Community consultation open for Canberra WtE

The ACT Government has begun community consultation on waste to energy (WtE) to help develop policy and provide information for stakeholders.

It follows the results of the ACT’s Waste Feasibility Study which found Canberra was unlikely to achieve a recovery rate of more than 80 per cent without some form of WtE leaving 200,000 to be sent to landfill.

Related stories:

The ACT Government has launched a survey to gather community feedback and provide information on the different types of WtE to clearly outline the territory’s position on energy recovery. It has also launched an information paper to outline the challenges and opportunities for the technology in the ACT’s context.

The consultation will inform the ACT Government’s consideration of WtE in the territory.

Currently the ACT has a target to divert 90 per cent of waste from landfill by 2025 and has implemented a container deposit scheme to also improve the territory’s waste diversion rates.

WtE processing facilities are already in use in the ACT with methane gas captured at the Mugga Lane and West Belconnen landfill facilities used to power around 3000 homes.

The ACT has also set a range of targets to 2020 for secure and affordable energy which involves using clean energy technology.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said in the information paper that a serious conversation about what to do to reach the ACT’s landfill diversion targets is needed and should explore whether WtE is part of the solution.

“WtE technologies sit on a spectrum – not all of these involve burning or heating and some technologies are already in use in the ACT, for example through landfill gas capture at our Mugga Landfill site,” Mr Steel said.

“One of the key recommendations of the Waste Feasibility Study was the development of a WtE policy in the ACT to provide certainty to industry and the community about whether WtE has a role in the nation’s capital.

“As the Minister for City Services I want our community and industry to be partners in co-designing a long-term, informed and evidence-based policy vision for WtE in the ACT.”

The community consultation period will close on 29 November 2018.

Northern QLD councils call for changes to waste levy

North Queensland councils have called on the state government to push back the introduction of the waste levy and to introduce a differential levy rate system.

The North Queensland Regional Organisation of Councils (NQROC) has made nine recommendations in a submission to the Queensland Government, calling for the levy to be implemented on 1 July 2019 to align with the new financial year instead of the current set date of 4 March 2019.

Related stories:

Another recommendation is the implementation of a differential levy rate system to account for differences in rates for metropolitan and regional areas, which the NQROC says is in line with NSW and Victoria. Alternatively, the organisation recommends the implementation of a specific regional subsidy scheme to cover any hidden costs of the waste levy.

NQROC Chairperson and Mayor of Burdekin Shire Council Lyn McLaughlin said it was important for regional councils to raise their concerns about the new Waste Levy

“The need to transport waste to distant recycling markets is one of the hidden costs of the waste levy for regional councils,” Cr McLaughlin said.

“It’s less expensive for the larger metropolitan councils who have recycling facilities close to them, however transportation costs are a huge issue for regional and rural communities.

“We need a cheaper levy for the regions or the government must assist with the cost of transporting our waste to other parts of the state,” she said.

Cr McLaughlin said another recommendation related to how the waste levy zone is determined and called for Charters Towers Regional Council and Hinchinbrook Shire Council be removed from the proposed zone.

“Right now, population is the only criteria for determining if you are in the waste levy zone. Regional economies are more complex than that and it is our view other factors like local economic conditions and financial sustainability should also be considered,” Cr McLaughlin said.

NQROC Deputy Chair and Mayor of Charters Towers Liz Schmidt said Charters Towers Regional Council was an example of where a population only approach can be flawed.

“Charters Towers Regional Council is just over the waste levy population threshold, so we are included in the waste levy zone. This ignores the fact that the number of people we provide waste services for is much less than the actual population.  We have a large number of rural properties covering an area the size of Tasmania who deal with their own waste,” Cr Schmidt said.

“Then there are the costs of waste management for townships like Balfes Creek, Homestead, Pentland, Greenvale, Hervey Range, Sellheim, Mingela and Ravenswood. Waste costs for these towns are already heavily subsidised by council and are unlikely to ever be self-sustaining.

“A waste levy just adds a greater financial burden which means more cost for our communities.  We aren’t like the larger councils of South East Queensland but the government doesn’t seem to realise that.” she said.

Waste reduction winners of the NSW Sustainable Cities Awards

Winners of the Keep Australia Beautiful NSW Sustainable Cities Awards have been announced and include the NSW container deposit scheme and a hospital recycling program.

The NSW EPA sponsored and presented two awards for waste management and litter reduction.

Related stories:

Winning initiatives include Auburn Hospital’s Think before you bin it project to improve recycling and reduce hospital waste and the City of Canterbury Bankstown’s We Like Greenacre Litter Free, which resulted in a 54 per cent reduction in litter in Greenacre over three years.

The Vinnies Container Deposit scheme won the inaugural Return and Earn Litter Prevention Award, as the organisation have collected millions of containers at their automated depot and over the counter return points in NSW.

The Return and Earn school’s category went to Glenmore Park High School, which mobilised its school community to collect litter to fundraise for a minibus for the Special Needs Unit.

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy said these projects along with other winners demonstrate the power of acting locally to reduce waste and litter in communities.

“All of the winners demonstrate extraordinary leadership in waste and litter reduction initiatives in our communities, and I commend them all on their efforts,” Ms Levy said.

Ms Levy said the NSW Government is committed to reducing waste and litter in the environment.

“We have dedicated $802 million over nine years to 2021 as part of the Waste Less Recycle More initiative – the largest waste and recycling funding program in Australia,” she said.

“We have also introduced the state’s largest litter reduction initiative, the Return and Earn container deposit scheme, to help achieve the Premier’s target of a 40 per cent reduction in litter volume by 2020.

“More than 814 million containers have been returned to return points across NSW in just over ten months, and drink container litter volume has already dropped by a third since November last year.”

Perth anaerobic digestion project wins bioenergy award

A project that converts food waste to energy has won an award at the Bioenergy Innovation Awards dinner in Queensland.

Four bioenergy projects and the Premier of Queensland Annastacia Palaszczuk were awarded top honours at the awards night, which showcases Australia’s bio-based alternatives for heat, power, and liquid fuels.

Related stories:

Perth based Biogas Renewables has commissioned a plant that will take between 35,000 and 50,000 tonnes of food waste per year and is capable of producing between 2.4 to 2.6 megawatts of energy.

The company was awarded the Large Scale Bioenergy Innovation Award for the project, with Bioenergy Australia CEO Shahana McKenzie saying the application of anaerobic digestion is a major advancement of the Australian market.

Biotechnology company Microbiogen was awarded a commendation for its development and launch of a superior biocatalyst for the global bio-ethanol industry.

Ms Palaszczuk was awarded the Government Leadership Award for the Queensland Government’s 10-year Roadmap and Action Plan to support the growth of the state’s bio-economy. The plan identifies 15 current projects which represents a potential investment of around 41.4 billion and the creation of 2500 new jobs in rural and regional communities.

“The integrated approach is paving the way for Australia to develop a sustainable, export-oriented industrial biotechnology and bioproducts sector by 2026,” Ms McKenzie said.

“The plan shows a pathway which recognises Queensland’s mix of natural resources, skilled workforces, world-class research and development and supporting supply chain industries.”

The research Leadership Award was presented to the Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment platform, which is a collaboration of states, industry and universities to enable better links between biomass suppliers and end users.

Victorian Pyrenees Shire Council won the Community Leadership Award for its large-scale project which focused on converting straw and straw pellets to energy.

Ms McKenzie said the awards are recognition for the breadth and scope of the bioenergy work being undertaken across Australia.

“Bioenergy is the subject of considerable interest and investment world-wide, due to its enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and drive a more sustainable energy future,” she said.

Full list of winners:

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – LARGE SCALE
Winner: Biogass Renewables Pty Ltd, the Richgro Anaerobic Digestion Project
Commendation: Microbiogen Pty Ltd, the Development and Launch of World’s First Superior Biocatalyst for Global Bio-Ethanol Industry

BIOENERGY INNOVATION AWARD – SMALL SCALE
Winner: Dragon NRG Pty Ltd, the Meredith Dairy Bioenergy Project Commendation: ReNu Energy Limited, Goulburn Bioenergy Project

BIOENERGY COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Pyrenees Shire, the Pyrenees Straw Project
Commendation: CLEAN Cowra, Goulburn Bioenergy Project, CLEAN Cowra BioEnergy Hub Commendation: Mt Alexander Sustainability Group, Integrated Community Bioenergy from Waste project

BIOENERGY CORPORATE LEADERSHIP AWARD
Commendation: MSM Milling, MSM Milling Biomass Fuel Switch Project

AWARD – BIOENERGY RESEARCH LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Australian Biomass for Bioenergy Assessment
Commendation: Queensland University of Technology Industrial Biotechnology, Bioproducts and Biorefining Team, Achieving bio-economy impact through industry focused research

BIOENERGY GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP AWARD
Winner: Premier of Queensland, the Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk MP

Amazon invests $10M into US recycling infrastructure

Global logistics company Amazon has announced it will invest $10 million USD into a social impact investment fund to support recycling infrastructure in the United States.

The investment into Closed Loop Fund aims to increase kerbside recycling for 3 million homes around the US to make it easier for customers to recycle and develop end markets for recycled goods.

Related stories:

An estimated one million tonnes will be diverted from landfill into the recycling stream, which would eliminate the equivalent of 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxides by 2028.

Closed Loop Fund provides cities and recycling companies access to funding to build recycling programs and aims to invest $100 million USD by 2020 to create economic value for cities and build circular supply chains.

The fund aims to improve recycling for more than 18 million households and save around $60 million USD for American cities.

Amazon Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark said the investment will help build local capabilities needed to make it easier for Amazon customers and their communities to recycle.

“We are investing in Closed Loop Fund’s work because we think everyone should have access to easy, convenient kerbside recycling,” he said.

“The more we are all able to recycle, the more we can reduce our collective energy, carbon, and water footprint.”

Closed Loop Fund CEO Ron Gonen said Amazon’s investment is an example of how recycling is good business in America.

“Companies are seeing that they can meet consumer demand and reduce costs while supporting a more sustainable future and growing good jobs across the country,” he said.

“We applaud Amazon’s commitment to cut waste, and we hope their leadership drives other brands and retailers to follow suit.”

Image Credit: Amazon

Veolia signs 25 year deal to operate WA WtE facility

Veolia has signed a $450 million 25-year operations and maintenance service agreement on a large-scale waste to energy facility in Kwinana, WA, capable of producing 36 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 50,000 homes.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will commit up to $90 million towards towards the $688 million and will be able to process 400,000 tonnes of household, commercial and industrial residual waste per year.

Related stories:

Operations and maintenance of the facility will commence in 2021. Veolia operates 61 thermal waste to energy facilities around the world.

Macquarie Capital and Phoenix Energy Australia are co-developing the Kwinana plant, with co-investment by the Dutch Infrastructure Fund (DIF). Infrastructure company Acciona has been appointed to design and construct the facility. The project has been approved by the WA Environmental Protection Authority.

It is expected to produce cost-competitive base load power by processing household waste from local councils and contribute to grid stability in WA’s South West Interconnected System.

Technology that has been previously used in Europe will be implemented in the plant, which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking 85,000 cars off the road.

The plant will use the Keppel Seghers grate technology, which has seen use in more than 100 waste to energy plants across 18 countries. Metals recovered in the process are then able to be recycled, with the fcaility producing an ash byproduct that is commonly used as road base or for construction.

CEFC’s funding is part of a $400 million debt syndicate that includes SMBC, Investec, Siemens, IFM Investors and Metrics Credit Partners. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is contributing a further $23 million in grant funding.

Veolia Australia and New Zealand Managing Director and CEO Danny Conlon said the project is an exciting development for Veolia in Australia.

“Adding to Veolia’s existing infrastructure in NSW and QLD, where we generate enough electricity to power 35,000 homes per year from waste, the Kwinana Project is another example where we will extract value from waste materials, delivering a clean energy source,” Mr Conlon said.

At a time when Australian businesses and households are seeing energy shortages and rising costs, Veolia is proud to be working with innovative partners to help deliver new, environmentally sustainable energy from waste”.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller said the project provides a renewable energy solution for reducing waste going to landfill.

“The use of combustion grate technology is well established in Europe and North America but has not yet been deployed in Australia,” Mr Miller said.

“More than 23 million tonnes of municipal solid waste is produced annually in Australia and this project could help to divert non-recyclable waste from landfill and recover energy in the process.”

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the landmark project was the CEFC’s largest investment in WA to date.

“Creating energy from waste is an exciting and practical way to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill, while also delivering cleaner low carbon electricity,” Mr Learmonth said.

“The average red lid wheelie bin contains enough waste to produce up to 14 per cent of a household’s weekly power needs. This investment is about harnessing that energy potential, while safely diverting waste from landfill.

“We are pleased to be working alongside Phoenix Energy Australia, Macquarie Capital and DIF in bringing this state-of-the art technology to Australia. We congratulate the Western Australian government and the participating councils in embracing this 21st century approach to waste management,” he said.

Macquarie Capital Executive Director Chris Voyce said the Kwinana plant is expected to employ around 800 workers, including apprentices, during its three-year construction phase, and some 60 operations staff on an ongoing basis.

“Macquarie Capital is pleased to be contributing to the supply of sustainable and secure renewable power to Australia’s overall energy mix,” Mr Voyce said.

“As an adviser to, investor in and developer of renewable energy projects around the world, we see waste-to-energy as an effective example of adaptive reuse: reducing the pressures on landfill by diverting it toward the generation of clean energy,” he said.

Pictured: Henry Anning

CEFC Energy from Waste lead Henry Anning said the CEFC is pleased to play a role in demonstrating the business case for large-scale waste to energy investments in Australia in the future.

“Australians produce almost three tonnes of waste per person per year. While the priority is always a strong focus on recycling and organic waste management, there is still a considerable amount of household waste from red-lidded bins ending up as landfill, where it produces a large amount of emissions,” Mr Anning said.

“Energy from waste investments such as the Kwinana plant are about creating new clean energy opportunities for Australia, while offering councils and households a practical and innovative way to manage waste. Just as importantly, they can significantly cut methane emissions produced by landfill.”

With the addition of the Kwinana facility, the CEFC has now made six large scale investments to reduce waste-related emissions.

 

Recovered Energy Australia submits WtE planning application

Recovered Energy Australia has submitted a planning application to Melbourne’s City of Wyndham to construct a waste to energy plant that would process 200,000 tonnes per annum of residual municipal solid waste.

The company has proposed a site in Laverton North located on industrial zoned land.

The gasification technology will divert more than 97 per cent or 194,000 tonnes of waste that was destined to go to landfill and at the same time recover the energy from the waste. According to Recovered Energy Australia, there will be 11-14 per cent of the waste that is non-organic creating 30,000 tonnes per annum of slag which can be used for clean fill, road base, bricks or tiles.

The next step in the licensing and approval process is to submit an Environment Protection Victoria Works Approval application to show that it meets Victorian operational and environmental standards.

Related stories:

The company in a statement noted that the gasification technology was selected for its superior environmental performance, its scalability and its ability to be commercially competitive with other waste disposal options. It said that the controlled air and high temperature of the gasifier also creates a process that is unsuited to the production or reformation of unwanted emissions.

The company said the location was selected for its extensive buffer zone and position within an area identified by the Victorian Government as an existing Resource and Recovery Hub of state importance. It also has access to high energy consuming industries that could utilise the renewable power generated.

“It is a fully enclosed building with high speed roller doors and operates under negative air pressure. This ensures no odour from waste or noise is emitted from the plant,” the company stated.

Recovered Energy Australia will be able to service the residual municipal solid waste volumes from three or four councils.

Community comments called for Australian Paper WtE facility

EPA Victoria has called for further community consultation on Australian Paper’s proposal to develop a large-scale waste to energy facility.

The company has provided the EPA with a health impact assessment to support its application to develop the facility within the boundaries of its site in Maryvale, Latrobe Valley.

Related stories:

The proposed plant would generate both steam and electricity which can be directly in the paper mill or exported to the grid. It would replace two gas-fired boilers and would produce around 30 megawatts of electricity and 150 tonnes of steam per hour.

The EPA’s assessment of the applications will consider issues such as best practice technology, energy efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions, waste fuel composition, compliance with waste hierarchy, potential risks to human health and the environment from air, noise, disposal of fly ash, wastewater treatment and operational contingencies.

It follows a community public meeting held earlier in July, which found there was significant support for the proposals, with many submitters commenting the technology is already operating safely overseas, there are environmental benefits of less waste going to landfill and economic benefits of local job creation.

EPA Development Assessments Director Tim Faragher said the works approval application was originally open for public comment in June and EPA received 115 submissions.

“EPA also ran a community conference in July to hear concerns from those that made submissions. This further consultation period allows interested community members to make further comments on the new information that Australian Paper has submitted,” Mr Faragher said.

When making a final determination, the EPA will also consider all public submissions and the outcomes of the community conference.

SA joint waste collection tender authorised by ACCC

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has authorised a group initiative of SA councils to jointly procure kerbside waste collection services.

The councils of Adelaide, Charles Sturt, Marion and Port Adelaide Enfield have been authorised to appoint a single provider for kerbside waste collection services.

Related stories:

In the context of procuring waste services, councils may be considered to be each other’s competitors, which is why authorisation from the ACCC was required.

Broadly, the ACCC can grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any detriment.

Interim authorisation was granted on 20 July 2018, which allowed the councils to commence the tender processes. The tender closes on 12 December 2018 and will cover around 180,000 rateable properties.

According to the ACCC, it is common practice throughout Australia for local councils to jointly tender for waste services to reduce transaction costs, pool resources and expertise and achieve economies of scale. The ACCC has authorised 30 of these agreements so far, after concluding they were likely to benefit the public.

ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said a joint tender process is likely to improve the four councils’ purchasing power and encourage more competition from suppliers than if each council conducted a separate tender process.

“It is common for groups of local councils to jointly procure waste services. The ACCC has authorised many such arrangements across Australia over the years,” she said.

“The joint tender process is likely to result in cost savings through encouraging more competitive bids, reducing transaction costs, and other efficiencies. These cost savings can be passed on to Adelaide residents in the form of lower costs or improved services,” Ms Court said.

The ACCC considered information both for and against the joint tender arrangement.

“Some suppliers raised concerns that the size of the proposed contract would deter some suppliers from tendering, resulting in a worse deal for ratepayers,” Ms Court said

“While there may be some companies that choose not to participate, the larger tender is also likely to attract additional bidders, and overall we consider most of the potential suppliers which would bid if the councils contracted separately are also likely to compete for the joint contract.”

“The councils have the experience and incentive to decide whether running a single tender process for a larger volume of work or four smaller, separate tenders, is likely to deliver the best outcomes for their respective communities.”

The ACCC also considered the longer-term impact of the joint tender on competition for waste collection services in Adelaide and found unsuccessful applicants will continue to have other opportunities to provide waste management services in other parts of the city.

NSW EPA opens grants up to $250,000 to reduce food waste

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water. ORCA

The NSW EPA has opened applications to grants worth up to $250,000 to establish five ‘Love Food Communities’ across the state.

The funding aims to assist councils tackle the issue of food waste across an entire community, including homes, businesses, schools, supermarkets, clubs, pubs and community groups.

Related stories:

All projects involved will include delivery of the EPA’s Food Smart and Your Business is Food programs for households and businesses.

The Food Smart program aims to educate NSW households about reducing food waste, with participants receiving a toolkit with bag clips and food huggers to reduce food waste. Your Business is Food provides businesses with information, advice and resources to reduce the amount of food that is disposed of.

Applications to the grants are open to local government in two stages. Stage one is the submission of an Expression of Interest by 19 November 2018, which will be assessed by an independent panel.

Successful applicants will be invited to the second stage to develop a detailed project plan. Funding of up to $20,000 is available for the project planning stage.

Final applications must be submitted by 18 March 2019.

For more information and to access the application form, click here.