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ResourceCo is planning a multi-project expansion to harness the energy of construction and demolition waste across Australia.

Australia’s push to a circular economy is gaining impetus, but nearly 15 million tonnes of construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste still ends up in landfill each year.

Henry Anning, Chief Executive Officer of ResourceCo’s Energy Systems, says tackling this waste is at the forefront of a strategic plan that will open a pipeline of new resource recovery facilities for the company.

ResourceCo is developing several projects in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia to divert more construction and demolition (C&D) and commercial and industrial (C&I) material from landfill. Leading the charge is a $50 million waste-to-energy facility in the South East Brisbane suburb of Hemmant to process C&I and mixed construction and demolition waste into Process Engineered Fuel (PEF).

“It’s the first plant of its kind in the Queensland and Brisbane market which will allow a significant diversion of material from landfill,” says Henry. “It means more diversion from landfill, more recycling, more renewable energy, more jobs and more carbon abatement.”

The Hemmant plant has been partly funded through the Queensland Government Resource Recovery Industry Development Program. Since 2018 the program, which is part of the $3.34 billion Queensland Jobs Fund, has supported 29 projects that will divert 1.3 million tonnes of waste from landfill each year and create more than 360 jobs across Queensland.

Construction of the ResourceCo facility will begin in the first quarter of 2022 and it is expected to be operational by mid-2023. The plant will replicate ResourceCo’s joint venture with Cleanaway in Wetherill Park, New South Wales, which converts up to 250,000 tonnes of raw material waste into about 150,000 tonnes of PEF each year.

ResourceCo has established markets in Australia and overseas for PEF, which is widely used for energy production in cement kilns.

Henry says PEF has largely “flown under the radar” when compared with other waste-to-energy proposals but it has huge carbon benefits, abating hundreds of thousands of tonnes of CO2. An area that is gaining importance in both an industry and social context.

“In the past 18 months, sustainability and carbon abatement interest has gone through the roof,” Henry says. “One of the most fundamental reflections of that is the price of carbon credits has gone from $15 to $50.

“It reflects the increasing demand from the market. People are getting more serious about their carbon commitments and needing to achieve carbon reductions as we work toward a net zero future.”

ResoureCoEvery tonne of waste ResourceCo diverts from landfill saves about one tonne of carbon. While ResourceCo has been working with carbon abatements and credits for the past 10 years, Henry says community recognition of the impacts of climate change, coupled with government policies, has pushed it into the spotlight.

“Going back to the Victorian and New South Wales bushfires two years ago, at the time there was strong recognition among the community that climate change is having an impact in Australia, that these events are more common, and we need to do more as an individual and country to deal with carbon abatement,” he says.

“There’s since been a level of corporate commitment and heavy industry driving demand. The last couple of years, the level of activity we’re seeing from big manufacturers and industrial businesses is huge.

“Our customers are demanding not just economic outcomes but carbon outcomes.”

Henry says the waste sector has huge potential for carbon abatement, both in helping other industries decarbonise their waste and in providing Waste-Derived Fuel and Waste-to-Energy that can provide renewable heat and renewable baseload electricity.

“The Federal Government’s bio energy roadmap, released in 2021, set out three key areas where Australia has the greatest potential and need – industrial heat, green gas and sustainable aviation fuels,” he says. “All of which can be provided by the waste sector.”

Henry says the carbon abatement market will continue to move quickly on the back of larger corporations taking leadership roles and setting benchmarks.

He says ResourceCo continues to develop new projects and a pipeline of resource and energy recovery facilities that will help to unlock carbon abatements and he is hopeful that at some point carbon abatement will be the norm for all business.

“At the very simplest level of the waste sector, businesses need to know where their waste is going and what is happening to their waste. It’s imperative that all businesses, large and small, know what’s happening to their waste.

“We will always need landfill. There will always be a proportion of waste that there is no better use for, but most of the forecasts from government is that the proportion
is 10-15 per cent of waste as opposed to the around 40 per cent it is now.”

For more information, visit: www.resourceco.com.au

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