Net zero diversion: Wastech Engineering

Jeff Goodwin of Wastech Engineering speaks with Waste Management Review about bolstering organics recovery with highly efficient equipment.

In its recently released Net Zero Plan Stage One: 2020-2030, the NSW Government outlines its plan to achieve net zero emissions from organic waste to landfill by 2030.

“Organic waste, such as food scraps and garden trimmings, makes up about 40 per cent of red-lidded kerbside bins. When sent to landfill, the decomposing material releases methane that may not be captured,” the plan reads.

“However, when this waste is managed effectively, through proper composting and recycling processes, methane emissions can be substantially reduced, soils can be regenerated to store carbon and biogas can be created to generate electricity.”

The plan follows similar initiatives in Victoria. With the state’s Recycling Victoria strategy targeting a 50 per cent reduction in organic material sent to landfill by 2030, with an interim target of 20 per cent by 2025.

Jeff Goodwin, Wastech Engineering’s National Product Manager Projects, is enthused by the announcements, highlighting Wastech’s long standing commitment to sustainable organics processing.

Food waste is a significant issue in Australia, Jeff explains, noting that a recent Rabobank Food Waste Report revealed that Australians wasted $10.1 billion in food waste in 2019.

“It’s heartening to see governments across the country committing to food waste reduction initiatives, which is something we at Wastech have been passionate about for a long time,” he says.

“Now is the time for waste companies and food waste generators to heed the call and start investing in efficient and high capacity food waste processing solutions.”

With a 99 per cent recovery rate for both dry and liquid products, Jeff says Wastech’s ATRITOR Turbo Separator is one such solution.

Available exclusively through Wastech, the Turbo Separator range comprises four models, making it suitable for a wide range of de-packaging applications including separating organics from food waste packaging and paper from gypsum.

“The Turbo Separator combines centrifugal forces, self-generated airflow and mechanical processes to remove organic material from packaging – allowing the recovered material to be recycled,” Jeff says.

“The machine can recover anything from bread loafs in plastic wrap, beans in tins cans, milk in cartons and even pet food in plastic pouches. The only material it can’t process is glass, given its sharding effect.”

Several Turbo Separator installations have been purchased recently by recycling companies across Australia, Jeff says.

“When people are eating at a food court it’s common to throw everything into one bin, creating a mix of food and packaging waste that has been traditionally difficult to recover,” he says.

“Using the Turbo Separator however, operators can take a garbage bag containing food waste and packaging, tie up the garbage bag and run it through the machine.

“This allows shopping centres, which produce high levels of food waste, to recover that material and divert it from the general disposal stream.”

However, these bags often contain contamination such as glass bottles, so Jeff says it’s prudent to consider an inspection station prior to the Turbo Separator to remove unwanted materials first.

He adds that as a rule of thumb, for every kilogram of food waste, 10 per cent is packaging.

“When you remove packaging from the organic material, you’re able to recover 90 per cent of each kilogram of food waste, which then saves that material from entering landfill.”

The Turbo Separator includes a variable-speed shaft fitted with paddles, which rotates above a number of screens. The shaft, Jeff says, typically runs between 100 and 1000 rotations per minute, generating air flow as well as centrifugal and mechanical forces.

“Packaged material is fed by an infeed conveyor into the separation chamber, where rotating paddles open up the packaging,” he says.

“The force of the paddles then creates a squeezing effect, which separates packaging from its contents and allows the packaging to retain its integrity.”

This, Jeff says, is an added benefit, with the Turbo Separator’s squeezing as opposed to shredding process producing organic material free of shredded packaging residue.

Depending on material type, the recovered organics can be used for animal feed, nutrient-rich compost or anaerobic digestion.

Jeff explains that the separator is also well suited to product destruction, such as water or soda from half drunken bottles. It can also be used at a commercial level to recover beverages that are past their sell by date or have been damaged or incorrectly packaged.

“For operators dealing with wet material, Wastech can fit the Turbo Separator with a pump that removes liquids from the recovered organic throughput,” he says.

The design of the machine is extremely flexible, for instance, if an operator is only dealing with dry material, the pump isn’t required. Or, if they are working in a confined space, the separator can be re-configured into a different arrangement.”

According to Jeff, Wastech is ready to assist as Australia continues the fight against food waste.

“Wastech has been working in this space for years and we’re in it for the long haul. We believe a future free from food waste is possible and are excited to work with waste companies and food generators to achieve it,” he says.

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Coles to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket

Coles has taken a step toward being Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, due to its commitments to continue reducing packaging and food waste as well as greenhouse emissions.

On World Environment Day on June 5, the supermarket giant announced its been one year since it unveiled Coles is driving generational sustainability part of the Group’s transformation strategy.

To date, Coles customers and team members have recycled 997 million pieces of soft plastic through REDCycle and donated grocery essentials to the retail value of $7.9 million to vulnerable Australians during COVID-19.

Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve, who leads Coles’ sustainability strategy, said the Group’s efforts have been due to over 115,000 team members serving more than 20 million customers every week, who “have a material impact on our ability to implement sustainable practices in the communities in which we operate”.

“Whether it’s making a donation at the checkout to SecondBite or dropping off soft plastics at a Coles REDCycle bin, each one of our customers are helping achieve our mission to become the most sustainable supermarket in Australia,” Keeve said.

Over the past 12 months Coles has made further progress on its commitments to increase the proportion of energy it sources from renewables and implement more sustainable processes across its stores.

“By using energy more efficiently and investing in renewable energy projects, we have reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by more than 35 per cent since 2009, including a six per cent reduction in the 2019 financial year alone,” Keeve said.

Coles has installed solar panels on 38 supermarkets since June 2019, increasing the total number of on-site solar electricity generation facilities to 68, while construction has also commenced on three new solar power plants based in regional New South Wales, from which Coles will purchase the equivalent of 10 per cent of its national electricity consumption.

In the past two months Coles has also opened two of its most sustainable supermarkets with Coles Local in Melbourne’s Hawthorn and Sydney’s Rose Bay.

Coles said that these stores feature team member uniforms made from 65 per cent recycled bottles, trolleys made partly from recycled plastic and free reclaimed customer carry boxes as an alternative to bags.

Coles stated it plans to roll these sustainability initiatives to more of its stores over the coming months.

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Cold-chain food waste costs Australia $4B

A new government and industry-sponsored study has revealed that food waste attributable to failures in the cold food chain costs the Australian economy nearly $4 billion at farm gate values.

The study was carried out by the Melbourne-based Expert Group for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and Refrigerants Australia.

Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) Chairman Mark Mitchell said the study highlighted the “shocking abuse” of temperature control and food handling processes in refrigerated transports, loading docks and cold rooms across Australia.

‘It is almost criminal that one quarter of Australia’s production of fruit and vegetables are never eaten,’ he said.

‘This loss alone accounts for almost two million tonnes of otherwise edible food, worth $3 billion. Meat and seafood waste in the cold chain costs the country another $90 million and dairy losses total $70 million.”

According to Mitchell, while the Federal Government has committed to reducing food waste by half by 2030, the goal wont be achieved unless substantial improvements are made to the way chilled food makes its way from farm or production facility to the consumer.

“We need to work cooperatively across industry and government to improve cold chain efficiency,” he said.

“Most of the cold food chain’s problems are human-induced. Technologies and processes already exist that would dramatically cut food losses, but nothing can be achieved while food manufacturers and distribution channels operate in isolation and secrecy.”

To minimise food waste, the study recommends handling processes such as reducing the time food spends outside refrigerated environments during transfer, more accurate measurement of food temperatures and more transparent monitoring of food in transit.

“An Australian Cold Food Code could be a game-changer for food producers and consumers,” Mitchell added.

“It is all very well to implore cold storage facilities, trucking companies and supermarkets to redouble their efforts to reduce food waste, but they need the support and guidance of an updated and practical code, combined with an education campaign for cold chain practitioners.”

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SA delivers $1.7M in funding for council collections and transport

The South Australian Government has approved $1.7 million in funding for projects designed to reduce household waste sent to landfill.

Environment Minister David Speirs said the funding, delivered through Green Industries SA, will assist councils upgrade and modernise waste collection and recycling services and increase kerbside diversion rates through innovation and improved efficiencies.

“Twenty-two regional councils will also benefit from transport subsidies, which will support councils’ continued recycling efforts by offsetting some of the extra costs associated with processing and transporting collected recyclables,” Mr Speirs said.

Councils awarded under the Regional Transport Subsidies Program include the City of Mount Gambier, Berri Barmera Council, City of Port Lincoln and the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority, which represents Alexandrina, Victor Harbor, Yankalilla and Kangaroo Island councils.

According to Mr Speirs, funding is allocated under three programs – one to reduce food waste sent to landfill, another to help councils modernise their collection systems and the other for regional council transport subsidies.

“Improved waste management is not only good for the environment, but it contributes to South Australia’s economic growth by creating jobs and developing new business opportunities to recycle and reuse our resources right here in South Australia,” he said.

The largest area for improvement in council kerbside systems is food waste, Mr Speirs said, which makes up approximately 40 per cent of the weight of household residual waste bins sent to landfill.

“By supporting councils to improve their collection of food waste we can lower waste management costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create a valuable resource like compost,” he said.

“I congratulate the seven councils awarded funding under the Kerbside Performance Plus (Food Organics) Incentives Program for their commitment towards implementing systems which assist with the diversion of food waste from landfill.”

Under the program, councils receive a subsidy for the cost of bench-top containers, compostable bags and production of householder education material.

Awarded councils include the City of Port Adelaide Enfield, which received $106,765 to reinvigorate an area-wide system for 20,900 households, and the City of Tea Tree Gully, which received $73,588 to improve its opt-in service for 8000 households.

Twelve local government organisations have also received funding to help modernise their collection services to increase landfill diversion, decrease contamination levels and improve data collection.

“Congratulations to the 12 local government organisations who are willing to push the envelope with investment in alternative delivery models and technologies such as smart bins to improve operational efficiencies,” Mr Speirs said.

Local government organisations awarded under the Council Modernisation Program include East Waste, which received $90,000 for Fight Food waste CRC audits and research, and Holdfast Bay, which received $97,900 for a weekly food and green organics collection pilot.

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On-site aerobic digestion with ORCA

Disposing food waste at the source prevents on-site decomposition, reducing odour and the presence of pests like flies, rodents and cockroaches. This is the idea behind the ORCA, which mimics the natural digestion process using microorganisms to transform food waste into an environmentally safe liquid.

iugis, an internationally managed service technology company, introduced the technology to the Australian market over two years ago, after six-years of operations in Canada and the United States.

The ORCA aerobic digestion process uses natural microbes, which are automatically sprayed into the unit, oxygen and naturally occurring heat to digest food waste down to a liquid. Once the material reaches liquid form, the ORCA passes it through an in-built filter and discharges it from the unit.

Additionally, the metabolisation and digestion rate is accelerated by continuous feeding, meaning operators don’t have to wait until the end of a cycle and material can be fed into the machine 24 hours a day.

Unlike traditional dehydration systems, the ORCA uses minimal energy, needing just single-phase power to operate. The ORCA is available in four sizes ranging from seven to 45-kilogram processing capacity per hour.

In addition to landfill diversion and reduced energy use, the ORCA allows businesses to diminish emissions through a reduced reliance on kerbside waste collections.

FIAL releases roadmap to halve food waste by 2030

Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL) has released its Roadmap for Reducing Australia’s Food Waste by Half by 2030, as required under the 2017 National Food Waste Strategy.

Each year, over seven million tonnes of food is wasted in Australia, costing the economy an estimated $20 billion, according to the roadmap.

The National Food Waste Strategy seeks to half this tonnage by 2030, with FIAL engaged by the Federal Government to work with stakeholders across the food value chain to identify appropriate actions.

According to FIAL Chair Michele Allan, the roadmap provides a clear path forward, documenting the steps and initiatives required to tackle Australia’s food waste.

“While work is already underway in many sectors, there are opportunities to improve coordination through robust governance, reporting against a balanced scorecard and better understanding the overall feasibility of achieving a 50 per cent reduction by 2030,” Dr Allan said.

Strategies include a Voluntary Commitment Program, which the roadmap highlights as a “powerful vehicle for reducing food waste across the supply chain.”

“An effective Voluntary Commitment Program that has been implemented internationally has been found to reduce food waste by up to 28 per cent. FIAL is currently developing a Voluntary Commitment Program for Australia,” Dr Allan said.

The program will look at ways to find innovative uses for waste and surplus food, embed new criteria into design, buying and sourcing and change commercial supply practices.

Further actions include scaling-up food rescue and relief, launching an ongoing national behaviour change program and mainstreaming Fight Food Waste CRC research findings.

Additionally, a number of targeted sector action plans have been drafted, with more scheduled in 2020.

“These plans take a ‘whole-of-sector’ systems perspective to identify opportunities and target interventions that maximise food recovery, reduce waste and create multiple benefits,” Dr Allan said.

“Everyone has a role to play in reducing food waste and now is the time to take action. We hope you will join us on the path to halving food waste by 2030.”

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Atritor Turbo Separator: Wastech Engineering

The Atritor Turbo Separator was developed to separate products from their packaging, releasing them for recycling or disposal.

Available through Australian distributor Wastech Engineering, the Turbo Separator enables up to 99 per cent of dry or liquid products to be separated from their packaging with minimal contamination. This allows the contents to be used for compost, anaerobic digestion or animal feedstock.

The Turbo Separator can be manufactured in a range of throughputs up to 20 tonnes per hour.

Additionally, the process is so efficient that it leaves packaging relatively intact and clean to facilitate downstream recycling. According to Wastech, when compared to other methods of packaging separation, the Turbo Separator achieves higher separation efficiencies with lower power consumption, resulting in reduced operating costs.

The Turbo Separator is ideal for separating out of specification, out-of-date and mislabelled products from a variety of packaging, including cans, plastic bottles and boxes. The diverse range of applications includes the separation of paper from gypsum in plasterboard, general foodstuffs from their packaging and liquids from their containers.

It is available complete with in-feed and out-feed conveyors and liquid transfer pumps. The Turbo Separator, with its durable construction and adjustable paddles, enables the separation of a wide variety of products.

Each Turbo Separator installation can be configured to suit multiple applications and a variable shaft speed enables enhanced separation efficiency. The machine is available in mild steel and stainless steel to suit the application.

De-packing for anaerobic domination: ELB and Peats Soil

As the food waste issue escalates, Peats Soil is transforming South Australia’s organic waste into high-grade renewable energy, with help from ELB Equipment.

Australia’s annual food waste bill hit $10 billion in 2019, up from $8.9 billion the previous year. Despite ‘fault’ often being directed at primary production and manufacturing, consumers were the biggest food waste offenders, generating 34 per cent of the nation’s food waste in 2019.

While the key to fighting food waste, and waste generally, is reduction, advancements in the waste-to-energy sector are highlighting renewable energy opportunities.

South Australia’s Waste Strategy 2015-2020, for example, highlights anaerobic digestion as a cost-effective solution in areas without the feedstock levels required to sustain large-scale waste-to-energy operations.

To that end, recyclers across the state are working to transform organic waste into energy and fertiliser, fostering a sustainable biofuel future.

Peats Soil is one of those operators, which in addition to processing much of metropolitan Adelaide’s garden organics via council kerbside, collects food organics from hotels, supermarkets, schools, offices and manufacturers.

Peats Soil opened its fourth compost and renewable energy site in May 2019.  Peter Wadewitz, Peats Group Managing Director, says Peats Soil is committed to realising the environmental impacts of soil improvement, biofuel and regeneration.

“Redirecting organic recyclable materials from homes and businesses away from landfill means methane gas is transformed into captured biogas for renewable energy production, without affecting the production of valuable soil improvement products,” he says.

To assist its operations, Peats Group maintains a long-term equipment supply relationship with ELB Equipment. The 10-plus-year relationship, Peter says, began after ELB took over Komptech’s Australian operations in 2009.

“We’d been working with Komptech for years, and always relied on them to supply high-quality equipment. When ELB took over, that reliability and quality continued, so we stuck with them. It’s a good relationship with quality backup and support,” he says.

Additionally, Peter adds that he continues to work with ELB due to the innovative choices they bring to market.

Introduced to the Australian market by ELB in 2018, the Dominator Depackaging Machine is one such innovation.

According to Simon Humphris, ELB Product Manager, the Dominator Depackaging Machine is designed to separate food and liquid from outer packaging, allowing the reuse of waste that would otherwise be destined for landfill.

The Dominator was developed in 1992 after a bag of animal feed accidently fell into a pellet press conditioner. The empty bag was reclaimed, but the product had been removed. The incident gave Rowan, a family-run biomass engineering company, an idea.

“Countless trials and adjustments later, the machine is capable of depackaging food waste, plastic bottles, tetra pak, tin cans, plasterboard, sachets and pharmaceutical and bakery waste,” Simon explains.

Separated packaging can be sent for recycling, he says, further reducing waste and potentially generating additional revenue streams.

“Expired or reject food with faulty packaging can be processed and used for anaerobic digestion, with the output also added to animal feed and used as a wet additive in compost facilities,” Simon says.

When Peter acquired a Dominator 3000 from ELB in early 2019, anaerobic digestion was a critical decision driver.

“We use the machine to grind and screen anything that’s housed in food packaging, from yogurt containers to apple cider bottles,” he says.

“The output then goes into our anaerobic digestor to generate energy, with the remaining sludge added to compost.”

To start the process, waste is loaded into an intake hopper where it begins conditioning. The Dominator then uses a motor to drive a solid steel shaft lined with paddles. Using mechanical and centrifugal forces, material is depackaged and forced through a mesh screen, leaving two separated waste streams for further processing.

Next, the material is augured and pumped into a holding tank, before it’s transformed into renewable energy.

The Dominator is available in two different models, Simon says, with an arrangement of different sizes depending on throughput and space requirements.

Peter’s model, the Dominator 3000, is available with up to 78 paddles, while the Dominator 3500 is available with up to 96 for heavy duty operations.

“Both models have a potential throughput of up to 255 cubic metres an hour and are available in mild or stainless steel, with motors ranging from 15 to 75 kilowatts,” Simon adds.

Portability is an added benefit of the depackager, Peter says, with the ability to move the machine seamlessly between four sites a crucial component of Peats Soils’ anaerobic process.

“There are other machines that do the job, but like with any purchase, you get to a point where while they’re all efficient, one is just a little bit better,”  Peter says.

“The Dominator stands out as one of the best depackaging machines on the market.”

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The Dominator Depackaging Machine: ELB Equipment

The Dominator Depackaging Machine is designed to separate food and liquid from outer packaging, and allows the reuse of waste material that would otherwise be sent to landfill at high cost. Developed after a bag of food accidentally fell into a pellet press conditioner, the machine can handle food waste, plastic bottles, tetra pak, tin cans, plasterboard, sachets and pharmaceutical and bakery waste.

Expired or rejected food and faulty packaging can all be processed by the machine and used for anaerobic digestion, added to animal feed or in compost facilities as a wet additive. The machine can also depackage municipal waste for later waste-to-energy application. Municipal waste is loaded into an intake hopper where it begins the conditioning process. The waste is then augured to the Dominator and pumped into a holding tank, before being used to generate renewable energy.

The Dominator uses a motor to drive a solid steel shaft lined with paddles. Using mechanical and centrifugal forces, material is depackaged and forced through a mesh screen leaving two separated waste streams for further processing.

The Dominator is available in two different models, with an arrangement of different sizes depending on throughput and space requirements. Both models have a potential throughput of up to 25 cubic metres an hour. The machine is available in mild or stainless steel, with motors ranging from 15 to 75 kilowatts. Different screen sizes can be achieved depending on finished product requirements. Effluent injection points can also be added to the barrel to assist with wet waste. The Dominator is an effective, easy-to-use solution for separating packaging.

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SUEZ and Yume announce strategic partnership

A new partnership with Yume will see SUEZ leverage its customer network to tackle commercial food waste, as more than 4.1 million tonnes of surplus food is sent to landfill each year.

SUEZ Australia and New Zealand CEO Mark Venhoek said by partnering with Yume, SUEZ continues to focus on building its existing local infrastructure and driving innovation and collaboration across industry.

“We need to start taking responsibility for all the waste we produce, and we can achieve this by joining forces to speed up the development of more advanced approaches to recycling in Australia,” Mr Venhoek said.

“This partnership will leverage off our national presence and extensive network of customers to connect food suppliers with food buyers – achieving better outcomes for quality surplus products that’s at risk of going to waste, in order to create sustainable value for our customers.”

According to a joint statement, 55 per cent of total food waste generated comes from the primary production, manufacturing and wholesale sectors.

“At the heart of this strategic partnership is a shared commitment to prevent quality food from going to waste,” the statement reads.

Mr Venhoek said partnering with Yume aligns with SUEZ’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by promoting responsible production and consumption.

“Yume has already sold over 1,350,000 kilograms of quality surplus food, returning nearly $5 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers,” he said.

“This is an incredible achievement and testament to Katy Barfield’s passion and commitment to the industry.”

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