Recycling company Close the Loop has unveiled an upgraded manufacturing facility that could divert two-thirds of Australia’s 300,000 tonnes of waste soft plastics sent to local landfill annually.
The new manufacturing line in Melbourne will produce TonerPlas, an asphalt additive that contains the equivalent of 530,000 recycled plastic bags, toner from more than 12,000 recycled cartridges and 168,000 glass bottles in every kilometre of two-lane road. In conjunction with Downer, roads featuring TonerPlas have already been laid in Melbourne and Sydney this year.
Close the Loop chairman Craig Devlin said the opening of the line coincided with National Recycling Week and will enable the company to produce the additive on a commercial scale.
“Close the Loop has been at the forefront of the circular economy for more than 17 years. Our goal of zero waste to landfill has seen us partner with manufacturers through take-back programs across multiple sectors including printer cartridges, cosmetics and batteries.
“TonerPlas is a great example of how valuable materials can be recycled to not just create new products, but better-quality products. The addition of TonerPlas improves the fatigue life of traditional asphalt by 65 per cent, meaning longer lasting roads at a cost-competitive price. It also offers superior resistance to deformation over standard conventional asphalt for withstanding heavy vehicular traffic.”
“At full capacity our new manufacturing line provides us with the ability to produce enough TonerPlas in a year to pave a two-lane road from Sydney to Melbourne. That would contain the equivalent of 530,000,000 recycled plastic bags, 168,000,000 recycled glass bottles and 12,000,000 recycled toner cartridges. That’s more than 200,000 tonnes of soft plastics that currently go to landfill in Australia.”
He added that policy changes in China had highlighted the importance of a local recycling industry and improved energy use across the design, use and reuse of products – a circular economy.
“Our new manufacturing capacity to reuse soft plastics and toner into TonerPlas is a great example of what local companies can do,” Mr Devlin said. “However, Australia needs to coordinate and invest in infrastructure to build a viable recycling industry and divert problematic waste streams from landfill. Banning plastic bags is a start, but it doesn’t solve the challenge, especially as plastic bags account for less than five percent of all waste soft plastics.”
Alibaba Group says it generated RMB213.5 billion (USD30.8 billion, AUD42.7 billion) of gross merchandise volume (GMV) during the Singles’ Day sales on 11 November 2018, an increase of 27% compared to 2017.
Australian products Swisse (first) and Bio Island (fifth) ranked in the top 10 products, whilst Australia maintained its position in the top five countries selling to China at fourth spot. In the first hour of the event, sales of Australian lamb increased 775% from last year.
“Today we witnessed the strength and rise of China’s consumption economy and consumers’ continued pursuit to upgrade their everyday lifestyles,” said Daniel Zhang, CEO of Alibaba Group. “Participation from the entire Alibaba ecosystem enabled our brand and merchant partners to engage with consumers like never before.”
In the hours leading up to the shopping event, Alibaba’s video streaming platform Youku hosted the fourth annual countdown gala to celebrate the official launch of the festival. Viewers were able to watch the gala live via Youku, as well as across China on two major Chinese TV stations. This year, the gala featured international celebrity appearances and performances from Miranda Kerr, Mariah Carey and Cirque du Soleil.
Key highlights from the 2018 11.11 Global Shopping Festival:
Top 10 countries/regions selling to China by GMV:
Top 10 imported cross border brand into China:
Swisse (majority Chinese-owned Australian)
Bio Island (Australian)
a2 (New Zealand)
In the first hour of 11:11 Global Shopping Festival, sales of Australian lamb increased 775% from 2017.
Top 10 categories of imported products bought by Chinese consumers by GMV:
Infant and toddler nutrition
Make up remover
Total GMV settled through Alipay was RMB213.5 billion (USD30.8 billion, AUD42.7 billion), an increase of 27% compared to 2017.
Cainiao Network processed more than 1 billion delivery orders.
More than 180,000 participating brands.
Over 40% of consumers made purchases from international brands.
237 brands exceeded RMB100 million in GMV, including leading international brands Apple, Dyson, Kindle, Estée Lauder, L’Oréal, Nestlé, Gap, Nike and Adidas.
230 countries and regions with completed transactions.
Lazada participated in 11.11 as part of the Alibaba ecosystem, bringing the festival to consumers.
Artificial intelligence (AI) could provide a boost to workforce productivity, but organisations need to build their employees’ trust in these technologies and upskill staff appropriately if they are to take full advantage of the benefits.
“AI is already being used to complete vital tasks in workplaces across a range of industries, but it could be used to boost productivity for the workforce generally,” said managing director of recruiting firm Hays in Australia and New Zealand Nick Deligiannis.
PwC analysis suggests that AI could contribute USD 15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, with USD 6.6 trillion of this figure coming from increased productivity. These gains are expected to come from the automation of processes, coupled with AI technologies augmenting the existing labour force.
There are already examples of where AI is starting to have this sort of impact. Two examples are shared in the latest Hays Journal, which explores this issue: fund managers are using AI to track media or social media stories about particular companies to glean important information that could impact share prices, while GP are trialling an AI system that conducts an initial triage of patients to determine who requires primary care. AI drives demand for more highly-skilled professionals
While some basic positions are likely to be taken over by machines, AI is also creating a need for more highly-skilled professionals.
Associate Professor in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bath Joanna Bryson gives the example of a bank that is using chatbots to deal with basic customer enquiries.
“You would think that would reduce the number of people managing the telephones, but what they found was that customers felt more engaged and ended up contacting the bank more,” she said. “The other interesting problem was that the chatbots were solving all the easy problems.”
Managing director ANZ of Nuance Communications Robert Schwarz agreed: “Virtual assistants allow organisations to provide their customers with fast and accurate self-service, which is often more convenient than available alternatives. This also reduces call centre costs and has the effect of freeing up agents to undertake more value-adding tasks that are more complex in nature.”
“With AI taking over routine or repetitive tasks, employees can focus on the more exciting aspects of their job or even move into other areas of the business,” said Mr Deligiannis. “Upskilling will be essential to ensure people become more highly-capable experts in their field.” HR must build trust and alleviate fears
While AI will undoubtedly make some jobs easier, it can also increase fears around career security within the workforce.
Yet a 2018 study, Is automation labour displacing? Productivity growth, employment, and the labour share by David Autor and Anna Salomons found that AI has had a positive effect on aggregate employment.
“HR will need to support the implementation of AI and ensure it is used responsibly while alleviating the perceived threat that many workers see it posing to their livelihood,” says Mr Deligiannis. “Part of this will involve talking about the rationale behind it, and explaining how it can help individuals perform their job, and potentially develop their career through learning new skills.”
This is supported by marketing leader for cognitive process transformation at IBM Global Business Services Owen Tebbutt who said: “The more open an organisation can be about why and where it’s using these technologies, the less concerned employees will be. It’s got to be based around this idea of empowerment. It’s not there to replace jobs but to make your job more impactful, enjoyable and productive. HR needs to be very positive about some of the things this technology can do to make people more productive, happy and fulfilled.”
In the longer term, there can be little doubt that AI will play a more significant role in how organisations are set up and run in the coming years. “A human being is only capable of taking in so much, so we are going to need help sorting through that, and that’s the biggest area where AI can help organisations or people,” says Mr Tebbutt. “The choice is quite stark: we can either drown in data or find a way to benefit clients and the workforce.”
According to Hays, the latter is possible so long as employers are open about the introduction of AI and offer training to employees where needed. In this way, AI will ultimately create a more engaged and productive workforce.
Hiring intentions in the Transport & Utilities sector are the most robust in the country and the strongest in more than seven years, according to the latest results from the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey. The survey collects data from over 59,000 employers in 43 countries, including over 1,500 in Australia.
The sector has reported a Net Employment Outlook (NEO) of +23% for the final three months of 2018. This is nearly double the same time last year (+13%) and the strongest outlook recorded since 4Q11.
Transport & Utilities – Net Employment Outlook, Q1 2011 – Q4 2018
The latest analysis reveals the sector has the most optimistic employment outlook in the country and is nearly three times as strong as the weakest sector for 4Q18 (Wholesale & Retail Trade).  The Net Employment Outlook is calculated by subtracting the percentage of employers anticipating a decrease in hiring activity from the percentage of employers anticipating an increase in employment. Seasonal adjustment is then applied to the data.
The ACCC has acknowledged Aurizon’s sale of its Queensland intermodal business to Linfox.
The ACCC has considered the Linfox proposal, and has decided that a public review of the transaction is not required, as it does not consider the acquisition by Linfox will give rise to a substantial lessening of competition.
“Linfox’s operations in Queensland are relatively limited, and the transaction will mean there will remain two intermodal rail line-haul providers in Queensland, which is a good outcome for rail competition and Queenslanders,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
Aurizon had previously announced that it would shut the Queensland intermodal business if it couldn’t progress the earlier transaction proposal involving Pacific National.
Under the earlier transaction proposal, it planned to sell the rail component of the Queensland intermodal rail business to Pacific National, its only competitor in intermodal rail in Queensland.
“The ACCC did not consider that Aurizon’s shut-down plans were rational given there were other options,” Mr Sims said.
“The sale of the Queensland intermodal business demonstrates why the ACCC must always question claims that businesses will be shut if we don’t approve a merger.”
The ACCC litigation concerning the sale of Acacia Ridge Rail Terminal to Pacific National and Aurizon’s intermodal sale process is continuing.
DB Schenker is integrating what3words location technology into the eSchenker portal, with the aim of improving operational efficiencies by allowing deliveries to be made to any precise three by three meter squares.
what3words has divided the world into this squares, each with a unique address made from three dictionary words – a 3-word-address.
///smiling.always.seating, for example, refers to the exact three meter square of the front door to the DB Schenker Head Office in Essen.
The what3words integration will enable more than 110,000 DB Schenker clients, who make over 500,000 bookings a month, to optimize their supply chains by specifying pick-up and drop-off points using a 3-word-address.
CIO/CDO of DB Schenker Markus Sontheimer said: “Our cooperation with what3words is a new service of DB Schenkers’ ‘connect strategy’ towards a fully digital eco-system. Especially with regard to trade shows or exhibitions, it provides our drivers with exact delivery points and thus allows us to serve our customers even faster and better.”
CCO of what3words Clare Jones said: “In a recent study conducted in Germany, we found that 73% deliveries struggle to find a home or business address. And, in more than a quarter of cases, delivery drivers have to seek additional information in order to locate an exact drop-off point. what3words solves this problem for both sides – improving efficiencies and improving customer service.”
Logistics companies around the world face a global challenge: imprecise addressing. Large sites such as factories, warehouses or events spaces often have several access points, making specific drop-off locations or delivery entrances extremely hard to identify and navigate to. The DB eSchenker portal is paving the way in the logistics industry. By adopting new technologies such as what3words, shipments are likely to get to their destination securely and on time, maintaining the highest standard of customer service possible.
Deutsche Bahn invested in what3words in 2016, with the two companies working together on the future of logistics and transport.
Coles has entered into a Heads of Agreement with Witron Australia, the Australian subsidiary of Witron Logistik + Informatik GmbH (Witron), to develop two new automated ambient distribution centres for Coles over a five-year period. Witron has developed over 50 automated projects for major retailers around the world.
Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the decision to make this investment followed an extensive evaluation process and assessment of global best practice to ensure that the project supports Coles’ strategy over the long term.
“We are pleased to partner with Witron to invest in world-class technology to modernise Coles’ supply chain,” Mr Scott said. “Following a comprehensive review of all options, this investment is expected to deliver significant productivity improvements over the medium to long term.”
Coles managing director Steven Cain said the investment demonstrates Coles’ commitment towards modernising its supply chain, which delivers more than one billion cartons to stores each year, through investment in technology and automation.
“Coles is committed to improving efficiency and stock availability in stores and delivering higher service levels for our customers,” Mr Cain said. “The investment we are making in this technology is expected to lower supply chain costs, provide safer working environments and enhance our business competitiveness.”
The total investment required to develop the two new automated ambient distribution centres will be managed within Coles’ overall capital expenditure budget by applying its established capital allocation processes and return hurdles. Future capital expenditure requirements associated with this investment were taken into account in determining the appropriate level of net debt for Coles as a standalone company, and the investment is supported by the incoming Coles Board.
The 2019 financial year capital expenditure associated with this project is included in Coles’ net capital expenditure guidance of $600 million to $800 million. Coles expects to recognise provisions of approximately $130 million to $150 million before tax in the 2019 financial year, relating to redundancies and lease exit costs for a number of existing distribution centres that will be closed over a five year period. Demerger details
The Supreme Court of Western Australia has ordered a meeting (Scheme Meeting) of Wesfarmers shareholders be convened to vote on a scheme of arrangement for the proposed demerger of Coles.
If the demerger proceeds Wesfarmers shareholders will retain their Wesfarmers shares. Eligible shareholders will be entitled to receive one Coles share for every Wesfarmers share held at the demerger record date.
Wesfarmers chairman Michael Chaney said: “Demerging Coles enhances Wesfarmers’ prospects of delivering satisfactory returns to shareholders by shifting our investment weighting and focus towards businesses with higher future earnings growth prospects,” Mr Chaney said.
“Following a successful turnaround since it was acquired by Wesfarmers in 2007, Coles is once again a leading Australian retailer, well positioned to grow as a defensive business with strong investment characteristics.”
Demerger of Coles to reposition the Group’s portfolio and set up both Wesfarmers and Coles for future success.
Wesfarmers to retain 15 per cent of Coles and 50 per cent of flybuys.
Eligible shareholders will receive one Coles share for every Wesfarmers share.
Wesfarmers Board recommends shareholders vote in favour of the demerger of Coles.
The Independent Expert, Grant Samuel & Associates, has concluded the demerger proposal is in the best interests of Wesfarmers shareholders.
Shareholder vote scheduled for Thursday, 15 November 2018, with demerger to be completed in November 2018, subject to shareholder, court and regulatory approvals.
Wesfarmers following the proposed demerger
Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott said the demerger represented a significant repositioning of the group’s portfolio and would set up Wesfarmers for success over the next decade.
“The demerger will reposition the group’s portfolio to target a higher capital weighting towards businesses with strong future earnings growth prospects,” Mr Scott said. “After the demerger, Wesfarmers will have a portfolio of cash generative businesses, with strong returns on capital, good momentum and leading positions in their respective markets.”
“Maintaining a strategic stake in Coles provides an important connection with Wesfarmers to reinforce opportunities to collaborate in the data, digital and loyalty areas. flybuys will be better able to realise its potential as a leading loyalty company through the ongoing support and investment of both Coles and Wesfarmers and by leveraging the broader networks of the Wesfarmers Group, including the existing partnerships with Kmart and Target,” Mr Scott said.
The Liberal Nationals plan to revolutionise Victoria’s passenger rail network by delivering European-style high-speed rail right across Victoria, but the details are a little sketchy at this stage.
“Melbourne’s population squeeze is putting enormous stress on our roads, public transport, schools and hospitals and that impacts everyone’s quality of life,” LNP opposition leader Matthew Guy said.
“Unplanned, unmanaged population growth is killing Melbourne’s liveability.”
Bringing Victoria’s cities closer together with European-style high-speed rail is the cornerstone of the Liberal Nationals’ plan to ease the population squeeze by decentralising jobs and the population.
European-style high-speed rail to regional cities would also give Victorians more options for affordable housing, more lifestyle choices and more employment opportunities.
Reaching speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour, Victoria’s new high-speed rail network is claimed to be the fastest in Australia.
The High-Speed Rail Project would see the rebuilding of much of Victoria’s current Class 1 track to 200 kilometres per hour operation as well as major track improvements on every other passenger rail line.
High-speed rail would almost halve travel times between Melbourne and Geelong and between Melbourne and Traralgon and, within the first term of a Liberal Nationals Government, travel times between Geelong and Melbourne would be slashed to just 32 minutes, an improvement of 26 minutes on the current timetable, the LNP press release says.
This $15 billion to $19 billion super-infrastructure project would be planned and built in three stages over the next ten years. Detail a bit sketchy, says Labor
The Victorian Labor Government, however, pointed out uncertainties in the opposition leader’s on-radio explanation of the plan, where he was unable to quantify the expenses involved.
MITCHELL: How much does it cost for a kilometre of that track?
GUY: It’s about a million dollars a kilometre if you’re taking out signalling and a range of others.
MITCHELL: For the fast track? It’s a million dollars a kilometre?
GUY: Mmm, there’s more to it, much more to it than that – that’s just talking about your ballast, and uh.. stone, and sleepers, and rail but there’s more to it than that.
MITCHELL: So all up, what’s it cost for the 200km track?
GUY: Well… at the moment you’ve got to upgrade your class one track, it’s a bit more technical than just saying what’s the cost from here to there… You’ve actually got a whole bunch of variables as to where you’re building and what kind of ballast you’re going to use and if you’re going over certain kind of soils and clays and the rest.
ON TICKET COST
MITCHELL: How much will tickets cost? How much will they go up?
GUY: Ha ha ha, I haven’t thought that far ahead!
ON LAND ACQUISITION
MITCHELL: Will you need to acquire land?
GUY: No, you’re using existing reservation.
[NB. The existing rail corridor has curves, angles, and grades not capable of running 200km/h trains.]
ON GEELONG RAIL BY 2022 AND INTERACTION WITH AIRPORT RAIL (NOT OPERATIONAL UNTIL AT LEAST 2027)
MITCHELL: How do you get the Geelong train there faster – you’d reduce the number of stops?
GUY: Well, you can put on an express service which doesn’t stop to complement your existing services, that’s the first instance, the second instance is obviously using the new Airport Rail Lines from Sunshine-in and then adding extra tracks to Wyndham Vale, and that would then give you express lines out.
MITCHELL: Will this affect the Air Rail Link – the link to the Airport?
GUY: No! Quite the contrary, it would complement it. And we would use some of those tracks. Actually I’ve been watching this with great interest I think those express tracks from Sunshine are part of this solution.
CHAVASTEK: Where will the tunnels be on the Gippsland line?
GUY: I’m not going to pre-empt that.
CHAVASTEK: Surely you know.
GUY: This is about six hours old, give me a chance, Nicole.
Workers protested at all main airports on Tuesday over poor pay and conditions as a report shows low standards are impacting on aviation safety and security. Protests also took place around the world as part of a global day of action by airport workers.
Protesters demanded an end to forced part-time hours that sees workers rostered to work as few as three hours a day and just 60 hours a month. Coupled with this, low pay and split shifts are forcing some workers to sleep at airports.
“My work roster changes week to week. Sometimes you can do overtime but it has to be on split shifts,” ramp and cargo worker Bob Popovski told media at the protest. “Split shifts are a major concern for all of us. Sleep patterns and family life are affected. Job security is really bad.”
A TWU report to the Productivity Commission inquiry on airport regulation links the poor conditions to safety and security breaches. The report calls on the Federal Government to mandate that airports and airlines take responsibility for labour standards in their supply chains.
“When service providers bid for contracts, workers are rushed in and there’s not enough time to train them,” Popovski continued. “That’s where accidents happen and that’s our biggest concern.”
“Airports and airlines are engaged in a public war of words over who is ‘gouging’ from who, but it is airport workers who are the real losers. Beyond the shiny facades of our airports and outside the slick airline lounges, workers are struggling to pay bills and are even forced to sleep at work. High staff turnover rates and poor conditions are impacting on safety, security and services. Airports and airlines at the top of the supply chain are highly profitable and they must be held to account for this,” said TWU National Secretary Michael Kaine.
The TWU report shows some aviation companies have almost their entire workforce on part-time hours. At the same time profits for the main airports were over $2 billion in 2016-17, while Qantas Group made profits of $1.6 billion.
Glaring examples show the impact on safety and security. High turnover means staff without full security clearances are accessing secure areas of the airports; in Sydney airport there were 132 injuries among a staff of 324 over a one-year period; in Perth airport an Aerocare baggage handler forced to unload an aircraft alone allowed passengers onto secure airside to collect their own baggage. Overseas Jetstar cabin crew are working domestic routes with no training on how to board domestic aircraft and base pay as low as $100 per week.
The report also shows airports and airlines outsource much of their work to companies without any required labour standards.
“Billions of dollars in public money are being poured in to building airports and there should be a better dividend for the community than what is currently happening. Billions of dollars are also being poured into trying to make our airports more secure while poor labour standards are clearly affecting safety and security. The Federal Government must put a stop to the race to the bottom in aviation. It’s not just the workers that are at risk here. It’s only a matter of time before something gives and there are no second chances at 30,000 feet,” Mr Kaine added.
Landside transport operators across Australia are appalled by the latest announcement by DP World Australia of further massive increases in vehicle booking fees and Infrastructure Access Charges from 1 January 2019.
“If these exorbitant fee increases are allowed to proceed, then since April 2017, DP World Australia will have imposed Infrastructure Charge increases levied on transport operators of 1024% in Melbourne, 247% in Sydney and 86% in Brisbane, with no negotiation, no transparency, and no ability for transport operators to resist, least their terminal access may be denied,” said CTAA director Neil Chambers.
In addition, Vehicle Booking System (VBS) fees will be jacked up 88% from $6.89 per container slot to $12.95, again with no consultation or discussion with transport operators about what the additional revenue will be used for to improve the truck interface at DP World terminals around Australia. Unfair contract terms
The CTAA has raised with the ACCC previously, and with the federal and state governments, that DP World imposes these fee increases through unfair contract terms.
At the beginning of each financial year, DP World requires container road transport operators to accept the terms of its National Carrier Access Agreement. If they do not sign, transport operators may be denied terminal access, and in any event, as soon as they use the 1-Stop VBS from 1 July each year, they are deemed to have accepted the terms of the agreement.
The DP World Public Tariff Schedules for each terminal, linked to the Access Agreement, are also published for the financial year.
“The National Carrier Access Agreement forms a ‘contract’ between DP World and transport operators, albeit transport operators have little ability to negotiate fair terms within the contract,” observed Mr Chambers.
“Yet, half-way through the contract, DP World can vary its fees and charges massively, again with no negotiation.
“CTAA has asked the ACCC previously why this isn’t deemed to be ‘unfair contract terms’ under the provisions of Australia’s competition laws? Following this latest fee increase bombshell, we’ll be asking the question again.
“Transport operators have no say in setting these fees and charges, no say in their quantum, and no say in how the revenue is spent. How is this fair or sustainable?” Federal & state government actions
The current Federal Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Regional Development, Michael McCormack has stated publicly that he will wait for the next ACCC Container Stevedoring Monitoring Report due in October before considering action on stevedore fees and charges now being directed to the landside sector.
“We’ll be encouraging the Minister to act swiftly once the Monitoring Report is released.”
Similarly, both the Victorian and NSW governments have recently released updated strategic freight plans with clear directions to support the efficiency and viability of the container logistics freight sector.
In the case of the Victorian Freight Plan, there is a specific initiative to investigate options for the future role of government in regulating pricing/charges, and access to and from the Port of Melbourne.
“CTAA is encouraging Victorian Minister Luke Donnellan, NSW Minister Melinda Pavey, and indeed the Palaszczuk Queensland Government and the McGowan WA Government, to conduct these investigations as a matter of urgency, jointly or severally.”
The CTAA believes these government regulatory reviews need to address:
The relationship between stevedore rates to shipping lines, terminal handling charges (THC) applied by shipping lines to shippers, and the implementation and quantum of the infrastructure surcharges levied by the stevedores on transport operators.
An investigation of the ‘unfair’ structure of DP World’s National Carrier Access Agreement, and the benefits that would be derived by negotiated, individual service level agreements (SLA) between transport operators and stevedore companies.
The establishment of independent monitoring of key stevedore performance indicators, similar to the analyses conducted in NSW under its Mandatory Standards regime by the NSW Cargo Movement Coordination Centre, including accurate Truck Turnaround Time (TTT) & Container Turn Time (CTT) measurement in all ports; VBS slot capacities per time zone; truck utilisation rates, stevedore practices that limit ‘two-way running’ opportunities; and stevedore infrastructure expenditure that improves landside logistics interface performance.