Mobile multivitamin: Finlay

Craig Turner, Bio Gro Project Manager, talks to Waste Management Review about improving soil health through high-energy screening.

The viability of Australia’s productive land is being challenged by extreme weather conditions, as droughts and floods alter soil compositions and reduce nutrient levels.

Sustainability Victoria modelling suggests that as a result, the country’s agricultural and horticultural sectors will feel higher rates of climate change than other sectors.

Van Schaik’s Bio Gro, a family-owned company based in Mount Gambier, South Australia that supplies growing media, mulches and composts, are working to limit these impacts by stimulating soil health and reducing organic methane emissions.

Craig Turner, Bio Gro Project Manager, says the company works in partnership with various councils and private organisations to achieve optimum organic resource recovery. He says that currently, it processes in excess of 750,000 cubic metres of organic material per annum.

“The organic material is processed into a range of specialist growing and mulching mediums, soil amendments and biological growth stimulants, perfectly tailored for the urban amenity, intensive and extensive agriculture and viticulture markets,” Craig says.

“To effectively process the organic material, which is inconsistent and varied by nature, we require high-intensity screening equipment, which is why we work with Finlay Screening, Crushing and Recycling Systems.”

Bio Gro and Finlay’s relationship began in the early 2000s, when Finlay supplied the company with a Terex 693 Double Deck screener for mulch processing.

“Finlay offers a quality product with great service and advice, is always fast to respond to any issues we have and supplies a good spare parts service with 24-hour support,” Craig says.

“When we required a new screen to address high moisture level and increase productions times, Finlay was the obvious choice.”

After considerable consultation and on-site testing, Bio Gro purchased a Spaleck Flip Flow from Finlay in 2017.

“We needed a screen that could produce at the required volume without operators having to regularly clean screen decks, which causes downtime and poses a significant safety risk to our staff,” Craig explains.

“Additionally, we wanted a mobile screen that was versatile enough to process the wide range of organic material we receive.”

Craig says Bio Gro uses the Flip Flow to screen and separate compost bark, organic compost and recycled timber, at up to 100 cubic metres an hour.

Spaleck Flip Flow screens are designed to screen damp and wet materials of inhomogeneous origin, with separation cuts of 1.2 to approximately 50 millimetres.

According to Craig, the machine’s base frame is agitated by a shaft and unbalanced motor drive, with vibrations passed to the frame through thrust rubbers to produce reliable and high-energy screening.

A key component of the mobile system is the Spaleck 3D Combi Flip-Flow screen, which Craig says screens and loosens material on a top deck with optimal turning.

“The screen deck is mounted above the Flip-Flow deck to form a cascade, with 3D screen segments to reduce loads for the flip-flow screen mat,” he says.

“This increases the mat service life and guarantees optimum screening results. Plus, the screen mats are secured without screws, meaning there are no sharp edges or safety hazards.”

Craig adds that the 3D screening segments guarantee correct particle size, with no long pieces or extraneous material passed to the tension shaft screen on the lower deck.

“The Flip Flow has far exceeded our expectations and helped Bio Gro reduce safety risks, improve output performance and meet all our product quality requirements,” Craig says.

“The screen hasn’t suffered any blockages or downtime to date, which means we can consistently produce nutrient rich mulch and soil amendments to feed our land and protect the environment.”

Related stories:

Clean rent: Tennant Company

If you’re planning to add some cleaning machines to your toolkit, you’ll first need to decide whether you want to buy, finance, or rent your equipment, writes Tennant Company. 

So, what are the benefits of cleaning equipment hire? Why is it becoming so popular? And is it the best option for you?

Here’s why more companies are choosing to rent:

1. Access better tech now

When you rent, you don’t have to wait until you can afford to buy new equipment outright. It means you can add a better piece of equipment to your inventory now and start enjoying the benefits from upgraded technology right away. Benefits like saving time, saving money, operating more efficiently and getting a better, cleaner result.

2. Flexible upgrades

When you rent instead of buying your machines, it can be easier to switch to a different type of equipment if your needs change or upgrade as you go along. There’s no need to wait until the end of your machine’s life or try to find a secondhand buyer. Simply trade-in your existing rental machine for a newer model. Or add a new machine to your fleet any time you need to increase your capacity and handle a new or bigger cleaning challenge.

3. Stay on budget

Many companies can’t pay for a new piece of equipment outright – they might have to wait 3-6 months to save up for a new machine. Fortunately, you can stay within your budget and get your equipment right away with renting, because the costs are spread out over the life of your machine. Renting means you have predictable, affordable payments coming out each month instead of one lump sum.

4. Grow your business

Renting means you can spread your immediate funds across other investments that help grow your business. Investments like company vehicles, upgraded branding, marketing campaigns, and additional team members. Renting gives you the flexibility and funds to move quickly and seize new opportunities.

5. Get tax benefits

When you rent your machine, it’s considered an operating expense, whereas when you purchase your machine outright, it’s considered a capital expense (used to buy an asset). This means that renting can come with tax benefits, although you should definitely confirm this with your accountant (we don’t provide financial advice).

At the moment, if you’re a small business in Australia, the threshold for upfront asset write-offs is $30,000. If you purchase a piece of equipment for more than this, you’ll need to depreciate it and claim the tax over time. On the other hand, monthly rental payments can be 100 per cent tax-deductible, with no need to worry about depreciation rules or tracking your tax deduction over the life of your equipment. But once again, you’ll need to seek independent advice from your accountant to confirm your eligibility and how tax deductions work for your company.

6. Simplify ongoing costs

Finally, monthly rental payments can help simplify things by bundling the ongoing cost of your machine into one simple monthly payment. Cleaning equipment needs ongoing servicing and maintenance. When you hire cleaning equipment with Tennant ANZ, we combine your Factory Direct Servicing with your rental payments so you get one fixed price payment every month and a full maintenance (comprehensive) service program.

Renting cleaning equipment from Tennant

What makes Tennant’s cleaning equipment hire different?

It’s an in-house service. That means instead of dealing with a supplier or redistributor, you get to deal directly with the equipment manufacturer. Plus, access our Factory Direct Servicing, using Tennant True Parts to protect your investment and ensure maximum uptime.

It also means you can be confident you’re getting the best possible machine and expert training. As well as ongoing support from a service team of 40+ technicians who have deep knowledge of how your equipment works.

And since we’re a nationwide company, our strategic account leaders are here to help you get centralised pricing for all your locations across Australia and New Zealand.

Another huge Tennant difference is technology.

All our rentals come with IRIS Asset Manager for data management, allowing you to ensure your rental machine is being used exactly how you want. Keeping tabs on your most important assets has never been easier.

And your Tennant floor scrubber hire comes with Ec-H20 NanoClean technology for highly efficient water-based cleans. This minimises your chemical purchases during the rental period.

Finally, we’ve got a huge range available for hire. You can choose from a variety of Tennant machines available for rent, from our S10 to a S30, and from T300 to M30.

Related stories:

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.

Related stories:

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.”

Related stories:

Concentrating contaminants: CDE

CDE’s Daniel Webber explains how high-pressure filtration and decontamination can increase the resale potential of construction and demolition waste.

The NSW EPA’s new construction and demolition (C&D) waste guidelines, released April 2019, highlight environmental risk via contamination and poor recycling processes as a core concern.

Daniel Webber, CDE’s Regional Manager for Australasia, says the presence of contaminants in the C&D stream is particularly significant, given one of the material’s major resale markets is road base.

“If the material used in road base contains heavy metals or polycyclic-aromatic hydrocarbons, which are known to be carcinogenic, those materials can leach out and penetrate the water table, and once they enter the water table, they can potentially contaminate drinking water,”
Daniel says.

For CDE, an international materials wet processing design and manufacture company, eliminating contaminants in C&D waste is critical to market viability.

“One of the first things we noticed when we first began working with the C&D waste sector was that there are no completely pure C&D sites.

“They all drag contaminated soil in eventually, and when there are no clean sites, there’s no clean materials. CDE quickly learned that this was something we needed to address with our clients.”

A central challenge to addressing the issue, Daniel says, is the variability of C&D contamination regulations across jurisdictions.    

“Conflicting regulations range from waste levy rates, urban development and state planning zones, to contaminant levels and disposal requirements,” he explains.

“We need to be across all the various legislative requirements and, as such, prioritise working in partnership with our clients to achieve that.”

According to Daniel, leachate is a focal point when dealing with C&D. He adds that because of the location of most C&D plants, large tailing ponds are often unfeasible.

“C&D is not like virgin mining or quarrying, which happens in the outer suburbs or the regions. Most construction sites are in metropolitan areas,” he says.

“To minimise transportation costs and therefore maintain resource recovery practicality, a lot of resource recovery also happens in metropolitan areas, meaning operators have to be much more cognisant of the contaminant problem.”

To remove contaminants, CDE facilitates two separate processing methods, both of which can be customised to suit individual client needs. Daniel adds that contaminants include anything from unwanted material such a plaster board and heavy metals, to dangerous chemicals such as PFAS.

“To wash and process contaminated C&D material, CDE designs plants that push contaminants into a tertiary water body for filtration, or alternatively, into sludge for processing via filter press technology,” Daniel says.

“When a client chooses the filter press option, their material is passed through mesh under extremely high pressure to produce a dry filter cake, which is then discharged into a bay below the filter press enclosure.”

Daniel says the filter press method allows CDE-designed plants to salvage 90 per cent of the original feedstock material.

“If a client is running a 200-tonne-per hour plant, with feeds coming through the front end, CDE equipment can concentrate existing contaminants into 20-tonne-per-hour of feed material.

“That means 180 tonnes of material can be repurposed and put straight back into the market as clean construction material.”

Additionally, Daniel says by concentrating contaminants, operators can save on landfill charges and prevent extra investment in waste storage equipment. Effectively removing contaminants also requires high-energy scrubbing and dewatering cyclone systems.

“By introducing CDE technology, plant operators can eliminate the need for settling ponds, reduce the space required to accommodate a washing plant and maximise water recycling.”

CDE’s minimum target, Daniel says, is an 80 per cent recovery rate, designing plants to increase traditionally unusable recycled sand and aggregates for multiple resale applications.

Related stories: 

Incinerating oceans of plastic: Ace Waste

As the medical industry examines its waste generation and recycling practices, Waste Management Review explores incineration as a solution for non-recyclable plastic.

When speaking with Australian media in September, Peter Thomson, the United Nations’ top envoy for the world’s oceans, compared the fight against plastic pollution to the fight against big tobacco.

Plastic has become so ubiquitous in the natural environment that United Nations scientists suggest it could serve as an indicator of the Anthropocene and lead to a reengineering of the planet.

While extreme, the statement is not without merit. A Project MainStream report, for example, suggests material in the ocean could outweigh fish by 2050, with an estimated eight million metric tonnes entering the world’s oceans every year.

In 2018, an Australian senate inquiry into the waste and recycling industry recommended a ban on all single-use plastics by 2030. Similarly, on the other side of the globe, members of the European Parliament earlier this year voted to ban the material by 2021.

Though initiatives like this are a step in the right direction, associated conversations regularly focus on seemingly frivolous consumer items such as coffee lids, straws and plastic bottles. However, as plastic’s chemical composition lends itself to sterility, it is also a necessary material for the medical industry.

For generations, plastic has been used to manufacture IV drips, syringes, bandages, garments, surgical covers and other indispensable medical products.

One of the most commonly used plastics in the medical industry is polypropylene, which is used to make syringes, pouches, test tubes and beakers. While it is recyclable, state and territory health regulations require it to be disposed of post-use.

Problems stemming from the inadequacy of disinfection methods lead to much of this material ending up in landfill or, as is sometimes the case, the natural environment.

A key issue is a lack of material substitutes for clinical products, meaning the use of single-use plastics in the medical industry is largely unavoidable.

Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) in Woolloongabba, Queensland is one of many Australian hospitals attempting to address the issue by introducing proactive reduction and recycling initiatives.

Brendon Seipolt, PAH Operational Services, says the hospital’s actions include recycling programs for PVC, soft plastics and kimguard (a form of sterilisation wrap) and the introduction of sugar-cane-derived, biodegradable kidney dishes.

Brendon says these initiatives led to a 600,000-kilogram waste reduction in 2018. Despite this, much of the waste PAH produces is non-recyclable, namely contaminated clinical soft plastic. To handle the material, PAH engaged clinical waste incineration specialists Ace Waste.

“PAH produces an average of 700,000 kilograms of clinical waste per year that requires incineration, in keeping with safety and quality practices,” Brendon says.

“This is a significant reduction of over 200,000 kilograms since 2012, through an ongoing program of appropriate waste identification and disposal.”

Alexander Homewood, Ace Waste Executive Director, says that while sustainability programs like those implemented by PAH and other medical facilities are important, recycling alone cannot sufficiently address the plastic problem.

“In the medical industry, the spectre of non-recyclable plastics is complex, with the reality of infection control and single-use necessity challenging the notion that recycling and landfill are the only waste management mechanisms available,” Alexander says.

He adds that conservative estimates suggest 30 per cent of all clinical waste is non-recyclable contaminated plastic.

“Ace Waste works with the PAH and other health clients throughout Queensland and Victoria to manage the second part of the equation, and in doing so close the loop with a service that destroys everything through incineration,” Alexander says.

“Ace Waste’s high-temperature incinerators present a viable alternative by completely destroying infectious materials, which stops it from entering the ocean, while also ensuring pathogens are unable to enter the ground or atmosphere.”

In addition to destroying the material in its entirety, the Ace Waste incineration process creates a high-calorific energy source.

Incineration plants generally require natural gas to maintain combustion. However, Alexander says the high plastic content of clinical waste streams means Ace Waste’s incinerators produce enough energy to independently maintain combustion conditions.

“Contaminated plastic in clinical waste produces 28 megajoules per kilo of heat energy, and by comparison coal produces 32,” Alexander says.

“By burning contaminated non-recyclable plastic, Ace Waste is generating significant amounts of energy from a material source that usually ends up in landfill or worse, in the ocean.”

While avoidance and recycling are the key drivers towards positive environmental outcomes, society can’t ignore the reality of waste generation in the medical industry.

“We need to understand that some waste is unavoidable, and rather than turning a blind eye, should consider disposal methods that support the overall goal of a more healthy and sustainable future,” Alexander says.

Related stories:

Sustainability systems: Method Recycling

Sebastian Waddell of Method Recycling explains how education and centralised waste stations can help reduce businesses’ costs.

Multinational corporations announcing large-scale sustainability commitments has been a common theme of 2019.

 As a result, organisations are under increasing pressure to take ownership of their waste. Beyond social pressure, businesses also have to deal with legislative changes, namely the introduction and/or rise of landfill levies.

According to Sebastian Waddell, Method Recycling National Business Development Manager, companies are now further examining how they can reduce and separate waste and recycle more effectively.

 Method operates under the philosophy of open plan recycling, where centralised recycling stations replace traditional under desk bins and one source recycling.

According to Sebastian, behavioural change is key to the Method process.

“When bins are hidden away, people often throw their waste away mindlessly, but with our system they are confronted with a choice that forces them to think, what am I holding and where does it go?” he says.

Sebastian says the first stage of switching to Method is preliminary consultation and strategy development.

First, Method contacts the client’s waste contractor to ensure it has the capacity to collect the required source separated streams. If the contractor doesn’t, Sebastian says Method will encourage the client to outsource to an additional contractor.

“Clients often think outsourcing will be an expensive process. However, if their current waste contractor is only collecting two streams, landfill and recycling, they are essentially sending 30 to 50 per cent of their waste to landfill.

“There are significant levy fees attached to landfill disposal, so getting the client to source separate as much as they can by contacting additional parties will drastically reduce waste management overheads.”

Education is the central component of this process, Sebastian says. He says that Method continuously keep its clients up to date on waste levy increases and contamination charges.

After collection is addressed, Method works closely with the client on education programs and system rollouts. “We ask, what has worked for your company in the past? What hasn’t? And what goals do you want to achieve?” We then develop support systems and collateral that underscore the do’s and dont’s of each bin, based on the waste types at that specific organisation.”

Sebastian explains that while most people are open to source separating, individuals who haven’t been exposed to the process before can be hesitant.

“In that case, it’s about working with those objections and helping people understand the benefits of separating their waste,” he says.

“The biggest problem is always the removal of under-desk bins.”

To address under-desk pushback, Method developed the precycler product, which sits on individual desks and allows people to source separate on a micro level.

When an individual then needs to leave their desk, they can take the precycler with them for disposal at a central bin station, Sebastian says

“One of our larger clients has 20 separate offices, and with that level of staff there was bound to be resistance, but after we introduced the precycler opposition dissolved immediately,” he says.

“People are becoming more conscious of their waste and it’s clear that interest is growing. Sustainability is a slow-moving wheel, but we’re getting there.

For more information contact Sebastian Waddell at sebastian@methodrecycling.com

Related stories:

Baled to perfection: Material Recovery Solutions

Material Recovery Solutions explains its unique value proposition as it becomes the exclusive agent for Godswill balers in Australia and New Zealand.

International original equipment manufacturer (OEM) Godswill Paper Machinery Company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of balers.

With nearly 200 balers in operation in Australia and New Zealand, Godswill holds a substantial market share, with many operating in high-volume applications.

Since 1987, Godswill Paper machinery has proven to be an international player with exclusive agents committed to providing front line service and support globally.

To offer the reliable equipment locally, Material Recovery Solutions (MRS) recently became the exclusive agent for Godswill balers in Australia and New Zealand. Its range includes, but is not limited to – channel, two ram, closed door and custom build balers.

Flagship models comprise the GB-1111FX channel baler and the GB-1175TR two ram baler.

Marcus Corrigan, Managing Director of MRS, says the new agreeement is not a decision Godswill made lightly.

“We believe in putting after-sales support first and supporting our customers. Their confidence in us results in new orders,” Marcus says.

MRS technicians are armed with a suite of OEM spare parts to support Godswill products along with a full-serviced in-house machine shop, allowing items to be manufactured quickly.

Simon Davidson, Project Engineer at MRS, says the company aims to offer unrivalled support to the marketplace.

“It’s very significant to be able to offer quality components to a high tolerance,” Simon says.

“OEM parts are trialled and tested over many years to ensure longevity and reduce damage to other aspects of the machinery caused by faulty parts.”

Godswill balers are designed to provide export bale weights at high throughputs across a range of material types.

Channel balers support fibrous materials such as paper, cardboard and various waste streams.

The two ram balers, designed to bale high memory materials such as plastic bottles and LDPE film, can also bale an array of other materials. Custom builds are also available for niche applications.

Simon says the Godswill range was designed with usability and ease of maintenance in mind.

“Touchscreen human machine interface (HMI) combined with a push button system offers ease of use.”

Simon adds that customisable material settings with selective switchovers support effortless material changeovers.

“HMI provides intuitive diagnostics. Combined with our 24/7 service and support, we are able to ensure liability and year-long operations.”

“Our direct communication and close relationship with Godswill as a supplier enables us to get a quick response on all issues backed up by our technical knowledge and industry experience.”

“Through default, all Godswill balers have innovative safety functions with dual redundancy systems to operate in the safest possible manner.”

Marcus says the company currently manufacture systems to service the baling, processing, recovery and product destruction industries.

“We are expanding our scope within the industry by providing solutions in the collection sector, currently manufacturing a number of automated document collection vehicles.”

Marcus’ 20 years of experience in the material processing industry, including 15 in the material recovery industry, ensures he can serve customers with an advanced level of industry knowledge.

“While MRS is a young company, the ever-expanding team of engineers, technicians and manufacturers offer a wealth of knowledge adding to our overall diversity. I am proud of our achievements and excited about the future,” Marcus says.

Related stories:

One million tonnes under threat: Alex Fraser

Alex Fraser has called on Kingston City Council to extend its operating permit for its glass and C&D recycling site as one million tonnes of recyclables risks going to landfill.

Alex Fraser’s Clarinda Recycling Facility plays a pivotal role in Victoria’s resource recovery network, with the capacity to recycle around 25 per cent of Melbourne’s glass and construction waste.

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.

Not many facilities can boast the capacity for such difficult-to-recycle waste streams, let alone the contribution Alex Fraser makes to repurposing value-added materials in infrastructure projects. The site employees 50 full-time people and has been operating since October 2009.

With Victoria’s big build placing pressure on dwindling natural resources and quarries moving further afield, the need to find a sustainable alternative has never been greater. According to PwC, the building and construction sector faces the challenge of maintaining access to supply of extractive resources.

It comes as encroachment of urban and regional development affects existing quarrying areas. Likewise, demand for extractive resources over 2015-50 is set to be almost double to supply the state’s planned new transport infrastructure, a concern alleviated through strategically placed sites like Alex Fraser’s.

Now, Alex Fraser’s site is under threat, with its permit with Kingston City Council set to expire in 2023.

THE REZONING

In 2015, Kingston’s industrial area was rezoned to be green wedge, with conditions preventing waste management operations on the land.

Since then, Alex Fraser has been actively working with the Victorian Government and its agencies to identify alternative locations.

Peter Murphy, Alex Fraser Group Managing Director, says that there is no way Alex Fraser will be able to find a suitable alternative location by 2023.

One of the key reasons is a need for Alex Fraser to be located within proximity to sources of construction and demolition waste, as well as kerbside collected glass.

“Using recycled material in infrastructure is only possible with facilities like Clarinda that are close to our cities – where waste is generated, and where major projects are underway,” Peter explains.

Alex Fraser supplies recycled construction materials to projects including the Level Crossing Removal Projects, Monash Freeway Upgrade, Thompsons Road Upgrade, and the Hallam Road Upgrade. It is also ideally located to supply the planned Suburban Rail Loop, South Eastern Roads Upgrade and Mordialloc Freeway.

Other prominent considerations are the scale of the 22-hectare site, quality road network and its extensive landscaping and screening with appropriate fencing and native foliage.

Alex Fraser’s application to Kingston City Council, lodged in September this year, seeks a 15-year extension of its operating permit.

“Unfortunately, there are no viable alternative sites, and so we’re asking Kingston City Council for more time,” Peter says.

“We need more time so we can continue to recycle until we can relocate, to avoid adding to Victoria’s recycling and resources crises.”

Peter notes that Victorians want certainty about what’s happening with their waste. A decision is expected from council this year and if Alex Fraser is denied an extension, it may have to scale back its recycling.

“If this key recycling facility is shut down in 2023, it would significantly impact on Victoria’s recycling capability, and cut the supply of construction materials urgently needed for Victoria’s big build.”

“Victoria is already in a recycling crisis – this would only make matters worse,” Mr Murphy said.

Kerbside glass is at the heart of Victoria’s recycling crisis – the state government recently supported an improvement to the Clarinda facility recycling capability. This will enable the annual recycling and distribution of 200 million bottles worth of recycled sand. The site’s closure could mean this goes to landfill instead.

PLANNING COMPLEXITIES

As Waste Management Review reported in its 2018 article, Protecting our infrastructure, urban encroachment has pushed sites such as Alex Fraser’s away from the urban sprawl.

“It’s taken years for Alex Fraser to build a network of recycling sites of suitable scale, in locations serviced by major roads, that are close enough to raw and finished product markets,” Peter said at the time.

“The unfortunate reality is that a lot of effort from hard-working people across government departments, and a suite of very good specifications, plans and policies that would support better outcomes are completely undermined by some planning decisions.”

Peter says that relocating facilities is a complex exercise and simply rezoning new land does not alleviate the problems caused when zonings on ideal existing sites are changed.

The challenge for operators has been finding suitable sites large enough to achieve economies of scale close enough to where waste is generated.

Peter says that if Alex Fraser were to shut own, a major metropolitan quarry would have to be established to extract the same volume of resources.

ISSUE IN THE SPOTLIGHT

As highlighted in Victoria’s Inquiry into Recycling and Waste Management in June 5 hearings, glass mountains have filled sheds all over Melbourne. Alex Fraser’s response to the glass-waste conundrum has been to step up production with new infrastructure at Clarinda and a state-of-the-art plant in Laverton North. Together, these projects have increased the company’s capacity to recycle up to one billion bottles a year, including the most problematic glass waste streams.

“If you came through Bayside this morning, we have got a crew out there laying asphalt that has got glass, plastics, recycled asphalt in it…being used all day, every day, in massive quantities,” Peter told the hearing in June.

“It is also jobs like LXRA, various Monash upgrades, the Western Ring Road – all the way back to the Grand Prix track actually – that have got some kind of recycled content in them. So I think in Victoria the story is pretty good. Victoria’s big build is underway.”

He reiterated that the scale of these recycling efforts and the reuse in major projects and the scale was often misunderstood by lots of people, including at Clarinda.

“If you close that facility [Clarinda], you need to find a community somewhere that wants a big quarry established… and you need to tell them that they need a quarry because you shut down a resource recovery facility.”

“The Department of Economic Development, Jobs and Transport Resources did a very good study, three years ago, on the increasing cost to these projects due to carting quarry materials further out of town, and the cost is already well ahead of the base case.”

A letter from the Department of Treasury and Finance shows efforts were made to find an alternative site by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (formerly DEDJTR) and Sustainability Victoria.

The department’s scoping found site options that meet current planning requirements are extremely limited, with none available in proximity to the cities where waste in generated and end markets exist.   

In this vein, Alex Fraser’s Clarinda site has also previously been recognised as part of a hub of state significance in the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan for Victoria.

In a May 2019 letter to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry Into Recycling and Waste Management by the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, of which Alex Fraser is a member, CEO Rose Read points out that Clarinda is well known for operational excellence.

According to Peter, the company has not received any complaints regarding amenity impact on the surrounding area and was recognised for its high operating and environmental standards.

Its Alex Fraser’s significant market pull that has led to an outreach of support from numerous stakeholders.

In order to mitigate the issue into the future, Rose calls for the establishment of ‘green zones’ identified and protected for waste and recycling businesses that protect these assets for the life of the infrastructure.

Matt Genever, Director Resource Recovery at Sustainability Victoria, says SV recognised the site as an important site for resource recovery in Melbourne.

“Processing one million tonnes of recycling per annum, the site serves a dual purpose, both as a hub for construction and demolition waste in the south-east and through supply of aggregate and sand into new construction activities,” Matt says.

“We are acutely aware of the shortage of quarried materials to supply the state’s significant infrastructure program and having a site of this scale located in close proximity to these major projects is essential in ensuring ongoing supply of recycled construction products and materials.”

Wayne Russell, Visy Recycling Executive General Manager says that Alex Fraser had been an important partner to Visy for more than 14 years.

“Visy’s future glass recovery and recycling efforts would be severely hampered in the absence of the service the Alex Fraser network provides,” he says.

Mark Smith, VWMA Executive Officer, wrote of his concern of the unacceptable impact the closure of Clarinda would have on the Victorian waste and recycling network.

“Closure (even temporary) would have significant impact on Victoria’s recycling capability resulting in the accumulation and stockpiling of waste material,” he wrote.

At the beginning of September, Kingston Mayor Georgina Oxley confirmed 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.”

A Victorian Government spokesperson said the permit decision is currently a matter for Kingston City Council.

“We recognise the important contribution Alex Fraser makes to the recycling sector but also the concerns of local residents,” the spokesperson said.

“We’ll continue to work with both the council and Alex Fraser on resolving this matter.”

This article appeared in the October 2019 issue of Waste Management Review. 

Related stories:

Improving recycling rates in the workplace: Method Recycling

To achieve the change necessary to make a difference in Australia, there needs to be consistency and standardisation in the industry from the beginning to end, writes Dan Crawford, Method Australia Business Development Manager. 

Read moreImproving recycling rates in the workplace: Method Recycling

X