Profiles, Up Front

Western Australia’s timber recycling plan

The Hazelmere Resource Recovery Park has planned to save the waste industry thousands of dollars through its recycling operations – with a strategy to take it to the next level. 

In 2007, a consortium of Perth’s eastern councils, known as the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC), opened Western Australia’s very first timber recycling facility in Perth’s suburb of Hazelmere.

This project was two years in the making and was initiated after a request by the City of Swan, a member council of the EMRC.

Prior to this, thousands of tonnes of wood waste, which included pallets, packaging, crates and off-cuts, had been going to landfill or were being stockpiled.

After consulting with businesses and markets, the EMRC came up with a solution to build the Hazelmere Timber Recycling Centre (now known as Hazelmere Resource Recovery Park), which would see businesses deposit their wood waste for recycling.

By 2009, the EMRC had opened the state’s first mattress recycling centre at Hazelmere, dismantling used mattresses for reuse of timber and recovered steel.

But the EMRC had a much grander plan than just timber recycling, with plans to develop a Commercial and Industrial Waste Sorting Facility and a Wood Waste to Energy Plant.

Stephen Fitzpatrick, Director Waste Services at the Hazelmere Resource Recovery Park, explains that the concept for the site was developed by Envision in New Zealand who had completed similar projects in New Zealand and abroad.

“We have owned the Hazelmere site since 1997 and have investigated future use of the site for waste management purposes. It was only around 2005 that we started looking at waste timber recycling and recycling of mattresses which are problematic in land fill,” Stephen explains.

He says more than 18,000 tonnes of timber waste were recycled at Hazelmere Resource Recovery Park in the last nancial year, while the organisation recycles an average of 20,000 tonnes per annum.

He says some woodchip is supplied to WA Meat & Livestock, who run stockyards just out of Perth, using the product for bedding for animals on their way to market.

Woodchip fines are sold to established markets in the broiler grower industries, including the Western Australian Broiler Growers Association for similar use.

“We also colour some of the wood chip for the landscaping market. The rest of it, we are currently stockpiling, and that will be used as feedstock for our wood waste to energy plant, which is under construction.”

Stephen says the process of recycling the timber begins by having businesses and waste collection companies bring the materials from their operations or building sites or demolition projects, having separated it prior to arrival.

He says demolition timber, packaging from industrial areas, scrap timber from furniture manufacturers and single-use pallets from various businesses are delivered to site.

“We have a central weighbridge where the waste passes through and then it’s sent to the timber recycling operation or the Commercial and Industrial Waste Sorting Facility.”

Loads of wood waste are received directly on site where operators assess the load and content.

“Some timber product materials we don’t accept. For example, we don’t accept MDF or CCA treated as this affects our product quality and doesn’t meet customer specifications. We have acceptance criteria, and depending on the degree of contamination, that can have an effect on the gate fee charged.”

After the contents are assessed, the materials are tipped into a deck, and the operators feed the raw timber material into a timber grinder, which was sourced from Germany.

“We use a 23-tonne excavator tted with a heavy duty grab attachment to reduce the size of the timber and break up large material before it’s fed into the grinder using a wheeled material handler,” Stephen adds.

In a two-stage operation, Stephen says a slow speed grinder breaks the timber down to about 150mm in size.

An electromagnet pulls out any hazardous materials such as nails, brackets and scrap metal.

The coarsely crushed timber is fed automatically into a high-speed hammermill, which breaks the timber down into woodchip.

From the hammermill, the woodchip is again passed by a electromagnet to remove remaining nails and then an eddy current separator to remove any non-ferrous metals such as aluminium. The woodchip is then screened over a triple deck vibrating screen.

To read more, see page 24 of Issue 12.

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