Trial funded to turn sawmill waste into diesel and bitumen

Sawmill scraps and sawdust could soon be turned into renewable diesel and bitumen as a result of a $1.2 million feasibility study, funded by the Federal Government and Boral Limited.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to grant Boral with $500,000 towards the study, with Boral providing the remainder.

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The study will trial a mechanical catalytic conversion technology, developed by Spanish-based Global Ecofuel Solutions SL, along with initial design works for the full-scale plant, exploration of the regulatory challenges and development of the business case.

Boral will explore the technical and financial viability of establishing a biorefinery using this technology near its Herons Creek hardwood sawmill, near Port Macquarie, NSW.

If successful, the proposed biorefinery would cost around $50 million and could convert up to 50,000 tonnes of waste sawmill residue produces each year into transport grade diesel and renewable bitumen.

Sawmill residue, which includes sawdust, remnant woodchips, shavings and offcuts, is currently used for lower value uses such as landscaping and boiler fuel.

Boral consumes a large amount of diesel and bitumen, using around 100 million litres of diesel a year to operate its business in Australia. The company estimates the volume of timber residues should create around 16 million litres of diesel and 8000 tonnes of bitumen.

Boral Building Products Executive General Manager Wayne Manners said if the study was successful, the diesel and bitumen produced at the potential new biorefinery could eventually account for up to 15 per cent of Boral’s annual needs.

“The application of this technology has the potential to transform the way we use low value hardwood sawmill residues into a resource that could be highly valuable, not just to Boral, but to the industry more generally,” he said.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the project further shows that big businesses are increasingly moving towards renewable energy solutions.

“If this ground-breaking technology is successful, we hope to see a transition to similar biorefineries by other companies which have a waste stream in forestry or agriculture,” Mr Frischknecht said.

“The transport sector is a significant user of energy in Australia, with liquid fuels a key long-term energy source for heavy-vehicle road and air transport since they cannot readily be electrified.

“Bioenergy comprises a growing proportion of Australia’s energy mix, and this new technology could see residue from the production process be used to reduce Boral’s reliance on diesel and bitumen derived from fossil fuels,” he said.

NSW EPA to develop 20-year waste strategy

The NSW EPA, in partnership with Infrastructure NSW, is developing a 20-year waste strategy for the state.

The strategy aims to set a 20-year vision for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network.

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It will also aim to provide the waste industry with certainty and set goals and incentives to ensure the correct infrastructure decisions are made to meet community needs.

Stakeholders, including local government, industry experts and the broader community, will work with the EPA over the next six months to provide an evidence base and address the key priorities for the waste and resource recovery sector.

This will include examining similar waste strategies in Australia and around the world.

A long-term vision and roadmap will include new long-term goals for waste generation and landfill diversion, new policy positions and strategic decisions that aim to avoid waste and improve resource recovery, and a plan for new or enhanced policies to improve waste collection.

A framework for the delivery of an integrated state network will be part of the roadmap, along with aims to align policy and regulation to achieve long term strategic objectives and a plan to strengthen data quality and access.

The strategy is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Coca-Cola partners with CitizenBlue to improve NSW recycling

Coca-Cola Australia has partnered with social enterprise CitizenBlue to introduce more drink container recycling options at venues and events in Sydney and regional NSW.

The partnership will aim to strategically place drink container recycling bins in key venues and events, with the proceeds of the collected waste being sent towards environment and community charities.

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Drink containers collected in these bins will be collected and sorted through the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The bins are expected to help collect around 7.5 million containers per year, leading to an estimated $750,000 in funds raised.

CitizenBlue is a collective of seven environmental not for profit organisations, including Total Environment Centre, Surfrider Foundation and Landcare NSW.

“We’re on a mission to stop waste from entering our waterways and Coca-Cola has a big goal to ensure that every drink bottle and can they sell is collected and recycled,” said Jeff Angel for CitizenBlue.

“This partnership is a first step towards both not-for-profit groups and a major beverage leader working together to tackle our waste issue.”

The NSW Government has reported a 44 per cent drop in drink containers in the litter stream since November 2017.

Surfrider Foundation Australia Chairperson Susie Crick said CitizenBlue’s aim is for these activities to enhance and promote the existing recycling efforts through the container deposit scheme in NSW.

“More organisations and businesses coming together to find solutions to tackle waste and recycling is better for the environment, the sector, not to mention a funding boost for charities,” she said.

The partnership forms part of Coca-Cola’s recently announced global sustainable packaging strategy, which includes a goal to collect and recycle and equivalent of 100 per cent of the packaging they sell by 2030.

Director Public Affairs and Sustainability at Coca-Cola South Pacific Christine Black said the company is focusing its efforts locally on designing packaging to be 100 per cent recyclable across its entire portfolio.

“This partnership is part of the next step for Cola-Cola in tackling drink container waste, whilst inspiring positive change to ensure our bottles and cans have another life beyond their first use,” Ms Black said.

The collection bins are expected to roll out in the early new year at festivals and venues in NSW.

NSW Govt boosts organics collection funding by $4.9M

Funding has been granted by the NSW Government to 10 organics collection projects to improve services that recycle food and garden waste into compost.

The grants will go towards the provision of kitchen caddies to hold food waste and make it easier for households to use the new food organics and garden organics collections.

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It also will help provide new garden waste kerbside collection services in two local government areas, and food and garden or food only collection services to households and business in seven council areas. This includes more than 100,000 households living in units within Sydney.

The $4.9 million in grant funding is shared across Armidale Regional Council, City of Sydney, Cumberland Council, Lockhart Shire Council, Penrith City Council, Randwick City Council, Upper Lachlan Shire and Wagga Wagga City.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said nearly half the landfill from household bins is food and garden waste (approximately 45 per cent).

“Simply putting all food and garden waste into green bins will dramatically reduce the amount of household garbage currently going to landfill,” she said.

“When food and garden waste goes into the green lid bin, it is properly processed and becomes a clean, green supply of compost, rather than rotting away in landfill and releasing methane into the atmosphere.

“For the first time, this program is also supporting food waste collections from businesses, with three projects that will collect around 1350 tonnes of business food waste a year,” Ms Upton said.

New multi-million dollar fines for asbestos dumpers

Illegally dumping asbestos now carries a multi-million dollar fine under new laws passed by the NSW Government.

Previously, the maximum penalty for asbestos waste offenders were $44,000 for corporation and $22,000 for individuals. Under the new laws, these are now $2 million for corporation and $500,000 for individuals who illegally dispose, recycle or re-use asbestos waste.

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Maximum court penalties for land pollution and waste offences involving asbestos have also been doubled to $2 million for corporations and $500,000 for individuals.

Managers and directors can also now be held accountable for offences committed by their companies under the new laws.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said illegally dumping asbestos is a serious crime, and the government wants dumpers to know there are tough penalties for those that break the law.

“The new laws also require the courts to consider the presence of asbestos when determining the magnitude of the penalty,” Ms Upton said.

“The massive fine hike comes on top recently announced tougher asbestos handling controls for waste facilities and a tenfold increase in on-the-spot asbestos fines for illegally transporting or disposing of asbestos waste,” she said.

NSW crackdown targets illegal waste transporters

The NSW EPA has partnered with police, the ACT Government and local councils to target rogue operators supplying waste soil from construction sites advertised as clean fill to property owners.

Compliance and road side checks were part of the crackdown to ensure fill going to a site had the appropriate council approval to accept it.

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By targeting rogue operators during transport, the NSW EPA aims to stop contaminated and non-compliant materials being illegally dumped or passed off as clean fill to innocent land owners.

Accepting large amounts of fill can create potential dust issues and pollute waterways.

NSW EPA Senior Officer Janine Goodwin said in some of the worst cases, operators are providing unsuspecting residents with soil cheaply or for free that is contaminated with construction and demolition waste, heavy metals or even asbestos.

“Councils require landholders to apply for development approval to bring larger volumes of fill onto private property. If a property is used to accept this material without proper council approval, both the landholder, the owner of the waste and the transport contractor may be fined and the landholder may discover they have to pay to have the material removed,” Ms Goodwin said.

“We have been checking things like documentation to make sure the waste is correctly classified and going to a site that has consent to accept it.”

ACT EPA’s Narelle Sargent said waste being transported between the ACT and NSW needs approval.

“Transporters and builders are on notice that the illegal transport and disposal of waste will not be tolerated in the ACT region, and large penalties apply,” Ms Sargent said.

Cleanaway unveils new optical container sorting facility

Cleanaway has officially opened its new automated optical Container Sorting Facility at Eastern Creek, NSW.

The facility initially opened on 1 December 2017 and included a manual sorting line, which used magnetic sorting and manual picking to separate steel, aluminium, cartons and plastics with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour.

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With construction of the new automated sorting line completed, the facility now has a capacity of eight tonnes per hour.

Optical sorters used in the plant identify containers based on their material type at thousands of reads per minute with air jets being used to separate them for compaction and baling.

These baled materials are then distributed domestically and internationally to be recycled back into food grade containers.

Since beginning operation last year, the facility has processed most of the 900 million containers collected by the NSW Return and Earn scheme.

The NSW Government’s scheme aims to reduce the volume of litter across the state by providing a 10-cent refund for each eligible container returned.

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said schemes such as Return and Earn require the community to pre-sort containers for recycling, reducing the level of contamination at the source.

“With the new sorting technology installed at this facility, we are now able to improve the quality of the commodity streams even further,” Mr Bansal said.

“The Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility is a critical part of our Footprint 2025. We’re committed to putting the infrastructure and facilities in place to deal sustainably with Australia’s waste, well into the future.”

Mr Bansal says the challenges facing the waste industry over the past 12 months have changed the way Australians view waste.

“It is more important than ever before that we work together to address these challenges. Return and Earn is a great example of that,” he said.

“It has been encouraging to see so many people getting involved and increasing the amount of recyclables being sorted at the source.

Coupled with a better network of facilities to sort the containers collected, we can produce commodity streams which are in demand, meaning more items are being recycled into new products,” Mr Bansal said.

NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the Return and Earn had been a great success, reducing litter across NSW by a third.

“I commend the people of NSW and congratulate Cleanaway on their state of the art facility that supports Return and Earn to provide a smart solution to reduce litter in NSW and contribute to a more sustainable future,” Ms Upton said.

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO steps down

NSW EPA Acting Chair and CEO Anissa Levy has announced she will stand down from her position at the EPA.

She will return to the position of Deputy CEO at Infrastructure NSW.

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Ms Levy joined the EPA as Acting Chair and CEO on 12 March 2018. She has held senior executive positions with the NSW Government, including Deputy Director General of Planning and Programs at Transport for NSW, where she was responsible for the Transport Cluster capital budget, the Bureau of Transport Statistics, strategic integrated transport planning and transport project development.

EPA Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford will act in the position of EPA Chair and CEO.

Recycled glass and soft plastics trial on ACT Govt road

ACT Roads Minister Chris Steel has announced a trial of a material composed of recycled glass and soft plastics as part of the state government’s annual resurfacing program in October.

Plastiphalt – a material composed of recycled glass and soft plastics – will be trialled on existing sections of Horse Park Drive and Gundaroo Drive during the ACT Government’s $16 million 2018-19 road resurfacing program.

“For every tonnes of Plastiphalt placed, the equivalent of 800 plastic bags, 252 glass bottles and 18 used printer toner cartridges will not find their way to landfills,” Mr Steel said.

Three-hundred kilograms of recycled asphalt is also used for every tonne of the material.

The 2018-19 resurfacing program will see approximately 230 lane kilometres, or approximately 1,000,000 square metres of roads resurfaced, across the ACT road network.

“The resealing program is an important part of the maintenance of Canberra’s roads as it covers small cracks and imperfections which could cause potholes and overall deterioration. It protects and extends the life of our roads and improves road safety,” Mr Steel said.

The program of works is expected to be completed by April next year.