A shift in business practices would support a significant increase in procurement of recyclables, writes Matt Genever, Director Resource Recovery at Sustainability Victoria.
Victoria’s reliance on extractive resources is increasingly becoming an unviable prospect, but a new solution will soon see more construction and demolition materials recovered in the state.
A new $100 million program has been opened in Queensland that aims to improve the state’s recycling, resource recovery and biofutures industries.
The Resource Recovery Industry Development Program is designed to encourage removing waste from landfill, with the Queensland Government calling for interested parties to come forward with project proposals.
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Three streams are offered to capture projects across a variety of scales and levels of support.
Stream one is a rounds-based capital grants scheme with dollar-for dollar grants available up to $5 million to provide funding for infrastructure projects in new processing and technological capabilities.
The second stream is a broad incentives stream to attract or expand major resource recovery operations to divert waste from landfill.
A third stream will involve funding towards capital-intensive, long lifecycle projects which require support for investigations for final investment decisions.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick said the funding was made available over three years to develop a high value resource recovery and recycling industry.
“Our aim is to make Queensland a world leader in projects involving resource recovery, recycling and the re-manufacturing of materials to turn waste to energy,” Mr Dick said.
“Economically, we know such projects have the potential to generate new jobs for our communities and build confidence for business to invest in Queensland, and we know encouraging investment and innovation in the waste industry will also deliver long-term benefits environmentally.
“This program is another demonstration of the State Government supporting investment in Queensland through reducing waste going to landfill, and another leap forward in our journey towards a zero-waste future.”
Mr Dick said the projects will also create new products from waste, growing industry and reducing the impact on the environment.
“This funding will be available to support local governments and existing businesses and will attract new major projects to Queensland,” he said.
“Applications are also welcome from consortia: businesses or local governments working together on plans to deliver integrated projects.”
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said this program was part of the Queensland Government’s long-term vision to attract investment, develop new industries and grow jobs.
“We have a real opportunity to improve waste management practices in Queensland,” she said.
“Research indicates that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste that goes to landfill, less than three jobs are supported. But if that same waste was recycled, more than nine jobs would be supported.
“That is why our Government is moving towards a comprehensive waste management strategy, underpinned by a waste disposal levy. Last week we introduced legislation into Queensland Parliament and we are now one step closer to stopping interstate waste being dumped here in our state and encouraging more investment in industry,” Ms Enoch said.
Waste Recycling Industry Queensland CEO Rick Ralph said the funding announcement is critical to investment decisions proceeding.
“It now provides Queensland industry the opportunity to develop and create new jobs by driving economic growth that in turn will reshape the state as Australia’s leading secondary resources and recycling capital.”
Expressions of interest for stream one will remain open until 5 October, with funding through streams two and three available through application. The Queensland Government aims to have the first projects funded within the first half of 2019.
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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.
The Victorian Government has appointed 25 directors to the state’s seven Waste and Resource Recovery Groups.
The directors, including nine reappointments, commenced their roles on 1 August.
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They bring a broad range of experience to their roles with diverse backgrounds including energy, engineering, resource efficiency, local government, infrastructure development, sustainability, waste management and environmental policy.
The appointees will aim to ensure the Groups have the skills and experience needed to deliver a safe, resilient and efficient recycling system.
Waste and Resource Recovery Groups are a part of the state government’s Recycling Industry Strategic Plan with local councils across Victoria.
Appointees have increased board representation of women, people with disabilities and Victorians from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds.
More than $100 million has been invested by the state government over the last four years to improve the Victoria’s waste and resource recovery system.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio congratulated the appointees and said she looks forward to working with them to strengthen the state’s waste and recycling sector.
“We’re making sure Victoria is equipped with the people and resources it needs to reduce waste and costs to households,” she said.
A list of the appointments and directors can be found here.
With assistance from Repurpose It and Eastern Plant Hire, the North Eastern Program Alliance coordinated a resource recovery program on major Victorian level crossing removal projects.
The largest resource recovery and Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF) plant in Australia has been unveiled at Wetherill Park in Sydney.
Owned in a joint venture between resource recovery company ResourceCo and Cleanaway, the plant is licensed to receive up to 250,000 tonnes a year of dry commercial and industrial, and mixed construction and demolition waste, to recover commodities including metal, clean timber and inert materials, with the balance converted into PEF.
Over its lifetime, the plant is expected to abate more than four million tonnes of carbon emissions.
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Cleanaway’s customer base and waste supply in NSW will help drive volume to the facility to divert waste from landfill.
PEF is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in both domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement.
The plant will supply Boral, Australia’s largest construction material company, with PEF for its Berrima cement kiln as a substitute for coal.
Chief Executive Officer Sustainable Energy at ResourceCo Ben Sawley said the new plant will divert up to 50,000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
“It will replace over 100,000 tonnes of coal usage per year alone and will take the equivalent of 20,000 cars annually off the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Sawley said.
“We’re committed to playing a key role in Australia’s future sustainable energy mix, by reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable energy product,”
“The opportunity to tap further into this market is huge and it makes good sense, both environmentally and economically,” Mr Sawley said.
Cleanaway Chief Executive Officer Vik Bansal said this is an important new resource recovery solution in New South Wales that creates a landfill diversion option for commercial and industrial, residual recycling, and some construction and demolition waste.
“Investment in resource recovery and innovative waste to energy solutions is essential to making a sustainable future possible, and one of the ways we’re delivering on our Footprint 2025 strategy,” Mr Bansal said.
The project was supported by a funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which had committed $30 million in debt finance to support development of the plant, as well as an additional plant at a second Australian location still to be identified.
CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the priority in managing waste must be to reduce the amount waste produced in the first place.
“With what remains, we need to invest in proven technologies to repurpose it, including as alternative fuels. By turning waste into PEF, this facility is showing how industrial processes can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.
“We can also reduce the amount of waste materials going into landfill, an important factor in cutting our national greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Learnmouth said
CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead Henry Anning said the CEFC was working with the waste management sector to increase energy efficiency and energy generation, as well as reduce carbon emissions.
“With Australia’s waste sector facing considerable disruption, now is the time to adopt new ways of doing business,” Mr Anning said.
“With the right investment in proven technologies, companies can turn our urban and industrial waste into new energy sources, creating an important revenue stream while also reducing landfill gas emissions.
“In Australia there is a growing commercial opportunity for resource recovery, reinforced by tightening state government landfill regulations. We are working alongside waste companies to invest in long-term infrastructure that can make a lasting difference to the way we handle our waste,” he said.
Sustainability Victoria has released a new guide that details the current and emerging technologies for resource recovery.
Sustainability Victoria Chief Executive Officer Stan Krpan said there is a need to find new and productive uses for waste as Victoria’s population grows.
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“With this Resource Recovery Technology Guide, we have analysed both current and emerging resource recovery technologies to support government and industry to make decisions about the most appropriate technology to suit their needs,” Mr Krpan said.
“In providing a summary of available technologies, their associated waste streams, regulatory requirements and potential costs, we want to make it easy to understand technologies that will help guide decisions to benefit the environment and the community,” he said.
The guide includes technologies found in traditional material recovery facilities, complex mixed facilities, mechanical and biological treatment, as well as energy from waste. And advanced fuels produced from waste.
“Some of these technologies have the potential to continue our move away from landfills, especially for residual waste which cannot be recycled and ends up in landfill. We know that resource recovery creates many new jobs and drives investment in regional communities,” Mr Krpan said.
“Victoria is thinking circular and we are committed to improving the way we manage our waste and generating value from our resources. This guide points us on the new directions and opportunities some of which are already being used and some which we may borrow that have been successful overseas,” he said.
Sustainability Victoria has also released a revised Guide to Biological Recovery of Organics to help readers understand the regulations, requirements and best practice methods for biological processing of organics.
“Organic wastes make up a large proportion of the waste generated in Victoria and the recovery of organics offers a significant opportunity to reduce the environmental impacts of landfill,” Mr Krpan said.
Mr Krpan said the revised guide helps local government, industry and community groups understand the biological recovery of organics. It discusses feedstocks, technologies, and the costs and planning involved.
“We have heard from local government that there is a great need for authoritative information and guidance on processing technologies and advanced resource recovery. We worked with industry experts to create really practical guides that we hope are used widely.”
End-of-life plastics and glass fines could soon be used in the construction of footpaths instead of going to landfill, according to a new study from the Swinburne University of Technology.
The research found plastics and glass fines could be incorporated into concrete footpaths while still meeting the standard requirements, and without compromising the mechanical properties.
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It is estimated that approximately 100,000 tonnes of flexible plastics end up in landfill each year, and only 48 per cent of glass waste is recovered for recycling, according to Sustainability Victoria.
The next step for this project is to include local governments and industries to increase the amount of recycled content in footpath construction.
“The use of recovered plastics and glass fines in concrete footpaths will divert significant quantities of these materials from landfill, while reducing the demand for virgin construction materials,” said Swinburne University of Technology’s Dr Yat Choy Wong.
This research project is one of seven projects that investigate new ways to increase the use of recovered class and flexible plastics.
Tyre processing company Pearl Global has begun commissioning its first production plant to recycle tyres into valuable secondary products.
The technology uses an applied heating process called thermal desorption, which converts waste tyres into liquid hydrocarbon, high tensile steel and carbon char, and can be sold separately or processed further.
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Pearl has constructed its first production plant, with two thermal desorption units (TDUs) in Stapylton, Queensland and initial commissioning under way. The second TDU is owned by Pearl’s intellectual property licensor and contracting partner Keshi, and will be purchased by Pearl as soon as practical.
Each TDU can process approximately 5000 tons (4536 tonnes) of shredded rubber at full production, equivalent to 50,000 car tyres. On average, this equates to a weekly output 1.5 million litres of raw fuel.
“This is the first plant of its type in Australia and we expect to be ramping up to full production over the coming months,” Pearl Executive Chairman Gary Foster said.
The materials are being developed into potential commercial products, including a degreaser product.
With assistance from The Centre for Energy at the University of Western Australia, Pearl’s degreaser products have been tested and compared to existing commercial degreasers and have surpassed the standards required for commercial degreasers, with one of them showing the best performance of all the degreaser products, according to the company.
Over 51 million used tyres get discarded in Australia a year, but only five per cent are recycled. Pearl’s technology focuses on extracting the resources from tyres instead of using them for constructing children’s playgrounds or exporting. Pearl (formerly Citation Resources Limited) in February rejoined the ASX following a reconstruction and a $5 million capital raising.
Pearl recently received planning approval from the Gold Coast City Council and has approval from Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage. It already holds an environmental licence from the Western Australian Government Department of Environment Regulation.
“This is a turning point for used tyre processing in Australia. We are the first company in Australia to receive licenses for the thermal treatment of rubber, to reclaim and recover valuable products for resale,” Mr Foster said.
“Our technology is a significant advancement on other methods of processing waste tyres because it has low emissions, no hazardous by-products, requires no chemical intervention and is the only process that meets the standard emissions criteria set by the Australian regulators for this type of technology,” he said.
Mr Foster said the technology will help Australia handle a serious global environmental problem.
“We believe there is great potential in Australia to immediately deploy our technology at sites close to where tyres have been stockpiled,” Mr Foster said.
“With governments seeking or mandating solutions for waste, Pearl is well placed to offer a solution that is both environmentally sound and commercially viable.”
Pearl has applied to be an accredited member of Tyre Stewardship Australia.