REMONDIS intends to develop $400M QLD waste to energy facility

REMONDIS Australia has announced its intention to develop a $400 million waste to energy (WtE) facility at its Swanbank landfill in Queensland.

The company has advised the state government that it will make an application to develop the recovered energy through the State’s Coordinated Project process, with the project expected to begin construction in 2020.

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The proposed plant aims to generate 50 megawatts of baseload electricity for Queensland households and business by redirected 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year. This energy would be able to power 50,000 average homes and be available every day of the year.

REMONDIS Group has operated and built WtE plants for 24 years and operates 52 facilities which recover more than 4.2 million tonnes of waste per year in Europe.

REMONDIS Australia General Manager QLD Operations and Business Development Bret Collins said the WtE proposal does not rely on additional waste streams coming to the Swanbank site – instead it will divert existing waste streams to a beneficial use.

“REMONDIS has been encouraged by recent comments from governments across Australia that WtE technology could provide some relief to the challenges facing the waste management and recycling industry,” Mr Collins said.

“There is an opportunity for Australia to benefit from REMONDIS’ global experience, and other successful European and UK facilities, and incorporate waste to energy as part of the solution to sustainable, best practice waste management.

“Adopting WtE technology will ensure that wastes with recoverable value are not sent to landfill and, instead, are put to beneficial use,” he said.

Mr Collins said that while Australians may not be familiar with WtE technology, it is used throughout Europe and considered a tried and trusted contributor to best practice waste management and energy generation.

“WtE plants are constructed to the strictest European Union environment, emission and health standards and this is the technology we would bring to Australia,” Mr Collins said.

“There are hundreds of WtE plants throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, and many are part of the fabric of suburbs and communities – there are WtE plants in Paris, London, Copenhagen, Cologne, Zurich, Vienna, Palm Beach and Singapore, just to name a few.”

Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick welcomed the news and said it establishes Queensland as a major player in the waste‑to‑energy market.

“The introduction of our government’s waste levy provides a real incentive for projects like this, building a new industry as an alternative to landfill,” Mr Dick said.

“This project could create up to 200 jobs during construction and some 70 jobs during operations.”

Mr Dick said REMONDIS Australia is expected to submit an application to Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to declare the project a ‘coordinated project’.

“If the Coordinator-General decides to declare this project a coordinated project it will help streamline approvals and fast-track delivery of this significant project,” he said.

“A coordinated project approach also means that all the potential impacts and benefits of the project are considered in an integrated and comprehensive manner.”

OECD urges global governments to improve plastic recycling

Plastic recycling is being held back by low recovery rates, poor quality of recycled plastic and a lack of price incentives according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The Improving Markets for Recycled Plastics: Trends, Prospects and Policy Responses report urges governments around the globe to act fast to encourage more recycling at a better quality.

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It attributes the lag in plastic recycling to the fact it is cheaper to create products from new plastic than it is to recycle plastic. The report also said primary plastics can be priced higher than recycled plastic, due to it usually being better quality.

Hazardous chemical additives can also survive in recycling plastics, which the report says weighs on secondary markets.

It estimates the world produces around eight times as much new plastic compared to recycled plastic.

The OECD report calls for stronger incentives to be provided for better designed plastic goods, as well as an investment in waste collection infrastructure and source separation. A product label system that shows how much recycled content is in a product was suggested to create consumer driven demand.

Heavier taxes on the manufacture of new plastics was also suggested to reduce the demand in items such as single use bags, cutlery or drinking straws.

Barriers to recycling identified by the report include the view that recycled plastics are substitutes, prices of recycled plastics being driven by oil costs instead of collection, sorting and processing, a smaller and fragmented plastics recycling sector, the market being concentrated in a few countries, and technical challenges associated with the variety of polymers and additives.

Waste plastics often remain in the environment, posing a threat to wildlife and marine creatures. Only 15 per cent of plastic waste is recycled globally, with 25 per cent being incinerated and the remainder sent to landfill according to the report.

The report will be presented at the Global forum on Environment: Sustainable Plastic Design in Copenhagen, Denmark.