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Sydney has been ranked Australia’s most sustainable city in 2018, according to the Sustainable Cities Index from Arcadis.
The index ranks 100 cities on three pillars of sustainability which it defines as people, planet and profit.
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Australian cities were mostly located in the centre of the list, with Sydney and Canberra reaching 34th and 35th place. Brisbane was listed as the 44th most sustainable while Melbourne trailed behind at 56.
All of the cities on the list performed well on people focused measures, scoring high in health, education and digital enablement. Cities performed moderately well when it came to profit due to employment and ease of doing business.
However, each Australian city scored worse in the planet pillar, with greenhouse gas emissions and waste management common issues across all four cities.
London was ranked the most sustainable city, with eight of the top ten spots being European cities.
The 2018 Sustainable Cities Index emphasised the impact of how digital technologies have impacted on citizen’s experience of the city, but it found that technology is not yet able to mitigate things like traffic jams, unaffordable transport options, the absence of green space or the uncertainties caused by ageing infrastructure.
Arcadis Australian Cities Director Stephen Taylor said with no Australian city cracking the top 30, there is a need to improve the long-term sustainability, resilience and performance of our cities.
“Across our cities, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne, we’ve seen a real shift over the last few years beyond green sustainability to social sustainability. Both government and private developments are increasingly focusing on how projects can better improve communities, including financial gains and community wellness,” Mr Taylor said.
“Despite the middle of the road rankings, the nation’s strong focus on developing integrated transit systems, addressing affordability and embracing sustainability in construction are all positive signs for future improvement across the three pillars,” he said.
Biojet fuel company Fulcrum plans to open a waste to energy facility in the US that will convert municipal waste into a low carbon, renewable jet fuel.
The facility will use research developed by oil and gas company BP and chemical company Johnson Matthey (JM), which convert synthesis gas generated from municipal solid waste into long-chain hydrocarbon molecules that make up diesel and jet fuels.
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Fulcrum has secured the license to the technology and expects to convert 159,000 tonnes of municipal waste into 41.6 million litres of fuel each year, the equivalent of more than 180 return flights between London and New York.
BP’s head of group research Angelo Amorelli said BP first became interested in the technology, called Fischer-Tropsch (FT), in the 1980s while looking to turn gas into liquid fuel.
“The breakthrough came five or so years ago, when we started to explore the potential for our FT process to turn biomass into fuels,” Mr Amorelli said.
He explains that JM redesigned the reactors which looked like baked beans cans filled with the catalyst, creating ‘cans tech’.
”BP then changed the recipe for the catalyst and, by combining that with the’ baked beans’ reactors, we trebled the productivity and halved the cost of building the technology compared to traditional FT reactors,” he said.
Image Credit: BP
REMONDIS Australia has announced its intention to develop a $400 million waste to energy (WtE) facility at its Swanbank landfill in Queensland.
The company has advised the state government that it will make an application to develop the recovered energy through the State’s Coordinated Project process, with the project expected to begin construction in 2020.
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The proposed plant aims to generate 50 megawatts of baseload electricity for Queensland households and business by redirected 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of waste from landfill per year. This energy would be able to power 50,000 average homes and be available every day of the year.
REMONDIS Group has operated and built WtE plants for 24 years and operates 52 facilities which recover more than 4.2 million tonnes of waste per year in Europe.
REMONDIS Australia General Manager QLD Operations and Business Development Bret Collins said the WtE proposal does not rely on additional waste streams coming to the Swanbank site – instead it will divert existing waste streams to a beneficial use.
“REMONDIS has been encouraged by recent comments from governments across Australia that WtE technology could provide some relief to the challenges facing the waste management and recycling industry,” Mr Collins said.
“There is an opportunity for Australia to benefit from REMONDIS’ global experience, and other successful European and UK facilities, and incorporate waste to energy as part of the solution to sustainable, best practice waste management.
“Adopting WtE technology will ensure that wastes with recoverable value are not sent to landfill and, instead, are put to beneficial use,” he said.
Mr Collins said that while Australians may not be familiar with WtE technology, it is used throughout Europe and considered a tried and trusted contributor to best practice waste management and energy generation.
“WtE plants are constructed to the strictest European Union environment, emission and health standards and this is the technology we would bring to Australia,” Mr Collins said.
“There are hundreds of WtE plants throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, and many are part of the fabric of suburbs and communities – there are WtE plants in Paris, London, Copenhagen, Cologne, Zurich, Vienna, Palm Beach and Singapore, just to name a few.”
Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick welcomed the news and said it establishes Queensland as a major player in the waste‑to‑energy market.
“The introduction of our government’s waste levy provides a real incentive for projects like this, building a new industry as an alternative to landfill,” Mr Dick said.
“This project could create up to 200 jobs during construction and some 70 jobs during operations.”
Mr Dick said REMONDIS Australia is expected to submit an application to Queensland’s independent Coordinator-General to declare the project a ‘coordinated project’.
“If the Coordinator-General decides to declare this project a coordinated project it will help streamline approvals and fast-track delivery of this significant project,” he said.
“A coordinated project approach also means that all the potential impacts and benefits of the project are considered in an integrated and comprehensive manner.”
The first Global Recycling Day has taken place on Sunday, March 18, which saw cities around the world run events to encourage people to rethink recycling.
The event is designed to raise recycling awareness and aims to petition the United Nations to officially recognise the day.
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A “Seventh Resource Manifest” aims to encourage people to start thinking about recyclable material as an additional primary resource to water, air, coal, natural gas, oil, and minerals.
Events took place in Delhi, Dubai, London, Paris, Washington DC, Johannesburg and Sydney.
“We need to see waste for what it really is – a wasted resource. There is no place on our planet anymore for products that are used only briefly and thrown away,” said Head of United Nations Environment Erik Solheim.
“We need to ensure planned obsolescence is a thing of the past. It’s time for countries in the world to dramatically step-up recycling rates if we are to save this planet,” Mr Solheim said.
Bureau for International Recycling Ranjit Baxi said the event was a vitally important new date in the global calendar.
“To truly harness the power of recycling we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use. It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly,” Mr Baxi said.
“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live. We must unite with those involved in the industry – from workers in waste collection to the world’s largest businesses – to help them make the best use of what we dispose of and make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products,” he said.
The world’s first Global Recycling Day will take place on 18 March, with cities across the globe signing on to hold events.
London, Washington DC, Sao Paolo, Paris, Johannesburg, Delhi, and Dubai will host events to encourage people to change their habits when it comes to recycling.
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The Bureau for International Recycling (BIR) hopes to change the way people around the world think about recycling, changing their mindset from waste to resource.
Individuals attending the events will be invited to pledge to change their habits in at least one way and to sign the BIR’s petition for the day to be recognised by the United Nations.
The hashtag #GlobalRecyclingDay will let people on social media get involved to help people share video and pictures of them celebrating recycling.
Global Recycling Day aims to showcase how critical recycling is to people’s day to day lives.
BIR President Ranjit Baxi said the first global recycling day is a vitally important new date in the global calendar and a joint responsibility for individuals, communities, businesses and leaders.
“To truly harness the power of recycling we must adopt a global approach to its collection, processing and use, and this Day recognises the global nature of the industry and the issue. It is time we put the planet first and all commit to spend 10 more minutes a day ensuring that materials are disposed of properly,” Mr Baxi said.
“Global Recycling Day is also a wakeup call to all of us, wherever we live,” he said.
“We must unite with those involved in the industry – from workers on waste mountains to the world’s largest businesses – to help them to make the best use of what we dispose of, to make recycling easier, inherent even in the design of products, and to stop expecting countries to simply accept recyclables which are difficult and costly to process.”