Sussan Ley tours Wetherill Park PEF facility

As Australia moves towards banning international waste exports, ResourceCo’s Process Engineered Fuel site is fulfilling an important role in Australia’s resource recovery framework.

Governments around the world are seeking to establish effective ways to preserve the Earth’s limited resources and deal with surrounding issues of waste.

It’s within this landscape that facilities such as Cleanaway ResourceCo’s resource recovery plant in New South Wales are demonstrating what’s possible.

The Wetherill Park facility, which is Australia’s largest plant of its kind, has processed more than 100,000 tonnes of dry commercial and industrial and mixed construction and demolition waste since opening in July last year.

Waste that would have otherwise been diverted to landfill is now being converted into a range of commodities including the baseload energy source – Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF).

The plant’s role in advancing Australia’s circular economy is generating interest both in Australia and overseas, including a recent visit from the Fijian Prime Minister.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley also recently toured the state-of-the-art resource recovery facility to see first-hand the scale of the operation.

“We have a clear focus on reducing waste to landfill and increasing the nation’s recycling capacity and within that context, the operation at Wetherill Park is impressive,” Minister Ley says.

Chief Executive Officer Sustainable Fuels at ResourceCo Ben Sawley says the plant can divert up to 50,000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing a reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

“In one year alone, it can replace 100,000 tonnes of coal usage and takes the equivalent of 20,000 cars annually off the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” Ben says.

As developed countries move away from the make, use and dispose model in favour a circular economy, the importance of supporting and establishing new markets for re-manufactured products is critical.

To that end, the Federal Government has committed to working with industry leaders to decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximise the capability of the waste management and resource recovery sector.

At the recent Council of Australian Government’s (COAG) meeting, leaders agreed Australia should establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building the nation’s capacity to generate high-value recycled commodities and associated demand.

They tasked environment ministers with advising on a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders.

That strategy will draw on the best science, research and commercial experience, including that of agencies like the CSIRO and the work of Cooperative Research Centres.

“We are at a point where the circular economy needs to be the mainstream economy.

“There are some fantastic individual industry examples and concepts in the market and our focus is on working with industry as we broaden our approach,” Minister Ley says.

“This is going to require government and industry working together to ensure greater consistency across local, state and federal regulation and a sensible approach to supporting markets for remanufactured products.”

Ms Ley says the feedback from industry to date has been extremely positive and the clear message is that the ideas and the opportunities are there, along with the investment potential.

“What we will seek to address during the Meeting of Environment Ministers and the months that follow is a policy framework that gives the recycling industry a greater sense of direction and the comfort it needs to invest,” Minister Ley says.

It’s encouraging news for companies like ResourceCo, which is committed to playing a key role in Australia’s sustainable energy mix by reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable energy product.

“The plant transforms waste from selected non-recyclable waste streams that would otherwise go into landfill into a range of commodities including a baseload energy source known as PEF, which is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in both domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement and energy,” Ben says.

“The opportunity to tap further into this market makes good sense, both environmentally and economically.”

ResourceCo operates a suite of 22 plants across Australia and South-East Asia, and has been at the leading edge of resource recovery for 25 years.

“Investment in resource recovery and innovative waste-to-energy solutions is critical to achieving a sustainable future,” Ben says.

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SUEZ-ResourceCo hits one million tonnes of PEF

SUEZ-ResourceCo’s South Australian Wingfield facility has officially produced one million tonnes of alternative fuel.

SUEZ-ResourceCo Chairman Mark Venhoek said the facility uses technology to harnesses the energy value found in construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste.

According to Mr Venhoek, the energy is then used to produce process engineered fuel (PEF) for Adelaide Brighton Cement.

“The partnership has seen both a huge reduction in reliance on fossil fuels and significant diversion from landfill.,” Mr Venhoek said.

“PEF presents a cost-effective, sustainable solution to the generation of baseload energy, while helping address the complex issues of waste management – it’s a win/win.”

According to a SUEZ-ResourceCO statement, the plant was the first of its kind commissioned in Australia, and has helped diverted two million tonnes of waste from landfill.

“The multi-million-dollar resource recovery and alternative fuels plant has been a leader in Australia’s efforts to move away from a make, use and dispose model, to the recovery, recycling and re-use of products to extract their maximum value,” the statement reads.

Adelaide Brighton Limited CEO Nick Miller said PEF has helped reduce the company’s reliance on natural resources.

“Through the use of this alternative fuel, Adelaide Brighton Cement has achieved a reduction of approximately 500,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions since project inception,” Mr Miller said.

“The cement produced by Adelaide Brighton is used in a host of major infrastructure projects across South Australia, including the recent redevelopment at Adelaide Oval.”

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ResourceCo and Cleanaway open Wetherill Park PEF plant

The largest resource recovery and Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF) plant in Australia has been unveiled at Wetherill Park in Sydney.

Owned in a joint venture between resource recovery company ResourceCo and Cleanaway, the plant is licensed to receive up to 250,000 tonnes a year of dry commercial and industrial, and mixed construction and demolition waste, to recover commodities including metal, clean timber and inert materials, with the balance converted into PEF.

Over its lifetime, the plant is expected to abate more than four million tonnes of carbon emissions.

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Cleanaway’s customer base and waste supply in NSW will help drive volume to the facility to divert waste from landfill.

PEF is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in both domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement.

The plant will supply Boral, Australia’s largest construction material company, with PEF for its Berrima cement kiln as a substitute for coal.

Chief Executive Officer Sustainable Energy at ResourceCo Ben Sawley said the new plant will divert up to 50,000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.

“It will replace over 100,000 tonnes of coal usage per year alone and will take the equivalent of 20,000 cars annually off the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Sawley said.

“We’re committed to playing a key role in Australia’s future sustainable energy mix, by reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable energy product,”

“The opportunity to tap further into this market is huge and it makes good sense, both environmentally and economically,” Mr Sawley said.

Cleanaway Chief Executive Officer Vik Bansal said this is an important new resource recovery solution in New South Wales that creates a landfill diversion option for commercial and industrial, residual recycling, and some construction and demolition waste.

“Investment in resource recovery and innovative waste to energy solutions is essential to making a sustainable future possible, and one of the ways we’re delivering on our Footprint 2025 strategy,” Mr Bansal said.

Cleanaway and ResourceCo’s Wetherill Park facility

The project was supported by a funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which had committed $30 million in debt finance to support development of the plant, as well as an additional plant at a second Australian location still to be identified.

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said the priority in managing waste must be to reduce the amount waste produced in the first place.

“With what remains, we need to invest in proven technologies to repurpose it, including as alternative fuels. By turning waste into PEF, this facility is showing how industrial processes can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels,” he said.

“We can also reduce the amount of waste materials going into landfill, an important factor in cutting our national greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Learnmouth said

CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead Henry Anning said the CEFC was working with the waste management sector to increase energy efficiency and energy generation, as well as reduce carbon emissions.

“With Australia’s waste sector facing considerable disruption, now is the time to adopt new ways of doing business,” Mr Anning said.

“With the right investment in proven technologies, companies can turn our urban and industrial waste into new energy sources, creating an important revenue stream while also reducing landfill gas emissions.

“In Australia there is a growing commercial opportunity for resource recovery, reinforced by tightening state government landfill regulations. We are working alongside waste companies to invest in long-term infrastructure that can make a lasting difference to the way we handle our waste,” he said.

Cleanaway to enter into JV with ResourceCo

Cleanaway has entered into a binding joint venture agreement with ResourceCo to acquire a 50 per cent interest in ResourceCo’s Wetherill Park facility.

ResourceCo’s new Wetherill Park facility has the capability to divert 250,000 tonnes of waste per annum, reducing emissions and saving costs for businesses in the long-term – more information on that here. 

Located in western Sydney, the facility receives dry commercial and industrial waste. After extracting any commodities suitable for recycling, the balance of non-recyclable waste is converted into Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) that will be used as a substitute for fossil fuels in domestic and offshore cement kilns.

According to an ASX statement, the investment provides Cleanaway with a further waste disposal solution in NSW and forms an integral part of its Footprint 2025 strategy.

Waste processed by the facility includes residuals sourced from the Cleanaway Sydney transfer station, currently under construction, and other recycling facilities, in addition to commercial and industrial customers with source-separated collection systems.

The purchase price for the 50 per cent interest comprises a $25 million payment at completion plus an earn out of up to a further $25 million payable in two instalments over two years once the facility generates agreed earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation targets.

The joint venture, to be branded “Cleanaway ResourceCo RRF” is part financed by a $10 million loan facility from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with additional funding from the New South Wales Environmental Trust.

The transaction is expected to be complete during the first quarter of financial year 2019, subject to satisfaction of customary conditions precedent and commissioning and performance standards.

Cleanaway Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Vik Bansal said the investment plays a key role in the development of the company’s post collections footprint in NSW and its overall Footprint 2025 strategy, which encompasses the development of prized waste infrastructure assets across Australia.

“This facility is the only one of its kind on the East Cost of Australia and enables us to increase waste internalisation rates, and importantly, to offer an advanced resource recovery solution to our customers,” Mr Bansal said.

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