Hand-pickers are generally responsible for separating copper meatballs and ferrous scrap metal.
The acidic waste from galvanising has traditionally gone to landfill, but a research team in New Zealand has identified a solution close to commercialisation.
Cleanaway has officially opened its new automated optical Container Sorting Facility at Eastern Creek, NSW.
The facility initially opened on 1 December 2017 and included a manual sorting line, which used magnetic sorting and manual picking to separate steel, aluminium, cartons and plastics with a capacity of 1.5 tonnes per hour.
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With construction of the new automated sorting line completed, the facility now has a capacity of eight tonnes per hour.
Optical sorters used in the plant identify containers based on their material type at thousands of reads per minute with air jets being used to separate them for compaction and baling.
These baled materials are then distributed domestically and internationally to be recycled back into food grade containers.
Since beginning operation last year, the facility has processed most of the 900 million containers collected by the NSW Return and Earn scheme.
The NSW Government’s scheme aims to reduce the volume of litter across the state by providing a 10-cent refund for each eligible container returned.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said schemes such as Return and Earn require the community to pre-sort containers for recycling, reducing the level of contamination at the source.
“With the new sorting technology installed at this facility, we are now able to improve the quality of the commodity streams even further,” Mr Bansal said.
“The Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility is a critical part of our Footprint 2025. We’re committed to putting the infrastructure and facilities in place to deal sustainably with Australia’s waste, well into the future.”
Mr Bansal says the challenges facing the waste industry over the past 12 months have changed the way Australians view waste.
“It is more important than ever before that we work together to address these challenges. Return and Earn is a great example of that,” he said.
“It has been encouraging to see so many people getting involved and increasing the amount of recyclables being sorted at the source.
Coupled with a better network of facilities to sort the containers collected, we can produce commodity streams which are in demand, meaning more items are being recycled into new products,” Mr Bansal said.
NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton said the Return and Earn had been a great success, reducing litter across NSW by a third.
“I commend the people of NSW and congratulate Cleanaway on their state of the art facility that supports Return and Earn to provide a smart solution to reduce litter in NSW and contribute to a more sustainable future,” Ms Upton said.
To inform the industry on the use of tyres in thermal processing plants, Tyre Stewardship Australia (TSA) has released a report into the effectiveness of both pyrolysis and gasification.
The Tyre Pyrolysis and Gasification Technologies – A brief Guide for Government and Industry report looks at the global history of operating plants and considers the economic and end-product market factors that are critical to the commercial viability of recycling technologies in the Australian market.
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High temperature thermal processing can create oil, synthetic gas, carbon black and steel, while also providing a way of handling a waste stream that can have potential environmental or health problems if stockpiled.
TSA Market Development Manager Liam O’Keefe said the motivation of the guide was to provide the industry thought leadership on both emerging technologies as possible recycling solutions and to better inform government and businesses considering investment in such technologies.
“Obviously, TSA is interested in any technology that can sensitively recycle almost 100% of a waste tyre, but we must be aware of the prevailing market conditions, investment costs and competitive pressures that play a role in establishing the economic sustainability of such projects,” Mr O’Keefe said.
“We believe the guide, by providing a high level of consultation, analysis and technical and economic detail, will be an aid to decision making around proposed facilities.
“No one technology will meet the waste tyre environmental challenge on its own. The best result with such immense global resource recovery and management challenges usually comes from a combination of options, offering the flexibility to adjust to future conditions and developing market demands.”
The report can be downloaded here, with a full report on thermal tyre processing technologies by request from TSA.