Taking the eco road: ECO Resources

ECO Resources is doubling its output, reducing contamination and improving safety with the installation of an Australian made picking, sorting and recycling facility.

Since starting off as a small site cleaning business in 2006, ECO Resources has made significant inroads in the construction, demolition and general inert recycling space.

The Perth-based company has over the past decade grown through a combination of key acquisitions and organic growth to become a major construction and demolition (C&D) waste management company and multi-user recycling business.

Since the launch of ECO’s first resources facility in 2011, the company has diverted significant volumes of C&D waste from landfill, servicing more than 200 businesses in Perth, including local councils, waste collectors and construction and demolition businesses.

Supporting and diverting more than 500,000 cubic metres of waste from landfill each year, ECO is focused on growing its landfill diversion rates beyond 93 per cent with $6 million of investment approved for 2019.

The company partners with Perth suppliers of reconstituted building blocks and produces recycled sand and roadbase compliant with Main Roads WA and state government requirements.

Steve Hyams, a consultant for ECO Resources, says the company’s ownership structure is unique to the waste industry. He says that ECO’s love of logistics and all things mechanical, combined with a passion for the environment, has been the foundation for its growth.

The company’s environmental focus prompted a review of collected waste streams, existing disposal options and recycling performance.

“The team identified that large quantities of C&D waste were heading to landfill and after meeting with similar local businesses, the team launched ECO’s first C&D recycling facility at Naval Base in Perth’s south,” Steve explains.

Following this review, the ECO team adopted a plan to eliminate reliance on third party disposal, develop C&D recovery and treatment capacity, diversify the business to cover the whole lifecycle of waste, along with a number of other benchmarks.

To increase its involvement in the C&D market, ECO Resources invested in a new picking, sorting and recycling facility. The new facility doubles its output in safety, volume and quality, while reducing contaminants and residual waste. The plant will allow the company to improve its sorting and segregating of C&D waste at its Hope Valley operations.

Commissioned in May this year, the 12-month project included tender, design, construction and delivery. Skala Australasia won the tender to deliver its first-ever C&D turnkey plant in WA.

Simon Toal, Skala Australasia Director, says the project was designed from scratch, working with ECO Resources managers and the operations team to develop the design via 3D modelling. The plant was designed to match Perth’s climatic conditions and input materials, reducing overall maintenance.

“ECO Resources has been operating other plants for a number of years and have some good experience on what works and doesn’t work,” Simon explains.

“We’ve build a number of plants down the eastern seaboard similar to this so we combined our collective experience to deliver them the best solution.”

As Skala also specialises in mining and industrial processes, it was able to apply its heavy-duty applications to the design, including in the chute design and wear components.

He says that ECO Resources was after a robust vibratory in-feed system that could handle larger input material and reduce the amount of pre-sorting and double handling. The primary in-feed system includes a General Kinematics primary fingerscreen to direct feed all material. Simon says this is able to process heavy-duty materials – a key point of different for Skala which aims to use less power and improve productivity.

The company processes multiple sized streams and therefore vibratory screens were needed for secondary and tertiary screening.

The overs line comprises an enclosed picking station plus ferrous and waste bays providing picking bays for timbers, plastic and other waste.

The secondary screening and density separation lines includes a double deck screen and multiple General Kinematics destoners for middle fraction and fines clean-up to remove plastics and paper.

In the unders line, an enclosed picking station allows for final cleaning of materials, with the final output being clean aggregate.

Simon says one of the unique attributes of the project is that a majority of the parts were designed and customised using Australian manufactured materials.

“Historically we’ve been more reliant on European integrators and fabrication which was a more modular off-the-shelf solution. With this project, we saw an opportunity to use Australian content which meant a greater adherence to local standards and availability of spare parts and componentry,” Simon says.

A number of features were designed for Australian conditions. As an example, European programmable logic controllers may not contain features such as an adequate air conditioner – important for the sweltering Perth heat. The magnets were also derived from STEINERT and made in Australia.

“We used flip flow technology because we know that performs better in wetter materials so we incorporated this for secondary and tertiary screening.”

Simon says that oversized bearings and impact rollers lead to higher service reliability and less downtime.

“It’s a lot easier for us to support a plant that is designed and built in Australia than components that are overseas.

“For the components we do import, we standardise on those which allows us to hold significant inventory, spare parts and technical capability.”

In terms of after-sales support, the plant has been designed with the ability for Skala to dial in and provide technical support where necessary, organise spare parts and conduct preventative maintenance checks.

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Commingled trust: Wastech Engineering

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell takes Waste Management Review through the company’s materials recovery facility concept design process. 

When China placed contamination restrictions on imported waste in 2017, Australian material recovery facilities (MRF) had to face up to the realisation that their technology wouldn’t meet the 0.5 per cent rate.

According to a 2018 federal analysis of Australia’s municipal recycling infrastructure, a major issue for MRFs is the lack of technical capacity to sort commingled, highly contaminated municipal waste materials to a standard that meets stringent export specifications.

In the wake of China, prices for plastic, cardboard and paper have dropped. Demand for higher quality material however had risen, which offers significant market opportunities for processors willing to invest in technical capacity and optical sorting upgrades.

Wastech National Projects Product Manager Mike McConnell says the complexity of current challenges makes turnkey solutions more attractive than ever.

“The industry is presently facing a unique set of challenges, and many recycling companies don’t have the time to sit down and analyse how to best upgrade their facilities,” Mike says.

“Through evaluating the industry via reports on waste volumes, equipment needs, collection methods and operational requirements, Wastech is able to provide clients with fully realised MRF concepts and design.”

According to Mike, the key to good business practice when developing a MRF is building trust with the client.

“Effectively turning a client’s initial request into a well-functioning MRF requires trust between both parties. We need to understand their volumes, waste composition and material process flows,” Mike says.

“At a minimum you will be working with the client for six months, and in some cases, it might take two years. It’s really important both organisations understand each other and the process.”

Mike says concept design begins with a study of the client’s needs, starting on the base level of whether they require a retrofit for an existing MRF or to develop an entirely new facility.

From there, Wastech looks at the client’s required volumes, tonnes per year and what waste streams the proposed plant will be dealing with.

Mike places high importance on this initial stage, noting the significant variability of waste streams and therefore the customer’s equipment needs.

“Understanding the composition of the waste stream is key as it informs all equipment purchasing decisions,” Mike says.

“For example, what kind of screening is needed? Does the client require optical sorting? Are they dealing with coloured or uncoloured containers? Are they dealing with both?”

Following this, Wastech examines what outputs the client is looking for in relation to desired end markets and purity.   

“Looking at material process flow involves working out how the MRF will achieve the client’s specified requirements, most significantly the levels of purity needed to achieve the finished product,” Mike says.

“We formulate a material process flow and mass balance analysis, which then helps us determine what equipment is needed, and then we review that in detail with the client.”   

Through a partnership with CP Group, an American separation and material recovery equipment manufacturer, Wastech is able to support MRFs for commingled recyclables, municipal solid waste, construction and demolition material, commercial and industrial waste, waste-to-energy operations and e-waste.

Wastech offers a range of screening equipment, notably the OCC Screen which automatically separates cardboard from other fibres and containers.

The company also provides optical sorting sensors, collection hoods to transport handpicked film, eddy currents for nonferrous material, metering drums, air drum separators, silo blowers, trommel screens, balers and conveyor belts.

“Following the initial design presentation, we can adjust and modify equipment choices,” Mike says.

“Once the client is happy and following multiple reviews of the initial concept and design, we conduct a number of site visits where we measure the existing or proposed facility to figure out how the equipment will best fit into the space.”

Following this, Mike says Wastech develops a 3D model for the client, which allows them to fully visualise the proposal.

“We find 3D visualisations to be a much more effective communication tool than simple facts and figures or drawings,” Mike says.

The next stage is the tender process, where Wastech provides a quote for the facility’s realisation.

“When we’re working with clients on the design and concept over a period time, be it local government or private companies, a real trusting relationship is established. They know what we are offering is value for money,” Mike says.   

“In addition to relationship building, we have a long history of delivering MRFs, so clients know if they request a certain level of purity that’s what Wastech will supply.”

Mike says the SUEZ MRF in Bibra Lake, Perth, is a recent example of Wastech’s turnkey process.

Wastech was commissioned to upgrade an already existing SUEZ MRF through the introduction of optical sorting equipment, which, according to Mike, led to a significant increase in efficiency and subsequent output.

A spokesperson for SUEZ said in May that the company is committed to taking action to expand recycling and sorting processes.

“SUEZ’s investment in a state-of-the-art optical sorting system, in partnership with Wastech, is one of the ways we have enhanced our infrastructure to increase our recovery, and therefore recycling rates at our MRF in Bibra Lake,” the spokesperson said.

“This investment, alongside working with our customers, has allowed us to ensure contamination is kept to a minimum and helped to keep the kerbside recycling system sustainable.”

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