Dewatering the market: Aqseptence Group

Phil Amor, Aqseptence Group Business Development Manager, explains how high solids separation is key to unlocking the economic growth potential inherent in food waste.

The National Food Waste Strategy estimates that food waste costs the Australian economy $20 million each year.

From the inverse perspective, a 2019 report by accounting firm Ernst & Young found that better recycling technology could grow Australia’s economy by $324 million a year.

While waste reduction is the central driver of most comprehensive waste strategies, rising technological efficiency in the resource recovery space suggests a growing economic opportunity.

Phil Amor, Aqseptence Group Business Development Manager, says recycling food waste can be a challenging process, given stringent government regulations rapid degradation rates.

As such, effectively capturing the economic potential of the material requires efficient and high-capacity processing equipment, he says.

“As a core component of the food waste recovery process, quality solids separation and dewatering via trommel screens is critical for the delivery of high-quality outputs,” Phil says.

He adds that the key to effective dewatering is high rates of solids capture.

“When dealing with organics solid separation, operators require a very efficient trommel screen to facilitate high-quality separation rates,” Phil says.

“The sheer force of the Contra-Shear Milliscreen, for example, ensures aggressive pumping and solids capture.”

The Contra-Shear Milliscreen is designed and manufactured in Australia by Johnson Screens.   

Contra-Shear Screens consist of a Johnson Screens Vee-Wire drum with an internal feed tank.

“Flow passes into the internal tank before it overflows into the weir. The internal feed tank then controls velocities and reduces the force of the flow onto the drum,” Phil says.

“The Contra-Shear Milliscreen force generation allows solid separation at a faster rate than typical trommels, which makes it time and cost-efficient.” Phil says.

“Additionally, it has a capture efficiency of up to 95 per cent for solids greater than aperture sizing, with flow rates up to 3360 cubic metres per hour in a single unit.”

According to Phil, fundamental to the separation process is the “Contra-Shear” action, which is produced by rotating the direction of the screen drum in the opposite direction, relative to the direction of the influent flow.

“Although there are imitations in the market, the Contra-Shear Milliscreen is exclusively an Aqseptence Group product,” Phil says.

He adds that customers should purchase genuine Contra-Shear Milliscreens from Aqseptence Group to avoid disappointment.

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Tipping sideways: Graham Lusty Trailers

With waste transport costs on the rise, Waste Management Review explores the efficiency features of high capacity side tipping trailers.

The sheer volume and ubiquity of waste makes waste management one of the largest freight tasks in the country.

With congestion, fuel costs and growing distances between waste generation and disposal points challenging the sector’s viability, waste operators are increasingly seeking more efficient transport options.   

Chris Lusty, Graham Lusty Trailer (GLT) Senior Engineer, says the issue is further heightened outside city centres, with transportation costs posing a challenge to waste diversion and resource recovery.

According to Chris, it was this environment that inspired the Graham Lusty team’s recent design and engineering project – the High Volume Side Tipper.

“Fuel costs are rising, and so too is waste generation. Additionally, resource recovery facilities and landfills are being pushed further and further from population centres,” Chris says.

“With all of that mind, we decided to develop and engineer a high-capacity side tipping trailer capable of carting large amounts of waste in one trip, with the added time benefit of high-speed unloading cycles.”

Debuting at this year’s Brisbane Truck Show, the 70-cubic-metre capacity side tipper, which has a 10.2-tonne tare weight, is suitable for any bulk hauling application where high volumes are required.

“The side tipper can carry forestry waste, organics, construction and demolition waste – ultimately it can handle anything solid,” Chris says.

“That said, the initial design and concept was inspired by municipal waste.”

Chris says the lack of high-capacity options for municipal waste transportation highlighted an opportunity to diversify and capture a new market.

“Many in the trailer industry stay away from maximum height side tippers because they believe the engineering is too difficult to navigate.”

“But, with rising waste rates and potential municipal infrastructure growth in the works, we felt it was as good a time as ever to face the challenge.”

A common problem with other high-capacity side tippers on the market, Chris says, is trouble keeping waste centred in the trailer.

He adds that when operators unload, the material has a tendency to shift to the side and cause the trailer to fall.

“Graham has been designing and building trailers since 1971,” Chris says.

“Drawing from that experience, our team of engineers was able to conceptualise, and later materialise, a side tipper that functions without any of the issues affecting previous iterations.”

Chris says the engineering team achieved this by adding a second pivot and installing the wide wall on the opposite body side to the door to maintain centre of mass.

“Having a wall tilt also allows the trailer to discharge the load more efficiently because of the superior centre of gravity,” Chris says.

He adds that the side tipper average unloading time is 30 seconds, which can be sped up depending on the material stream.

“That kind of speed is an industry stand out that cuts unloading times and on-site management to facilitate greater pay loads,” he says.

Additionally, Chris says the new high-volume side tipper design is highly versatile, with all trailer pieces and parts manufactured in either aluminium or Hardox, specific to customer requirements.

“All of our trailers can be fully customised based on application needs, with laser wheel alignments and tandem, tri or quad axle configurations available,” he says.

“Plus, each chassis is 3D modelled and laser cut, with steel work hand-welded using Miller digital pulse machines, which means our trailers meet and often exceeds all relevant industry standards.”

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ACOR calls for battery product stewardship

Handheld batteries are a major fire risk in established recycling facilities and immediate action is needed to remove them from the general recycling stream, according to the Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR).

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel is calling on environment ministers to establish a national battery product stewardship and recycling scheme, with robust manufacturer participation.

“As a result of the digital age, battery consumption is going up by about 300 per cent per year and millions of post-consumer batteries are ending up where they don’t belong, which causes not only environmental harm but increasingly fires and occupational health and safety risks,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Analysis by ACOR shows that a national battery recycling scheme would cost less than one per cent of a typical battery’s retail price, and that seems a very small contribution for manufacturers to make to ensure better environmental and safety outcomes.”

According to Mr Shmigel, only three per cent of batteries are recycled in Australia, compared to 70 per cent in Europe, which has long-established, government-mandated schemes.

Mr Shmigel added that many batteries end up in household kerbside recycling bins as a result of “wishcycling.”

“Batteries that wrongly end up in our industry’s established materials recovery facilities for packaging or scrap metal recycling operations are known to explode as a result of heat and pressure from normal operations,” Mr Shmigel said.

“We are now consistently experiencing the operational and cost impacts, and should not wait to see somebody hurt.”

Outside selected retailer initiatives, Mr Shmigel said there is no alternative, comprehensive or accessible way for Australians to present used batteries for recycling.

“What we have in Australia is not recovery but malarkey. For nearly a decade, there’s been chain-dragging from major battery manufacturers and governments on setting up national programs, where all consumers can easily recycle their used batteries, just as they can their computers, TVs and mobile phones,” Mr Shmigel said.

Mr Shmigel said battery recycling solutions were put forward by industry and NGOs at the last two Meetings of Environment Ministers, however no substantive decisions were made.

“In the meantime, insurance premiums in our industry are known to have increased by five-fold per year in some cases due to increased fire risk,” Mr Shmigel said.

“Because we have very limited to no control of batteries coming into our facilities, that’s a totally inappropriate cost shift when producers are not taking appropriate responsibility.”

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Kingston City Council denies extension of Clarinda site

Alex Fraser Group is calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to intervene following a decision by Kingston City Council to deny an application to extend the life of its recycling operations.

Earlier this year, Alex Fraser called on Kingston City Council to extend its operating permit for its glass and construction and demolition recycling site as one million tonnes of recyclables risks going to landfill.

This week, Kingston Council voted to reject an application by Alex Fraser to extend its operations.

Alex Fraser’s permit ends in 2023 and the company had applied to the council for permission to stay until 2038.

Situated in the Melbourne’s south-east near Clayton, the 22-hectare facility recycles up to one million tonnes of waste each year and turns it into VicRoads approved, high quality, sustainable construction materials. It is a key component of the company’s network of sites surrounding Melbourne.

The site is set to increase its recycling by 200 million bottles per year, including glass from Kingston kerbside collections.

“If the Victorian Government allows the Clarinda Recycling Facility to be shut down by Kingston City Council, it will be disastrous for the state’s recycling capacity, and for Victoria’s infrastructure program,” Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy said.

Mr Murphy said kerbside recycling will be further disrupted, with recyclable glass at risk of being stockpiled or landfill.

“This decision by Kingston City Council will also cut off the supply of construction materials urgently needed for Victoria’s ‘Big Build’ – driving up costs, increasing trucks on south-eastern roads and blowing out construction timelines of major projects. A major metropolitan quarry would need to be established to counter the material shortfall.”

At the beginning of September, Kingston Mayor Georgina Oxley said the council received an application at the beginning of September which seeks to extend operations at the Alex Fraser site in Kingston’s green wedge.

“In 2015, Kingston Council welcomed protections for Kingston’s green wedge that were introduced by the Victorian Planning Minister that would ensure existing waste operations would cease at the end of their current permits and that no new operations would be allowed,” Ms Oxley said.

“Council wrote to the Planning Minister in April 2015 calling on the government to help Alex Fraser find an alternative site to ensure its long-term success while ensuring the end of waste-related activities in the green wedge. Invest Victoria has been working with Alex Fraser to identify suitable alternative sites.

“Council strongly supports the recycling sector and has a range of successful recycling business operating outside the green wedge within its industrial zoned areas.”

Mr Murphy said it is appalling that Kingston City Council voted on this application without any consideration of Victoria’s environment, resource recovery or waste policies. He added there was also no consideration of the state’s recycling crisis and resource shortage, or the site’s impeccable history.

Alex Fraser also put forward a Community Benefits Package, giving the Kingston community ownership of 22 hectares of land, along with $7.5 million for local sports and recreation facilities – which was ignored by council.

“While some councillors clearly understood the broader impacts, and voted to support this extension, this council decision smacks of hypocrisy. Kingston City Council claims it is committed to the environment, however this outcome undermines the community’s recycling effort, and will increase carbon emissions.”

He said Kingston City Council has shown it does not care about the impact their decision will have on the local community or state of Victoria.

“The Victorian Government needs to intervene now and ensure this critical facility continues,” Mr Murphy said.

Alex Fraser now has the option of appealing the council’s decision to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal or to refer it to the planning minister.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government said the government recognises the important contribution Alex Fraser makes to the recycling sector but also the concerns of local residents.

“The planning minister will consider any formal request for assistance on its merits if and when it’s received,” the spokesperson said.

In a statement on Tuesday, Kingston Mayor Georgina Oxley said that in approving Planning Scheme Amendment C143 in 2015, the Victorian Planning Minister explicitly recognised that waste transfer and recycling facilities were not suitable for green wedge areas. She added this meant an outlaw of any new operators while allowing existing operators until the end of their permit to move on.

“Council recognises that Alex Fraser can play a strong role in Victoria’s recycling crisis, but Kingston’s green wedge is simply the wrong place for an industrial waste facility as the area transitions to our long-held vision for a Chain of Parks,” said Cr Oxley.

“The company has known for four years they would need to find a new location, and the Victorian Government has been working with them to find alternatives. They still have another four years to find a suitable site that will ensure both the company’s long-term success and an end to waste-related activities in the green wedge.”

Victorian Waste Management Association CEO Peter Anderson described the decision as socially irresponsible.

“We stand in lock-step with Alex Fraser Group’s calls for Premier Andrews and Minister D’Ambrosio to intervene on a decision that will only worsen Victoria’s recycling crisis, not to mention impact jobs and undermine what little confidence is left in the sector,” Mr Anderson said.

“When you think of the flow on effects of this decision in terms of additional truck movements to transport waste to landfill and sand from far-reaching quarries it’s hard to think of a more environmentally irresponsible decision.”

“At a time when councils are waxing lyrical about climate emergencies, we have with the City of Kingston a council that has squibbed an opportunity to reduce emissions, reduce waste sent to landfill and recycle millions of tonnes of waste, and instead put their own interest ahead of the environment.”

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Transport and Infrastructure Council supports recycled roads

Transport, infrastructure and planning ministers are asking Transport and Infrastructure Council officials to support the use of recycled material in road construction.

According to Environment Minister Sussan Ley, the request was made in a bid to support the forthcoming export ban and National Waste Action Plan.

“The 12th meeting of the Transport and Infrastructure Council has focused on practical steps to support our economy and protect the health of our communities, by better harnessing recycled materials, returning them to productive use,” Ms Ley said.

Specifically, officials have been asked to identify significant procurement opportunities over coming months, such as major road projects that could use recycled material.

Ms Ley said council was also asked to prioritise the development of standards to support the use of recycled materials in road construction.

“Establishing viable markets for recycled products is critical to our recycling future, and Australia’s infrastructure boom can play a major role,” Ms Ley said.

Officials will report on progress at council’s first meeting in 2020.

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Federal Government to reform environmental tracking

The Federal Government has announced plans for a national digital transformation program, to provide greater progress transparency for major environmental projects.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley said projects will be more clearly tracked, with quarterly results published on the Department of Environment and Energy website.

The program will initially commence through a partnership with the West Australian Government.

“This will mean access to one online portal to submit an application through both tiers of government, and access to a single database of biodiversity studies that can, in turn, be rolled out nationally,” Ms Ley said.

“The biodiversity database will provide better access to information, allow faster and more comprehensive data for project assessments, and provide a baseline that can be used by government to better measure conservation outcomes.”

According to Ms Ley, the partnership will lay the foundation for a national system that reduces the current 3.5 year assessment time frame.

“At the same time, we are investing $25 million in reducing unnecessary delays within the existing assessment system, including the establishment of a major projects team to ensure assessments can be completed efficiently and thoroughly in accordance with the act,” Ms Ley said.

While not specifically waste or resource recovery focused, the program will work in tandem with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (1999), which is currently under review.

The review’s discussion paper, released 21 November, examines whether the act remains fit for purpose, and fit for the future within the context of a changing environment.

The paper suggests the act could be amended to move towards a national standard setting approach linked more closely to outcomes.

As an example of how federal and state governments could agree to harmonised national standards, the paper cites standards for waste and site contamination under the National Environment Protection Council.

Under the review’s terms of reference, the independent reviewer must provide a report to the environment minister within 12 months of the review’s commencement.

The discussion paper is open for submissions until 14 February.

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ACOR launches NSW recycling app

The Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) and the NSW Government have launched a recycling app to help the state improve resource recovery rates.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said Recycle Mate identifies what suburb a user is in and provides tailored information to each council’s recycling collection system.

“It’s like having a huge recycling guidebook in your pocket – it’s the most comprehensive recycling app of its kind,” Mr Shmigel said.

“The app’s database is constantly being updated – more items are added every day as users photograph their waste and recycling. That means that everyone who downloads and uses the app is helping us to make it even better.”

Environment Minister Matt Kean said the app will simplify the recycling process.

“NSW has been recycling for more than 30 years, but with a changing landscape we need to be even more careful with what goes in our recycling bins, and this app will help us achieve that,” Mr Kean said.

“This app will make recycling easier, and more importantly, it will help sort our waste, which ultimately means more items can be recovered and reused, as we move closer to closing the loop and creating a circular economy.”

Local Government Minister Shelley Hancock said the NSW Government is committed to helping the state’s 128 councils increase recycling rates.

“This app will keep recycling front of mind for residents across the state and help make local communities cleaner and greener,” Ms Hancock said.

“The government will continue to work closely with local councils to reduce waste and strengthen recycling.”

The project was supported with a $350,000 grant from the NSW EPA’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.

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