In the pipeline

In the pipeline

By repurposing used pipelines for the mining sector, New Life Waste is setting a precedent for material plant recycling in the Northern Territory.

In the pipelineWith more than 20 years’ experience in material recycling, New Life Waste state consultant Doug Faulkner has seen first-hand the industry’s momentum to material repurposing and recycling.

“I initially started in material recovery, now with the plastic export ban alternative methods for treating waste have become a priority. Rather than a hindrance, the export ban has provided a great opportunity for us within the waste industry,” he says.

New Life Waste saw an opportunity to partner with major mining companies to treat piping. Rather than sending it to landfill, it is repurposed as plastic pellets.

As the first facility of its kind within the Northern Territory, the pipe recycling plant will offer a direct solution for pipe removal for some of the areas largest mining sites.

As Doug explains, the circular process not only benefits New Life Waste, but also reduces costs for mining companies.

“The mines have to pay for some transport, but the mines love the idea that they are able to recycle piping rather than leave it in landfill. It’s a positive outlook for their business and reduces costs for treating the piping in the long run,” he says.

As well as a boost for the mining industry, the pipe recycling plant will also provide a major boost for the Norther Territory economy, especially in rural towns.

Situated in Humpty Doo, just 40km from Darwin, the pipe recycling plant will also provide employment opportunities to communities throughout the region.

Doug says the decision to base the plant in rural areas allows the plant to be closer to the product source, and rewards rural communities with job-seeking residents.

“It is rewarding to be able to provide the opportunity to bring employees through our system where they can be certified for plastic treatment,” he says.

“We anticipate that we will employ 33 people in the factory by the end of the year, which is an amazing boost for the economy. All staff will be trained on plastic pellet handling and will allow the plant to have a 24-hour operating capability.”

Staff will also be trained in pipe stacking and washing, with some mining sites containing contaminated products.

The entire project has been entirely self-funded by New Life Waste, who has plans to expand its recycling network across the waste industry nationally.

“It’s in our name. We are always looking at other avenues of recycling which will grow our operation to treat other waste materials such as tyre,” Doug says.

In terms of the material volume, New Life Waste is developing two other sites in Perth and Adelaide to treat what Doug expects to be a surplus of piping supply.

“Perth will reflect our current facility. Darwin has been the rock and the stepping-stone for our entire operation,” Doug says.

“The way that we have set up this plant is unique and incredibly efficient. We have the right equipment and possibly the largest shed in recycling.”

The Perth installation will also engage with an indigenous stakeholder in the region, who will support the project.

Current projections for the facility predict that the manufacturing scale will be more than 400-tonne of product per month, with hopes that further developments can triple the facility’s production.

“Our ambition for growth will only be matched by the incoming supply of piping. From just one installation currently we have enough product to keep the facility going for two years,” Doug says.

Facilities for plastic pellet production will also be developed in Queensland.

“We are looking to put in a fretting facility in Mount Isa, where we will treat and pelletise product on site,” he says.

“Mining companies are very excited about the sheer volume of material that we will be able to treat once fully operational at these sites.”

New Life Waste uses Applied Machinery for its facility equipment as well as servicing. Doug says his relationship with the supplier has enabled the facility to successfully treat its first piping products.

“Applied Machinery have looked after our current needs. I have been dealing with Applied Machinery for nearly 30 years now. So, I know their services will support New Life Waste into the future as well,” Doug says.

“There are different ways you have to handle different types of plastic, there are teething problems. Some people think that establishing a functional material recycling plant is simple in principle. It isn’t.

“By working together, you solve problems in our industry. It doesn’t happen overnight.” 

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