unvaccinated children move into the 12 to 15-year-old bracket and 16-year-olds move into the 16+ age bracket. This results in small movements in age cohorts.**COVID-19 vaccination doses administered by NSW Health

* notified from 8pm 28 December 2021 to 8pm 29 December 2021

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Local News







The NSW government continues to make life easier for drivers across the State with the latest update to the Park’nPay app.

The Park’nPay app, already supported by the NRMA, has now partnered with Australia’s largest EV charging network Chargefox and parking marketplace Parkhound to provide a single seamless platform for drivers looking to plan their trips.

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said while Park’nPay already made it easier to locate and pay for parking across 10 Local Government Areas these new partnerships took the customer experience to the next level.

“This is a smart solution for a smart State,” Mr Dominello said.

“Now with just a tap of their phone, motorists can easily find and rent a privately owned carpark or search for a charging station convenient to them.

“Alongside the real-time parking availability, money saving pay-as-you-go technology and remote topping-up facility, having all this information accessible in the one place is a big win for the drivers of NSW.”

Minister for Transport and Roads Rob Stokes said the Park’nPay app will connect drivers with more than 18,000 Parkhound hosts, who are renting out their private driveways and parking spaces.

“The Parkhound feature can be used by drivers to find the perfect spot when street parking isn’t available, while giving hosts the chance to make some extra cash when their car spots would otherwise sit empty,” Mr Stokes said

“The NSW Government’s $490 million Electric Vehicle Strategy is leading the nation in the uptake of electric vehicles, and the partnership with Chargefox is a great way for EV drivers to find a parking spot and charge their vehicles at the same time.”

NRMA CEO Membership & Motoring Emma Harrington said: “Technology can play an important role in improving the driving experience for electric vehicle owners and this App supports the work NRMA is doing in making it easier to find charging stations on your journey.”

Parkhound CEO Mike Rosenbaum said he was pleased to collaborate with the NSW Government on this innovative parking solution.

“There are 100,000’s of underutilised driveways and car spaces that sit idle right across the state. Both commuters and local residents can now easily make use of these otherwise wasted spaces via the real-time data in the Park’nPay app. This will significantly ease parking congestion and save drivers from circling the block.”

CEO and Co-Founder of Chargefox Marty Andrews welcomed the opportunity to keep motorists informed about their growing network of NSW charging stations.
“The Collaboration with ParknPay means that motorists will have more visibility about EV charging infrastructure, which has been a barrier to EV uptake in the past. We look forward to adding more station locations to the app in the future as we work towards our goal of a 5,000 plug EV charging network by 2025.”

EV drivers can now locate 130 charging stations with almost 240 plugs across NSW via the map in the app, making it easier to plan trips, compare prices and identify the type of charging plug.

The Park’nPay app has a link which will direct users to Chargefox when it is time to pay.

More than 71,400 people have downloaded the Park’nPay app since its launch, with almost 94 per cent giving it a thumbs up.

For parking, the Park’nPay app is currently available in the following locations: The Rocks​, Liverpool​, Mosman​, Central Coast​, Hunters Hill​, Burwood, The Northern Beaches, Port Stephens​, Willoughby​, Armidale, and Transport for NSW Customer Carparks.

For more information, visit

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