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waste to energy

Mindarie Regional Council in Western Australia takes a deep dive into Waste-to-Energy to help member councils meet state waste targets.

Mindarie Regional Council is leaving no stone unturned as it aims for more waste avoidance and resource recovery.

The Council has entered a market sounding process for Waste-to-Energy services for its seven member councils – the cities of Perth, Vincent, Stirling, Joondalup and Wanneroo and the towns of Cambridge and Victoria Park.

Scott Cairns, Chief Executive Officer Mindarie Regional Council, says the process will give member councils the chance to consider options for dealing with their residual waste in line with the state’s waste strategy.

The Western Australian Government’s Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery (WARR) Strategy 2030 sets out a plan to reduce waste generation by 10 per cent per capita by 2025 and 20 per cent by 2030. Aligned with that is increasing material recovery to 70 per cent by 2025 and 75 per cent by 2030.

Local governments must implement Waste Plans, which align their waste planning processes with the waste strategy.

Scott says that with two Waste-to-Energy plants under construction in Western Australia, now is the time for councils to understand what capacity the plants have and their contractual arrangements.

“Each council has a Waste Plan that aligns with the state’s WARR strategy,” he says. “They must put a Waste Plan together to comply with better practice for residual waste.

“We need to at least test the market and see what our options are. At this stage we’re looking to get the best indication we can.”

Western Australia will be home to the country’s first two Waste-to-Energy facilities. The East Rockingham Waste to Energy (ERWTE) facility will treat about 300,000 tonnes a year of residual waste left after recycling efforts from municipal, commercial and industrial sources.

Avertas’ Kwinana project will use 400,000 tonnes a year of household and industrial waste to power about 50,000 households in Perth. It will divert up to 90 per cent of the volume of that waste from going to landfill.

Scott says both facilities are expected to open in about 12 months and it is important for Mindarie’s member councils to assess the market capacity. He says many Perth metropolitan councils have already signed contracts with the facilities to treat their waste.

“Local government waste is less than half of the state’s total waste,” he says. “If local government doesn’t take advantage of these facilities when they’re available they will likely look to the commercial market.

“We need to take advantage now or the facilities will fill up with waste from other avenues and who knows when or if we’ll be able to access Waste-to-Energy on the market.”

Scott says the Council developed a working group of officers and representatives from member councils so everyone has an opportunity to be heard.

He says it will be up to individual member councils to decide if they proceed down the path of Waste-to-Energy.

“It’s an interesting time with regards to waste management and resource recovery. In WA we will have two Waste-to-Energy plants open in about a year and it will have a major effect on waste management in Australia.

“If Mindarie Regional Council can bring this option to its member councils and they take advantage of the opportunities for the foreseeable future, they could overtake every other state in Australia for resource recovery and recyclables performance.

“Mindarie Regional Council is making sure its member councils have every opportunity to access this new option in waste management. 

“There is no commitment from anyone to do anything. We want to get ourselves in the best position to make a decision.”

Representatives of the two Waste-to-Energy facilities met with the Mindarie Regional Council in February. Scott says member councils are reviewing their options. 

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