Perth company contracted to recycle rainwater

Technology developed by a Perth company that allows rainwater to be recycled has generated attention by the local government sector.

Business News reported that Urban Stormwater Technologies has invested almost $3 million in the development of a filter to reuse rainwater that would otherwise be lost to stormwater systems.

“The capacity to reuse that water could help local government sectors wanting to facilitate population growth, with many municipal authorities seeking alternative water sources after their groundwater usage had been capped,” Urban founder Craig Rothleitner told Business News.

“We’ve got our first local government contract. It’s with the City of Kalamunda.”

“It’s a drainage system that is feeding into the main drain, and from that main drain they have set up the first aquifer storage and recovery plant in Western Australia.”

“What they’re doing is drawing water from that (drain) in winter, filtering it down and then injecting it into the ground.”

The process is said to involve hanging a metal basket over storm drain entries, and filtering the water using a material found in boat carpets.

The Shire of Kalamunda contract has contracted Urban Stormwater Technologies to clean out the existing pipe system and then install nine baskets upstream from the recharge plant.

Annual water use across the Perth metropolitan region is about 395 gigalitres, with about 42 per cent of that usage self-supplied, mainly from groundwater bores, Business News reported, which is how councils and schools source water for irrigation of parks and gardens.



ACT Government explores liquid fuel facility

The ACT Government has prepared a draft terms of reference and appointed a panel for an independent inquiry into a proposed facility which would see waste plastic converted into liquid fuel.

According to the draft terms of reference, the proposed facility, located in the suburb of Hume, aims to convert landfill destined end of life plastics into road ready diesel, gasoline, and gas.

The terms of reference indicated that the proposed facility plans to process waste plastic by heating the plastic waste and separating the components through a series of chambers, extracting diesel, fuel and LPG.

The proponent plans to build the development in four stages, with the final stage intended to be completed in January 2018.

“Work has taken place over the last couple of weeks to prepare comprehensive draft terms of reference to guide the inquiry into the Hume proposal,” Dorte Ekelund, Director-General, Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development said.

“These cover aspects such as reviewing the proposed technology, identifying and assessing risks, commenting on the suitability of the proposed site and assessing the methodologies of the reports commissioned by Foy Group in relation to public health matters.”

Ms Ekelund said the terms of reference will be finalised in conjunction with the appointed panel.

“The Hume facility proposes new technology so it’s critical a thorough assessment is undertaken of the proposal to see if there are any potential issues, particularly around public health and the environment.”

Ms Ekelund said the panel will start work next month with a report finalised by the end of April 2017 for the government to consider.


CMA Ecocycle Partners with Papua New Guinea recycling plant

Waste trucks transporting waste

Australian recycler of mercury-containing waste CMA Ecocycle has partnered with Papua New Guinean environmental services company Total Waste Management (TWM) to reduce a history of international transfers of toxic waste.

The Australian company plans to take mercury-containing waste collected by TWM, primarily fluorescent lighting, and process it in its Melbourne facilities.

CMA Ecocycle said the tendency in the past was for industrialised countries to ship waste to less developed nations where it is either dumped, often illegally or manually broken down for recycling with no regard given to the health and safety of workers.

They said their long-term plan was to install a lighting recycling plant in Port Moresby, PNG, and provide training at the TWM operated facility.

Daryl Moyle, Business Development Manager at CMA Ecocycle, said managing mercury waste was a growing priority in the Pacific Islands region, and PNG was just the first step in CMA Ecocycle’s plans for the region.

“With the support of TWM we hope to increase awareness of this toxic substance, its impact on the environment and how we can all protect these often small and vulnerable islands by implementing simple but important recycling solutions,” Mr Moyle said.

In 2015, a sub-regional workshop on the Minamata Convention, aimed at supporting Pacific Islands in the early ratification and implementation of the convention, was held in Samoa.

Topics discussed at the workshop included the levels of mercury in Pacific fish, and the need for adequate institutional and border controls to manage mercury.

The PNG government is also active in running awareness campaigns about mercury pollution and the Minamata Convention at home, and taking a leading role on the issue in the Pacific region.

Cleanaway sell tip sites in Melbourne

Vik Bansal, Clenaaway's CEO, talks about NWRIC

Melbourne-based waste management company Cleanaway has sold two landfill sites in Melbourne’s west for up to $22 million.

In a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Cleanaway reported the sales were of their two dormant landfill sites in Brooklyn, sold to specialist developers Pelligra Group.

“These transactions are forecast to generate a pre-tax profit … of approximately $20 to $22 million,” it said.

Pelligra will assume responsibility for remediating and monitoring the sites in Market Road and Old Geelong Road, and has undertaken to cap the sites in line with environmental regulations.

“Based on forecasts, the sales of these closed landfills will reduce spending on landfill rectification and remediation by approximately $20 million over the next six years,” Cleanaway said.

The former tip sites have been dormant for years and had undergone initial remediation works, a spokesman for the company told Fairfax Media.

Pelligra is focused on developing industrial and contaminated sites, having previously redeveloped the heritage former ETA peanut butter factory in Braybrook.

Cleanaway said the sale is expected to be completed by early March.

Waste Management Association of Australia announces scholarship

The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has announced JustWaste Consulting environment manager Isabel Axiö as the winner of its inaugural revamped Young Professionals Scholarship.

Beginning last year, the scholarship required a submission of an abstract to one of WMAA’s national conferences to be held in 2017.

The funding allows the winner to attend and present at a national conference, providing exposure to the industry and their peers.

WMAA said Ms Axiö’s submission was of a high calibre and relevant to current issues facing the waste and resource recovery industry.

Ms Axiö has been employed at JustWaste since 2015, they said, and engaged in auditing, site assessments and EPA approvals.

Her presentation, Innovative strategy for rural transfer stations: working towards increased diversion rates, revenue and employment, will run on day two of the conference on March 29, to be held from March 28 to 31 at Rosehill Gardens in Sydney.

They said her strategic approach results in a continuous drive to identify holistic solutions that take into account social behavioural norms as well as the political and financial landscapes of her role.

“Ms Axiö strives towards progressive innovation and is always seeking to find new solutions to old problems,” WMAA said.

“I feel appreciated and enthused to receive the scholarship,” Ms Axiö said.

WMAA said they will undergo a similar scholarship process for ENVIRO‘17, to be held in Melbourne in August 2017.

Banana waste has biofutures potential

A small-scale biogas, organic waste to energy plant

Commercialising banana waste for sustainable organics manufacturing will be challenging, but the project has a lot of potential in Queensland, says Peter Hannan, the CEO of Growcom.

In an opinion piece published in the North Queensland Register, Mr Hannan explained that banana waste could play a key role in the biofutures industry, which focuses on the development and manufacturing of products from sustainable organic and/or waste resources, as opposed to fossil fuels.

He highlighted the Queensland Government’s allocation of $20 million in funding over three years for its sustainable biofutures industry plan.

Mr Hannan noted that Growcom, which represents the Queensland horticulture industry, had been involved in a project to produce and harvest methane gas from banana waste, which was funded by the Sustainable Industries Division of the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“Growcom’s project demonstrated the feasibility of constructing a low-cost on-farm anaerobic digester to convert banana waste to biogas. It also assessed the most productive use of the biogas fuel on-farm to power machinery and return power to the grid,” he wrote.

Mr Hannan wrote that the aim of biofutures was to utilise ‘waste steams’ as feedstocks in the future to generate a range of sustainable chemicals, fuels, synthetic rubber, cosmetics and textiles.

“While the most common potential feedstocks mentioned are sugar cane bagasse, sorghum stover, algae and recycled waste/used lube oil, Growcom hopes that other feedstocks such as banana waste from the horticulture industry will be utilised.

“More than 30 000 tonnes of bananas are grown in Australia each year, mainly in northern Queensland. About 20 per cent of the banana crop, some 60,000 tonnes a year, is damaged or bruised during harvesting and transport to packing sheds and cannot be sold.

“Damaged bananas and banana bunch stalks can be converted into a gaseous fuel by anaerobic digestion, a process in which bacteria break down carbohydrates in the absence of air, producing a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide. In fact, all plant material can be processed in this way.”

Mr Hannan wrote that the challenge going forward was to find an investor to undertake industrial design, enabling the system to be commercialised and made available to growers.

E-Hub Mackay helps recycle 3D printers

E-waste recycling
A north Queensland recycling centre is providing employment for individuals on work for the dole by helping locals dispose of IT equipment such as printers and scanners.

ABC News reported that E-Hub Mackay and E-Hub Sarina opened a few weeks ago, which sees IT equipment pulled apart and sorted by work for the dole members for recycling.

Project supervisor Frank Mason told ABC News the centres allowed for high-tech skills training and prepared workers for stable employment – in addition to reducing waste.

“We are running this as a social enterprise, utilising some people that are on the work for the dole program, basically giving them a reason to get out of bed,” Mr Mason said.

“They’re pulling them apart into their components — the steel, the plastic, the electronic components — and sorting them out, to work out whether it’s possible to re-use these parts.

“Things like motors, things like rods, things like wiring boards, we’re looking at how we might use them. And one of the ideas we’ve got is to turn it into a 3D printer.”

Mr Mason said Mackay’s E-Hub collected more than three tonne of printers in its first two weeks alone that would usually end up in landfill.

“It actually costs you money to take it to the waste transfer station.”

Mr Mason said a 3D printer could be built from just a couple of office copiers and some bespoke parts, excluding the extruder and controller.

“You need the 3D printers to make some of the parts, so the plastic turns into filament, and then to make some of the components that hold the printer together.”

“The 3D printer will help make the next 3D printer.



Toward Zero Landfill Project moves closer to target

This year’s Towards Zero Landfill Project is aiming to reduce its waste to landfill from 10 per cent last year to 5 per cent, says Pedro Gallo, operations manager of the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo.

The project, which launched in 2015, sources contractors, suppliers and sponsors who work together to achieve the target, with the results presented at the two-day Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Mr Gallo said Agility Logistics and IMK Cleaning Services were just two companies on board this year.

“Last year we got Bottle Crusher, which crushed bottles on site creating less waste and making recycling easier,” Mr Gallo said.

“Everybody helps to reach that target and at the end of the show they wait to see what we sent out to recycling.”

Mr Gallo said another initiative this year included partnering with Launch Housing to donate used furniture that would ordinarily go to landfill.

“We also get a lot of metal wire from rigging we do on site, this year it won’t be going to landfill, we will collect it and send it to metal scrapping.”

He said he is aiming for one per cent diverted to landfill by 2018-19.

In order to achieve its goal, the project has applied a range of strategies, including separating waste on-site, sustainable plant-based packaging, compostable bin bags and using Fairtrade certified coffee.

The project’s launch in 2015 led to a 70 per cent increase in resource recovery, after 10.7 per cent of total waste was sent to landfill, compared to 80 per cent in 2014.

The Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo runs from August 23-24 at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.



Queensland food recycling service the first of its kind

Food and organics waste
A business in Queensland’s south-east is operating the first and only Food Organics Garden Organics (FOGO) recycling service in Queensland.

The Queensland Times reported the Ipswich business, known as NuGrow, takes tonnes of food and garden green waste from across the Ipswich City Council green bin network.

Entrepreneur Roy Wilson told the publication the green waste is combined with other waste streams, including grease traps from restaurants to make compost, soil conditions and potting mixes.

He said the community and environment would benefit by improving water quality in catchments, combating climate change and fast-tracking a circular economy.

A circular economy is defined as an industrial economy that promotes greater resource productivity in aiming to reduce waste and avoid pollution through technological and biological cycles.

The company is focused on taking pressure off landfills and traditional waste management infrastructure that are grappling with population growth.

NuGrow recently created a hydraulically applied compost product used by civil contractors, which aims to reduce erosion and sediment loss while promoting vegetation growth alongside newly-constructed highways.

The business partnered with a third generation cattle farming family, near Rockhamption at the Raglan Station, to conduct a scientific field trial comparing NuGrow compost with traditional farming methods.

Raglan Station sits next to the Fitzroy Delta, a Great Barrier Reef catchment.

“The field trial sought to demonstrate whether above average pasture growing results could be achieved using reduced rates of synthetic fertiliser via substitution with a more economical product, such as organic-based compost,” NuGrow said in its publicity material.

Their testing found soil conditioner pasture was more productive, while also leading to a less harmful run-off into the river system.

Mr Wilson told the Queensland Times the results could have major implications for the health of the Great Barrier Reef, “but further education and uptake by the agricultural industry is required”.

NuGrow has four recycling facilities across Queensland, and plans to develop further sites interstate.







Study finds China dumps most e-waste in Asia

Telstra e-waste reuse and recycling strategy went live in November 2016
China is dumping more electronic waste per year than any country in Asia, according to research by the United Nations E-Waste Monitor.

The regional study found China dumped the most waste at 6.7 million metric tons, while Hong Kong was responsible for the most per capita.

The United Nations University (UNU) research, which sampled 11 countries, found electronic waste in Asia and Southeast Asia rose by almost 63 per cent over a five-year period from 2010 to 2015.

In 2015 alone, the region overall dumped 12.3 million metric tons of electronics, which includes TVs, computers, mobile phones and refrigerators.

According to the World Bank, there are more than two mobile phones for every person in the nation in Hong Kong, while its 7.2 million population is estimated to be nearly 200 times smaller than China’s.

Last year, an investigation by Seattle environmental group ­Basel Action Network found Hong Kong had become a dumping ground for exporters of electronic waste in the United States.

The UNU research showed the increase in e-waste in East and South East Asia was driven by high demand for new gadgets and rising incomes.

It found Japan, Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Province of China had e-waste collection systems in place, while Hong Kong and Singapore had no specific e-waste legislation, but instead managed via a public-private partnership through their respective governments and producers.

South China Morning Post reported in December of last year that Hong Kong was in the midst of developing its first integrated recycling plant for electronics.