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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Untapped potential: Repurpose It

Repurpose It has partnered with a leading mulch distributor to scale up its green waste capabilities and support the Victorian marketplace with value-added garden supplies.

Melbourne’s resource recovery network is filled with passionate and experienced businesses often quietly operating in the background to ensure consistent and clean material supply.

Producing value-added end products is the bread and butter of recycling, and in the area of green waste, there’s a multitude of expertise waiting to be untapped.

As one of Victoria’s leading garden supply distributors, Bark King provides barks and mulches to most garden supplies in metropolitan and rural areas. Its extensive product range spans barks, coloured decorative, natural and recycled timber mulches, softplay, compost and soil.

As a supplier for government departments, landscape firms and educational institutions, sustainability has formed part of the company’s ethos since its humble beginnings in 1975.

Now in its 44th year of trading, the Australian-owned company is directed by Founder Harrold Johnston’s sons Robert, Jeff and Stuart.

Using sustainable raw materials ensures Bark King offers a closed loop solution with its entire product range a by-product of other processes.

While Bark King offers its own unique value proposition to the market, it has discovered the power of collaborative partnerships, working extensively over the past two years with construction and demolition recycler Repurpose It.

Repurpose It was founded by four experienced operators across a variety of sectors spanning logistics, road sweeping and construction, organics waste processing and infrastructure maintenance.

In the area of organics, Co-founder Anthony van Schaik brought considerable experience as a Managing Director in the organics sector and it’s these established networks that inspired Bark King and Repurpose It to work together.

Since acquiring a unique 150-acre site in early 2017 in Epping, Melbourne, Repurpose It has formed a variety of partnerships with councils, contractors working on major projects and resource recovery organisations to process a variety of wastes.

Through its state-of-the-art construction and demolition washing plant, Repurpose It has continually refined its capabilities to accept organics, glass, street sweepings and excavation waste such as rock, sand and silt from major projects.

Repurpose It’s ability to receive and process street sweepings led Bark King to begin working with the company in June 2017, with Bark King taking and processing its materials at its Hallam facility.

Ashley Johnston, Bark King Business Development Manager, says it wasn’t long before an opportunity arose for the company to grow its partnership by relocating to the Epping site.

By processing Repurpose It’s green and timber waste, Bark King was able to substantially increase its market share and reintroduce finished products back into the agricultural and forestry industries.

Bark King could also offer its services on the transport side, while Repurpose It leveraged its extensive Epping site, which is uniquely positioned near major arterial roads.

“Recovering organic material, including pine bark, using our large fleet of trucks is the core of our business,” Ashley explains.

“Contributing to Australia’s smart, low-carbon economy of the future by playing our part in reducing disposal and recovering as much value from Australia’s natural resources is a goal that Bark King achieves every time a customer purchases one of our products.”

Complementing Repurpose It’s vision of industrial ecology, nothing Bark King receives ends up in landfill, with organics a prominent focus.

Ashley says that Bark King sources by-products from the local Victorian, South Australian and NSW forestry industry, processing around 75,000 tonnes per year. Organic residues are processed at its three sites in Hallam, Epping and Montrose and recycled into natural bark products.

Bark King applies strict guidelines on what it receives, ensuring any contaminated products are stopped at the weighbridge and fees applied. The green waste comes from a variety of councils and major project contractors in the building and demolition space and their respective waste management contractors.

“The joint partnership allowed both companies to use the best practices developed over the past 45 years to recycle and reintroduce products back to the market as high-quality organic growing substrates, soil conditioners and garden mulch, playing our part in the circular economy.”

Ashley says that sharing the same site as Repurpose It, which creates high-value end products, has given Bark King the refresh it needed to explore and play with new industry techniques.

“This ensures all natural pine bark supplied by Bark King is processed by us and not reliant on others,” he says.

He says that being able to manufacture quality products is very important to Bark King and great care is taken to ensure consistency across its range.

For example in its playground range, the company tests and accredits their playground surfacing to AS/NZS 4422 and AS4685 regulations. Bark King produces more than 75,000 cubic metres of soft cushioning mulch designed specifically for playgrounds and safeguards.

Ashley says that the agricultural and forestry industries play a key role in managing our natural resources and as the sectors become more sustainable, the partnership with Repurpose It only becomes more important.

Repurpose It’s George Hatzimanolis says the opportunity to partner with like-minded businesses that share the company’s vision for preserving Victoria’s resources for future generations has been mutually rewarding.

“Bark King’s product range and existing market outlets has enabled Repurpose It to broaden outs is service offerings to its clients and provide a closed loop service for organic waste streams being generated from major infrastructure project,” he says

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Peterson 2700 Series Grinder

Peterson’s 2710D caters to high production operations for wood and green waste and frequent moves between jobs.

Available through Australian supplier Komatsu Forest, the Peterson 2710D is accessible in five different models, including 4710, 5710 and 6710.

The machine provides the choice of engines of a powerful Caterpillar Tier IV C15 580 horsepower or optional Tier II C18 765 horsepower for export. As a heavy duty and mobile machine, the 2710D offers high throughputs in a reduced size.

Peterson’s three-stage grinding process provides a consistent product and better fracturing of material than previous models. Its patented impact release system airbags provides uniform grinding and protection from contaminated feedstock.

Its large feed opening is ideal for processing odd sized feedstock. The opening is among the largest in its class, measuring in at 60 by 32 inches, and offers a maximum lift of 42 inches.

Urethrane cushions and shear pins aim to protect the mill from catastrophic damage in the event of contaminated feedstock.

The 2710D also features a large grate area that enables it to produce materials to exact specifications. The quick change multiple grate system makes it easy to customise grate configurations and produce a range of finished materials. Grates can be removed through an easy access door on the side wall.

EOI open for WALGA bin tagging program

Expressions of interests are open for WA councils to roll out the WA Local Government Association’s (WALGA) bin tagging program.

WALGA has received funding from the WA Waste Authority to assist five local governments implement the program, with each local government needing to provide in-house staffing to assist.

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Assistance with the bin tagging program includes designing and printing of bin tags, funding to assist staffing for audits and training to facilitate the implementation of the program.

The program aims to encourage households to separate materials into the correct bin by providing direct feedback on through the tags.

Each tag will provide feedback on the content of a resident’s bins and provide guidance for what can and can’t be placed in the bin.

Bin auditors will conduct an assessment of the contents of each bin at the kerb and collect data for each household. The tag is then placed to provide individualised feedback about the content of the bin.

The program aims to reduce the long term costs for local governments by reducing contamination and encouraging diverting waste from landfill.

Generic tags have been made available for two bin systems and three bin systems for local governments that provide green waste or food organics in garden organics (FOGO) bins.

WALGA has prepared guidelines to give local governments a step by step process to implement the tagging program in their area, which detail the planning, preparation, implementation and evaluation phases of the program.

The program was tested in a pilot phase in 2015 and rolled out in 2016 across the Cities of Cockburn and Joodnalup, the Shire of Capel and the Towns of Bassendean and Mosman.

For more information on how to apply, click here.

Half a million dollars awarded to Vic regional composting facility

A proposal to develop a regional Victorian composting facility has received $500,000 in funding from the state government.

Organic waste management company Pinegro are developing a $5 million project to use an enclosed tunnel system for the composting of food and organic green waste from local councils in the Morwell region.

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Currently, Pinegro composts using an open windrow method but this process can be affected by weather conditions.

By implementing the new system, the company will be able to compost within a contained, temperature-controlled environment to deliver a better product, faster.

Pinegro’s grant will go toward the construction of a waste receival building, composting tunnels and air and water filtration systems.

It is expected to divert 18,000 tonnes of organic waste from landfill each year.

The funding was part of the second round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which is supporting 13 projects across regional Victoria.

These projects are expected to divert more than 85,000 tonnes of waste a year from landfills.

Victorian Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said food waste from homes accounts for around 250,000 tonnes a year in Victoria.

“These upgrades to the composting system will increase Pinegro’s capacity to process food waste and absorb more from local councils,” she said.

Applications for the third round of the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund are now open. For more information, click here.

Tasmanian EPA consider new organics processing plant

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is considering a proposal for an organics processing facility at Mowbray in Launceston.

The proposal by Launceston City Council is to produce up to 15,000 tonnes of compost product a year, using Forced Aerated Floor (FAF) technology to aerate the compost piles and reduce the potential odours.

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No representations were received in relation to the permit application, and a 40-day public consultation period was open in July 2017.

The Chair of the Tasmanian EPA Board Warren Jones said that the board concluded the proposed development could be managed in an environmentally sustainable and acceptable manner, with certain conditions.

“Various environmental issues were considered by the Board in its assessment, particularly air emissions,” Mr Jones said.

“Conditions have been imposed to ensure appropriate management practices are in place during operation of the organics processing facility to reduce the risk of impact to surrounding sensitive receptors from odour emissions,” he said.

Green waste bin rollout for Darwin following Cyclone Marcus

The Northern Territory Government has announced they will be rolling out 90 green waste skip bins across Darwin suburbs that were hardest hit by Cyclone Marcus.

The move is a joint effort between the City of Darwin and the NT Government to remove accumulated green waste and reduce traffic into Shoal Bay.

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NT Treasurer Nicole Manison said the NT Government will fund the bin to assist

“Skip bins are being placed on verges and roadsides to assist residents with the disposal of green waste this weekend,” she said.

“The green waste skip bins will be removed Monday morning, so we urge residents to dispose of their green waste this weekend.”

NT Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said Territorians should only fill the bins to the top line of the skip.

“Contractors will be collecting the bins once full and returning them if necessary on Saturday. If you see a full bin call the number on the side of the bin,” he said.

Stopping the rot in organics recycling

A photo of recycled organics compost product with glass and plastic contaminants at a Treasure Wine Estates vineyard
As government agencies and EPAs around the country seek to boost organics recycling, Waste Management Review spoke to a range of industry experts to gain their insights.

Read moreStopping the rot in organics recycling

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