Europe’s push for MRF automation: CEMAC

Europe is pioneering world-first local sorting solutions in its nations’ regions for difficult recyclable commodities such as LDPE. Waste Management Review explores the potential to bring fully automated materials recovery facilities to Australia.

In the village of Skedsmokorset, warm summers and dry winters typify the small community of 15,000 people, based within the municipality of Skedsmo, near Oslo.

Located in Akershus county, Skedsmo is named after the old Skedsmo farm, since the first church was built there almost 10 centuries ago.

Hundreds of years later, high labour costs have inspired a local solution to a local waste management problem.   

As the Norwegian community is fairly remote, the City of Oslo has opted for a fully automated mixed waste processing facility. After three years of planning, in 2016, Stadler Anlagenbau was awarded a contract to build and design the first-of-its-kind facility.

The world’s first fully automated mixed waste processing facility is run by municipal solid waste processor Romerike Avfallsforedling (RoAF), which is based in Skedsmokorset. The company collects household and food waste from 10 municipalities in Norway, including Skedsmo, which comprises a population of around 53,000.

Powered by a sorting system installed by Stadler Anlagenbau GmbH, green bags of food waste are separated from other material and taken to an on-site anaerobic digestion facility. The material is then transformed into biogas and used to fuel RoAF’s waste collection trucks.

As the plant was being built, Norwegian municipalities redesigned their kerbside system, opting to collect all recyclables in one commingled stream.

The plant features a variety of processing equipment, including 145 conveyors, 16 near-infrared (NIR) optical sorters, two drum screens, one vibrating screen, a star screen, a shredder, two bag openers, two ballistic separators and an eddy current.

Three AUTOSORT TOMRA systems separate and clean the green bags from the remaining waste bags by material and colour using NIR and visual spectrometry. This initial sorting process can successfully separate more than 97 per cent of the incoming green bio-waste bags.

Once waste is separated into different streams, further sorting sees a combination of mechanical processing such as ballistic separators and AUTOSORT optical machines, with PELD film, PEHD, PP, PET, mixed plastics and paper separated. Recyclable fractions are stored and baled and sent to different recyclers, with any residues collected and sent for energy recovery.

According to Eric Paulsen, CEMAC technologies Managing Director, RoAF shows the potential that can be tapped in municipal solid waste recovery via automation.

As local waste management conversations tend to focus on the “tyranny of distance” argument, Eric encourages Australian centres to re-consider the long-term economics. He says that the fact that Australia has a higher densification in urban centres than Europe allows for better agglomeration in the main cities.

Cemac technologies is the Australian supplier for STADLER screening drums, sorting plants, ballistic separators and TOMRA Sorting and the company is looking to offer its high level of engineering experience for the Australian sector.

Eric adds that given wages are higher in Australia than Europe, it makes sense to adopt more domestic automation.

“Traditionally, sorting plants in Australia were very low capital compared to overseas, in terms of quality. This had to get boosted through manual labour, but even in the case of cleaning up paper, you can’t manually pick plastic bags that weigh five grams per bag by hand – the only way forward is higher capital and automation.”

While total automation and a labour-free MRF might seem like future innovations, Eric says the solutions are already accessible.

“Technologies that can seamlessly sort commingled recyclables are available. By achieving improved purity levels through automation, you can deal with today’s challenges,” he says.

When putting RoAF into perspective, Eric says that the benefits are threefold – cost via reduced wages, revenue via improved recyclate quality and environmental via reduced collection trucks. Eric says this then creates revenue with a cleaner recycling stream and leads to skilled employment.

“You could build a facility like this in larger regional centres, such as Albury, or also Melbourne and Sydney surrounds, collect all recyclables in one bin and sort onsite.”

Eric points to the success of another automated facility in Bulgaria that has chosen to take on a challenging waste stream with no end market for direct remanufacturing in Australia – post-consumer film. Like many ambitious Greeks before him, in 2016 Kostas Ziogas was looking to invest in a growing industry. While many who have safely invested in HDPE, PET and PP could perceive LDPE processing as a risk, Kostas and a team of entrepreneurs put their heads together and established a company in Elin Pelin, Bulgaria.

Dubbed Integra Plastics, the company invested more than $40 million in a prototype plant. In utilising efficient processes and creating higher purities, Integra produces a high-end recycled product as close to virgin material as currently possible.

Eric is inspired by the start-up, which uses Tomra machines and a sorting plant built by STADLER.

Using the STADLER film sorting plant, the shredded material follows a screening process to remove fines and uses ballistic separators to separate the 3D materials.

TOMRA Finder’s near-infrared system takes care of the LDPE clear film and sorts it by polyolefin type and colour transparency – blue, green and red – before the material undergoes washing, drying and regranulation. EREMA extrusion technologies pelletise the flake, which undergoes cutting, venting and melt filtration and can eventually be used to remanufacture new film.

Eric says that while sorting plants are evolving, particularly in Europe, and automation requires larger initial capital investment, the resulting material has higher purity levels.

“The whole ground is shifting on this. An MRF that would have been perfectly capable of making something commercially viable 10 years ago does not work anymore,” he says.

Related stories:

Whole bale delay, missed opportunity: Tyrecycle

New regulations banning the export of baled waste tyres will force Australian businesses to deal with rubber waste responsibly, but not soon enough, according to industry experts.

While the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced impending export bans for plastics, paper, glass, and tyres in August, implementation timelines were only agreed to in November.

The agreement to a phased introduction with staggered timelines across the four categories means the export of whole baled tyres is still two years away – a move that has surprised and disappointed industry leaders and waste sector bodies.

Jim Fairweather, Tyrecycle CEO, says while the company welcomes the ban, the two-year implementation delay is not only disappointing, but a missed opportunity.

“To learn the ban specific to whole baled tyres won’t be implemented until December 2021, six months after plastics which are far more challenging, seems nonsensical,” he says.

According to Jim, not only is there sufficient domestic processing capacity for end-of-life tyres already, but existing local and overseas markets for recycled tyre products.

“We already have the capability to recycle tyres for use in asphalt for road surfacing, in tile adhesive, in soft fall and sporting surfaces and as tyre-derived fuels to replace fossil fuel use,” Jim says.

“A ban, implemented sooner rather than later, stands to create local jobs, attract investment in domestic infrastructure and technology, and position Australia as a global leader in the circular economy.”

It’s a view shared by Pete Shmigel, Australian Council of Recycling CEO, who says it’s regretful that clear opportunities – like the immediate ban on whole baled tyre exports – had been missed.

“A recent report commissioned by the Australian Tyre Recyclers Association (ATRA) demonstrated there are readily available markets for the material, and serious environmental impacts from their continued export for a further two years,” he says.

“It’s hard to understand why banning whole baled tyres has not been prioritised, as the report produced ample evidence on the environmental and human health impacts of exports, the existing domestic capacity for the reprocessing and the legal avenues available.”

Pete adds that Australia has enough capacity within the existing sector to recycle all the material currently exported as bales, and in the process, create over 90 new jobs.

“There is no need to delay – all we need is a commitment to increased levels of domestic procurement for tyre-derived products,” he says.

Rose Read, National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO, agrees, arguing that the ban should be brought forward to July 2020, in parallel with glass.

“The potential harm to humans and the environment by exporting whole baled tyres is significant, and there is ample capacity domestically to process these into value added products including crumb rubber and clean fuels,” Rose explains.

“It also seems counterintuitive for environment ministers to give more time for the banning of waste tyres [December 2021] than plastics [June 2021].”

Rose says while NWRIC supports the ban’s intent, for Australia to manage its waste at home and for the ban to achieve its objectives, Australia’s resource recovery industry needs to be stimulated simultaneously.

“Domestic markets for remanufactured materials have plenty of scope to expand, particularly those dealing with plastics and tyres,” she says.

“These waste streams are already remanufactured in applications such as infrastructure projects and the development of high-quality engineered fuel – what we now need is to increase local market demand.”

Gayle Sloan, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association Australia CEO, says for the ban to work, it’s critical that it’s backed by strong policies, regulations and funding.

“We need to see commitment to a funding strategy that will create domestic remanufacturing capacity and market demand for our materials, which in turn will create local jobs,” Gayle says.

“Positive procurement by governments and businesses, along with consumer demand for products with recycled content, will drive further development in the domestic market.”

ATRA predicts that the delayed timeline will leave the door open for the continued exportation of roughly     70, 000 tonnes of whole baled tyres per year, most of which is either burnt in the open or in highly polluting pyrolysis operations in India and Malaysia.

Rob Kelman, ATRA Executive Officer, advises however that Indian authorities are currently refusing authorisation for any pyrolysis imports.

“India’s Green Tribunal is leaning toward banning any imports of whole tyres that would be used in batch pyrolysis reactors,” Rob says.

“Surely, it’s a far more ethical and environmentally responsible approach for Australia to act first.”

Related stories: 

Capital compost: ELB Equipment and Corkhill Bros

Phil Corkhill, of Corkhill Bros, explains the process and equipment requirements essential to managing Canberra’s green waste collection service.

When the Canberra Business Chamber sought to find the territory’s oldest surviving business in 2019, Corkhill Bros was among a handful of those recognised.

Operating in multiple capacities since 1954, Corkhill Bros has been running a public green organic drop-off facility in the nation’s capital for more than 35 years.

While the drop-off facility always received a steady flow of material, its intake jumped in April 2017. The surge in material followed the introduction of separate green organics kerbside collection in the ACT.

The ACT Government subsequently tasked Corkhill Bros with collection and processing via a government contract. As Canberra does not have individual councils, this means Corkhill Bros manage the entire territory.

By July 2019, all Canberra residents had access to separate organics collection after the service was rolled out progressively over three-years.

As a result, Phil Corkhill, of Corkhill Bros, says the family-run business now deals with an average of 350,000 tonnes of green waste each year.

“As a company, we’re committed to a circular economy waste management and resource recovery approach. This means it’s very important that we achieve high recovery rates and nutrient-rich feedstock,” he says.

According to Phil, all organic waste processed at the facility is reused for the benefit of the community, with the resulting material turned into high-quality landscaping supplies and compost.

“We grind our green organics daily, before allowing the product to sit for three months to achieve quality pasteurisation and composting,”
he says.

“This allows the particles to break down before additives are introduced and turned into the piles for mixing.”

To manage the process efficiently with minimal downtown, Corkhill Bros work closely with machinery supplier ELB Equipment.

“When dealing with that level of material, operators can’t afford equipment breakdowns or to work with suppliers that don’t remain significantly engaged in the business,” Phil says.

“We manage and process all of Canberra’s green waste, and as such, require efficiencies of scale. ELB can provide those efficiencies, which is why we continue to work with them.”

Phil says Corkhill Bros currently operates a Topturn X55 Compost Turner, Multistar L3 recycling screen and four Nemus 2700 screens all supplied by ELB at its Mugga Lane Resource Management Centre.

“ELB calls us at least once a month, not just to check in on existing equipment, but to enquire about future needs and maintenance requirements. They are always on the front foot,” he says.

“I consider them more of a partner than a supplier – they’re a very proactive company.”

Corkhill Bros uses the Multistar L3 and Nemus mobile machines for screening and mixing. Phil says both recycling screens facilitate consistent operations, particularly in contrast to drum screens or flatbeds.

“Drum and flatbed screens often suffer significant blockages, which in turn creates inefficiencies,” he says.

“The technical makeup of star screens circumnavigates that problem through curvature, to create a reliable piece of equipment capable of processing organics in all weather conditions.”

The core of the Multistar L3 screen consists of one or two screen decks, with the rotating shafts of the coarse screen deck moving the material horizontally. Phil says particle size can be controlled by varying the rotation of the star shafts.

“The particle size of the material can be changed within seconds using frequency converters on the operator console, within the range determined by the star geometry,” he says.

All functions are monitored by a central control unit, which reports on the current operational status to streamline site operations.

In regard to Corkhill Bros’ four Nemus screens, Phil says he uses the barrels for final screening and blending. “Nemus 2700s are very high production machines, with some great improvements on the previous mustang model,” he says.

With a large steep-walled hopper and high-performance discharge system, the Nemus 2700’s material flow enables 10 per cent more throughput than predecessors,
he adds.

“The clearance between the drum and sidewall also allows for a wide range of material inputs, with hole sizes up to 100 millimetres,” he says.

Fine particles are discharged by a cross belt and profiled discharge belt, with the Komtech design preventing material trickle at transfer points to facilitate high capacity.

Corkhill Bros’ Topturn X55 Compost Turner runs in a separate part of the Mugga Lane facility to facilitate open air windrowing,
Phil says.

As one of the most widely used compost turners in the world, the Topturn’s frame is designed for heavy-duty applications, namely varied and unpredictable municipal green waste.

Phil says the turner’s large hydraulically driven drum, with efficient conveyor and throwing blades, accelerates the turning and rotating process. This, he adds, means all material is mixed before passing through the drum. Since purchasing the machine in 2017, Phil says he has noticed a rise in material quality.

“I’ve been nothing but happy with ELB’s compost turner. It really helps us maintain workflow and product excellence,” he says.

While Corkhill Bros works with multiple manufacturers and suppliers, Phil says ELB’s commitment to service, including spare parts and process maintenance, is a standout in the industry.

“I’m always impressed with their methodology and business model, as it’s very customer focused. We deal with multiple manufacturers and suppliers, and I’d like to think some of them could aspire to the ELB model.

Related stories:

Detecting carbon black: STEINERT

STEINERT’s Johann Hefner speaks with Waste Management Review about developing solutions for black plastic detection.

Black plastic, often considered the problem child of the resource recovery industry, has a notoriously difficult-to-recycle composition under traditional detection technology.

Traditionally, recycling facility sensor sorters detect and measure the near-infrared spectrum of reflected light to distinguish one plastic material from another. However, because black plastic absorbs light rather than reflecting it, the material often goes unsorted and ends up in landfill.

While discussions of simply banning the product are commonplace, the problem persists. This is in large part due to its ability to make food look fresh under the harsh lights of grab-and-go hospitality operations.

A recondition of the value of convenience under current market conditions – paired with an understanding of the slow-moving nature of legislation – was the key driver behind STEINERT’s development of black plastic detection technology.

With a history dating back 130 years, the family-owned business is a world leader in sensor sorting and magnetic separation for waste and metal recycling. STEINERT’s Australian headquarters and manufacturing facility in Melbourne and test facility in Perth have been working to bring the company’s German technology to the Australian market since 2004.

According to Johann Hefner, STEINERT Sales Manager Resource Recovery, the company’s research and development strategy centres on addressing existing problems.

“Everyone involved in the plastics industry is concerned with strict legislation and a social sense of responsibility for recovering plastics,” Johann says.

“Black plastics represent a particular challenge because they cannot be detected with optical sorting technology found in standard recycling plants. While waste reduction and sustainable packaging design is the ultimate end goal, we felt it important to address the problem as it exists today.”

STEINERT began developing detection technology for challenging sorting applications in 2011, and, according to Johann, was the first company capable of detecting black plastics.

“When we developed the technology to detect black plastics, and thereby positively sort them, it was a significant breakthrough that allowed recycling rates to increase,” he says.

“By sorting black plastics from the general waste stream, STEINERT technology also facilitates pure grade sorting of the material.”

Using sophisticated airflow technology, Johann says STEINERT is able to cost-effectively sort flat and lightweight black material.

“The pure-grade separation of black polyolefins into their constituent parts, such as polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene copolymers, allows polymer granulates to be replaced by mint-condition recyclates,” he says.

“This enables plastic processing companies to respond to the new challenges of the circular economy in a cost-effective manner, equipping them for all processes involved in plastic recovery.”

The nature of STEINERT’s technology, Johann says, allows operators to process at a large-scale industry level. He adds that via this technology, operators can separate and upgrade plastic residues to a plastic granulate, with properties similar to those found in primary raw material.

Upgrading residues to the level of raw material allows the waste to be used to manufacture durable quality products – meaning new plastics can be replaced with recycled materials.

Johann says STEINERT technology, including UniSort Black, UniSort BlackEye and UniSort Film, all use hyperspectral imaging technology.

“Hyperspectral imaging technology supersedes the point-to-point scanners previously used, and due to its finer resolution, covers 256 spectrum measuring points rather than the usual 16,” he says.

“This allows our machines to evaluate even the slightest differences in material chemical composition.”

Prior to STEINERT’s UniSort BlackEye, Johann says operators had two choices: density separation or separation based on electrostatic properties.

“Both of these mechanisms had their limitations. For instance, density separation cannot distinguish between polyethylene and polypropylene, while electrostatic separation only works with dry and very homogenous material,” he says.

The UniSort BlackEye is capable of separating light and dark polymers between 10- and 44-millimetre fractions. It also features a feed and dispensing device with a material hopper, acceleration conveyor belt, containment hood and compressed air nozzle bar.

STEINERT’s UniSort Film, Johann adds, is suited for low-weight film, paper and other 2D fractions.

“The separation process is very demanding when it comes to light 2D components, many of which have the added issue of black pigment,” Johann says.

One of the challenges is that to achieve optimal sorting, material needs to remain in a stable position on the sorting belt. As a result, operators are often forced to slow belts down, making sorting uneconomical.

“The UniSort Film design circumnavigates this issue through an elaborate ventilation system that allows effective acceleration on a high-speed belt, with speeds up to 4.5 metres a second,” Johann says.

“The machine’s targeted airflow is synchronised across the entire belt, meaning both the belt and air surrounding the material travels at the same speed. This enables a roughly 50 per cent higher throughput when compared to standard system designs.”

Johann says STEINERT’s philosophy is simple: using future-focused technologies to solve the problems of today.

“We believe in developing technologies that allow our customers to generate added value in their field of work. And, as part of that commitment, aim to provide innovative solutions to the waste problems plaguing us right now, while always keeping our eye on what’s around the corner,” he says.

Pictured: Shannon Bricknell (left) and Johann Hefner (right), at the UniSort Black demonstration machine in Melbourne. 

Related stories:

The Dennis Eagle difference: Penske Commercial Vehicles

Penske Commercial Vehicles has applied a variety of lessons from the United Kingdom to ensure its Dennis Eagle brand meets local congestion-busting challenges.

The silver and white Dennis Eagle body complemented a multitude of familiar favourites as stakeholders turned out to Melbourne’s Sandown Park Hotel on a slightly chilly morning.

At the end of last year, Penske Commercial Vehicles held an industry breakfast and vehicle display with its customers from Cleanaway, Bucher Municipal, Citywide and other organisations. In addition to a walkthrough of the trucks, the event featured a comprehensive explanation of Penske’s global and local footprint.

Many in the industry would be familiar with Penske Commercial Vehicles’ distributed range of commercial vehicles, including Western Star Trucks, MAN Trucks & Bus and, of course, the iconic Dennis Eagle refuse brand.

While detailing Penske’s global footprint and remanufacturing capabilities, Shannon Mair, Group National Fleet Sales Manager at Penske Commercial Vehicles, explained that the company continues to grow its capabilities.

“We’ve got a very strong footprint of support in the highly populated areas and on the main routes throughout Australia,” he said, adding that the company also had a strong regional presence.

He then went on to provide a history of the Dennis Eagle brand – a waste industry staple. With a British engineering history dating back to the turn of the 20th century, Dennis Eagle is one of the oldest producers of refuse collection vehicles in the world.

The company was founded in 1895 by John and Raymond Dennis and produced its first motor vehicle in 1899. Now owned by Terberg RosRoca Group, Dennis Eagle has 900 units in service across Australia, with more than 40 councils operating vehicles. The brand offers a range of refuse collection solutions, including the Dual Control and RHS Elite models.

“Many people associate the Penske brand with motor racing. The reason why we talk about the race team being an integral part of our organisation is that our Founder Roger Penske is very passionate about motor racing, and the very same ethos he applies in running a race team – precision, efficiency, dedication – is the same ethos that drives the whole organisation.”

Dennis Eagle collection vehicles have seen hundreds of deliveries over the years from the likes of Cleanaway, Veolia, SUEZ, J.J. Richards, Citywide and WM Waste.

Shannon illustrated that in Australia over the past decade, more than 1600 pedestrians and at least 350 cyclists were killed by vehicles. With London being a well-known congested city, the research shows 25 per cent of pedestrian and 35 per cent of cyclist fatalities involve a truck or heavy goods vehicle.

The research conducted for Transport for London has underpinned Penske Commercial Vehicle’s understanding of blind spots and allowed it to share the importance of the driver’s direct vision – an aspect that is equally as relevant in Australia.

One of the key factors behind the Dennis Eagle difference is its low-entry design, providing best-in-class direct vision, single step entry and a true flat door. Shannon said single step also offers good grip, which is important from an OH&S perspective.

“In the next couple of years, you won’t be able to bring a standard forward control truck into the centre of London. Every vehicle will have to be a low-entry vehicle,” he said.

“When you go out and see the vehicles out in the carpark and sit into the driver’s seat, you will actually notice the driver’s window is in line with your hip and has excellent panoramic view of the surroundings around the vehicle.”

It’s these features that prompted Citywide to begin running a fleet of Dennis Eagles around mid-2018. David Weston, Group Asset Manager at Citywide, says the company saw an opportunity to upgrade its fleet with enhanced technology and capability. Citywide now has around 15 Dennis Eagle Elite models, in both right hand steer and dual control configuration in the fleet.

“The key considerations for us when selecting the Dennis Eagles were around safety, usability by our drivers as well as technical functions,” David explains.

“It was primarily about ensuring drivers have good visibility and can see what is going on around them and better capability to operate, particularly in built-up environments with pedestrians and vehicle traffic.”

He says Citywide use a combination of side loaders and rear loaders for residential and general waste collection from single and multi-unit dwellings, with vehicles designed to suit the work environment, bin configuration and waste requirement.

“The vehicles really suit use within the built-up environment. The length and turning circle improve manoeuvrability and the large cab glass area helps minimise blind spots where pedestrians or cyclists could be hard to see.”

He says the company does not opt for a one-size-fits-all approach and matches the body configuration to the vehicle to optimise manoeuvrability and weight-carrying capacity.

David says the vehicle is custom spec’d with safety features such as rear and side warning devices.

Further supporting the concept is a five-star rating by the Heavy Goods Vehicle Blind Spots Report by Loughborough University’s Design School, based in the UK. The school produced a report that compared vehicles by leading manufacturers to determine how well drivers could see vulnerable road users and found the Dennis Elite 6 outperformed each one in terms of visibility.

A deep step, full width of the doorway in the Dennis Eagle product, ensures a secure footing and significantly reduces trip and fall hazards linked to entry and exit of vehicles.

The walk-through design includes a full stand-up height cab, completely flat floor and clear walkway with no obstructions. Drivers can easily cross cab and never have to enter or exit the vehicle from the traffic side, improving safety and productivity.

David says running costs are also an important consideration and the use of well-known brand components for the engine, transmission and drive axle make maintenance and repair activities easier to manage.

“Another aspect is Penske’s support and backup network across the country,” he says.

“Penske has been very responsive when we’ve had discussions with them during procurement and post-procurement to assist us optimise vehicle specifications and uptime.”

Related stories:

Government wedged into Clarinda issue

Alex Fraser highlights implications surrounding the potential closure of its Clarinda Recycling Facility, after Kingston City Council denied its application for the second time.

Alex Fraser put in the hard yards over the past two decades to clean up Victoria’s problem glass and is the state’s leading recycler in this space.

Through its network of sites at Clarinda, Laverton North and Epping, the company will take in material from the likes of Cleanaway, Polytrade and Visy and continue to find markets for thousands of tonnes of glass waste per annum.

A recent Sustainability Victoria grant enabled the installation of additional equipment at Clarinda. The project will reduce stockpiling and landfilling of problem glass by an additional 38,500 tonnes per annum. But in three years’ time, Clarinda may no longer exist.

Since 2014, Alex Fraser has been fighting to protect the shutdown of one million tonnes of recycling capacity which supplies material to major projects.

In what some are calling a NIMBY decision, in late 2019, that battle came to a head, as Kingston City Council denied an application to extend the life of the recycling operation.

The permit ends in 2023 and allows for an application for an extension. Even though the area has been rezoned as green wedge, an extension is permissible and the company had applied to stay until 2038.

It followed a comprehensive effort to find an alternative site in collaboration with the Victorian Government through Invest Victoria.

A second and final vote was taken in mid-December which was once again denied. Now, Alex Fraser has called on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews to intervene.

Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser Managing Director, says the decision is at odds with Victoria’s Recycling Industry Strategic Plan.

“We’ll continue to work on all of the options available to us. This issue affects environment, resources, roads, transport and treasury at a state level. It really needs a coordinated government approach to resolving it,” Peter explains.

A number of claims have since been thrown around, such as: “there’s still another four years to find a site” and “Alex Fraser still has two other sites”.

For one, the company points out that even if it were able to find a suitable site, completing the planning process means a lengthy and uncertain timeframe. Relocation is also a complex process.

Secondly, Alex Fraser has spent years building a network of recycling sites close to where waste is generated. Significant work from state agencies has gone into Victoria’s Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan to ensure adequate buffer protection of waste activities as a result of the urban sprawl.

Victoria’s “big build” is placing additional strain on metropolitan quarries, an issue Peter says is a huge concern.

“For recycling of this scale to continue to work, we need to maintain a network of facilities that are positioned close to where waste is generated and where the outlets for recycled materials exist.”

According to the Victorian Extractive Resources Strategy, at the time of its publication in 2016, demand for extractive resources was expected to double by 2050 as a result of the big build, and since then infrastructure investment has only increased.

The strategy shows 34 per cent of extractives in 2050 will need to be sourced from quarries not yet built or planned, due to forecast resource exhaustion. To complicate matters further, an analysis undertaken in 2018 of quarry approvals shows only a quarter of quarry applicants were able to secure necessary approvals in the past two years to carry out new production.

To meet the shortfall, one of the Victorian Government’s key policy pledges is to improve waste management across the whole industry. Transportation of extractive resources is costly and not eco-friendly when the distance between a quarry and point of use is examined.

Around 535 quarries produce 50 million tonnes of stone, limestone, gypsum, sand and gravel per year. Put in perspective, the Metro Tunnel alone is expected to require more than 480,000 cubic metres of ready-mix concrete and 160,000 tonnes of other extractive materials.

“If we fail to ensure that a sufficient supply of extractive resources is available within close proximity to our growth areas and infrastructure projects, the cost of constructing houses and infrastructure will likely rise,” the strategy says.

“This can lead to more expensive and potentially fewer infrastructure projects for Victorians. Impacts on transport infrastructure will rise, and greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental impacts will increase.”

Alex Fraser highlights that if the Clarinda facility were to close, it would be equivalent to the loss of a major quarry in metropolitan resource availability.

Clarinda is perfectly positioned to supply major projects such as the Mordialloc Freeway, Monash Upgrade, Level Crossing Removal Project and the upcoming outer Suburban Rail Loop.

Peter says that recycling in Melbourne has been successful because of a network of sites, close to the city which provide access to markets.

Globally, a clear barrier to using recycled materials is the availability of supply within reasonable distances. He says that anyone in the industry understands the time and cost implications of trucking material from further afield.

The Victorian Government has committed to a “hot list” of priority quarry approvals that can be fast tracked to support the big build. He says it would be perverse to fast-track the development of a new quarry to counter the shutdown of a recycling facility.

Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) CEO Jillian Riseley recently penned a letter to the City of Kingston calling for the Clarinda Recycling Facility’s extension.

She reiterated that the MWRRG had a statutory role to play in reducing waste to landfill and that its Metropolitan Implementation Plan articulated the need to integrate land use planning with waste and resource recovery.

The metro plan identifies the Clayton South Precinct as one of 13 hubs of metropolitan importance and acknowledges Alex Fraser’s role in supporting construction and demolition waste.

“The Clayton South Precinct Hub including Alex Fraser facilities, along with other state significant hubs, together operate as a network providing critical and complementary recycling and recovery capacity,” Jillian wrote.

“For the network to function effectively it requires capacity and security of operations across the hub.”

She says that should the operation discontinue, the loss of one million tonnes would undermine the entire network and place pressure on already constrained landfill capacity in the southeast.

Kingston City Council claims that the community has voiced objections about the Clarinda Recycling Facility. The MWRRG’s letter confirms the application for permit extension would allow Alex Fraser to support ongoing best practice environmental management.

Peter says that a number of houses are close to landfills and affected by dust, noise and odour.

“We have provided evidence that the source of dust, noise and odour is not the Clarinda Recycling Facility. Our employees do an outstanding job and have demonstrated how to transition away from landfill,” Peter says.

“We have exceptionally good controls, including 24-hour dust monitoring across the site.

“In fact, the site has been awarded by the Clean Air Society of Australia & New Zealand so it is well recognised as being a leader.”

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

The proposal was not accepted by the council, an issue Alex Fraser remains perplexed about.

As the Victorian Government plans to release its long-awaited circular economy policy, Peter says Victoria long led the way in using recycled materials in infrastructure.

He adds the site is an outstanding example of the circular economy in action and the state government must intervene to retain this recycling capacity.

This article was published in the February edition of Waste Management Review.

Related stories:

Schaeffler’s vibrating screens help recyclers maximise productivity

In the complex recycling sector, operators need a robust and reliable vibrating screen to ensure they can separate their feedstock down to an appropriate size at a high frequency.

With long service life an important consideration, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have aimed to continually improve their design to ensure operators get the most from their vibrating screens.

As a renowned Australia-wide distributor of bearings, power transmission and industrial products, CBC Australia offers a suite of products from a range of premium suppliers.

As part of its offering, CBC specialises in delivering quality, high precision and cost-effective spherical roller bearings. CBC are well recognised for offering a strong service provision in the management, supply and distribution of bearings throughout Australia.

Tony Tormey, CBC Australia Product Manager – Industrial Bearings, says the FAG T41D Spherical Roller Bearing series from Schaeffler is the latest iteration in the shaker screen bearing solution for vibrating screens.

Schaeffler stock a range of screen bearings, including the T41A, T41B and T41D series to suit the application.

“The T41D screen bearing is proving to be essential in the vibrating screen industry,” Tormey explains.

Tormey says that in order to allow thermal expansion of the shaft, loose fits are commonly used, which usually leads to fretting corrosion. This can restrict thermal expansion of the shaft, increasing bearing loads ultimately reducing bearing life.

The T41D – design however, has a premium hard chromium coating (Durotect CK) on the bore, avoiding fretting corrosion as well as elevated bearing load. This results in a longer service life.

Additional benefit of the coating is the prevention of shaft damage as fretting corrosion is avoided. This reduces repair costs.

“If you put a machine component under the microscope, you will see the peaks with a standard bearing. With the hard chromium coating on the bore, basically it alleviates a lot of those peaks and provides a more of a consistent surface,” Tony says.

With superior qualities of the T41D bearing series with Durotect CK coating on the bore, operators can work more efficiently with a low total cost of ownership, all while delivering a higher level of performance and machine reliability.

The vibrating screen is one of the toughest applications for a bearing due to the high oscillating loads impacting the bearing components, including the grease.

Tormey says the FAG shaker screen bearings from Schaeffler feature Bainite heat treatment giving improved productivity through temperature stability up to 200°C.

Additionally there is a surface hardened cage with high wear resistance and outer ring guidance to accommodate centrifugal forces. The internal design also allows for a relatively larger volume of grease, which is critical in such an application.

Tighter ID and OD dimensional tolerances also provide better control of fit in both housing and shaft.

CBC recommends Schaeffler’s FAG Spherical Roller bearings in X-life quality as they operate 70 per cent longer than regular bearings in the same installation position. Bearings from 22317-EL-XL-T41D right through to 222330-E1-XL-T41D are supplied standard with Durotect CK coated bores.

Tormey says Schaeffler also provide a range of bearing housings with four different sealing options available, depending on application and spherical rollers as a complete package. These include a double lip seal, V-ring seal, labyrinth and taconite seal option depending on the medium.

Additionally, Schaeffler offers tools for the mechanical, hydraulic and thermal mounting and dismounting of bearings.

Moreover, CBC branches across the country offer national sales and local support. This extends to engineering services that include condition monitoring and process improvement.

For more information click here: www.lets-roll.com.au

Related stories:

Minute material recovery: Turmec

Waste Management Review speaks with Trevor Smart, Turmec UK Managing Director, about the recovery potential of miniature material recovery facilities.

When the Federal Government launched an inquiry into Australia’s waste management and recycling industries in October, Committee Chair Barnaby Joyce said the committee would examine international best practice.

The inquiry will consider opportunities to better manage domestic waste, as well as current impediments to innovation.

It’s a welcome move for Trevor Smart, Turmec UK Managing Director, who says the Australian waste industry could learn a lot from the UK’s approach to resource recovery – notably the uptake of mini material recovery facilities (MRF). He says that a series of events on his recent trip to Australia has him thinking about potential solutions to the country’s current recycling challenges.

Flying from the UK to attend Waste Expo Australia in 2019, Trevor arrived in Melbourne at a time of industry flux. The Council of Australian Government’s waste export ban had just been announced, Victorian councils were dealing with the collapse of SKM Recycling and container deposit scheme discussions were challenging the efficacy of kerbside collection.

Of most interest to Trevor, however, was how the amalgamation of these issues highlighted an opportunity to reshape Australia’s resource recovery and logistics network.

“In Melbourne I met a councillor from a small rural community in Victoria. He explained that the demise of SKM had placed a lot of local authorities under financial and operational pressure,” Trevor says.

“In addition to the loss of this facility, the fact that the council’s recyclates had to travel over 400 kilometres to an MRF meant there were few alternatives.”

This lack of infrastructure capacity, parried with low recyclate tonnages, creates a challenging situation for smaller councils, Trevor says.

Following SKM’s collapse, many rural councils were forced to transport materials further afield, or in some cases, simply revert to landfill.

Trevor adds that the collapse of SKM is a story that’s played out globally numerous times, meaning international approaches can serve as a case study.

Over the course of Waste Expo Australia, Trevor says he had multiple conversations about the applicability of greater kerbside separation in Australia. He adds that the idea was routinely challenged, with many suggesting the economic cost would outweigh recovery benefits.

“We saw the same reaction in the UK when kerbside sorting was introduced. But from our experience, kerbside sorting was a successful move that greatly improved recycling rates and recyclate quality,” he says.

While Trevor admits kerbside separation can be challenging in high-density urban areas, he says suburban and rural implementation is simple.

Referencing urban planner David Gordon’s 2016 analysis of Australian cities, Trevor says 86 per cent of the population live in suburban or exurban neighbourhoods.

“Only 14 per cent of Australians are living in high-density housing, suggesting greater kerbside separation would be well suited to this country. For it to work, however, the system needs to be supported by parallel investment in mini MRF’s.”

Under Trevor’s plan, households separate containers, paper, cardboard and glass. From there, the material is collected by multi-compartment vehicles – eliminating many of the issues associated with kerbside contamination.

“Materials are then delivered to a mini MRF for further sorting, for instance, separating ferrous and aluminium containers from plastic, before baling and onward sale or further processing.”

Trevor adds that paper and cardboard would be baled and stored, ready as a saleable product.

“Glass would also be stored in the yard area for bulk transportation to a reprocessor,” he says.

“This system would not only suit low tonnage, but also give value to the recyclates, whereby semi-sorted clean materials can go directly to a reprocessor or exported for further sorting.”

Trevor says the concept of a mini MRF is simple, with widescale implementation potential across Australia.

He adds that Turmec’s comprehensive engineered recycling solutions cater for a wide range of tonnages and material applications.

“We integrate equipment from market leading suppliers in waste separation technology to produce a high-quality separation process with 99 per cent recovery rates,” he adds.

Trevor says the cost effectiveness of mini MRFs, paired with increased recyclate quality and saleability, has been proved in many UK local authorities.

A 2016 study commissioned by the Welsh Government, for instance, shows switching to source-separated recycling collections could save Welsh councils over one million euros a year.

“Other benefits such as employment, increased householder participation and a reduction of residual waste are also evident in UK studies,” he says.

“While the initial capital expenditure for the vehicles, containers and mini MRFs is going to be higher than refuse collection and transfer vehicles, when compared to MRF gate fees, transportation cost and material quality, the advantages are clear.”

Related stories: 

Bearing the load for mobile recycling equipment

While wheel loaders and excavators are traditionally associated with mining and civil construction industries, such mobile equipment is a central component of any high capacity recycling plant.

Given the often harsh and variable conditions of recycling facilities, equipment in the resource recovery space has a unique set of application requirements.

A wheel loader sorting irregular, heavy and abrasive waste at a  demolition and building materials recycling facility requires a sturdy external structure and durable drivetrain While an excavator handling damp material in the humid confines of a dusty composting facility needs to be capable of withstanding the effects of high temperature and contaminant laden environments.

Ross Lee, CBC Technical Manager Strategic Partnerships- Bearings, says that in addition to placing strain on external structure, recycling facility conditions can stress the internal function of mobile equipment. He adds that this include engines, hydraulic pumps and motors, transmissions, and the bearings associated with these modules.

To counteract harsh conditions and associated maintenance costs, Ross says operators can invest in direct equivalent specification bearings. He adds that sustainable and proactive maintenance is critical to ensuring the economic viability of resource recovery operations.

“High quality bearings are necessary in all recycling facility sectors. At a metal recycling facility for instance, operators are likely to run material handling equipment equipped with grabs or magnets that pick-up steel and dump it into shredders,” Ross says.

“Like the Shredder, the key equipment feeding it requires anti-friction bearings to perform to their design capabilities, and beyond in some cases.”

When dealing with mobile equipment, Ross says facility operators have two options.

“Operators can either lease or purchase the machines and rely on the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to provide the preventative maintenance servicing and parts.” he explains.

“Or, if equipment is  purchased  outright, beyond warranty period they may elect to manage their own maintenance and spare parts process.”

In the latter case, Ross says operators can engage organisations such as CBC for bearing supply. He adds that once engaged, CBC works via a three-step process: identification, cataloguing and  agreed delivery.

“We accurately identify the bearing’s OEM material number, catalogue the information and determine what the deliveries are,  whether the bearing stock is overseas or local, and if applicable, what the initial  production lead time is,” he says.

In the case of long-term MRO customers, Ross says CBC will have all necessary information catalogued, priced and contracted to facilitate process efficiency. With new clients, a CBC technical representative will conduct a site visit and bearing needs assessment.

“While of course some operators look to budget parts or alternatives, we think it’s important to work with direct equivalent specifications to ensure machine operations are not  compromised,” he says.

“The name of the game for us is maintaining the reliability and durability of all mobile equipment.”

Ross adds that  equipment is often equipped with require non-standard bearings to satisfy the demands of application and reliability that differ  from standard l execution catalogue ball or roller bearings.

“We won’t always have the required bearings sitting on a shelf, but given our large suite of offerings and significant manufacturing supplier relationships, it’s unlikely that we won’t be able to satisfy the client’s needs” he says.

One supplier with which CBC has a long-term strategic partnership is NTN, a global bearing manufacturer of Japan origin that has been in operation since 1918.

According to Ross, NTN is one of the world’s leading bearing manufacturers, with OEM customers that include Caterpillar, Komatsu, John Deere, Hitachi and Kawasaki.

For example, with excavators, NTN produce bearings for splitter gearboxes, hydraulic pumps, slewing transmissions, travel transmissions and tumblers.

For wheel loaders, NTN manufacture tapered roller bearings, deep groove ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings and needle roller bearings.

Ross says NTN’s comprehensive product lines are engineered to serve any industry where lower friction coefficients and higher energy efficiency are required.

Moreover, where operators determine a bearing is not achieving the required service interval before failure, NTN have developed unique bearing material technologies that can extend bearing fatigue life, avoiding the need to increase bearing envelope size and related machine modifications.

He adds that when dealing with high-value equipment such as wheel loaders and excavators, operators can’t take risks that compromise their componentry.

“We have significant application and catalogue knowledge and are able to positively identify where a particular bearing specification applies,” he says.

“Working together, NTN and CBC are fully equipped to provide value added bearing solutions to suit the often harsh conditions of recycling plants and waste transfer stations.”

For more information click here: www.lets-roll.com.au

Related stories: 

The largest collection network: MobileMuster

Spyro Kalos, MobileMuster General Manager, speaks with Waste Management Review about the product stewardship scheme’s 21st anniversary and shifting approaches to sustainability.

While Australians are early adopters of technology, the length of mobile phone ownership remains relatively stable, with half the population using their mobile phone for two or more years, according to MobileMuster research.

Reuse and repair rates are also rising, as the circular economy concept continues to take root.

Aside from shifting supply chains, one of the most important circular economy outcomes is changing the public’s attitudes when it comes to reuse, repair and recycling. People are realising that an out-of-date phone doesn’t need to become waste. It can be reused through sale or passed on to family and friends.

Spyro Kalos, MobileMuster General Manager, says to support the growing reuse and repair market, MobileMuster has developed education resources and partnered with several leading commercial reuse programs.

“Traditionally, refurbished devices were shipped to developing markets overseas, but there is a growing demand for refurbished devices locally,” he says.

“When a device has no commercial resale value however, consumers are encouraged to recycle them with MobileMuster.”

Spyro says MobileMuster’s expansion into reuse and repair education is typical for the program, which since 1998, has continued to adapt and grow in line with advancing technology and consumer expectations.

Celebrating its 21st birthday earlier this year, Spyro says MobileMuster began as a standard take-back program.

“Since it began, MobileMuster has collected over 1500 tonnes of mobile phone components, and now operates the most extensive drop off network of any stewardship program in the country,” he says.

At an anniversary event at Sydney’s The Mint in early November, Spyro highlighted the importance of collaboration and building strong relationships with collection network stakeholders.

“Our collection partners are critical to the success of the program. They are motivated and actively engage in supporting our work, including raising awareness to get more people recycling,” he says.

“We have also seen a significant growth in the number of repair stores joining the program, with over 220 stores now participating as a collection point,” he says.

The event was attended by Telstra Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs and Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association Chair Jane van Beelen and Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans. Spyro says the event highlights how far the scheme has grown.

MobileMuster collected and recycled 84.1 tonnes of mobile phone components in 2019, including 1.2 million handsets and batteries. Spyro adds that one in three Australians have recycled a mobile phone since the program began.

“The success of our scheme relies on raising awareness through promotions, and addressing barriers to recycling through education,”
he says.

“We are committed to continuing to invest in the next generation of mobile phone users, educating them about the impact of their mobiles and how to act for a sustainable future.”

In addition to behavioural and awareness changes, Spyro says MobileMuster is committed to a high recovery rate through its recycling process, and notes that the design of mobiles phones has changed over the programs 21 years

“The material make-up of mobiles is always changing. Manufacturers are using more glass and metals than ever before – material that is highly recyclable and also in demand,”
he says.

With public scrutiny increasingly focused on the recycling industry, Spyro says MobileMuster is committed to total process transparency.

“The program only uses a single recycling partner, which helps us understand their end to end operations. We also audit their recycling processes yearly,” he says.

“Additionally, our recycling partner has experience working under Basel Convention rules, along with the importing and exporting of hazardous waste.”

Looking to the future, Spyro says MobileMuster will work closely with its members, stakeholders and the government to ensure the program’s continued success.

“Over the past five years, collections have remained high with MobileMuster meeting its targets and key performance indicators under the Product Stewardship Act’s voluntary accreditation,” he says.

“That said, there is always room for improvement. We need more consumers participating because, without them, we have a fundamental flaw in the circular economy concept.”

Related stories:

X