WA EPA recommends approval for East Rockingham WtE

The WA EPA has recommended conditional approval of New Energy Corporation’s change in technology from gasification to combustion for its proposed East Rockingham waste to energy (WtE) facility.

New Energy Corporation proposed using Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) Grate Combustion technology, which the EPA found did not bring any further risks to the surrounding environment or communities.

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The technology allows for a greater waste throughput at the facility, increasing the amount of waste it can process from 225,000 tonnes per year to 300,000, leading to increased electricity generation.

The EPA has also recommended strict new conditions for the proposal to ensure only residual waste is accepted at the WtE facility to be consistent with the state’s waste hierarchy.

The EPA has defined residual waste as “waste that remains after the application of a best practice source separation process and recycling systems, consistent with the waste hierarchy”.

Under the new conditions, WtE proponents will need to develop a Waste Acceptance System Plan and a Waste Acceptance Monitoring and Management Plan to identify the suppliers of waste and describe the types of waste, waste loads and quantities accepted.

WA currently has four approved WtE facilities, however none are in operation.

EPA Chair Tom Hatton said the HZI technology is used widely around the world, having been tried and tested in more than 500 plants.

“While the gasification technology originally proposed for the facility was also deemed to be acceptable by the EPA, the combustion technology has been used in a number of facilities of a similar scale, and we have determined it does not pose any additional risks to the surrounding environment and community,” Dr Hatton said.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson will make the final decision for the proposed change. The EPA’s report is also open for a public appeal period which closes Monday 5 November.

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.

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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

CEFC invests $30M into Visy Industries

Packaging and resource recovery company Visy Industries plans to invest $30 million of Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) finance across a range of energy efficient, renewable and low-emissions technologies over the next four years.

Visy plans to use the funds to increase waste recycling and processing capabilities while also offsetting the impact of changes in the international recycling market.

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CEFC’s finance is part of a pipeline of potential projects to increase Visy’s manufacturing capacity to recycle waste materials by 10 per cent and improve the energy efficiency of the company’s large-scale manufacturing operations.

Visy’s pipeline includes better processing and sorting technology to increase the amount of material which can be recycled as well as increased energy generation to offset grid energy needs.

The company currently recycles 1.2 million tonnes of paper and cardboard each year and expects to increase its capacity by 10 per cent as a result of the $30 million investment program.

The CEFC aims to increase its investments in waste-related projects as part of its goal to reduce Australia’s overall emissions.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said Visy is a leader in recycling and the use of energy efficient and renewable energy technologies and that the CEFC was proud to work with the company to respond to the waste crisis.

“As a community, we need to reduce our overall waste as well as invest in more sustainable management of remaining waste. This includes extracting energy from non-recyclable waste to replace fossil fuels, as well as increasing our ability to recycle paper and packaging waste onshore,” Mr Learmonth said.

“As a major Australian manufacturer, Visy is also leading the way in investing in energy efficient equipment and technologies to help power its 24-hour operations. We see this as a model for other manufacturers grappling with high energy prices and commend Visy on its leadership.”

According to the International Energy Agency, Australia’s manufacturers are the most energy intensive in the world and accounted for around 40 per cent of natural gas consumption in 2014-15.

Visy Chairman Anthony Pratt said the company was pleased to partner with the CEFC to improve sustainability.

“Visy has pledged to invest $2 billion in Australian manufacturing to create jobs, increase efficiencies and boost sustainability,” Mr Pratt said.

CEFC Bioenergy Sector Lead Henry Anning said with the investment into Visy, it will be able to upgrade its existing infrastructure as well as invest in new equipment.

“We see clean energy technologies playing an increasingly important role in enabling Australian industry to reduce its energy intensity and better manage its energy-related operating costs,” he said.

“Visy is already a great example of this, meeting a part of its energy needs, including heat, through its existing biomass and energy from waste investments.

“The CEFC finance will allow Visy to further complement these energy sources with new investment to lift the overall energy efficiency of its operations. These are proven technologies that can be considered right across the manufacturing sector.”

Image: Henry Anning

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.”

Vinyl Council awards 17 companies for stewardship excellence

The Vinyl Council of Australia has awarded 17 companies that achieved PVC Stewardship Excellence this year.

Companies who have achieved perfect scores in compliance with a set of stringent criteria related to the production and supply of vinyl related products are eligible for the award.

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The Australian PVC Stewardship Program began in 2002 to educate and guide the local vinyl industry to become stewards of their products throughout the entire life cycle of their products.

It binds signatories to continuous improvement in the environmental footprint of their products, whether they manufacture locally or overseas.

Importers and distributors of finished products are required to engage with their entire supply chain overseas to ensure they are compliant to the program.

Signatories are required to report annually against the criteria and each company’s performance is measured and benchmarked against the industry.

The stewardship commitments and targets related to best practice manufacturing, including raw material sourcing, safe and sustainable use of additives, energy and greenhouse gas emissions of PVC product manufacturers, resource efficiency, and transparency and engagement.

The winners of the 2017 Excellence in PVC Stewardship Awards include:

  • Australian Plastic Profiles
  • Australian Vinyls Corporation
  • Baxter Healthcare
  • Chemiplas Australia
  • Chemson Pacific
  • Formosa Plastics Corporation, Taiwan
  • Iplex Pipelines Australia
  • Pipemakers
  • Primaplas Australia
  • PT Asahimas Chemical, Indonesia
  • RBM Plastics Extrusions (new signatory in 2017)
  • Serge Ferrari (new signatory in 2017)
  • Sun Ace Australia
  • Speciality Polymers and Chemicals
  • Tarkett Australia
  • Techplas Extrusions
  • Vinidex

The Vinyl Council’s PVC Stewardship Manager Laveen Dhillon said all 17 companies have excelled, with 10 of this year’s award recipients receiving the award for the award for the first time, including two signatories that had joined the program in 2017.

“These signatories worked with the Vinyl Council to map out their entire supply chain so as to address relevant program commitments. All the Award recipients should be recognised as industry leaders who have worked in collaboration with their supply chains to meet and exceed program goals” Ms Dhillon said.

“Transparency through the supply chain is essential to improve efficiency, reduce impact and track the practices of suppliers. One signatory reported finding that communication and credibility among its suppliers has improved each year, as it has repeatedly requested stewardship information. We hope transparency and engagement continues to improve in this way.”