Cleanaway acquires SKM Recycling for $66 million

Cleanaway Waste Management has acquired the assets of SKM Recycling for approximately $66 million.

The acquisition follows a public sale process by KordaMentha, who were appointed receivers and managers of SKM by Cleanaway, after the company acquired SKM’s senior secured debt.

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said significant progress had been made clearing waste stockpiles, repairing plants and equipment and bringing SKM sites to required safety, environmental and operational standards.

“I would like to acknowledge and thank the Victorian Government who helped expedite the clearing of waste stockpiles and the return of operations at the Laverton North site, through the loan provided to the receivers,” Mr Bansal said.

“We expect to gradually restore operations in Victoria over the coming months, to provide councils with a quality, sustainable solution for their recycling.”

Pursuant to the acquisition, Cleanaway will obtain the properties, plant, equipment and other assets of SKM, subject to customary completion adjustments.

The acquisition will provide Cleanaway with a network of five recycling sites, including three material recovery facilities and a transfer station in Victoria and a material recovery facility in Tasmania.

One of the Victorian facilities, in Laverton North Victoria, includes an advanced plastic sorting facility that separates plastics into individual polymer grades for sale or input into pelletising facilities.

According to an ASX statement, the acquisition also includes two properties in South Australia, which are not currently expected to form part of future operations and may be sold.

“Cleanaway is expected to offer employment to the majority of SKM’s full time staff,” the statement reads.

Completion of the acquisition is expected to occur by the end of October, with sale proceeds applied to repay Cleanaway’s senior secured debt, accrued interest and costs associated with the receivership.

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Cleanaway launches waste-to-energy plan

A Cleanaway and Macquarie Capital Green Investment Group joint venture will see waste from households and local businesses converted into power, for as many as 65,000 Western Sydney homes.

Cleanaway and Macquarie Capital are co-investing and co-developing the waste-to-energy project, which will eventually be operated by Cleanaway.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the proposal targets red bin waste that cannot be recycled, and will have the capacity to cut Western Sydney’s annual landfill volumes by 500,000 tonnes – almost a third of the red bin waste generated per year in the local area.

Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said that with technology available today, there is an opportunity for Western Sydney to become a leader in smart waste management.

“Our proposal, if successful, will turn rubbish that would have been landfilled into a clean source of energy that supplies the grid and contributes to more affordable power for consumers,” Mr Bansal said.

“By diverting waste from our landfills, an energy from waste facility would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. This is the same as taking approximately 100,000 cars off our roads.”

Mr Bansal said Cleanaway is committed to a comprehensive approvals and consultation process, and if successful, will pave the way for a facility using the world’s best high-temperature combustion technology.

“The emission cleaning systems ensure the emissions leaving the plant are cleaned before they enter the atmosphere,” Mr Bansal said.

“The proposal will be assessed considering the triple bottom line – making sure it creates social, environmental and economic benefits. We won’t spare any effort to ensure the design is leading edge in terms of environmental controls and safe for the community.”

To date, a site has been acquired for the potential facility at 339 Wallgrove Road, Eastern Creek, located in an industrial area surrounded by waste and recycling centres.

Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement is underway, which will contain information about the project proposal including environmental assessments.

The statement will be released for public consultation early next year.

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Coles partners with Cleanaway to convert waste into fuel

Coles has partnered with Cleanaway to recover energy from difficult to divert waste streams, at the Cleanaway ResourceCo Recovery Facility in New South Wales.

The partnership forms part of Coles’ zero waste to landfill supermarket trail, which aims to alter in-store processes, put greater focus on source separation and treat waste as a resource.

Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve said the trial would help Coles find new ways to reduce waste in stores.

“Waste management is a key component of the sustainability of any business, and reducing waste is a very important issue for our customers,” Mr Keeve said.

“Everyone knows Australia has challenges in how we deal with our waste. That goes for everyone from households sorting their recycling to businesses like Coles. We all have a responsibility to play our part.”

Mr Keeve said that by working with Cleanaway, Coles will be able to recover residual dry waste such as mixed plastic and timber, which historically has been difficult to divert from landfill.

“The Cleanaway ResourceCo Recovery facility uses dry waste to produce Process Engineered Fuel (PEF), which is then used to offset the demands of heavy industry for fossil fuels,” Mr Keeve said.

Cleanaway Solid Waste Services New South Wales Regional Manager Alex Hatherley said the process will provide a solution for Coles stores that produce high volumes of mixed back-of-house plastics.

“Our facility is unique in its ability to divert commercial dry waste from landfill, recover recyclable materials and then convert the remaining combustibles to a sustainable fuel source, PEF,” Mr Hatherley said.

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Return and Earn consumer research released

According to recent Return and Earn consumer research, eight out of 10 residents are satisfied with the New South Wales container deposit scheme (CDS), and over two-thirds believe it contributes to long-term recycling outcomes for the state.

TOMRA Cleanaway CEO James Dorney applauded the New South Wales community for their role in the scheme’s success.

“The success of the scheme is a testament to the incredible efforts of the NSW community who in July, returned and earned more than two billion containers in just 19 months since the scheme began,” Mr Dorney said.

“The survey showed that more than half of NSW residents are using the scheme, which in turn demonstrates how easy access to drop-off points and a well-planned network of collections and recovery infrastructure are critical to the success of any recycling system.”

According to the survey, 55 per cent of the New South Wales population have used the scheme, up from 48 per cent in December 2018.

Additionally, the survey showed that 78 per cent believe the scheme will benefit the environment.

Cleanaway Solid Waste General Manager David Clancy said the scheme had far exceeded expectations, reaching one billion containers in a year and two billion in 19 months.

Mr Clancy estimates that Return and Earn is likely to hit three billion containers before the end of 2019, accounting for almost half of all beverage containers sold in the state.

“Container deposit or refund schemes incentivise customers to return their drink containers to collection points in exchange for a refund,” Mr Clancy said.

“They are a perfect example of delivering on the triple bottom line of sustainability – there’s less litter in the environment, refunds can be used to benefit local community groups, associations and charities, and finally recycled containers become a part of the circular economy, extending the use of existing materials while reducing reliance on natural resources.”

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Cleanaway acquires SKM debt

Cleanaway Waste Management has acquired the senior secured debt in the SKM Recycling Group from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the largest lender to SKM, for approximately $60 million.

According to a Cleanaway statement, the debt is secured against all assets of SKM, with the exception of its Glass Recovery Services business.

“This includes the property, plant and equipment that form part of a network of five recycling sites, including three material recovery facilities and a transfer station in Victoria and a material recovery facility in Tasmania,” the statement reads.

“The site in Laverton Victoria includes an advanced plastic sorting facility, which separates plastics from material recovery facilities into clean, individual polymer grades for sale or input into a pelletising facility.”

Following the debt acquisition, Cleanaway appointed Mark Korda and Bryan Webster of KordaMentha receivers and managers for the entire SKM Recycling group, excluding its Glass Recovery Services entities.

“KordaMentha will immediately implement a three-point plan, with the aim to get the business back to capacity to help ease Victoria’s waste crisis,” the statement reads.

“The rescue and restructure package may include a sale of all or part of the assets. If a sale process is undertaken by the receivers, Cleanaway intends to participate in the process, and will undertake a thorough due diligence review of the business.”

Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said the acquisition would allow Cleanaway to work with the receivers to examine viable options for SKM.

“If a sale process is undertaken, and if we are successful in purchasing any assets, we will return the assets to a sustainable footing,” Mr Bansal said.

“It will also present us with an opportunity to add to our network of prized infrastructure assets as part of our Footprint 2025 strategy.”

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Electric vehicles hit the road

Waste Management Review talks to the stakeholders involved in trials of electric vehicles trucks to find out the challenges and opportunities behind the burgeoning technology.

In recent months, electric vehicle (EV) trials have been taking off with private waste management companies and councils across the country.

The City of Belmont, about eight kilometres east of the Perth CBD, was announced as the first site in WA for SUEZ’s fully EV truck.

Two months later, Cleanaway announced the first of two fully electric waste collection vehicles had begun kerbside collections in Victoria as part of a three-month trial.

Hobsons Bay at the time of writing had begun servicing households, while Mooney Valley had also planned to host the vehicle. Another trial in a council yet to be announced will also take place in WA.

The trial aims to ensure the vehicles will be tested across a variety of terrains and municipal settings.

As early as the 2018 Melbourne Waste Expo, WM Waste Management Services announced its plans to test three electric trucks with the City of Casey in Melbourne. These began over the past few months.

All EV-powered drive trains were fitted by SEA Electric with a Superior Pak body. In the City of Belmont, SEA Electric estimates the EVs will save around 35,000 litres of diesel each year and avoid around 90 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The noise levels are significantly reduced and reportedly akin to a whisper. The EVs are also presumed to offer significantly reduced maintenance, operate for more than 150 kilometres uncharged and have zero emissions from the vehicle.

EVS ON-BOARDING

Cleanaway is working towards zero-emissions vehicles by powering its EVs with its own renewable sources of electricity generated in other parts of the business.

Cleanaway Head of Fleet Paul Young tells Waste Management Review the EVs conversation started with SEA Electric and Superior Pak around 12 months ago. Superior Pak supplied and electrified the chassis and provided the body.

“It ties very clearly into our company mission to make our operations as environmentally sustainable as possible,” Paul explains.

He says that by not waiting for an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) solution, Cleanaway also identified an opportunity to be a market leader.

“We have a high level of inquiries mainly from our municipal customers around energy and being green so that is why we went down this path.

“We use the term trial, but the assets we’re building are starting the process. We’re not trialling and taking them out. They form part of our fleet like any other asset and we expect the asset to be operational like all other vehicles.”

Once the EVs have been tested by both SEA Electric and Superior Pak (SEA Electric tests the asset by running the vehicle for around 100 hours), they are sent off to the Cleanaway depot, where drivers undergo training by Superior Pak with SEA Electric.

SEA Electric continues to work with the drivers to optimise the vehicle for performance even as the driver is operating the vehicle.

Paul says the body operation is exactly the same as standard diesel vehicles with no changes to the mechanics of the operation.

He adds that another difference is that batteries will be replaced for longevity compared to engine rebuilds for diesel.

Paul says the noise reduction is significant. When it comes to wear and tear, the brakes are considered regenerative, lowering the number of brake pad changes required.

This means that during braking, rather than solely using the conventional brakes, the electric motor acts as a generator to provide a charge to the batteries. As well as providing a useful battery top up, Paul says this is expected to significantly reduce brake wear and subsequently repair and maintenance costs.

“While it is very early days, from a long-term cost perspective we see the benefit in reduced maintenance and fuel. However this will need to be monitored as the vehicle ages to verify the benefits.”

Paul says the vehicles are compliant with National Heavy Vehicle Law and other standard regulations.

While the batteries have added some weight to the vehicle, Paul says he expects this to shift over time.

For the time being, a minor compromise has been made on payload to gain the other benefits.

THE SETUP

Tony Fairweather, Group Managing Director at SEA Electric, says the entire power system is electrified.

This not only includes the battery and electric motor for direct drive to the existing differential, but all of the ancillaries such as air conditioning and heating for the cab, power steering, air compressor for braking and a 22-kilowatt on-board charger.

Tony says SEA Electric began developing the power system (known as SEA-Drive) around 2013.

He says that the company waited for the price of batteries to drop below USD 300 per kilowatt hour (kWh) before coming to market in early 2017.

Tony says that other than OEM chassis selection by the customer, most vehicles deployed to the various councils are largely similar in power system design and performance.

“In the three-axle rigid segment, we commenced with a 180kWh battery pack. However, due to the evolution of batteries and volume over time, our supplier is now able to offer 216kWh in the same size battery pack, which will increase further in the near term.”

He says the electric motor offers around 3500 newton metres of torque and 350kW of power. The vehicles charge in about eight hours (using the on-board charger), but have the ability to charge with (up to) 120kW DC charger and permit about 3500 charge cycles with a 10-year lifespan.

“We run about 700 kilograms heavier than the original tare weight of the internal combustion engine cab chassis which is around five to six per cent heavier. However as the battery density increases, this will reduce over time.”

The trucks are all fitted with an onboard charger, as this segment will typically require a duty cycle to be completed on a single charge, before returning to base to charge with a standard three-phase, 32A power point.

Tony says the vehicles charge during off-peak energy periods in the evening, which is cost-effective for operators, with the option of deriving their energy from non-renewable sources in the grid.

He says that now that the EVs have been tested, the next step is educating buyers who may be apprehensive. Tony notes that in California, buyers are offered up to $165,000 rebate to purchase an electric refuse truck while New York, Texas and Florida are expected to take on similar programs.

He says that given the duty cycle and relatively low kilometres of refuse vehicles, the business case is a no brainer for those in the metropolitan region, with a payback period of about four years without incentives.

He says there is also no risk of battery fires in the electric EVs as the batteries are large and operate at much lower temperatures than smaller EV batteries.

Tony says the next steps are also to work towards increasing government support. He says that Heavy Vehicle National Law regulations around gradeability and noise need to be updated to ensure that EVs don’t have to go to the mainly irrelevant process of complying with Vehicle Standards Bulletin 6 (VSB6).

Michael Strickland, WM Waste Management Services Project Manager, says that the provision of EVs in its service proved an important factor to winning a tender with the City of Casey.

The company currently has three EV compactor trucks as part of its newly acquired contract. It is looking at additional EVs in single axle and has already seen the benefits firsthand of reduced noise.

He says the vehicle uses a lot of power when picking up high speed on the freeway, so it’s about minimising travel time.

While it is still early days for the EV trial, Michael says a few issues are still being ironed out.

“Part of the issue is the trucks were modified and weren’t from the factory floor and with the EV factor, the floor truck had difficulty registering as there are a lot of different design rules,” Michael says.

Michael says initial computer teething issues have been sorted, although the company is getting around 140 kilometres of trips before a charge is needed. To ensure the collection run goes smoothly, start and finish crews work around this, ensuring WM Waste Management Services is able to get two runs a day.

BARRIERS TO ENTRY

A Senate select committee released recommendations earlier this year into increasing the uptake of EVs in the car, truck and bus sector. Some of the recommendations included that the Federal Government develop a national EV strategy to accelerate uptake and manage the risk and transitions of the vehicles.

Dr Peter Hart, former Chairman of Australian Road Transport Suppliers Association, welcomes the shift to electrification but is yet to be convinced of their effectiveness in refuse applications.

“The amount of energy you can store in one litre of battery is still only a fraction to that that can be stored in one litre of diesel fuel, so EVs will be advantageous where energy can be scavenged,” Peter says.

“I think lithium battery technology is advancing rapidly and energy density will continue to increase.

“There are safety issues you run into if you try and get too much energy into a given space. At present, technical standards do not adequately require protection against signs of internal battery degradation.”

He says like any new technology, the EVs will require trial and error to ensure the systems integrate.

“The key success factor for EVs in the waste industry will be to recover more than 50 per cent of the energy used to accelerate the truck from one pick-up point to the next, and to lift the bin. If this can be achieved, the range problem will be solved and the economics will be favourable.”

Charging points will also need to be kept out of the weather to prevent safety risks.

“If you went back a few years, everyone was interested in EVs for long distance haulage, but the reality is we can’t store enough energy so people are now interested in hydrogen fuel cells. In the metropolitan area around deliveries I think EVs will have a significant advantage.”

He says that battery fires are a risk. Lithium ion batteries should be charged using a battery management system that varies the charging voltage to individual cells to avoid over-charging. Peter says that EV trucks must have a well-designed battery management system.

Peter’s call to action is for the development of national (and international) standards that define good practice. He hopes the outcome of trials of EVs in the waste industry will be successful.

Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) Executive Officer Mark Smith says that those businesses who are testing and piloting EVs are also testing and piloting the re-sell value of these vehicles.

Mark says that as Australians see cheaper power provided to the national grid, EVs will effectively offer a competitive alternative to diesel and even beat the running costs for standard vehicles in urban/inner city environments.

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Cleanaway opens new Melbourne depot

Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal has officially opened the company’s new Perry Road Office and Collections Depot in Dandenong South.

The 53,000 square meter depot will house Cleanaway’s business and operational teams including the Victoria Post Collections leadership team, the commercial, industrial and municipal collections’ business, sales, administration, finance and fleet teams.

According to a Cleanaway news statement, the site features a 20-bay workshop facility designed for vehicle compliance and fleet productivity, with paved parking areas for 164 collection vehicles and the new electric vehicle fleet.

“The site is also equipped with fuelling stations with 100,000 litre capacity and automatic truck and parts washing bays,” the statement reads.

“Bringing together our administrative and operational teams from across Greater Melbourne is a key step forward to serving our customers better and making a sustainable future possible for communities across Australia.”

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Cleanaway trials electric waste collection vehicles

The first of two fully electric Cleanaway waste collections vehicles have begun kerbside collections in Victoria as part of a three-month trial.

The first vehicle began servicing household collections in Hobsons Bay. City of Greater Geelong and Moonee Valley will also host the vehicle to ensure it is tested across a variety of terrain and in different municipal settings.

Cleanaway CEO Vik Bansal said the vehicles are among the first in Australia to service kerbside collections, and will be under pressure to carry full loads and complete scheduled runs every day.

“With almost 5000 vehicles on the road each day, servicing homes and businesses all over Australia, we are looking for ways to do that more sustainably while continuing to deliver consistent service,” Mr Bansal said.

“Sustainability is about more than removing emissions at all costs. If service levels drop or waste collection costs increase significantly for ratepayers – that isn’t sustainable.”

Cleanaway Head of Fleet Paul Young said the company is optimistic about proving the reliability of the technology.

“The trial is designed to encourage fast learning so the electric vehicles can continue operating once the trial has ended, allowing Cleanaway to introduce more electric and combination fuel vehicles to the permanent fleet,” Mr Young said.

“With zero emissions, the vehicles are expected to run for 180-200 kilometres before needing to recharge. The brakes also regenerate – reducing repair and maintenance costs and the consumption of other parts like brake pads.”

According to Mr Young, the vehicles significantly reduce noise, making early morning or late-night collections possible for some waste streams.

Hobsons Bay Mayor Jonathon Marsden said the trial complements the great work already happening in the sustainable transport realm.

“These initiatives support our key priorities in the Hobsons Bay 2030 Community Vision of exploring sustainable practices and growth through innovation, technology, job creation and education,” Mr Marsden said.

“It’s also a step in the right direction of council’s draft Waste and Litter Management Strategy 2025 to trial alternative fuels in the waste, recycling and litter collection fleet.”

The vehicles were commissioned by Cleanaway in conjunction with SEA Electric and Superior Pak and are not yet in mass production.

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The NWRIC’s visionary policy

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council CEO Rose Read highlights the association’s priorities in 2019 and its long-term plan for resource recovery in Australia. 

Read moreThe NWRIC’s visionary policy

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