Giving back to the land: Enrich360

Brisbane Airport has installed an enrich360 dehydrator at its Skygate Precinct, enabling it to reach its landfill diversion targets and move towards a circular economy.

Last year’s announcement of the waste levy in Queensland created a new business case for Brisbane Airport.

With the levy stimulating additional demand for resource recovery solutions, Brisbane Airport began to look at diverting some of its most prominent waste streams.

Having previously conducted audits into its incoming tonnages, the airport knew food waste was its second biggest input after glass. Moreover, the airport has a target to divert 80 per cent of its total waste from landfill by 2030, with food waste emerging as the low hanging fruit.

Andrew Masci, Environment & Sustainability Adviser, says the airport decided to investigate and identify a suitable food waste service. He says that this was its first foray into non-standard commingled recycled, with the airport also participating in the QLD Government Container Refund Scheme.

In a six-month investigation process, enrich360 emerged as the most suitable choice, with its food dehydrator arriving in February this year and timing well with the levy’s 1 July start date.

Launched in late 2017, enrich360’s program uses a dehydrator to condense food waste into recycled water and biomass that can be utilised as fertiliser or as part of compost. The model is established on a closed loop system where restaurants and food service businesses across the country convert their food waste into rich organic fertiliser to give back to farmers and grow better, more nutritious produce.

The benefits lead to more resources being recovered while replenishing globally scarce nutrients and improving Australia’s low food waste recovery rate. The process works to reduce the volume of food waste by up to 93 per cent and create a sterile and pathogen-free material. In a closed loop reverse logistics process, logistics partner In2food picks up the materials during their usual drop-off route and delivers them to farms.

Brisbane Airport’s Skygate Precinct was chosen as the ideal location for a trial of the dehydrator as it was not too busy and included a range of food outlets in the area.

Enrich360’s suitability centred on Brisbane Airport’s desire to ensure its food waste would always find a home, ensuring it did not go to landfill when the airport didn’t have an end-to-end solution.

“Brisbane Airport is transitioning to a circular economy and that is why enrich360 grabbed our attention. There were different dehydrators in the market, but none offered the full service,” Andrew says.

“It took three months to kick off with a few teething issues, but now we are getting amazing results.”

The results speak for themselves, with enrich360 diverting 5500 kilograms of food waste since commencing its trial in February.

Andrew says that around 11 retailers have so far participated in the program. He say the dehydrator is able to detect whether it is overfilled and unfilled. Depending on moisture content, it takes roughly 10 to 12 hours to produce the biomass.

He says that participating retailers will soon be able to take part in a certification scheme that will allow them to showcase their involvement in the program to their customers. The scheme requires partners to demonstrate compliance to the organisation’s program to be granted an enrich360 certification mark.

As an added benefit, Andrew says that Brisbane Airport is also testing whether single-use compostable items could break down in the machine and support the maturation process.

“What I like about the machine is it takes a lot of different varieties of food waste, including chicken bones. There is very little it can’t handle,” Andrew says.

To ensure the system is commercially viable for operators, enrich360 provides purchase, rent and rent-to-own options – enabling businesses to dehydrate food waste on site and have it collected for farms or off-site composting.

The airport is now looking to expand its programs to the main terminals: a challenging, but ambitious next step.

Dean Turner, enrich360 CEO, says with issues of climate change sweeping through the headlines, the system has never been more timely. He says enrich360 is now getting buy-in from a range of businesses, including retail, restaurants, food outlets and universities.

“One of the interesting things in talking to our other global partners who sell this equipment is it was developed eight years ago, and what we’re feeling is it was eight years to early. Now is the time when people are ready for this technology,” Dean says.

“Certainly we found visitors at the Waste Expo were visiting our stand in droves. Almost everyone wanted to talk about their situation, from manufacturing plant operators right through to large-scale primary producers.”

He adds that primary producers, for example, tend to have massive volumes with high water content and the dehydrator can create a water source and dry output slow-release fertiliser.

“When you dehydrate the food waste, you get a green standard recycled water that can be used for all sorts of end uses, including irrigation.”

Dean says the company is now setting its sights on moving into hospitals and the aged care sector.

“An aged care facility can use the water and fertiliser each day across their grounds, creating a circular economy within their own premises,” he says.

In future, he hopes demand for the outputs will be so high that it creates a commodity that end users are prepared to purchase from the generator.

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Network provider selected for QLD Container Refund Scheme

Queensland’s Product Responsibility Organisation, Container Exchange, has selected recycling company Envirobank Recycling as the network provider of container refund points for the Queensland Government’s Container Refund Scheme (CRS).

Envirobank will provide a minimum of 48 collection points along the Queensland coast across Cairns, Townsville, Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

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Collection points will include Coles supermarket locations, community collection points with not for profit partners such as Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) and three large-scale automated depots for bulk processing of large quantities for businesses and community groups.

The Queensland CRS launches on 1 November 2018 and aims to reduce beverage container litter across the state.

Drink containers are the second most commonly littered item in the state, with around 2.4 billion generated annually even though the majority of the containers can be recycled.

A 10 cent refund is provided for each eligible container that is returned to a collection point, with payment made through cash, retail vouchers or digital payments such as Scheme ID or a PayPal account.

Container Exchange Acting Chair Alby Taylor said the criteria for selecting operators was an extensive process designed to meet customer needs.

“Our tender process generated a lot of interest from both small and large operators and in the end, it came down to ensuring we provided the best service to the Queensland public,” Mr Taylor said.

“We have listened to the feedback from other states and in Queensland you will see a lot more mobile collections to ensure we can get to as many people as possible wanting a refund.

“We will have depot sites as well as bag drop options in many communities, with many operations benefiting local community groups and charities,’ he said.

Envirobank Founder and Managing Director Narelle Anderson said her goal is to make collecting refunds easy for the public, so they can be rewarded for their recycling efforts.

“We are always dreaming up new ways to ensure people not only get convenient access to the scheme, but also choose the way they want to get their refunds,” said Ms Anderson.

“Envirobank has been a long-term network operator in the Northern Territory Scheme and it’s evident the program is much more than a litter reduction initiative.

“With the right partnerships in place the Scheme has the potential to raise substantial funds for many charities that deliver the vital services we need in our communities.”

Coles Queensland General Manager Jerry Farrell said the partnership was in line with the retailer’s sustainability commitments to improve recycling and reduce waste sent to landfill.

“Coles has made a public commitment to crush waste and reduce landfill, and our partnership with Envirobank in Queensland is a great opportunity for us to work with our customers to stop empty plastic containers ending up on the streets, our waterways or in landfill,” Mr Farrell said.

The scheme offers charities, community groups and not for profits a way of fundraising by setting up donation sites.

SLSQ CEO John Brennan said the partnership with Envirobank will help maximise the benefits for volunteer surf lifesavers.

“We are thrilled that the Container Refund Scheme is coming to Queensland and, by partnering with Envirobank, it means that each of our 58 clubs right up and down the Queensland coastline will have the opportunity to benefit financially,” Mr Brennan said.

“Every valid container put in a donation point at one of our clubs is a new stream of income that will be re-invested straight back into their lifesaving work in their local community.”

Image: Narelle Anderson

Volvo Group Australia to upgrade Queensland facility

Truck manufacturer Volvo Group Australia has announced it will upgrade its current truck plant in Wacol, Brisbane.

The news was announced at the launch of the company’s $30 million Australian headquarters and Brisbane south dealership.

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The new headquarters houses offices, a dealership dedicated to Volvo, Mack and UD trucks, which all had models on display and a 33,000 square metre workshop at the new Metroplex Westgate business park.

It features a Leonardo Di Vinci-inspired helix central staircase made of muted Scandinavian timber and a seven-metre glass hangar door inside a 12.5 metres high atrium to accommodate the display of heavy vehicles.

The company employs more than 1500 employees around Australia and has produced more than 60,000 trucks from its Wacol factory since 1972 when it first began manufacturing in Queensland.

Volvo Group international President and CEO Martin Lundstedt said the refurbishment of the nearby Wacol truck plant attests to the strong outlook of the company as it ramps up production.

“Our increase in market share towards 27 per cent over the past five years in combination with a strong heavy-duty truck market, makes it necessary to further increase our production capacity,” he said.

“In the past five years alone, production at our Wacol factory has increased by 40 per cent.”

Mr Lundstedt said the investment in the new Wacol facility will provide a boost to its 85 local component suppliers.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the announcement at the opening of the new facility, which employs 500 workers and is a significant part of the state’s manufacturing base.

“Volvo Group is the only truck manufacturer to be awarded ‘Australian Made’ certification, and we’re particularly proud to call them Queensland-made,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

Their commitment to the state is a vote of confidence in our future and testament to the State’s economic strength.”

Outgoing Volvo Group Australia President Peter Voorhoeve said the building housed 200 staff.

“It’s a beautiful building but more than that it’s a tangible demonstration of Volvo Group’s commitment to its future operations in Australia,” he said.

Brisbane battery recycling boost from Lithium Australia

Lithium Australia has announced it will begin manufacturing and recycling advanced battery materials at its research and development lab, VSPC, in Brisbane.

The company aims to close the loop in the energy-metals cycle and is seeking to establish a vertically integrated lithium processing business.

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It aims to improve the lithium-ion battery supply chain with the company’s SiLeach lithium extraction process, superior cathode production, and enhanced recycling techniques for battery materials.

VSPC’s pilot production facilities have been fully re-commissioned, allowing the company to assemble and test lithium-ion coin and pouch cells.

Lithium Australia managing director Adrian Griffin said the company intended to turn VSPC into a global facility for manufacturing advanced cathode materials as well as for battery recycling.

“VSPC gives Lithium Australia the opportunity to manufacture the world’s most advanced cathode materials – at the high-margin end of the battery metals market. Importantly, VSPC will also allow us to capitalise on waste batteries as a feed source,” he said.

“We anticipate immense pressure on the supply of energy metals such as lithium and cobalt in the near future. Battery recycling not only supports sustainability but may also, ultimately, prove the cheapest source of those energy metals materials in years to come.

“The ability to produce cathode powders from these materials, while also controlling particle size, is clearly advantageous. It is an integral part of our sustainable and ethical supply policy,” Mr Griffin said.