WMR visits Sydney resource recovery sites

Waste Management Review touched down in Sydney in August to attend the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo and visit numerous resource recovery sites. Toli Papadopoulos reports. 

Sydney’s only waste and recycling event offered an opportunity to meet leading industry suppliers, product manufacturers, distributors and solutions providers. 

With a speech from the NSW EPA on research into developing a circular economy approach through innovation, procurement, organics and other key areas, the future of Australia’s resource recovery took centre stage in more than 10 hours of expert speaker sessions at the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo.

One of the interesting points of discussion – innovation in waste – challenge and opportunity, covered the topic of what it means to be truly innovative. Solar Bins Australia, Sitech Solutions and Toxfree Solutions formed a panel to discuss topical questions such as: what are the barriers to market? Do statutory acts act as barriers and how do these businesses stay abreast of industry trends that can change regularly?

When it comes to addressing the barriers to market, Leon Hayes, Managing Director and Founder of Solar Bins Australia and Smartsensor Australia, drew comparison in the panel to Facebook’s growth, noting it did not happen overnight. Mr Hayes told the panel that community constituents loved the smart bins. He argued that progress is occurring and that the company had invested heavily in smart sensors with this knowledge in mind.

Dr Karl Baltpurvins, General Manager of Technical and Environmental Services at Toxfree, discussed innovations in the Toxfree business and how it translated to customers, including its Swiss-made BluBox e-waste recycling technology.

Nicholas Pryke, Sales for Mining, Aggregates and Waste at Sitech Solutions, highlighted how positioning technology and scanning equipment provided valuable information such as understanding material size.  

On the show floor, product demonstrations from leading equipment suppliers and technology providers highlighted the latest in machinery, software and vehicles. 

Kurt Palmer, Business Development Manager – Environmental at sensor-based sorting company STEINERT, on day one told Waste Management Review he was pleased with the amount of exhibitors and vibrant feel on the show floor. He said that STEINERT was not looking to solely promote one product, as improving efficiency in the recycling sector
was important. 

“It’s about handling all the material and recovering as much as we can from the waste streams. Anything from a magnet through to optical sorters is key. There’s a lot of plants in Australia that don’t even have a simple magnet,” Mr Palmer said. 

Paul Rees, Technical Sales Manager at Applied Machinery, told Waste Management Review the company had received inquiries for products that support the mobile shredding of tyres, washing and repelletising for film, high-density PET and polyethylene bottles. “Washing is definitely the biggest interest purely because of China’s National Sword. People are looking at what’s in their product, and reprocessing that back into a pellet that they can either export, or supply to local markets,” Mr Rees said.

Waste Management Review also attended this year’s Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Awards which celebrated sustainability excellence in some of Australia’s major brands, including Qantas, Campbell Arnott’s Australia, Telstra and Optus. Packaging manufacturer Detmold Packaging took out the Sustainable Packaging Excellence Award. More on this on page 50.

Waste Management Review also had the pleasure of visiting numerous resource recovery sites around Sydney, including the Clyde Transfer Station, Earthpower Technologies
and the Wetherill Park Processed Engineered Facility. 

Organised by the Victorian Waste Management Association, Waste Management Review explored the sites, gaining insights into the facility’s operations, the capabilities of each system and how they support diversion from landfill. 

Veolia’s Clyde Transfer Station is a key hub for its Mechanical Biological Treatment facility, and receives, compacts and transfers waste into a shipping container at a rate of 31.5 tonnes per container before being taken to its Woodlawn Eco-precinct by rail, located 30 kilometres south of Goulburn and 240 kilometres southwest of Sydney. 

Earthpower Technologies in Camellia processes food waste into green electricity and nutrient-rich by-product fertiliser. Owned by Cleanaway and Veolia, the site processes food waste as well as grease trap, liquid sludges and packaging waste. 

The site has a limit of five per cent contamination for its solid and packaged waste and a zero tolerance contamination policy for liquids and sludges. As explained by the tour guide, it has a processing capability of 52,000 tonnes of food waste per annum, with peak periods unsurprisingly taking place over the busy Christmas period. 

The tour was completed with Cleanaway ResourceCo’s resource recovery facility – owned in a joint venture between the two companies. The facility was opened earlier this year and is licensed to receive up to 250,000 tonnes a year of dry commercial and industrial and mixed construction and demolition waste to recover commodities including metal, clean timber and inert materials, with the balance converted into PEF.

PEF is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement – with one tonne of PEF able to replace 700 kilograms of coal. 

Visiting the site, I observed the excellent management of the site and streamlined process at which the waste moved from one conveyor to another in order to be shredded, screened and separated by magnets and air before being shredded into a 50-millimetre (or smaller) piece of fuel.