Feasibility study supports Australian Paper WtE plant

Australian Paper’s $7.5 million waste-to-energy (WtE) feasibility study has confirmed the social, economic, environmental and commercial viability of its proposed WtE facility in Maryvale Mill Victoria.

The study’s summary report highlights the waste management challenges facing south east Melbourne and concludes that Australian Paper’s WtE facility could provide a unique opportunity to address pending landfill closures.

According to the report, the facility could annually prevent 550,000 tonnes of waste from being trucked across Melbourne from municipalities in the south east to landfill sites located in the city’s west.

Australian Paper Chief Operating Officer Peter Williams said the project would result in an investment of over $600 million in the Latrobe Valley, creating 1046 jobs per annum for the three years of construction.

“With Melbourne’s looming landfill challenge Australian Paper’s WtE project is the missing link in waste management infrastructure for the south east – creating efficient energy from residual household and commercial waste and achieving a more sustainable outcome than disposal to landfills,” Mr Williams said.

“By diverting 650,000 tonnes per annum of residential and commercial waste from Victorian landfill, the facility could provide Melbourne with essential waste management and resource recovery infrastructure.”

According to Mr Williams, the facility will reduce CO2 emissions by more than 540,000 tonnes per year.

“By replacing natural gas at the Maryvale site, Australian Paper will return enough gas to the market to meet the annual needs of up to 70,000 Victorian households annually,” Mr Williams said.

“WtE technology is a proven and reliable low emissions technology, meeting the strictest European emissions standards and has been used extensively in Europe, Japan and North America for decades.”

Mr Williams said Australian Paper would now focus on the development stage, working with partner SUEZ  to finalise approvals and seek to secure long term waste supply contracts.

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Melbourne City Council to consider food waste collection

Melbourne City Council will this week consider a trial of kerbside bins for food waste, designed to test how a domestic food waste collection service would work in the municipality.

As part of the council’s proposed Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, a third kerbside bin for food scraps would be distributed to 700 City of Melbourne residents.

Councillors will consider the strategy, which also outlines plans to introduce more shared waste hubs for businesses in the central city, and remove some commercial bins from the public realm.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the proposed expansion of the existing network of five waste hubs would activate laneways, reduce truck movements, boost amenity and make Melbourne more liveable.

“We can dramatically reduce the number of bins lining our laneways and the number of trucks on our streets by creating more central waste drop-off points,” Ms Capp said.

“Balcombe Place was transformed last year with a waste hub that has replaced around 20 bins and skips, and as a result we are seeing less illegally dumped rubbish and milk crates left in the lane.”

Chair of the Environment Councillor Cathy Oke said with food making up 50 per cent of household waste in the municipality, finding a solution for discarded food scraps is a key component of the proposed strategy.

“Our residents discarded an estimated 12,000 tonnes of food waste in 2016–17 and through our engagement with the community we know people want a solution to avoid food going to landfill,” Ms Oke said.

“If the strategy is endorsed, a waste collection trial would be held to determine how collection services could work for residents with kerbside bins and a third bin for organic waste would be rolled out to 700 houses in Kensington later this year, building on an earlier trial in 2017.”

If implemented, the trail will see food and garden waste collected weekly, and a supporting education and community engagement campaign enacted.

Ms Oke said the strategy will address changes to the global recycling industry that has left Victorian councils with a critical oversupply of recyclable material and seek to create more demand for recyclable products.

“China and India have restricted their imports and the stockpiling of waste around the state is a major wake-up call for all levels of government,” Ms Oke said.

“We need government procurement targets for recycling to build Australia’s domestic recycling industry. This would create local jobs in our manufacturing sector and most importantly, stop recyclable material from ending up in landfill.”

Moreland City Council plan to enact similar measures, announcing as of 1 July council will expand its kerbside collection services and offer fortnightly food and garden organics collection (FOGO).

The council conducted a four-month trial of FOGO from November 2018 to March 2019 with 1000 households across Pascoe Vale and Pascoe Vale South.

The scheme will be rolled out across the entire municipality in 2021, with households receiving an organics bin at no additional charge.

Mayor of the City of Moreland Natalie Abboud said currently over 50 per cent of waste in Moreland that goes to landfill is food organics.

“When it breaks down in landfill it produces the harmful greenhouse gas methane, which contributes to climate change,” Ms Abboud said.

“By having household food organics collected and properly processed, it can be turned into compost which can be used to enrich soil on farms, parks, school gardens and other useful applications.”

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1200 tonnes removed in Numurkah tyre stockpile clean-up

About one quarter of a tyre stockpile in the Victorian town of Numurkah has been removed – equating to an estimated tonnes of 1200 tyres.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) used its powers at the end of last year under the Environment Protection Act 1970 to enter the site, with the assistance of Moira Shire Council and funding from the Victorian Government.

Located in Victoria’s Goulburn Valley Highway, the stockpile on privately-owned land has a stockpile of an estimated 500,000 tyres.

EPA Victoria North East Region Manager Emma Knights said the disposal of the tyres was going well.

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“The project has been carefully planned, and the tyres removed so far have come from the sides of the stockpile where the hazards are most critical,” Ms Knights said.

“Aerial pictures taken by an EPA camera drone late last week show piles of waste tyres have been removed from the eastern side, closest to homes along the Goulburn Valley Highway. The southern side, which faces several business premises, is currently being removed,” she said.

The removal began in mid December with up to eight trucks a day leaving the site, five days a week, and the whole project is estimated to take approximately 10 weeks.

“The work is progressing well and we are on schedule, although the completion date will depend on the weather, including any days of total fire ban,” Ms Knights said.

The stockpile has been a concern to the community for some time.

“Tyre fires are notoriously difficult to extinguish and produce considerable amounts of toxic smoke. With an estimated 5000 tonnes of waste tyres at the site, CFA has already warned of serious consequences if a summer grass or bushfire spreads to the stockpile,” she said.

The clean-up was carefully planned to include fire safety, security and wildlife and vermin management. Firefighting equipment is located on site for the duration of the clean-up, and no snakes have been observed so far during tyre removal.

The waste tyres are going to a licensed facility in Melbourne for recycling. Once they have been shredded, waste tyres can be put to use in the construction, manufacturing and automotive industries, in the form of products such as athletics tracks, brake pads, new tyres or road surfacing.

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Sydney ranked as Australia’s most sustainable city

Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.

The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.

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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.

All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.

However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.

London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.

The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.

Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.

“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.

“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.

Turning waste into water in the City of Melbourne

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.

Over the last year, the ORCA aerobic digestion system has used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the busy Degraves street face precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in Australia.

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ORCA Enviro Systems Executive General Manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digest the waste, creating wastewater that goes straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

The ORCA is basically a mechanical “stomach” that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” Mr Papas said.

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road.”

Because space is a premium in the city centre, ORCA was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste being generated from the busy café district.

“The ORCA has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” Mr Papas said.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling Facility in May 2017. The ORCA is rolling out across Australia in pubs, shopping centres, food courts and hotels.

CEFC finance composting facility for Melbourne councils

Organic waste from eight Melbourne councils will be sent to a new composting facility, to be built by international waste management company Sacyr Group.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) will commit up to $35 million towards the new composting facility.

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The $65 million South Eastern Organics Processing Facility will be the most advanced of its type in Victoria and will produce approximately 50,000 tonnes of high grade compost each year.

The compost will be made from processed household garden and food waste from council kerbside green waste collections in Melbourne’s south-east, which will then be used on local parks and gardens.

Food and green waste makes up an estimated 42 per cent of landfill for Australia’s municipal and commercial waste streams.

The Melbourne councils include Bayside, Cardinia, Casey, Frankston, Glen Eira, Greater Dandenong, Kingston and Monash.

Sacyr expects the fully-enclosed, in-vessel aerobic composting and maturation plant will be operational by mid-2019. It will aim to operate for 15 years, with a potential five-year extension.

The new facility will have an annual processing capacity of 120,000 tonnes of waste each year, the equivalent of 12,000 truckloads of waste. It is expected to abate more than 65,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually. This would cut the greenhouse gas emissions from landfill by 85 per cent if it were to be landfilled, which is equivalent to taking 13,900 cars off the road.

Sacyr Group has built 48 plants around the world and handles more than three million tonnes of waste each year. It currently operates in Australia through its subsidiary, Sacyr Water, which has built and operates the Binningup desalination plant.

The technology used in the plant has been developed over two decades, ensures plant storage reservoirs are completely closed, and uses efficient and reliable deodorisation systems.

Federal Government  Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said converting waste to compost can play a part in Australia’s long-term waste solutions.

“This facility alone, which will be the most advanced of its type in Victoria, can process around 12,000 truckloads of waste per year,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“It means food and organic waste produced by south east Melbourne residents will not end up in landfill and will instead produce high-grade compost for our gardens and parks.”

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the corporation is looking across the economy to identify finance opportunities to reduce Australia’s emissions.

“We’re pleased to be making our first project investment to help councils and communities tackle emissions from their organic waste,” he said.

“When organic waste such as food and green waste ends up in landfill it breaks down and produces methane. With this technology, councils can avoid those emissions by turning their organic waste into reusable compost, while also reducing our unsustainable reliance on landfill as a waste disposal option.

“We strongly endorse the principle of avoiding and reducing waste at the source. Our finance is about effectively manage the remaining waste, so that it doesn’t end up as landfill and we make a meaningful difference to our greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Learmonth said.

CEFC Bioenergy Sector lead Henry Anning said the CEFC finance model for the Melbourne project was an industry first, providing councils with access to a project financing structure that has rarely been leveraged across local government.

“Australia’s waste sector is facing enormous challenges, because of the growing amount of waste we produce as well as increasing community concerns about the way we handle that waste. This new Melbourne facility provides us with a practical and proven way to turn organic waste into a reusable commodity at the same time as avoiding harmful emissions,” Mr Anning said.

“We expect to see more councils and communities consider innovative ways to manage all forms of waste. This innovative project finance model offers opportunities for other groups of councils considering investing in substantial waste management infrastructure to reduce landfill waste.”