Research & Reports

New research explores on-site waste treatment for clean energy production

A recent study from the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Institute for Sustainable Futures is exploring the viability of food scraps and sewage from Broadway’s One Central Park tower being treated on-site for the production of clean energy.

The Institute’s feasibility study focused on the capture and treatment of waste, including discarded food, sewage, fats, oils and grease, on-site at the big inner-city development. These waste materials were then transformed into biogas.

The study found that management of the tower’s organic waste involved around 100,000km of truck and rail movements every year, with the majority of the waste produced ending up in landfill. Additionally, thousands of litres of sludge from the on-site recycled water system ends up polluting the precinct’s sewers each day.

Through the study, researchers found that the treatment of organic waste on-site could generate up to 20 per cent of the residents’ energy needs, as well as up to 50 per cent of its hot water supply. An estimated $85,000 in waste removal costs and $80,000 in energy costs would also be saved each year.

Associate professor Dena Fam, Institute for Sustainable Futures research director, told the Sydney Morning Herald that the clearly showed the benefits locally of treating waste as a resource through its recovery, treatment and reuse.

“It should be a no-brainer. We’ve got to keep waste locally,” Open Cities chief executive Lisa McLean told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Australia needed a new model for utilities that was precinct-based, rather than old centralised monolithic systems, which prioritised transporting waste out of dense urban areas.

“This localised approach promotes reuse of resources and implements a circular model that creates new jobs and builds resilience into our cities.”

The project is backed by an innovation grant from the City of Sydney, water utility company Flow Systems, and the alliance of businesses involved with Open Cities.