Energy from waste technology is a way of life overseas. As REMONDIS’ Stefan Dittrich and Sarah Collins tell Waste Management Review, the technology is inevitable in Australia, but there’s an onus on the waste industry to educate communities and local decision makers of the benefits.
As one of the world’s largest privately run recycling, service, and water companies with business locations in over 30 countries across four continents, REMONDIS has the scale to make a difference.
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The Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group (MWRRG) has announced a shortlist of companies to develop an alternative to landfill in Melbourne’s south east.
In March 2020, MWRRG called for expressions of interest for solutions to provide an alternative to landfill for 16 councils.
After a competitive tendering process, three companies have been shortlisted to join the solution development stage of the procurement: Veolia Environmental Services Australia, Sacyr Environment Australia and a Pacific Partnerships and REMONDIS consortium.
According to a MWRRG statement, landfills in the south east of Melbourne are filling up and no more are planned to be built.
“Household rubbish in the 16 councils is projected to increase by 40 per cent over the next 25 years,” the statement reads.
“Veolia Environmental Services Australia, Sacyr Environment Australia and Pacific Partnerships and REMONDIS will work with the 16 councils to develop an advanced waste processing solution that delivers environmental, economic and social benefits to the community.”
MWRRG said the best outcomes will be achieved by minimising waste and reusing or recycling, with leftover material managed through advanced waste processing.
“Advanced waste processing will help the Victorian government deliver on its circular economy strategy – Recycling Victoria – a 10 year plan that will completely overhaul Victoria’s recycling sector and reduce waste going to landfill,” the statement reads.
“Advanced waste processing solutions will play a significant role in achieving the new target to divert 80 per cent of household rubbish from landfill by 2030.”
The advanced waste processing procurement will ensure facilities meet best-practice environment protection requirements and energy efficiency standards, and do not displace or inhibit innovation to reduce or recycle materials.
Additionally, the procurement will ensure the facilities reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to the waste and energy services they displace.
“Advanced waste processing technologies have been used successfully and safely overseas for years as an alternative to landfill,” the statement reads.
“The new facilities are expected to attract investment of around $650 million and create jobs during construction and permanent operating jobs.”
It is expected the process will take close to two years to reach a final tender stage, with a 20 to 25-year contract to be awarded by 2022. Construction is expected to commence in 2023.
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Yume, an online business to business marketplace for the sale of surplus food, is working with water and environmental services company REMONDIS to sell excess food and reduce waste.
REMONDIS will use Yume’s marketplace to assist customers in selling their surplus products, reducing waste disposal costs and delivering better environmental outcomes.
REMONDIS General Manager for Integrated and Managed Services Nathan Radley said working with Yume allows the company to expand its services on the waste value chain.
“Yume is a great way to access the first two stages of the food waste hierarchy, avoid and reuse, before we move onto recycling, waste to energy and ultimately disposal,” Mr Radley said.
REMONDIS recently listed 13.8 tonnes of maple syrup on Yume, sourced from a customer with excess stock.
“The product was quickly snapped up on Yume, providing a significant return to the customer while saving 952,000 litres of water and preventing the release of 27,600 kilograms of CO2 into the atmosphere,” Mr Radley said.
Yume founder Katy Barfield said through connecting suppliers to buyers, the company helps reduce the 4.1 million tonnes of food waste sent to landfill in Australia each year.
“Yume has already sold over 813,000 kilograms of quality surplus food, returning $2.6 million to Australian farmers and manufacturers.
“In doing so, Yume has saved 56,112 million litres of water and prevented 1,626 tonnes of carbon dioxide from being released,” Ms Barfield said.
At the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Sustainability Awards, Yume was recognised for its efforts towards reducing waste and landfill impact — winning the Premier’s Recognition Award, the Innovative Products or Services award, and the Small and Medium Enterprises award.
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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.”