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.

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ACT MRF stores paper and cardboard amid bushfire crisis

Paper and cardboard processed through the ACT materials recovery facility (MRF) will be temporarily stored to manage the impacts of the bushfire crisis in NSW.

According to Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel, the MRF at Hume processes approximately 470 tonnes of paper and cardboard each week from kerbside recycling bins, local council areas and commercial entities.

Mr Steel said the material is then packaged and sent to a Visy pulp and paper mill in Tumut, for recycling into paper and cardboard products.

“The operator of the MRF, Re.Group, has advised the ACT Government that although the Visy mill at Tumut has not been directly impacted by the fires, a number of their plantations and stored wood chips were burnt around the Eden area,” Mr Steel said.

“Visy’s products are manufactured using a combination of recycled content and wood chips, and the impact of the fire on the plantations means that Visy temporarily needs to slow production of recycled paper and cardboard.”

As Visy has been unable to accept all of the ACT’s paper recycling at this time, Mr Steel said the Hume MRF has reached storage capacity.

“While about half the volume of paper and cardboard will continue to be sent to Visy each week, the ACT Government has taken the decision to temporarily store the remaining material at Mugga Lane and West Belconnen resource management facilities over the coming weeks,” Mr Steel said.

“The additional storage locations have been determined in consultation with ACT Fire and Rescue to minimise fire safety risks, and ACT Fire and Rescue has also been involved in assessing the stockpiles at the Hume MRF.”

Mr Steel said temporarily storing the baled paper will help prevent land filling in the short term, while the state government waits for the recycling industry to recover from the fires and process the material.

“Landfilling is the last resort, and will only be considered if the recycling industry is unable to recover and increase production levels, and stored material can no longer be safely managed,” Mr Steel said.

“The ACT Government will continue to work closely with Re.Group to review arrangements and explore all options to avoid landfilling paper and cardboard. Re.Group are actively looking for other markets to sell the recycled paper and cardboard to and have been advised by Visy that they are working to resume full operations as soon as possible.”

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ACT opens bulky waste collection tender

The ACT Government is seeking applications for a service provider to implement its bulky waste collection service, expected to roll out mid-2020.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said local industry participation will be a key evaluation criteria in the selection process.

“The government is cracking down on illegal dumping, but at the same time we will also provide an accessible service for households to drop off unwanted bulky items to encourage good behaviour,” Mr Steel said.

“Greater weighting will be given to tenderers that can demonstrate a commitment of engagement and involvement of local businesses.”

The rollout of bulky waste will see each household receive a single collection per year of up to two cubic metres for items including damaged furniture and worn-out household appliances.

According to Mr Steel, residents will be able to book collections online, with exact service details to be determined in consultation with the service operator.

“We’ve rolled out green bins across the city and we’re rolling out bulky waste collection to provide better city services in Canberra,” he said.

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ACT Bins’ hooklift manufacturing

ACT Bins manufactures hooklift bins in various sizes from four cubic metres up to 40 with four-five and six-millimetre walls. This aims to provide superior strength and durability.

According to ACT Bins, its bins are some of the strongest on the market, with floors, doors and rows of 100 by 80 millimetres and a 100-by-100-millimetre channel down the sides and under the floor.

All the reinforcing joins along both sides are fully welded and have a 10-millimetre plate added to each side of the joins for extra strength.

ACT Bins uses a 50-millimetre steel shaft for the hooklift pin and 22-millimetre side plates and 10-millimetre gussets to reinforce the front A-frame.

The door hinges are 30-millimetre steel shafts. The locking mechanism has 12-millimetre steel plates. For extra security, the company notes a ratchet lock can also be added at minimal cost.

Both sides of the bin have 100-millimetre chamfers along the full length of the floor to help reduce dirt or contents build-up.

As an optional extra, the company can accommodate any AS2700 colour choice with two top coats of high-quality industrial enamel paint. Stencilling and welded serial numbers can also be arranged.

All bins are welded to Australian standards and available with a range of modifications to suit a customer’s requirements, such as rated crane lift pad eyes, oversize fork pockets and top swing watertight doors.

CDS collection app launches in ACT

A pick up app for the ACT’s Container Deposit Scheme is now available across the state, following successful trials in Kingston and Gordon.

According to Recycling and Waste Minister Chris Steel, Return-It Collect is a mobile service that allows users to book collections of eligible beverage containers from their business or home.

Mr Steel said containers can be handed over in person or left in a safe place for the driver to collect.

“We want to increase the number of containers deposited, and we recognise that getting local business involved and making it easier for them to return large amounts of containers is the most logical way of doing this,” Mr Steel said.

“Having a collection service is a great way for business to return containers without the hassle of their staff driving potentially thousands of containers to the return points each week.”

Mr Steel said Return-It Collect will charge a fee of four cents per container for the cost of providing the service.

“The app operates a similar way to ride sharing services, so users get real-time updates on when the driver will be arriving, when their containers have been collected, and when they’ve been counted,” Mr Steel said.

Return-It Collect will also allow users to track their environmental impact in terms of energy and greenhouse gas savings, as well as reducing waste to landfill.

“Canberrans really care about our environment and have been early adopters of new technology, such as Uber, which is why the ACT is a natural place for Return-It to launch this innovative new service,” Mr Steel said.

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ACT appoints new landfill gas manager

Green energy supplier LGI Limited will deliver gas infrastructure services to all ACT Government landfill sites, under a new 15 year contract with the state government.

Recycling and Waste Reduction Minister Chris Steel said the contract would see an estimated 34,900 megawatt hours captured each year, enough to power 5370 homes.

LGI Limited will deliver infrastructure upgrades at Mugga Lane landfill, including at least four power generators at Mugga Lane, each with the capacity to produce 1.06 megawatts of energy per hour.

Mr Steel said LGI Limited would also install an enclosed flare at the West Belconnen landfill to manage the safe destruction of gas onsite, as the volumes are not enough to provide a commercially viable quantity for sale.

According to Mr Steel, the ACT Government has been capturing landfill site methane emissions since 1997.

“Methane gas is generated when organic waste in landfill decomposes,” Mr Steel said.

“If properly managed, gas can be extracted and used to generate electricity, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.”

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ACT proposes single-use plastic ban

The ACT Government has released a discussion paper asking for contributions from the community on phasing out single-use plastics.

City Services Minister Chris Steel said the state could no longer ignore responsibility for plastics that litter the environment.

“Single-use plastic is commonly used for food packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away,” Mr Steel said.

“Single-use plastic litters our waterways, city parks and bush landscapes and goes into landfill where it may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.”

Mr Steel said the paper asks the community which problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics government should focus on including plastic straws and cutlery, disposable plates, cups and coffee lids, polystyrene plastic food containers and beverage cups and other non-recyclable plastics.

Proposed items that will be excluded from government action at this time include sanitary items, nappies and incontinence products, reusable plastic bags roughly 35 microns in thickness, health related sterile items, plastic beverage containers and microbeads — which are already being phased out by the territory.

“We are taking real action to become Australia’s most sustainable city,” Mr Steel said.

The European Parliament last year voted to ban single-use plastics in the EU by 2021.

Similarly, South Australia and the City of Hobart are also looking at phasing out single-use plastics.

“It is time that the ACT takes responsible action to reduce single-use plastics and build a circular economy where we reduce our reliance on these products and move to better alternatives,” Mr Steel said.

According to Mr Steel, while the ACT has already acted to reduce single-use plastic bags, through the introduction of the plastic shopping bag ban in 2011, it has the opportunity to do more to reduce the territory’s plastic footprint.

“It is still common place to see takeaway shops continuing to use plastic-foam takeaway containers like it is still the 1980s. Supermarkets also continue to sell plastic plates, cups and cutlery – when it seems like there are clear alternatives already being sold on their own shelves,” Mr Steel said.

“We want to hear from the community about how we can reduce the use of certain single-use plastics where there are clear alternatives that are good for the environment and practical for business, industry and consumers.”

Mr Steel said any decisions to phase-out single use plastics will likely have impacts on business, institutions and ACT residents, including people with a disability, and invites these groups to contribute to the discussion.

“We know from the plastic straw ban in other parts of the world that we need to consider the social equity impact on people with a disability, and I welcome their contribution on how we can responsibly manage our environment while taking these issues into account,” Mr Steel said.

“I encourage all interested or affected Canberrans to join the conversation and tell us their ideas about what they would like us to consider in phasing-out unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.”

The ACT discussion paper follows a similar announcement in Western Australia last week, with Minister for the Environment Stephen Dawson asking the public to contribute to the Let’s Not Draw the Short Straw – Reduce Single-Use Plastics paper.

Last year the Western Australian government banned lightweight plastic bags and instructed government agencies to stop buying avoidable single-use plastic items.

Mr Dawson also announced a funding partnership between the state government and the Plastic Free Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation committed to the reduction of plastic use in every day life.

The Plastic Free Foundation has been awarded $326,725 in state government funding, with an extra $484,126 coming from Lotterywest, to engage individuals and communities in in the state to reduce plastic waste.

“Waste problems are a shared legacy. The state government wants to hear your practical ideas on how to avoid and reduce single-use plastics so we can protect our environment for future generations,” Mr Dawson said.

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ACT trials recycled asphalt

The ACT is trialling asphalt made from recycled material including soft plastics, used printer toner cartridges, crushed glass and reclaimed asphalt material.

Roads Minister Chris Steel said the ACT is looking into how it could legislate a waste use requirement for new roads across the state, adding that if Australia hopes to build a circular economy all governments need to act and establish markets for the re-use of material.

“Every tonne of this innovative asphalt product will contain approximately 800 plastic bags, 300 glass bottles, 18 used printer toner cartridges and 250 kilograms of reclaimed asphalt.

“The reclaimed asphalt has been sourced from local roads, glass from the ACT’s kerbside recycling (yellow bin) system, and some of the soft plastic through the ACT Container Deposit Scheme,” Mr Steel said.

The first trial is being conducted on a roundabout on Gundaroo Drive, with the asphalt designed to be stronger and more resistant to deformation that standard material.

“The roundabout on Gundaroo Drive is a great place to trial this asphalt as it is a heavy traffic area, where vehicles are turning, and therefore putting more pressure on the road surface,” Mr Steel said.

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NSW crackdown targets illegal waste transporters

The NSW EPA has partnered with police, the ACT Government and local councils to target rogue operators supplying waste soil from construction sites advertised as clean fill to property owners.

Compliance and road side checks were part of the crackdown to ensure fill going to a site had the appropriate council approval to accept it.

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By targeting rogue operators during transport, the NSW EPA aims to stop contaminated and non-compliant materials being illegally dumped or passed off as clean fill to innocent land owners.

Accepting large amounts of fill can create potential dust issues and pollute waterways.

NSW EPA Senior Officer Janine Goodwin said in some of the worst cases, operators are providing unsuspecting residents with soil cheaply or for free that is contaminated with construction and demolition waste, heavy metals or even asbestos.

“Councils require landholders to apply for development approval to bring larger volumes of fill onto private property. If a property is used to accept this material without proper council approval, both the landholder, the owner of the waste and the transport contractor may be fined and the landholder may discover they have to pay to have the material removed,” Ms Goodwin said.

“We have been checking things like documentation to make sure the waste is correctly classified and going to a site that has consent to accept it.”

ACT EPA’s Narelle Sargent said waste being transported between the ACT and NSW needs approval.

“Transporters and builders are on notice that the illegal transport and disposal of waste will not be tolerated in the ACT region, and large penalties apply,” Ms Sargent said.

Canberra’s sustainability strategy tackles waste

A new sustainability strategy for Canberra has been released that set targets for waste reduction, increased recycling and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is part of Canberra’s City Renewal Authority’s goal to become a world class sustainable capital city as part of its built environment and design.

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Targets identified in the strategy for 2025 include waste and recycling management plans aim to target 95 per cent of construction resource recovery and increasing the onsite capture and reuse of organics, recyclables and bulky waste by 20 per cent over the 2015 level.

To hit these targets, the strategy plans to deliver exemplars of waste resource recovery in construction and operation phases of Canberran projects.

The City Renewal Authority’s sustainability program uses sustainability policies from across the ACT Government to form the strategy for the City Renewal Precinct.

City Renewal Authority CEO Malcolm Snow said Canberrans have a high expectation that their city be environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

“We want a city that will still support future generations, so we need to create a city now where sustainable living is a part of everyday life. This responds to the community’s expectation for government leadership on sustainable development and access to green space,” Mr Snow said.

“Social and environmental sustainability are vital elements of our program as we implement the design-led and people-focused renewal of our city precinct.

“We will make Canberra an even more liveable city by reducing its environmental footprint and setting a high standard of social sustainability,” he said.

Mr Snow said the Authority has set these targets to influence outcomes across the precinct as new development proposals are submitted.

“Achieving these outcomes will require collective urban leadership from government, the community and the private sector. It is in all our interests that the city grows in a way that improves the lives of current and future generations,” he said.

“We can’t do this alone and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help make the City Renewal Precinct an even better place for people to work, live and visit.”

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