EOI open to build Toowoomba landfill gas development

Toowoomba Regional Council is looking for expressions of interest to develop the landfill gas resource at its major landfill.

The council has completed a business case which has identified the significant resource available at the Toowoomba regional landfill.

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Landfill gas could help supply the council with a sustainable source of gas and electricity. The landfill is also next to major energy users including the Wetalla Water Reclamation Facility, the APA gas pipeline and the Baillie Henderson Hospital.

Two key options the business case identified were to use the resource to produce electricity for the Wetalla treatment plant, other council facilities or export into the electricity grid, or produce compressed natural gas for use in council vehicles, facilities or into the local gas grid.

The Toowoomba Regional Council has a three-step plan to enter into an arrangement, with the first accepting expressions of interest, followed by early respondent involvement and formal commercial tender.

Companies that are able to utilise more than one landfill gas constituent will be considered more favourably than others that only seeks to utilise one.

Applications for expressions of interest close on 24 April.

Solar farm planned on top of Newcastle landfill

A new solar farm is slated to be built on a capped landfill site in Newcastle to significantly reduce the council’s annual $4 million electricity bill.

The farm adds on to one of Australia’s most advanced renewable energy setups at a waste facility, which already has a 2.2-megawatt landfill gas generator and a small wind turbine.

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With the additional energy available, the farm could lead to electric garbage trucks and improved battery storage.

The size of the new farm will cover an area of around five football fields between Summerhill’s entry road and construction waste area.

Construction is planned to begin in June and it is estimated the farm will save around $9 million after construction and operational costs are factored.

The farm’s 14,500 panels will be built by Lendlease and with most of the finance lent to Newcastle City Council through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation’s (CEFC) Local Government Finance Program.

“I’d like to thank the Clean Energy Finance Corporation for its incredible support of the City of Newcastle’s sustainability charter,” Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“The solar farm will produce enough energy to run the equivalent of 1,300 households, which promises significant environmental returns for ratepayers and millions of dollars in savings on electricity costs,” she said.

“We are building sustainability into everything we do after reiterating our commitment last year to generate 30 per cent of our electricity needs from low-carbon sources and cut overall electricity usage by 30 per cent by 2020.”

“Increasing our renewable energy capability and finding more energy-efficient solutions is an integral part of our long-term vision to become a smart, liveable and sustainable city,” Cr Nelmes said.

Newcastle City Council secured a $6.5 million loan from the CEFC to build the $8 million project.

Federal Govt offer waste battery export guidance

The Federal Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy has released a report that offers guidance on whether a hazardous waste permit is required to export waste batteries to another country.

Batteries can increase the risk of toxic chemicals polluting the environment if not disposed of properly.

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The report clarifies the Federal Government’s position on the status of batteries as hazardous waste under the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports Act) 1989 (the Act) and Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) (OECD Decision) Regulations 1996 (the OECD Regulations).

Alkaline, nickel-metal hydride, zinc-carbon and zinc chloride waste batteries are considered by the Federal Government to not require an import permit, as long as they are not flammable, explosive or toxic.

These batteries are considered to be in List B for the Basel Convention for international transport of potentially hazardous waste.

The Federal Government said it is the responsibility of the waste exporter to check whether the destination and transit countries require a hazardous waste permit to import waste batteries.

The report can be read here.

Look at contracts: WALGA hosts China waste ban session

Western Australia’s peak local government body has written to the state’s Environment Minister requesting a taskforce of state, local government and waste industry representatives to focus on local processing and reprocessing options.

It follows two information sessions on the impact of China’s ban on 24 categories of solid waste with a contaminant rate of 0.5 per cent. The WA Local Government Association (WALGA) hosted more than 80 representatives from over 30 local governments.

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In its newsletter, WALGA said the key messages from the sessions were to keep on recycling, look at contracts, develop local markets and advocate for changes in packaging design.

“It is important for local governments to ensure residents continue recycling, with a focus on reducing contamination in the kerbside recycling bin. There are still viable markets for collected material,” it said.

WALGA advise local government to look at their contractual arrangements with service providers and that local governments should consider whether their contracts include rise and fall clauses.

“WALGA will continue to advocate for changes to packaging design to ensure products are recyclable and that consistent labelling on recyclability is used by the packaging industry to assist residents with source separation.”

In other news, WALGA is also establishing a working group to investigate ways to reduce illegal dumping. Expressions of interest are requested from local government officers by Thursday, 29 March. For more information, complete the online survey here. 

Bin services stopped for two Victorian councils

Garbage collection was suspended in two Victorian councils after Wheelie Waste revealed on Wednesday it would cease collection of rubbish and recycling bins from numerous areas northwest of Melbourne.

UPDATE: Services have resumed in Macedon Ranges Shire Council and Mount Alexander Shire Council following negotiations between Wheelie Waste and the two parties. Read the initial story below:

The impasse followed the recent China international waste bans, which saw a crackdown on imports of 24 different types of solid waste with contaminant levels of more than 0.5 per cent from Japan, USA, Australia and other source countries.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council comprises areas such as Kyneton, Lancefield and Gisborne, while Mount Alexander Shire Council includes Castlemaine and Maldon.

“We’ve had meetings with a number of the 22 councils that the (contractors) represent, and some have agreed to pay the difference to them this financial year and some haven’t,” Wheelie Waste spokesman David Rako told 3AW.

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“Unfortunately, the cost difference and the lost cost just can’t be borne further by some of the collection companies.”

Mount Alexander Shire Council in a statement said Wheelie Waste informed council the decision was in protest of the Victorian Government’s lack of detail regarding its rebate to address the increased cost of recycling.

Just two weeks ago, the Victorian Government a $13 million package to support the ongoing collection of household waste.

The assistance will go towards helping councils and industries that have been affected by the China policy, giving them and their contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts. Council assistance will be provided until 30 June, though they will be required to meet an increase in recycling costs from 1 July.

“We are in contact with other local councils in a similar position, and will continue to work with the state government and industry to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Rebecca Stockfeld, Acting Director Sustainable Development, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

In a statement, Macedon Ranges Shire Council said:

“Macedon Ranges Shire Council has told its waste collection contractor Wheelie Waste that it has until 9am tomorrow to return to work and resume the service.

“Council was informed early on 7 March by Wheelie Waste that it had suspended its collection of waste, recycling and garden waste services for the shire.

“This action was taken without consultation with council and with no notice.”

Macedon Ranges Shire Council’s Director Assets and Operations, Dale Thornton said if services did not resume at 9am tomorrow, council would consider putting in place alternative arrangements to ensure the service continued.

“The government is aware of the issue and encourages councils and industry to resolve this immediately to restore services,” Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio told Fairfax Media in a statement.


National Food Waste Strategy Steering Committee appointed

In February, the Federal Government appointed its steering committee to support the implementation of the National Food Waste Strategy.

The Food Waste Steering Committee will provide guidance and advice to Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) as it develops a plan in 2018 that clearly sets out the actions to be taken to reduce Australia’s food waste over the short, medium and long term.

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Members include:

    • Mr Geoffrey Annison, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Australian Food and Grocery Council
    • Dr Martin Cole, Deputy Director, CSIRO Agriculture and Food
    • Mr Stephen Ferguson, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Hotels Association
    • Mr John Harvey, Managing Director, AgriFutures Australia
    • Ms Ronni Kahn, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, OzHarvest
    • Ms Nerida Kelton, Executive Officer, Australian Institute of Packaging
    • Mr Tim Lester, Executive Officer, Council of Rural R&D Corporations
    • Dr Hermione Parsons, Director, Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics, Deakin University
    • Dr Greg Picker, Executive Director, Refrigerants Australia
    • Ms Fiona Simson, President, National Farmers’ Federation
    • Mr Max Spedding, Chief Executive Officer, National Waste and Recycling Industry Council
    • Mr Russell Zimmerman, Executive Director, Australian Retailers Association

Federal Government Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg said food waste has economic, environmental and social implications for all Australians – the estimated cost to our economy is $20 billion per year.

“It is unacceptable that a food rescue organisation is turning away over 65,000 people each month, yet we produce enough food to feed about 60 million people,” he said.

“The make-up of the committee recognises that tackling food waste requires a community-wide approach.”

“Members’ expertise spans the entire food supply and consumption chain and will help ensure that we meet our goal to halve Australia’s food waste by 2030.”

FIAL’s plan will be accompanied by a voluntary commitment program that will engage businesses and industries to reduce food waste as well as a National Food Waste Baseline so progress towards the food waste reduction goal can be monitored and tracked.

View your landfill in 3D

No longer limited to intensive gaming or high-end architecture, virtual reality is making in-roads in the landfill sector.

Landair Surveys, a leading surveying firm in Australia, has introduced a new way for their landfill clients to interactively view their site data.

Previously, waste managers relied on 2D plans and concept drawings to visualise the relationship between existing site conditions and future operations. However, the rise of 3D viewing platforms has led to the possibility of creating virtual landfills where many different spatial data sets can be viewed simultaneously.

The surveyors at Landair now offer prospective clients virtual landfill models that can be tailored to individual landfill sites or operational requirements. The models can be as simple as an online visual tool to a downloadable interactive viewer allowing the user to take basic measurements and create clipping planes.

  • Examples of current virtual files created for landfill operators include:
  • Design top of waste contours overlaid on existing landfill surfaces
  • Design clay sideliner files overlaid on existing rockface surveys
  • View of proposed finished top of cap levels from site boundaries
  • Month by month landfill cell flyover comparisons
  • Composite as built clay liner and subgrade checks.