Finlay: separating the grime

Phoenix Environment Group is sorting problematic C&D waste from all over Melbourne into saleable streams, with the assistance of Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems.

Mixed waste from construction and demolition sites is regularly left out in the rain or intense heat for long periods of time by some contractors and site managers. As a result, construction and demolition waste (C&D) often arrives at processing and recycling facilities as a wet, sticky mass, loaded with heavy and bulky debris.

Phoenix Environment Group, a recycling company based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, receives waste from all over the city and deals primarily in C&D. Phoenix operates largely as a sorting facility, separating C&D into seven different streams before sending it to alternate facilities for remanufacturing.    

Company Director Ash Walker says given the nature of C&D, the material Phoenix receives is often quite contaminated, with multiple mixed materials needing to be screened and separated simultaneously.

To facilitate the cleaning of grimy material, Phoenix purchased a Terex TRS 500 from specialist equipment suppliers Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems last year.

“We needed a recycling screen capable of separating heavy weight material from recyclable waste before we send it to separate picking stations for further separation,” Ash says.

“Our previous screen worked well. However, as the company grew and began to work with larger, more commercial clients, we required a new recycling screen to keep up with processing demands.”

The TRS 500 recycling screen is a versatile mobile screen that operates with a specialist screen box designed by German manufacturer Spaleck.

Ash says he spent a number of months researching recycling screens online before coming across the TRS 500.

After contacting Finlay about the machine, Ash was flown to Queensland to view the screen in operation.

“Once I had watched the TRS 500 in action at Finlay’s facility in Burpengary, I became confident in its ability to fulfil Phoenix’s business requirements,” Ash says.

“The Terex machine is much bigger than our previous screen, so we are able to put significantly more material through each hour – it ticked all the boxes for me.”

Phoenix has been using the TRS 500 for just under 12 months, and Ash says it hasn’t missed a beat.

“We use the screen to reclaim a lot of mixed soil and it works 100 per cent of the time,” Ash says.

“Every inch of soil is screened and cleaned effectively and quickly, which means we can remove all the contaminants at a cheap price.”

According to Ash, the machine was specifically designed for difficult applications, with the combination of a three-way split system and Spaleck 3D Combi screen box allowing operators to process material previously classed as problematic.

Phoenix uses the TRS 500 to process a minimum of 2000 tonnes of C&D waste at its Coolaroo recycling centre each month.

“Most of our material comes from Campbellfield Bins, Ben’s Bins Hire, Cleanaway and a handful of smaller waste removal companies,” Ash says.

Spaleck screen boxes are designed for efficient screening of wet inhomogeneous material, with separation cuts between 0.2 and 50 millimetres.

The TRS 500 incorporates the Spaleck screen box into a standard Terex platform and frame, with features including a steel apron feeder for feeding heavy bulk material, a 3D top deck screening panel and an aggressive flip-flow bottom deck.

The base frame is agitated by a shaft and unbalanced motor drive, with the vibration passed to the frame via thrust rubbers.

Ash says the tracked heavy duty screen can be operated in a wide range of primary and secondary screening applications.

“The 3D flip flow bottom deck mats can handle high-moisture material, even when screening as small as two millimetres without blinding,” Ash says.

“This ability is critical given the nature of the material we’re processing, as it reduces downtime and maximises our production capabilities.”

Additionally, Ash says the TRS’s 3D screening segments facilitate correct grain size and eliminate long and extraneous material for the tension shaft screen on the lower deck.

“The screwless mounted screening mats create less contamination than regular mats and the high acceleration has a self-cleaning effect,” he says.

Ash says Finlay has a services and parts division in Melbourne, meaning it is just around the corner when the machine needs servicing.

“They respond straight away when I make a booking and are always on call. I’ve been really happy with the service,” Ash says.

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NSW EPA: let’s chat compost

The NSW Environment Protection Authority has developed an engaging conversational learning program to support professional development in the organics sector.

Simulated conversational experiences, or chatbots, have been gaining traction across numerous industries.

Conversational learning is a unique concept that delivers knowledge in focused, micro-learning chunks, requiring only three to five minutes of a learner’s time. It aims to put learners in control, use conversation and story-telling to stimulate engagement, build knowledge and allow for active discovery and decision making.

With an increase in chatbot messenger apps offering instantaneous customer service, news and other relevant notifications, chatbot experiences are even making inroads in the waste sector.

To support the compost industry, e-learning provider IMC has been working with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) via its organics program. IMC and the EPA have developed four-five minute chatbot modules dubbed “Let’s Chat Compost” on the topics of assessing odour, pasteurisation, composting and managing contamination.

The learning sessions aim to simulate ordinary conversations, akin to those you’d have with a friend or colleague – personal, fun and to the point. They embed personality into the learning content and create a dynamic interaction like one-on-one teaching, making social and interactive e-learning “in dialogue” possible.

The Let’s Chat Compost modules allow users to continue or refresh their learning through the EPA’s existing Compost Facility Management eLearning program, released at the end of last year.

Presented in social media messenger style, the app uses conversation and memes to engage learners to expand on their composting knowledge.

The Compost Facility Management course comprises seven modules and has been designed for regulators and people in all roles working in organics facilities. It uses interactive content, animation and video to engage learners, with the aim of embedding high-level skills and knowledge for best practice facility management.   

IMC has leveraged its expertise from working with clients such as National Rugby League, the Department of Health and Human Services, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Audi to craft unique and conversational learning experiences.

Amanda Kane, Organics Manager at the NSW EPA, says Let’s Chat Compost aims to draw attention to the key processes most relevant to processors, regulators, local government, consultants and waste collection operators.

“Let’s Chat Compost will be a tool to reinforce learning and act as a reminder for what’s happening inside a compost pile that might be causing an odour, or why it’s important to manage contamination and the importance of pasteurisation,” Amanda says.

“IMC’s concept was developed in Germany and designed to look as much like a phone chat as possible. It was in recognition of the platforms we use in everyday life.”

She says that developing smartphone nuggets is an exercise in communicating the most important content in an engaging way.

“The main goal of the nuggets is to get people to take up the course, but also as a reminder for those that have completed the course,” Amanda says.

The app can send notifications to those who have completed the course, encouraging them to share the modules with their colleagues or revisit aspects of their learning.

Amanda adds that companies could adapt the program to suit their organisational tone and include additional relevant occupational health and safety and company information.

“The result is not only contributing to the production of a quality product, but upskilling the industry and minimising the environmental impact of one’s operations.

“It’s critical that processors are operating within the conditions of their license, and that if any issues do arise, they know how to respond and communicate with the EPA and advise us what’s happening.”

She says that the smartphone nuggets are aimed to be accessible on multiple devices and link back to course content.

The modules also include expert tips from industry leaders such as SOILCO and Australian Native Landscapes (ANL).

“We wanted to have industry voices to communicate those messages. All of the course content was filmed at sites around NSW using various technologies,” Amanda says.

“These include ANL’s open windrow or the in-tunnel systems that JR Richards & Sons have up at Grafton and then using team members at all levels to communicate the message, including EPA regulatory staff as well.

“We have had 300 people sign up, and the overall feedback is that people are finding it to be a rewarding learning experience.”

EVA Environmental Director Geraldine Busby, who also worked on the initial training course, oversaw the development of smartphone nuggets.

Carmen Locke, Instructional Designer, IMC AG, says conversational learning allows learners to make decisions while being actively immersed in a one-on-one learning scenario. This increases their ability to retain content, understand concepts and develop new skills and behaviours.

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Position Partners: maximising landfill airspace

Position Partners’ Elizabeth Latham talks to Waste Management Review about machine guidance and maximising landfill productivity

When looking to expand the efficiency and productivity of a landfill site, one option is maximising airspace.

Position Partners’ Elizabeth Latham says to maximise airspace, landfill operators need to expand the amount of soil used for daily cover, along with the introduction of an alternate daily cover system.

Additionally, in order to get the best value from each cubic metre of airspace, she says operators need to optimise the compaction of waste.

“With the capability to be installed on a wide range of landfill plants, and a demonstrated track record, Carlson LandfillGrade — distributed in Australia by Position Partners — is the ideal system to implement at your landfill site to monitor waste compaction rates,” Elizabeth says.

“The two main benefits of Carlson LandillGrade, as identified at a specific Victorian landfill site, are instant operator feedback and the devices ability to extract airspace utilisation reports.”

According to Elizabeth, the site previously relied on periodic aerial surveys to provide data on airspace utilisation, before working with Position Partners to implement the Carlson management tool.

“Relying on periodic surveys meant more manual data manipulation was required, and resulted in significant time lags between data points, meaning it was more difficult to implement corrective actions,” she says.

“The ability to get real time data on waste compaction and airspace utilisation was one of the main features that drew this landfill site manager’s attention to the Carlson system.”

Elizabeth says the landfill manager also wanted a system that provided instant feedback to the compactor operators, so they could both operate to design, and know when optimal waste compaction had been achieved.

“The manager of the landfill site noted that prior to implementing the Carlson Landfill Grade, they had relied on the operator doing a certain number of passes to ensure the waste was compacted optimally, which is not a truly reliable way of managing compaction,” she adds.

 The Carlson system, implemented by Position Partners, is currently installed on two landfill compactors at the site, with plans to install a third unit on the dozer used for daily cover application further down the track.

“The manager at this landfill site has found that the Carlson system has been a seamless addition to the machines at the landfill,” Elizabeth says.

“The software tools have been integrated with the landfill site’s other systems without any issues or problems.”

Elizabeth says implementing LandfillGrade allows site managers to have access to better data, and deliver instant feedback to operators.

“This has resulted in some landfill site managers reporting an improvement in airspace utilisation efficiency of up to 10 per cent,” she says.

“Another benefit provided by the Carlson machine technology is that operators are able to get continuous feedback on where they are operating compared to the lift design, which reduces the need for rework and re-profiling, especially of the cell batters.”

Elizabeth says service and support are integral to any technology solution, along with capability and price.

“Having access to the local team of product experts is important to many of Position Partners’ customers during the decision-making process,” she says.

“The team at Position Partners is able to discuss how the system would benefit you on your site and assist you in understanding all the features of the Carlson system compared to other products that are available.”

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Tennant Company’s sustainability strategy

Tennant Company marketing specialist Rebecca Wall explains the benefits of sound environmental practice and innovative cleaning solutions. 

Has your organisation developed and implemented a sustainability strategy? When choosing suppliers, is your decision based on whether they have one?

In the past, behaving in a sustainable manner was considered something of a novelty. Now, it increasingly illustrates credibility and a genuine care about how your business conducts itself as member of the global community.

As more companies, large and small, turn towards sustainability initiatives, a kind of corporate fellowship has emerged. Businesses are now working together to create a link in the longer chain of environmentally conscientious organisations.

Being seen as a sustainable business is a positive thing, as countless products and services are introduced to make sustainability practices easier to implement.

Tennant company

Since 1870, Tennant Company has worked to empower its customers to reduce their environmental impact and create a cleaner, safer and healthier world. We have a definite vision to lead the way in sustainable practices.

Tennant Company continually gauge our own efforts to determine the benefits they deliver, not just for the environment but also for our bottom line. What we’ve found is that one doesn’t have to disadvantage the other, in fact, choosing a more sustainable solution can be more cost-effective.

Tennant Company research and development teams are constantly coming up with innovative and environmentally responsible cleaning solutions for customers that are increasingly seeking them.

When a potential customer asks us for a proposal, they frequently request that we summarise our sustainability strategies to determine if they match with their own. Putting sustainability policies and practices in place can very literally mean the difference between landing a new contract or not.​

Tennant Company is known for evolving to meet external influences. Early on in our history, we developed eco-advantaged products for our own business and for our customers. It began with vacuum-equipped sweepers that featured enhanced dust control. Next, we developed high-performance, low-VOC floor coatings, followed by highly concentrated detergents.

In more recent times, we introduced our game-changing ec-H2O technology, which took out the Business Innovation of the Year award at the 2009 European Business Awards. The ec-H2O delivers significant reductions in water usage, greenhouse gas emissions and waste generated — all key elements in a hardware’s lifecycle environmental footprint.

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Stockpiles drive action: Tyre Stewardship Australia

Volkswagen has become the first automobile company to receive accreditation from Tyre Stewardship Australia, with Australia now set to see a further 400,000 tyres disposed of responsibly.

A 2019 Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) audit of export markets showed some Australian recyclers were sending tyres overseas and failing to meet accredited recycling processes.

Tyres were reportedly being sold to businesses with poor health and safety practices, including those that engaged in stockpile burning.

According to the 2017 National Market Development Strategy for Used Tyres, Australia generated 447,000 tonnes of tyre waste in 2015-16. This represents the equivalent of 56.3 million end-of-life tyres and of those, only 10 per cent where recycled.

The strategy suggests tyre waste generation will continue to grow over the next 10 years, with new tyre sales expected to exceed 63.3 million by 2024-25.

TSA seeks to tackle this problem by signing up more tyre manufacturers, importers and retailers to its nationally accredited product stewardship scheme.

While a core function of TSA’s business is ensuring members commit to the responsible disposal of tyres, in recent years the scheme has shifted focus. Much of TSA’s recent activity centres on driving the commercial viability of the developing tyre-derived product market.

In June, for example, TSA accredited six new local councils after they used tyre-derived raw material in infrastructure projects.

To further incentivise the use of tyre-derived products, TSA seeks widespread industry participation at all levels of the supply chain.

\Volkswagen Australia General Manager Corporate Communications Paul Pottinger holds a similar view, arguing sustainable tyre recycling is the responsibility of all individuals and organisations working in the car industry.

This year, Volkswagen became the first auto company to co-sign the TSA accreditation scheme.

Presently TSA has 11 members, most of which are tyre manufacturers and retailers.

“I think most people in the industry are well aware of the worst-case practices, none of which are environmentally agreeable,” Paul says.

“For us, tyres are a by-product of the simple act of doing business, so it’s our obligation to ensure dealers engage in best practice and dispose of tyres sustainably.”

According to Paul, news that Australia’s biggest European car importer has joined TSA will hold significant weight and push similar action across the industry. He adds that Volkswagen sits on the board of the Chamber of Automotive industries – Australia’s peak industry body for car companies.

“The industry is changing in every respect, with increasing emphasis on developing business practices that are as environmentally conscious and sustainable as possible,” Paul says.

“It’s not up to Volkswagen to wag an admonitory finger at people, but we are very happy to lead the way for our colleagues.”

As part of Volkswagen’s TSA membership, 100-plus Australia Volkswagen dealerships are now committed to TSA’s accreditation requirements.

TSA commitments include increasing tyre resource recovery and recycling, growing Australia’s tyre recycling industry though scheme promotion and assisting the development of end-markets for tyre-derived products.

TSA also requires members to contribute to the elimination of inappropriate exporting and illegal dumping of end-of-life tyres through transparent collection reporting.

Paul says becoming aware that one of Volkswagen’s tyre suppliers was not a scheme signatory was a key prompt for Managing Director Michael Bartsch to get involved with TSA.

“When it was brought to our attention that one of our suppliers wasn’t working with the objectives of TSA, we decided it was important to get involved and take action,” Paul says.

“Looking forward, it is our intention to deal only with tyre manufactures who are TSA co-signatories, at the exclusion of those who are not.”

The TSA program is funded by a levy imposed on tyre importers, and now Volkswagen as a vehicle manufacturer. The levy is calculated at a rate proportional to the number of tyres the member imports or sells into Australia.

The levy is used to support market development and research, organisational management costs and implementation of TSA’s end-of-life tyre strategy.

According to Paul, Volkswagen’s levy will annually apply to almost half a million tyres.

“Volkswagen will pay a levy based on an annual figure of 400,000-plus tyres, which represents roughly five tyres per vehicle sold based on 2018 sales figures,” he says.

Prior to becoming TSA member, Volkswagen did not have a centralised tyre disposal policy in place.

“I don’t believe any car company has a centralised system. The management of disposal is often left to individual dealers,” he says.

“I’m sure disposal been done as responsibly as possible, but ensuring a TSA-accredited service is collecting Volkswagen tyres is unquestionably the best way forward.”

Paul says the simple act of recognising tyres as a waste stream is crucial to achieving TSA objectives.

“Tyre waste is not something a lot of people in the auto industry are thinking about,” he says.

“Volkswagen playing an active role in responsibly disposing of, and recycling, what would otherwise be a waste product is a huge step forward.”

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Oil procured sustainability: Cookers Bulk Oil

Cookers Bulk Oil System explains how a push towards sustainability in the food services sector is seeing more organisations turn to its full lifecycle solution.

It’s critical that quality assurance systems are applied in the food services industry to ensure products are food grade.

While food safety is first and foremost a priority, conscientious consumers are increasingly calling for products that also meet rigorous environmental standards.

For nearly 20 years, Cookers Bulk Oil has placed sustainability at the core of its operations.

With this in mind, the company provides a complete oil management solution across the broader food services industry. Its diverse customer base ensures it is able to service small to medium businesses, right through to major corporations, with high-quality cooking oils meeting industry standards. This comprises, but is not limited to, restaurants, casual dining, cafes, takeaway, hotels and fast food establishments.

The two major products sold by Cookers are canola oil and a premium frying oil branded XLFRY Oil. In addition to a suite of other products, the company is able to manufacture blends according to its customers’ needs.

Cookers’ lifecycle solution sees it source fresh Australian oil that meets industry standards and delivering it to the sector through dedicated trucks. It then picks up regular used oil which is converted into valuable commodities such as biodiesel.

Garry Nash, General Manager of Sales at Cookers Bulk Oil System, says the business initially started out with a focus on kitchen efficiencies. Over time, Cookers increased its scope towards recyclable solutions for oil management as sustainability became a considerable focus for procurement.

“It’s really important for our customer base that they not only know where their oil has come from, but also where it’s going,” Garry explains.

“When we pick up customers’ oil, they know that it’s coming back to our depots to be refined and given a second life in the biodiesel industry, so that full circle approach helps a business understand and implement best practice.”

The company works with Australian oil manufacturers to refine products locally.

One of Cookers’ key offerings is the use of storage units instead of tins, preventing 300 tins from ending up in landfill for each truck of oil delivered. Garry says that this not only has an environmental benefit, but avoids the cost of disposal through gate fees.

Each delivery is accompanied with a certificate of analysis to support traceability for customers. Food service organisations are supplied with purpose-built storage units and a dedicated business development manager to meet their requirements.

“We batch track every drop of oil that we deliver knowing the date we delivered it, what the product was and what the batch was all the way back to when we received it.”

Cookers’ key point of differentiation in the food market is that it holds Safe Quality Food (SQF) accreditation for oil supply in Australia. SQF is a globally recognised food safety program that reinforces its commitment to rigorous safety standards in the industry.

Garry says SQF holds Cookers to a high account for its product traceability – an issue that has increasingly become topical with product recalls for consumer products such as strawberries and honey. He says product dilution is also another food industry issue that Cookers seeks to alleviate with transparent processes, with the company allowing unannounced audits.

“Our business policy is our doors are always open to our customers and that means if they were to knock on the door unannounced, our warehouses can be walked through and viewed by anyone at any time, and that is a requirement of SQF.”

“It’s one thing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) certification, but we feel that SQF is one step above that.”

Cookers also holds an International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC), which covers comprehensive sustainability requirements to monitor greenhouse gas emissions and ensure products are traceable and produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

The used oil that returns to the depots is decrumbed, dewatered and heat treated to create a finished product sold off into biodiesel.

The company ensures its own operations are sustainable by harvesting and reusing rainwater at its sites, measuring and analysing its greenhouse emissions and using a wind turbine at its head office to supply 30 per cent of its factory power needs.

Garry says Cookers offers a national footprint with nine depots across Australia and the same service model and offering available around the country. He says that Cookers will continue to evolve its business to ensure it keeps pace with changing industry practices and expectations.

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Taking the eco road: ECO Resources

ECO Resources is doubling its output, reducing contamination and improving safety with the installation of an Australian made picking, sorting and recycling facility.

Since starting off as a small site cleaning business in 2006, ECO Resources has made significant inroads in the construction, demolition and general inert recycling space.

The Perth-based company has over the past decade grown through a combination of key acquisitions and organic growth to become a major construction and demolition (C&D) waste management company and multi-user recycling business.

Since the launch of ECO’s first resources facility in 2011, the company has diverted significant volumes of C&D waste from landfill, servicing more than 200 businesses in Perth, including local councils, waste collectors and construction and demolition businesses.

Supporting and diverting more than 500,000 cubic metres of waste from landfill each year, ECO is focused on growing its landfill diversion rates beyond 93 per cent with $6 million of investment approved for 2019.

The company partners with Perth suppliers of reconstituted building blocks and produces recycled sand and roadbase compliant with Main Roads WA and state government requirements.

Steve Hyams, a consultant for ECO Resources, says the company’s ownership structure is unique to the waste industry. He says that ECO’s love of logistics and all things mechanical, combined with a passion for the environment, has been the foundation for its growth.

The company’s environmental focus prompted a review of collected waste streams, existing disposal options and recycling performance.

“The team identified that large quantities of C&D waste were heading to landfill and after meeting with similar local businesses, the team launched ECO’s first C&D recycling facility at Naval Base in Perth’s south,” Steve explains.

Following this review, the ECO team adopted a plan to eliminate reliance on third party disposal, develop C&D recovery and treatment capacity, diversify the business to cover the whole lifecycle of waste, along with a number of other benchmarks.

To increase its involvement in the C&D market, ECO Resources invested in a new picking, sorting and recycling facility. The new facility doubles its output in safety, volume and quality, while reducing contaminants and residual waste. The plant will allow the company to improve its sorting and segregating of C&D waste at its Hope Valley operations.

Commissioned in May this year, the 12-month project included tender, design, construction and delivery. Skala Australasia won the tender to deliver its first-ever C&D turnkey plant in WA.

Simon Toal, Skala Australasia Director, says the project was designed from scratch, working with ECO Resources managers and the operations team to develop the design via 3D modelling. The plant was designed to match Perth’s climatic conditions and input materials, reducing overall maintenance.

“ECO Resources has been operating other plants for a number of years and have some good experience on what works and doesn’t work,” Simon explains.

“We’ve build a number of plants down the eastern seaboard similar to this so we combined our collective experience to deliver them the best solution.”

As Skala also specialises in mining and industrial processes, it was able to apply its heavy-duty applications to the design, including in the chute design and wear components.

He says that ECO Resources was after a robust vibratory in-feed system that could handle larger input material and reduce the amount of pre-sorting and double handling. The primary in-feed system includes a General Kinematics primary fingerscreen to direct feed all material. Simon says this is able to process heavy-duty materials – a key point of different for Skala which aims to use less power and improve productivity.

The company processes multiple sized streams and therefore vibratory screens were needed for secondary and tertiary screening.

The overs line comprises an enclosed picking station plus ferrous and waste bays providing picking bays for timbers, plastic and other waste.

The secondary screening and density separation lines includes a double deck screen and multiple General Kinematics destoners for middle fraction and fines clean-up to remove plastics and paper.

In the unders line, an enclosed picking station allows for final cleaning of materials, with the final output being clean aggregate.

Simon says one of the unique attributes of the project is that a majority of the parts were designed and customised using Australian manufactured materials.

“Historically we’ve been more reliant on European integrators and fabrication which was a more modular off-the-shelf solution. With this project, we saw an opportunity to use Australian content which meant a greater adherence to local standards and availability of spare parts and componentry,” Simon says.

A number of features were designed for Australian conditions. As an example, European programmable logic controllers may not contain features such as an adequate air conditioner – important for the sweltering Perth heat. The magnets were also derived from STEINERT and made in Australia.

“We used flip flow technology because we know that performs better in wetter materials so we incorporated this for secondary and tertiary screening.”

Simon says that oversized bearings and impact rollers lead to higher service reliability and less downtime.

“It’s a lot easier for us to support a plant that is designed and built in Australia than components that are overseas.

“For the components we do import, we standardise on those which allows us to hold significant inventory, spare parts and technical capability.”

In terms of after-sales support, the plant has been designed with the ability for Skala to dial in and provide technical support where necessary, organise spare parts and conduct preventative maintenance checks.

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Renewable focus: ResourceCo

ResourceCo has appointed leading expert Henry Anning to its newly created energy arm to spearhead renewable energy solutions.

As more Australian businesses seek genuine alternative energy solutions, international alternative fuels leader ResourceCo has moved to provide further industry support.

Earlier this year, clean energy expert Henry Anning took on the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer of ResourceCo’s “specialised” energy arm.

Henry previously led the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) bioenergy platform and oversaw the investment of more than $400 million in energy projects – worth a billion dollars in the sector. This included supporting ResourceCo’s vision to roll out and build new Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF) manufacturing plants Australia-wide, including its latest plant at Wetherill Park in Sydney.

He was also an Associate Director at Low Carbon Australia, where he focused on bioenergy sector finance and industry engagement.

Henry says it’s an exciting time to be joining ResourceCo, as the company’s waste-derived fuel provides a unique solution for the manufacturing sector.

“Businesses are needing low-cost, long-term renewable energy solutions fast as soaring gas and electricity prices are really hurting them. For many, gas prices have increased four-fold over the last five years,” he says.

Henry explains that there are a lot of manufacturers who are using natural gas, in particular, for heat, such as hot water, steam or hot air. He says manufacturers have expressed their frustration about the uncertainty surrounding gas prices, market volatility and short-term energy fixes.

“Manufacturers and other high energy users are wanting certainty on lower energy prices and ResourceCo is uniquely placed to provide a lower cost, renewable, long-term energy solution.”

In response to these market demands, ResourceCo is expanding its suite of 24 plants across Australia and South-East Asia by developing new energy plants with biomass boilers to use PEF. The product is manufactured mainly from timber waste materials but also includes cardboard, paper, textiles and plastics.

At its own cost, ResourceCo can install a waste-derived fuel biomass boiler between five to 40 megawatts, effectively combusting waste timber from construction, demolition, commercial and industrial sites. Henry says that this provides customers with over a 90 per cent renewable heat source as an alternative to gas and significantly reduces energy costs.

“We are targeting businesses who are using between 100 thousand gigajoules or a petajoule of natural gas. By setting up the infrastructure of the energy plant, owning and operating it for the customer, we’re taking away any responsibility for capital costs while demonstrating responsible environmental management.”

Subject to the approval process and depending on the scale of the new plant, ResourceCo estimates construction will take up to 18 months.

“It’s about us being a long-term energy partner, providing a fixed cost solution and allowing the manufacturer to focus on their core business,” Henry says.

“These businesses have invested hundreds of millions of dollars into their own facilities and need certainty about their energy costs as well as assurance they’re receiving a quality product.”

Henry says while there are other biomass feedstocks on the market, ResourceCo’s waste derived fuel is a fantastic environmental and business solution that is cost effective, simple and reliable.

ResourceCo’s proven track record as a leading provider of alternative waste fuels is demonstrated by its long-term partnerships with major companies such as Boral, Adelaide Brighton Cement, Suez and Cleanaway.

“We’ve been providing PEF to major industrial customers for more than 10 years and strong business-to-business relationships are critical and a top priority,” Henry says.

“We know where our PEF is going, that it’s being used properly, and has the full backing by the environmental regulators in each jurisdiction, both locally and overseas.”

ResourceCo only takes construction demolition and commercial industrial waste and deals directly with the customer.

Its business model is to ensure a strong chain of custody, environmental compliance and investment in local communities.

The company recycles more than 95 per cent of incoming materials while processing over two million tonnes of materials annually. Its alternative fuel complies with the requirements of the Australian Governments Clean Energy Regulator under the Emissions Reduction Fund.

“Heat is too often a forgotten energy in Australia, with electricity regularly being the focus of policy discussions to reduce emissions,” Henry says.

“PEF is a proven and successful technology, with hundreds of plants throughout Europe using waste-derived fuel for heat and electricity.”

He says that the waste-to-energy market is earmarked to become more sophisticated over the next five years, as the sector continues to experience significant growth.

“To achieve zero waste and carbon emissions is of course the ultimate goal and while this in reality is a long way off, major steps must be taken by the sector now to move towards long-term solutions.

“Future and consistent recognition of the different types of waste to energy available in the market is vital to show this is a much better solution than landfill.

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Commingled trust: Wastech Engineering

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell takes Waste Management Review through the company’s materials recovery facility concept design process. 

When China placed contamination restrictions on imported waste in 2017, Australian material recovery facilities (MRF) had to face up to the realisation that their technology wouldn’t meet the 0.5 per cent rate.

According to a 2018 federal analysis of Australia’s municipal recycling infrastructure, a major issue for MRFs is the lack of technical capacity to sort commingled, highly contaminated municipal waste materials to a standard that meets stringent export specifications.

In the wake of China, prices for plastic, cardboard and paper have dropped. Demand for higher quality material however had risen, which offers significant market opportunities for processors willing to invest in technical capacity and optical sorting upgrades.

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell says the complexity of current challenges makes turnkey solutions more attractive than ever.

“The industry is presently facing a unique set of challenges, and many recycling companies don’t have the time to sit down and analyse how to best upgrade their facilities,” Mike says.

“Through evaluating the industry via reports on waste volumes, equipment needs, collection methods and operational requirements, Wastech is able to provide clients with fully realised MRF concepts and design.”

According to Mike, the key to good business practice when developing a MRF is building trust with the client.

“Effectively turning a client’s initial request into a well-functioning MRF requires trust between both parties. We need to understand their volumes, waste composition and material process flows,” Mike says.

“At a minimum you will be working with the client for six months, and in some cases, it might take two years. It’s really important both organisations understand each other and the process.”

Mike says concept design begins with a study of the client’s needs, starting on the base level of whether they require a retrofit for an existing MRF or to develop an entirely new facility.

From there, Wastech looks at the client’s required volumes, tonnes per year and what waste streams the proposed plant will be dealing with.

Mike places high importance on this initial stage, noting the significant variability of waste streams and therefore the customer’s equipment needs.

“Understanding the composition of the waste stream is key as it informs all equipment purchasing decisions,” Mike says.

“For example, what kind of screening is needed? Does the client require optical sorting? Are they dealing with coloured or uncoloured containers? Are they dealing with both?”

Following this, Wastech examines what outputs the client is looking for in relation to desired end markets and purity.   

“Looking at material process flow involves working out how the MRF will achieve the client’s specified requirements, most significantly the levels of purity needed to achieve the finished product,” Mike says.

“We formulate a material process flow and mass balance analysis, which then helps us determine what equipment is needed, and then we review that in detail with the client.”   

Through a partnership with CP Group, an American separation and material recovery equipment manufacturer, Wastech is able to support MRFs for commingled recyclables, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition material, commercial and industrial waste, waste-to-energy operations and e-waste.

Wastech offers a range of screening equipment, notably the OCC Screen which automatically separates cardboard from other fibres and containers.

The company also provides optical sorting sensors, collection hoods to transport handpicked film, eddy currents for nonferrous material, metering drums, air drum separators, silo blowers, trommel screens, balers and conveyor belts.

“Following the initial design presentation, we can adjust and modify equipment choices,” Mike says.

“Once the client is happy and following multiple reviews of the initial concept and design, we conduct a number of site visits where we measure the existing or proposed facility to figure out how the equipment will best fit into the space.”

Following this, Mike says Wastech develops a 3D model for the client, which allows them to fully visualise the proposal.

“We find 3D visualisations to be a much more effective communication tool than simple facts and figures or drawings,” Mike says.

The next stage is the tender process, where Wastech provides a quote for the facility’s realisation.

“When we’re working with clients on the design and concept over a period time, be it local government or private companies, a real trusting relationship is established. They know what we are offering is value for money,” Mike says.   

“In addition to relationship building, we have a long history of delivering MRFs, so clients know if they request a certain level of purity that’s what Wastech will supply.”

Mike says the SUEZ MRF in Bibra Lake, Perth, is a recent example of Wastech’s turnkey process.

Wastech was commissioned to upgrade an already existing SUEZ MRF through the introduction of optical sorting equipment, which, according to Mike, led to a significant increase in efficiency and subsequent output.

A spokesperson for SUEZ said in May that the company is committed to taking action to expand recycling and sorting processes.

“SUEZ’s investment in a state-of-the-art optical sorting system, in partnership with Wastech, is one of the ways we have enhanced our infrastructure to increase our recovery, and therefore recycling rates at our MRF in Bibra Lake,” the spokesperson said.

“This investment, alongside working with our customers, has allowed us to ensure contamination is kept to a minimum and helped to keep the kerbside recycling system sustainable.”

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Cleaning up a legacy stockpile

Tyrecycle’s Jim Fairweather explains the strategic planning required to clean up one of Australia’s largest tyre stockpiles in regional Victoria.

One of Australia’s largest tyre stockpiles, located within metres of homes and businesses in Victoria, was this year cleaned up by the Victorian Government.

The government at the end of last year appointed Tyrecycle, one of the country’s most experienced tyre recyclers, for the clean-up operation, with the site now deemed safe.

Over 44 operational days, Tyrecycle removed a 5200 tonne stockpile, equivalent to 500,000 tyres, at Numurkah near Shepparton, which posed an extreme fire, health and safety risk to local residents. The total transformation of the site saw 334 truckloads of tyre waste removed over this period.

The company worked closely with Moira Shire Council along with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which used its powers to enter the site late last year under the Environment Protection Act 1970.

The EPA introduced tighter controls for waste tyre storage in 2015, prompting a significant reduction in the number of known stockpiles across Victoria, with Numurkah being one of the legacy sites.

The Environment Protection Act 1970 requires scheduled premises to be licensed, with requirements for onsite firefighting resources, limits on the size of the piles and minimum distances between and around them. Stockpiles of more than 40 tonnes or 5000 equivalent passenger car units of waste tyres are scheduled premises under the regulations.

EPA CEO Dr Cathy Wilkinson said the site was an unacceptable fire, environmental and human health risk.

Tyrecycle began work on cleaning up the site in December 2018 under the control and guidance of the EPA and Moira Shire Council.

Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle CEO, says that the company was transporting 125 tonnes of end-of-life tyres per day from Numurkah to Tyrecycle’s EPA-licensed processing facility in Melbourne at Somerton, where they were cleaned, sorted and shredded for recycling.

“Tyrecycle ramped up its Melbourne facility to a 24/7 operation for the project and doubled its processing capability to remove the huge amount of waste tyres in the most efficient and time effective way,” Jim says.

“We increased our staffing levels to handle the waste, with most of each delivery being processed within 24 hours.”

According to the CFA and EPA, the consequences of a fire at the Numurkah site would have been catastrophic to the local community with air quality impacted and the contamination of soil, groundwater and surface waters.

“It was a great outcome for the local residents, to help them feel safe again after a decade of uncertainty. It was made possible due to the collaborative efforts between the Victorian Government, authorities and industry – working together,” Jim says.

The EPA conducted site inspections at Tyrecycle’s Somerton facility during the transportation and processing phase of the waste tyres from Numurkah.

Jim says that Tyrecycle is proudly the only EPA-licensed collector and recycler of tyres in Victoria and all environmental regulations were met during the project.

“Our planning procedures are thorough, including specific transportation schedules for the collection and arrival of waste.”

He says that the conditions were extremely challenging and strategic planning is required to begin a clean-up operation especially of this magnitude.

“Firefighting equipment is always onsite. However, when temperatures went to 40 degrees or if there was a total fire ban, all work ceased as the searing weather conditions resulted in an unsafe working environment.

“Fire safety preparation is paramount during a clean-up, as well as heightened security and effective management of any wildlife and vermin on site. With careful planning and protocols, we were pleased to deliver an incident-free project.”

The majority of the shredded and recycled waste tyres were converted into tyre-derived fuel (TDF), helping companies reduce their environmental footprint across South-East Asia.

“TDF is an attractive alternative fuel on an international scale. The extremely high calorific value of the product has significantly lower volumes of greenhouse gases when compared with coal,” Jim says.

The recycled tyre waste from the Numurkah site is also being used for a variety of products across the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, including crumbed rubber for road surfacing, athletics tracks and brake pads.

Tyrecycle also worked with the EPA in Victoria in 2017 to remove another dangerous and large tyre stockpile on the outskirts of Stawell.

During a clean-up operation lasting just over two months, 9500 tonnes of tyres which had been stockpiled for many years were removed, with more than two-thirds of the tyres transported to Tyrecycle’s Melbourne facility for processing and recycling.

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