According to a report on ABC News, Australian Paper said it will proceed with its plan to use kerbside rubbish to help power its Maryvale paper mill after completing the project’s feasibility study.
The company will now move towards developing the $600 million plant in partnership with waste management company SUEZ at the Latrobe Valley mill, situated in the east of Melbourne. The plant is expected to generate 225MW of electricity and divert 650,000 tonnes of Gippsland and Melbourne waste from landfill.
Craig Dunn, Australian paper general manager of communications, told ABC News that the findings of the feasibility study show the company has a credible project to move forward with.
“There are still some significant hurdles for the project. The main one being that we need to develop a long-term supply of waste,” Dunn continued.
The $7.5 million feasibility study was conducted over 18 months and received financial support from the Victorian and Federal governments. It found generating energy-from-waste would result in four petajoules of natural gas being returned to the state’s retail energy market.
“The project will create jobs in the Latrobe Valley, which was hit by the closure of the Hazelwood Power Station in 2017,” Dunn said.
“We have conducted some modelling which shows over the three-year construction period we would be supporting just over 1,040 jobs per annum, about half of those in the Latrobe Valley.
“Once the plant begins operation it would support just over 900 jobs again, around half of those being supported in the Latrobe Valley.”
However, environmental advocacy group Environment Victoria fears waste, which otherwise could be recycled, would instead be used in the project if it goes ahead.
“We know that the facility isn’t going to have technology at the front-end to separate out things that could be recycled,” the group’s campaign manager, Nick Aberle, told ABC News.
“Over the next 25 years, if we got serious about recycling, which we really need to, then that’s actually going to leave this facility mostly burning residual plastics. Once you’re burning plastics, you’re really just running a fossil fuel station.”
Australian Paper is working with SUEZ to secure 25-year contracts with Melbourne councils to supply the plant. The company plans to secure the contracts by early 2020 and begin construction later in the year, with it expected to be operational by 2024.
The EPA granted works approval for the project in November 2018 and the company is not required to submit an environment effects statement.