Are you going to Ballarat?

Ahead of the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, Barry Sullivan, Committee Chair, discusses the developing national sector.

A waste-to-energy (WtE) facility in Creswick, Victoria is exploring how to inject clear, filtered green gas into the state’s gas network. Diverting 2000 tonnes of organic waste via bio-digestion each year, the facility will serve as a case study, with replication potential highlighted by the state government.

With news of green gas and a number of high-profile WtE projects, public WtE perceptions appear to be shifting. Images of smoke and burning plastics have been replaced by productive conversations about landfill diversion and the future of renewable energy.

It’s welcome news for the team at the Australian Waste to Energy Forum, which returns to the Mercure in Ballarat this year from 18-20 February.

In its fifth consecutive year, the forum aims to provide a platform for all interested parties to discuss developments in Australia’s growing WtE sector. This year’s theme, “On the road to recovery”, has been selected to address two key areas: the application of waste hierarchy fundamentals, and changing perceptions about WtE facilities and their role within an integrated waste management strategy.

According to Barry Sullivan, Forum Chair, one of the biggest WtE challenges is lack of access to information necessary to make informed and considered investment decisions.

“We are finding there is a lot of misinformation in the public arena that inhibits project development,” Barry says.

“The issue with going to a technology vendor without basic knowledge is they will often say, don’t worry, we can make this work. In other words, when you sell hammers, everything looks like a nail.”

He adds that before looking to technologies, people need to understand their waste stream, moisture levels, quantity and calorific value, as well as the type of offtakes they hope to produce.

“The committee, and conference host, the Australian Industrial Ecology Network, intend to foster that understanding with our event,” Barry explains.

The two-and-a-half-day conference will feature a range of informative thought leader driven discussions.

“It has always been a priority of the committee to seek out presentations that will address key themes through the program, instead of just grouping abstracts into sessions,” Barry says.

“The committee has closely monitored WtE projects and changing technology over the past seven years, and we want to highlight those developments to our audience.”

Nurturing community engagement and education is also the driver behind the committee’s decision to run with a single stream.

“As WtE is still in early phases, many don’t know if they need thermal or non-thermal solutions for example, so we decided to cover all WtE elements in the one stream,” he says.

“You don’t know what you don’t know, so it makes sense for all delegates to attend each presentation.”

The program features a range of range of speakers including Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Blue Environment Director Bill Grant and a keynote from Veolia Kwinana Project Director Toby Terlet.

Toby’s presentation, Energy Recovery Facilities: What’s not written on the tin, will detail challenges faced by a WtE facility in Tyseley, UK, including major upgrade works at the same time as industrial action, heavy snow and a declining national public sector budget. This presentation will discuss how Veolia worked proactively through the challenges with City of Birmingham to further cement the successful long-standing partnership and resulting in a five-year contract extension.

To develop a thriving national industry, Barry says it’s important to not only showcase success, but share challenges openly.

“Last year we had a technology company present on their biggest failure, which provided a valuable lesson for everyone in the room,”
he says.

Other discussion topics include WtE in a circular economy, anaerobic digestion, licence to operate, current project updates, project development considerations and future opportunities and developments.

“We are hosting a session where local governments can talk about future plans. It won’t feature cities with official requests for a proposal in place, but rather those that want the WtE community to know they are thinking about it,” Barry says.

Another will be how to develop technologies that provide return on investment, in spite of small tonnages.

“While WtE in Australia is certainly advancing, progress has been slow, as government agencies tend to rely on standards from Europe and North America,” Barry says.

“But Australia is a different animal with different requirements. We simply don’t have the tonnages other countries do and it’s important to develop technology around that.”

According to Barry, hosting the forum in Ballarat creates a sense of occasion.

“Not only is Ballarat accessible, with trains running every hour from Melbourne, but having a group of likeminded individuals converge on one place creates a real sense of community, and with everyone in town, the evenings are known for networking,” he says.

“We’ve now gained quite a reputation – people aren’t asking ‘are you going to the WtE forum?’ They’re asking, ‘are you going to Ballarat?’

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WA recycling charities secure over $40,000 in funding

Western Australian charities have secured more than $41,000 in funding to help reduce dumping at charitable recycling sites.

The funding, administered through the Charitable Recyclers Dumping Reduction Program, enables research to inform better practices by charitable recyclers, with findings circulated through the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations.

According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the program aims to reduce illegal dumping and littering, and prevent unusable items – which ultimately end up in landfill – being left at donation sites.

“Illegal dumping and unusable donations are a widespread problem faced by charities. This program not only helps reduce illegal dumping and littering through better surveillance and security, but also through ongoing research,” Mr Dawson said.

“Charitable recyclers welcome useful and resalable donations, and are an example of recycling in action, yet they are often left with the unsightly and expensive problem of disposing of unusable or illegally dumped items at their sites.”

Recipients include Alinea Inc, in partnership with Good Samaritan Industries, to install sensor lighting and optical surveillance equipment at four collections sites, and Anglicare to purchase and instal ten high security donation bins.

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China to ban non-degradable plastic

China is phasing out the sale and manufacture of non-degradable plastic products, with the aim of curbing pollution in major cities.

In addition to setting timelines to ban or restrict single-use, non-degradable plastic products, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment has pledged to ramp up recycling and introduce preferential policies to promote green packaging and express delivery.

According to a ministry statement, the country is expected to significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste sent to landfill and bring plastic pollution under control in major cities by 2025.

The production and sale of disposable foam plastic tableware and plastic cotton swabs will be banned by the end of this year.

The production of household chemicals containing plastic micro-beads will also be prohibited by the end of 2020, with the sale of those products banned by 2022.

“Bans on the sale of other non-degradable plastic products will be rolled out in phases in different levels of cities and major plastic-consuming sectors,” the statement reads.

“The use of non-degradable plastic bags, for example, is expected to vanish in some major consuming sectors, including shopping malls, supermarkets and restaurant takeout services, first in metropolises by the end of this year, and then in all major Chinese cities and urban areas in coastal regions by the end of 2022.”

China Plastic Processing Industry Association Secretary-General Weng Yunxuan has applauded the ban’s phased approach.

“The ban will not be imposed all of a sudden, but phase by phase. The current production capacity (for substitute products) in China will not fail to meet the market gap caused by the ban,” Mr Yunxuan said.

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How confident are you in Australia’s recycling future?

The Australian Council of Recycling is calling on all recycling industry stakeholders to tell us how confident you are in the future direction of the sector, whether the current market signals are helping you grow and if you feel there’s enough support from government.

Whether you operate at the coalface of council collection or are at the forefront of collecting, sorting and remanufacturing the value-added products that come from the kerbside, C&I or C&D sector, we want to know your thoughts and invite you to take part in our Australian-first industry survey.

With a vision to transform the Australian economy with resource recovery at the core, ACOR represents dozens of businesses contributing to the $15 billion industry that employs some 50,000 Australians and generates exceptional environmental benefits for our society.

The survey closes on March 9.

Create your own user feedback survey

VIC EPA approves Laverton WtE plant

The Victorian EPA has granted a works approval for a waste-to-energy (WtE) plant in Laverton North.

The facility, to be developed by Recovered Energy Australia, will process 200,000 tonnes of source-separated residual municipal solid waste each year.

According to an EPA statement, Recovered Energy Australia propose to deliver approximately 15 mega watts of electricity to the grid annually.

“EPA assessed the proposal against all relevant environmental policies and guidelines and looked at any potential environmental and human health impacts that could result from the facility,” the statement reads.

“The works approval is subject to conditions. These conditions include the requirement for an EPA-appointed auditor to review detailed design, and for further EPA consideration prior to finalising detailed plans.”

Conditions also require the facility to achieve an environmental performance equivalent to European standards.

Recovered Energy Australia has also secured a planning permit from Wyndham City Council to construct and operate the proposed facility, seperate from the EPA works approval.

“Once constructed, Recovered Energy Australia will not be able to operate the waste to energy plant until it obtains an EPA licence,” the statement reads.

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Nominations open for WA waste awards

Nominations are being sought for the 2020 Infinity Awards, which recognise innovative solutions to reduce waste and meet Western Australian recycling targets.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the awards are open to individuals, businesses, government, schools, community organisations, not-for-profits and media outlets.

“These individuals and organisations all play an important role in contributing to the state government’s target for at least 75 per cent of waste generated in this state to be reused or recycled by 2030,” Mr Dawson said.

“The 2020 Infinity Awards are a celebration of the remarkable work being achieved in waste reduction in Western Australia. This year, we’re pleased to introduce a new category to extend the opportunities for regional waste champions to be recognised for their achievements.”

Award categories include: 

Avoid Recover Protect – Community Waste Award

Avoid Recover Protect – Commercial and Industrial Waste Award

Avoid Recover Protect – Waste Management Award

Avoid Recover Protect – WA Regional Waste Award

2020 Waste Champion

2020 Young Waste Achiever

Waste Team of the Year

Waste Innovation of the Year

Waste Wise School of the Year

Media Award

A further two awards – the 2020 WA Waste Award and the 2020 Waste Initiative of the Year – will be awarded at the judges’ discretion.

Nominations close 10 March, with winners announced at an awards ceremony 6 May.

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Simply Cups reaches 10 million milestone

Simply Cups, a coffee cup recycling program, has officially collected 10 million cups, with Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans depositing the milestone cup at an event in Sydney.

According to Mr Evans, the recycling scheme, founded by Closed Loop, collects almost one million cups every month, with nearly 1000 collection points at 7-Eleven stores, cafes, hotels, hospitals and universities across Australia.

“Australians love their coffee, so it’s vital that they can easily and reliably recycle their disposable coffee cup and reduce the huge number of takeaway cups that currently end up in landfill each year,” Mr Evans said.

“Rather than just being put into the rubbish bin and ending in landfill, Simply Cups collect and then reprocess the used coffee cups, transforming them into new items like outdoor furniture, coffee cup trays and even traffic solutions like roadside kerbing.”

By disposing coffee cups at designated collection points, Mr Evans said consumers could do their part to increase recycling.

“This is a great practical example of Australia’s growing circular economy in action, and shows how we will all benefit from an invigorated waste and recycling industry,” he said.

Closed Loop Managing Director Rob Pascoe said Simply Cups aims to recycle 100 million cups every year.

“It’s a practical solution that increases recycling rates and reduces waste, while creating supply and demand for products made from recycled material,” he said.

“Our circular economy will grow quickly if people choose Australian-made and recycled over other alternatives. After all, recycling doesn’t actually happen when you put an item in a bin, it only happens when that item is given a second life.”

7-Eleven Chief Executive Officer Angus McKay said that while saving 10 million coffee cups from landfill is a fantastic achievement, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We encourage customers to up the ante and deliver any brand of used coffee cup or straw to our cup collection points at store, and we’ll make sure they get recycled via Simply Cups,” he said.

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One million tonnes of PEF: SUEZ-ResourceCo

SUEZ-ResourceCo’s South Australian waste to energy plant has officially produced one million tonnes of alternative fuel.

Australia’s first waste-to-energy plant celebrated the production of one million tonnes of alternative fuel in November, and as a process aside, the diversion of two million tonnes of waste from landfill.

Working closely with Adelaide Brighton Cement, ResourceCo developed a Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF) as a partial replacement for fossil fuels for the company’s cement kiln in 2006.

The result is a plant capable of sorting, sizing and extracting 300,000 tonnes of combustible material each year. The Wingfield plant in South Australia is operated as a partnership between ResourceCo and SUEZ.

Simon Brown, ResourceCo Managing Director, says the company is proud to play a role in Australia’s efforts to move away from a make, use and dispose model in favour of a circular economy.

“ResourceCo’s ethos is to recover, recycle and re-use products to extract their maximum value – in this case dry non-recyclable material,” Simon says.

“The plant is a great example of what’s possible when it comes to circular economy initiatives.”

Cement produced by Adelaide Brighton, using PEF from the Wingfield plant, has been used in a host of major infrastructure projects across South Australia.

According to Simon, the Wingfield facility uses world-leading technology to harness the energy value in construction, demolition, commercial and industrial waste, otherwise destined for landfill, transforming it into a baseload fuel.

When unveiling a plaque to mark the one-millionth tonne milestone, Steven Marshall, South Australian Premier, acknowledged the facility as a great example of what’s possible in the resource recovery industry.

“South Australia leads the nation in resource recovery, and projects like this are fantastic for the environment as well as the economy,” Steven says.

“We know that for every tonne of waste recycled, there are more than three times the amount of jobs created compared to when sent to landfill.”

David Speirs, South Australian Environment and Water Minister, says the SUEZ-ResourceCo facility reinforces South Australia’s reputation as a national leader in waste management and circular economy initiatives.

“The waste management and resource recovery industry is a major player in South Australia’s economy with approximately 4800 people employed, and we want to this number to grow,” David says.

Mark Venhoek, SUEZ-ResourceCo Chairman and SUEZ Australia and New Zealand CEO, says in addition to creating employment, the SUEZ-ResourceCo partnership has resulted in significant environmental outcomes.

He adds that the facility has contributed not just to significant landfill diversion, but also a reduction in the state’s reliance on fossil fuels.

“PEF presents a cost-effective, sustainable solution to the generation of baseload energy, while helping to address the complex issues of waste management – it’s a win/win,” Mark says.

“Since launching as Australia’s first waste-to-energy plant in 2006, the facility has helped reduce annual green house gas emissions to the equivalent of the electricity supply of 50,000 homes.”

Nick Miller, Adelaide Brighton Limited CEO, shares Mark’s enthusiasm.

“SUEZ-ResourceCo’s alternative fuel reduces Adelaide Brighton Cement’s reliance on natural resources, as well as the use of raw materials in the cement manufacturing process,” he says.

“Through the use of this alternative fuel, Adelaide Brighton Cement has achieved a reduction of approximately 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions since project inception.”

Tony Circelli, South Australian EPA Chief Executive, says the plant illustrates an innovative way of dealing with waste that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

“The EPA has driven a regulatory risk-based framework to ensure that innovation can occur with strong attention and adherence to their social license,” Tony says.

“The outcome is positive both for the environment and the people of South Australia.”

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Extending shredder service life

Shredding and removing deleterious materials can place extensive pressure on the machine itself, meaning the right componentry is needed to support the task. Fortunately, innovations in productivity have continued to offer the recycling sector higher throughputs at a lower operating cost.

For shredding applications, a high performance spherical roller bearing is no different, paving the way for precise, repeatable motions and reliable extended operations.

While the basic functionality of today’s spherical roller bearings is similar to that introduced in the 1950s, suppliers such as Timken have tirelessly worked towards continuous improvements and upgrades.

As an overarching principle, Timken has worked towards the core principles of greater load-carrying capacity, reduced operating temperature and extended service life.

Depending on the size of the shredder and application, Timken offer a range of spherical roller bearings to support an after-market solution or product replacement. It offers a range of solutions, including pulp and paper, power transmission, metals, cement/aggregates and other applications.

Hardened steel cages, for example, work to deliver greater fatigue strength and protection against shock and acceleration loads. The steel cage comprises a unique slotted design that allows increased contaminant purging and lube flow, supporting lower temperatures and longer operating life.

Rollers are guided by cage pockets, as opposed to a centre ring, which eliminates a friction point, resulting in four to 10 per cent less rotational torque and five degrees Celsius lower operating temperatures.

In designing high-performance bearings, Timken has expanded its offering to suit the challenging needs of various sectors.

One of its strengths as a supplier is offering both hardened steel cages and brass cages, while maintaining an acute awareness of the intricacies of each customer application. Its full line-up of spherical roller bearings includes coverage of all common sizes, from a small (25mm to 240mm), mid-size (240mm to 440mm) and large bore (>440mm).

“If you’re looking for a replacement shredder bearing, Timken has a number of advantages,” explains Tony Tormey, CBC Australia Product Manager – Industrial Bearings.

Timken spherical roller shredder bearings by design have lower operating temperatures to extend bearing life. By running 5°C cooler, on average, than the competition, the bearings can increase lubricant life which can mean nine per cent more bearing life.

Lower temperatures reduce the oxidation and deterioration of oils, greases and films and extend lubrication, thereby extending bearing service life. Additionally, this reduces friction and allows the bearing to turn and reduce torque.

Tormey says extra strength is important to reducing downtime, as some recycling plants could be running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He says that Timken spherical roller bearings offer higher load ratings that create a significant advantage over standard bearings, giving rise to less fatigue and placing less stress on the bearings.

Heavier loads may not only help operators take on more materials, but offer a variety of benefits. High performance can mean an increase in bearing service life, which allows operators to downsize other component selections while maintaining current levels of systems performance. For example, this might allow a metal recycler to increase its power density, leading to greater throughputs and longer system life.

Longer rollers also result in four to eight per cent higher load ratings or 14 to 29 per cent longer predicted bearing life. With higher load ratings, operators can carry heavier loads, thus improving productivity.

In shredding applications for example, Timken recommends brass cages to handle the extreme operating environment. Brass cages offer extra strength and durability in the most unrelenting conditions allowing for high gravitational forces, shock loads and minimal lubrication.

New surface finishing techniques on the roller and raceway surfaces further enhance the benefits of greater durability and cooler operation. Importantly, the result reduces operating costs and extends the life of one’s shredder.

A practical example was observed when a Belgian Pellet Mill installed Timken spherical roller bearings at its site, reporting a fivefold increase in bearing life and operating temperatures 5 ̊C – 8 ̊C cooler than the competition. The end result led to fewer maintenance cycles and greater uptime – demonstrating the importance of choosing the right technology to fit the task.

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Masdar acquires 40 per cent stake in East Rockingham WtE facility

Global renewable energy company Masdar has made its first Australian investment, after acquiring a 40 per cent stake in Western Australia’s East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility.

Masdar and Abu Dhabi advisory and development firm Tribe Infrastructure Group have invested in the waste-to-energy project via their Abu Dhabi Global Market-based joint venture holding company, Masdar Tribe Energy Holdings Limited.

Masdar Chief Executive Officer Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi said extending Masdar’s reach into Australia is an exciting step forward for the company’s clean energy operations..

“The problem of dealing with everyday waste is a global challenge, with more than two billion tonnes of municipal solid waste generated each year. To this end, we are proud to be helping the state of Western Australia to deliver clean sources of power generation and sustainably manage its municipal solid waste,” Mr Al Ramahi said.

“The Australian waste-to-energy sector provides excellent commercial potential in the long-term.”

Tribe Infrastructure Group Chief Executive Officer Peter McCreanor said he looks forward to delivering clean energy infrastructure to Australia.

“This is just the first of numerous such development projects we’re working on, and our partnership with Masdar is an integral part of our strategy for Australia,” he said.

“We are proud to have played a leading role in the development and financing of the East Rockingham Recourse Recovery Facility, assembling a world-class team to deliver this important project for Western Australia.”

The $551 million facility reached financial close 23 December 2019 with support from a $18 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and $57.5 million in subordinated debt from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

The facilities development consortium includes Hitachi Zosen INOVA, John Laing Investments and Acciona Concesiones.

When complete, the facility will process 300,000 tonnes of non-recyclable municipal, commercial and industrial waste and up to 30,000 tonnes of biosolids per year.

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