Oil recycling facility relocation proposal assessed by EPA TAS

EPA Tasmania will allow an oil recycling facility to relocate, with certain conditions in place to ensure the proposed development is managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner.

Gourmet Oil, trading as Hagen Oil, operates a facility that processes waste oil and related products which are collected in tankers and delivered to the site.

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These products are separated, recycled and packaged for re-sale or disposal, which processes approximately 3000 tonnes of recycled oil products each year.

Some of the conditions applied to relocation includes a 3000 tonne per year limit on raw material which is refined, produced or reprocessed, a daily record or all waste oil received by the facility must be made and kept for two years, instituting odour management measures as necessary and must not operate outside the hours of 7am to 5pm.

The facility also must not process waste oil is the nature of the oil is not clearly identified, exhibits odorous characteristics likely to exceed the plant’s odour emissions capabilities, contains polychlorinated biphenyls, or is mixed with any other contaminant that significantly increases the corrosiveness, volatility, reactivity or ignitability of the waste oil.

Any permit subsequently granted by Launceston City Council will be required to include the conditions from EPA Tasmania.

The proposal was considered by the Acting EPA Director Martin Read in the context of the sustainable development objectives of the Resource Management and Planning System of Tasmania.

“Various environmental issues were considered in the assessment, particularly control of potential emissions into water and air by ensuring adequate onsite storage, treatment and spill response,” Dr Read said.

The Acting Director’s environmental assessment report, including the environmental conditions, has been issued to Gourmet Oil and Launceston City Council.

To view the report, click here.

Tyre pyrolysis and gasification report to inform industry

To inform the industry on the use of tyres in thermal processing plants, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has released a report into the effectiveness of both pyrolysis and gasification.

The Tyre Pyrolysis and Gasification Technologies – A brief Guide for Government and Industry report looks at the global history of operating plants and considers the economic and end-product market factors that are critical to the commercial viability of recycling technologies in the Australian market.

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High temperature thermal processing can create oil, synthetic gas, carbon black and steel, while also providing a way of handling a waste stream that can have potential environmental or health problems if stockpiled.

TSA Market Development Manager Liam O’Keefe said the motivation of the guide was to provide the industry thought leadership on both emerging technologies as possible recycling solutions and to better inform government and businesses considering investment in such technologies.

“Obviously, TSA is interested in any technology that can sensitively recycle almost 100% of a waste tyre, but we must be aware of the prevailing market conditions, investment costs and competitive pressures that play a role in establishing the economic sustainability of such projects,” Mr O’Keefe said.

“We believe the guide, by providing a high level of consultation, analysis and technical and economic detail, will be an aid to decision making around proposed facilities.

“No one technology will meet the waste tyre environmental challenge on its own. The best result with such immense global resource recovery and management challenges usually comes from a combination of options, offering the flexibility to adjust to future conditions and developing market demands.”

The report can be downloaded here, with a full report on thermal tyre processing technologies by request from TSA.

Turning coffee grounds into coffee cups

Coffee grounds could be used to create biodegradable plastic coffee cups thanks to new research from Macquarie University.

The process converts the spent coffee grounds into a lactic acid which is then turned into a plastic, however the method is still being refined by researcher Dominik Kopp.

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Because 50 per cent of coffee grounds are made up of sugars, they can be converted into bio-based chemicals.

The method was inspired by a metabolic pathway that is thought to exist in an evolutionary ancient organism, which lived in hot and extremely acidic environments.

“Australians consume six billion cups of coffee every year, and the coffee grounds used to make these coffees are used only once and then discarded,” says Mr Kopp.

“In Sydney alone, over 920 cafes and coffee shops produced nearly 3,000 tonnes of waste coffee grounds every year.

“Ninety-three per cent of this waste ends up in landfill, where it produces greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.”

Mr Kopp sources the coffee grounds from one of the shops on Macquarie’s campus and took them back to the lab.

“We assembled a synthetic pathway to convert the most abundant sugar in the coffee grounds, mannose, into lactic acid,” he says.

“Lactic acid can be used in the production of biodegradable plastics, offering a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative to fossil fuel-derived plastics.

“You could use such plastics to make anything from plastic coffee cups to yoghurt containers to compost bags to sutures in medicine.”

His next step will be to further refine the conversion pathway and improve the yield of lactic acid.

“I think my project is one of many interesting approaches on how to use synthetic biology in a responsible manner for the development of a more sustainable and greener industry that doesn’t rely on crude oil,” says Dominik.

“The simple idea that we are converting waste into a valuable and sustainable product is extremely exciting!”

New mercury treatment plant to eliminate contaminated exports

One of the largest mercury treatment facilities in the southern hemisphere has opened and will eliminate the need to export mercury-contaminated waste from Australia.

Located in Karratha, Western Australia, the Contract Resources’ Gap Ridge Processing Facility is capable of handling all mercury contaminated waste produced by Australia’s oil and gas sector into the foreseeable future.

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It also fulfils the Australia’s obligations under the Basel Convention, an international treaty designed to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between countries.

Contract Resources Chief Executive Adam Machon said the facility sets the international benchmark for best-practice in safe and efficient mercury waste management and recycling of all elements for alternate use. He says it helps avoid the need for mercury contaminated landfill or further processing, as required by other technologies.

“Through combining the world’s best practice processing technologies and Contract Resources’ 30 years of industry experience, the facility has set a new benchmark globally for the safe treatment, recycling and processing of domestic and export-destined mercury contaminated waste from the oil and gas sector,” Mr Machon said.

“The export of mercury contaminated waste has always and continues to concern us, due to the risks of the combination of road, rail and shipping transport, loss of the custody chain and recent high-profile cases of mercury waste being dumped illegally overseas,” he said.

Mr Machon said the opening of the facility demonstrates Contract Resources’ commitment to developing innovative, safe and environmentally complaint, mercury waste management solutions to ensure the safe treatment and recycling of mercury related waste.

Southern Oil Refining turning waste into oil

A new plant that aims to turn biosolids from waste water treatment sewage into renewable crude oil is being built in Gladstone, Queensland.

The Federal Government is providing Southern Oil Refining with up to $4 million in funding for the $11.8 million demonstration plant.

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Biosolids will be sources from waste water treatment plants in Gladstone as well as the project’s partner Melbourne Water Corporation’s Werribee facility.

The renewable crude oil will then be upgraded to renewable diesel and potentially jet fuel.

Southern Oil Refining’s existing Northern Oil Refining facility in Gladstone will be used for the project, which is currently being used for re-refining waste oils such as transmission and engine oils.

It will treat up to one million litres of biosolids a year using a thermochemical conversion process to produce a biocrude.

Minister for the Environment Josh Frydenberg said that bioenergy projects not only provide an alternative to the stockpiling of waste, but also have the potential to help with Australia’s fuel security.

“With Australia producing over 300,000 tonnes of biosolids through sewage treatment annually, it makes sense to look for options for commercialising its disposal,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Federal Member for Flynn Mr Ken O’Dowd said he is excited for Gladstone to be the home of world-class, state of the art technology.

“Using the skills and some of the world’s best R&D and scientists, there is no stopping this remarkable ‘new age’ company from achieving this huge benefit that was once thought to be a distant aspiration,” Mr O’Dowd said.

The project was funded though the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), which also provided $2.4 million for Australia’s first biocrude and biofuel laboratory based at the same site.