Last month’s Four Corners report on the waste industry raised a number of topical issues, including interstate waste transport (to avoid landfill levies), and the stockpiling of glass.
Waste Management Review recently covered the issue in detail speaking with MRA Consulting’s Mike Ritchie.
In August, Cleanaway released its statement in response to the program, with a focus on dispelling any associations with some of the issues raised in the investigation.
“We do not stockpile glass, nor do we transport waste from New South Wales to Queensland to avoid landfill levies, as others are reported to be doing. Cleanaway is committed to transparency and integrity in the way it operates,” the company said.
“We remain committed to our mission of making a sustainable future possible and to our Footprint 2025. Our entire value operating model is built around extracting the maximum value from waste, which means recovering more recyclables each year and exploring ways to continually reduce the volume of waste going to landfill.”
Below is the company’s response to some key questions arising from the program:
On the transfer of waste between NSW and QLD
Does Cleanaway transfer waste from NSW to QLD?
No. Cleanaway does not transfer waste from NSW to QLD.
We made a conscious decision at the time the landfill levy was abolished in Queensland to not transfer waste from New South Wales to Queensland.
Why doesn’t Cleanaway transfer waste from NSW to QLD?
This decision was made for two main reasons: first, because there are unacceptable risks associated with moving large volumes of waste across very long distances and, second, because we’re simply not prepared as a matter of principle to undermine the spirit of the legislation.
We remain committed to this and do not transfer waste from NSW to QLD.
On the stockpiling of glass and other recyclables
Does Cleanaway stockpile glass?
Cleanaway does not stockpile glass. In fact we have been exploring different options to more efficiently recycle and reuse glass across our network.
What is Cleanaway doing to avoid having glass stockpiles like some of the other operators in the report?
At our new Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) in Perth, we have invested in new glass crushing and clean up technology which allows us to create a glass sand product on site, which is ready for immediate use in civil construction as a sand/aggregate replacement.
Our Commodities Trading Desk remains focused on exploring new markets for recycled commodities to ensure the ongoing economic sustainability of our recycling operations.
We remain committed to our mission of making a sustainable future possible, and to our Footprint 2025. Our entire value operating model is built around extracting the maximum value from waste which means recovering more recyclables each year and exploring ways to continually reduce the volume of waste going to landfill.
On the risk of fire at landfills
How does Cleanaway manage the risk of fires from the coal seams when landfilling old coal mining sites?
All Cleanaway landfills are highly engineered and work to stringent licencing and environmental regulations.
Strict regulations specifically cover the disposal of waste in old coal mining areas. During cell construction, any coal seams must be removed. As a further precaution, a metre of clay is laid along the bottom and the sides of the cell to act as a thermal barrier between the cell and the waste.
Was the fire at New Chum caused by the coal seams?
There was a fire at our New Chum landfill in July 2017. The fire was on the surface level of the open face of the landfill which suggests that it was the result of waste material being hot at the time of disposal.
Fire is a risk during the process of disposing of waste in any site, although it is rare.
We take the safety of our people and the community seriously, so all Cleanaway sites have stringent processes to detect and manage and mitigate the risk of fire. The fire at New Chum was detected and extinguished quickly – highlighting the effectiveness of our processes.
Mike Ritchie, Director of MRA Consulting Group, explains why the issues of stockpiling glass and interstate waste transport are matters requiring government action.