Staff Writer

Mapping the world's waste

Mapping the world’s waste

And Australia’s very own Kat Heinrich, senior consultant at SA-based Rawtec, is heading up the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA) Young Professionals Group, which is currently mapping the world’s biggest waste challenges, a project that will be launched at the 2017 ISWA World Congress in Baltimore in September.

Heinrich gave Inside Waste a sneak peek into the project, saying the team has so far received 1200 responses from waste experts and professionals across 91 countries to identify the world’s biggest waste challenges. Read more

Killing two birds with one stone

Killing two birds with one stone

NAWMA has partnered with South Australian companies Joule Energy and LMS Energy to deliver Australia’s first combined landfill gas-to-energy and solar facility.

NAWMA is a local government regional subsidiary of the cities of Salisbury and Playford and the town of Gawler. The authority has been running a balefill landfill Uleybury, north of Adelaide, since 2005. Read more

Legal Eagle: Resource recovery orders and exemptions - how do they work?

Legal Eagle: are you aware of your deemed refusal appeal rights for EPL?

To put it simply, once the statutory time limit has lapsed and you have not received a determination from the EPA about your licence application, your application is taken to have been refused. This is known as deemed refusal. Any person who makes the licence application may then exercise its right to appeal to the Land and Environment Court (LEC) on the grounds of the application being deemed refused by the EPA.

The table below aims to illustrate the timeframe required for different applications to be considered as deemed refused. Read more

New tech aims to close the carbon loop on CO2 emissions

Mineral Carbonation International (MCI) unveiled their cutting-edge technology and research program at a public event at the University of Newcastle’s (UON) Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) facility.

Following six years of R&D undertaken by the UON, GreenMag Group and industry partner Orica Limited, Australia is leading the development of a novel method for permanently and safely disposing of carbon from the emissions of fossil fuel electricity generators and other industrial processes, effectively closing the loop on carbon and preventing it accumulating in the atmosphere.

The mineral carbonation technology mimics and accelerates the Earth’s own carbon sink mechanism by combining CO2 with low grade minerals to make inert carbonates, which are similar to common baking soda. The solid products can be used in various applications including building materials like bricks and pavers. Read more

Outboard emissions standards laws edge closer

Currently, emissions from these engines are not regulated in Australia, leaving the country as a dumping ground for less efficient products that cannot be sold in other countries.

The standards will be phased in over two years and reduce noxious air pollution from petrol-powered outdoor equipment and marine outboards that release high amounts of harmful air pollutants.

For example, a two-stroke leaf blower can produce the same number of hydrocarbons as 150 cars, while on summer weekends in cities where the use of garden equipment is high, small petrol engines can contribute up to 10% of air pollution. Read more

AWRE 2017: shiny bits of kit

Inside Waste will fill you in on what went down at this year’s event both here and in the October issue of the magazine. But first, here are some of the big, bold, new and novel equipment that were on display at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The beast

Focus Enviro took the opportunity to showcase its EDGE MC1400 material classifier.

Released commercially earlier this year, there are three machines currently operating in Australia. Read more

Officeworks’ strong focus on sustainable operations and products

In order to achieve this, Officeworks has created their Positive Difference plan, which encompasses three pillars of focus – environment, responsible sourcing and people. Through this, Officeworks carefully explores ways for their products and operations to have a better environmental impact, such as ethically sourcing sustainable materials for all of its products.

Head of merchandise, marketing & supply chain at Officeworks Phil Bishop says they look for holistic solutions and have a number of sustainability initiatives around their operations and the lifecycle of their products.

Officeworks understands that their environmental responsibilities extend beyond the time a product leaves their stores, so they continue to support the circular economy through their many recycling programs. Read more

Innovative wastewater tech vital in Luggage Point WWTP’s operations

The Luggage Point WWTP was designed to treat secondary effluents, which is then used to produce 70ML of water each day, in a quality fit to supplement supplies of potable water. The plant is part of the Western Corridor Recycled Water (WCRW) project – one of the largest recycled water schemes in Australia.

Director of Hydroflux HUBER John Koumoukelis says they provided Luggage Point WWTP with three model RoS2 Size 4L units to replace some of the plant’s older conventional drum screen technology. There are over 1000 HUBER thickeners already installed worldwide, including many in Australia.

“Hydroflux provides world-leading wastewater technology and processes to a wide range of Australian water authorities and councils, and Luggage Point is just one of many such sites that use our leading-edge technologies,” Koumoukelis said. Read more

Highlights of the National Waste Report 2016

The report provides national, state and territory data on waste quantities, sources, and management for 2014-15. In addition, it presents the most reliable trend data on waste quantities that has been compiled in Australia, extending back to 2006-07. It also includes international comparisons, an account of current and emerging waste issues, and contributions from key industry associations the Waste Management Association of Australia, the Australian Landfill Owners Association, the Australian Council of Recycling, and the Australian Organics Recycling Association.

The data was mostly supplied by the states and territories with additional input from industry and national government sources. States and territories entered their data into a custom Excel workbook using an agreed framework that transparently converts and supplements their data to a nationally consistent presentation. A similar compilation method was applied to data from five other financial years to generate the trend. The 2014-15 workbook, including the trend data, was released simultaneously with the National Waste Report 2016 and is available at the same web address.

The report and workbook were prepared by Blue Environment and Randell Environmental Consulting under contract to the Department of the Environment and Energy.

Total waste quantities

In 2014-15, Australia produced about 64 million tonnes of waste, the equivalent of 2.7 tonnes per capita. The proportion recycled was 58%. Excluding fly ash, the total was about 53 million tonnes, or 2.2 tonnes per capita, with 61% recycled (Figure 1).

The figures for energy recovery are higher than those reported by the states and territories because the Australian government method considers the production of energy from landfill gas a type of recovery. The estimated quantities of waste that generated this energy are included under ‘energy recovery’, rather than disposal.

Figure 2 presents national quantity trends between 2006-07 and 2014-15, the upper chart including fly ash and the lower excluding it. In both figures, the overall quantity of waste increased and there is a trend towards more recycling and more energy recovery. However, energy recovery declined in the last year of the series due to a fall in the quantity of landfill gas collected. Including fly ash, the annual quantity of waste per capita declined slightly but excluding fly ash, waste per capita increased by an average of 0.8% per year.

The rates of increase shown differ significantly from some previous analyses. The ABS 2016 Australian Environmental-Economic Accounts estimate that waste quantities increased by an average of 7.7% per year between 1996-97 and 2013-14. We understand this estimate relied on sectoral estimates of ‘waste intensity’ per unit value added. The data in the National Waste Report 2016 covers a shorter period but is collected directly and is likely to be more accurate.

Waste quantities by source stream

Figure 3 shows that in 2014-15 Australia produced the equivalent of 565kg per capita of municipal waste, 831kg of construction and demolition waste, 459kg of fly ash, and 849kg of other commercial and industrial waste. The recovered proportion was more than half for MSW and almost two-thirds for C&D and C&I waste (excluding fly ash).

Figure 4 shows the trends in waste generation and fate by source stream. Generation of MSW changed little over the nine years despite increasing population. Generation of C&I and C&D waste increased on a total and per capita basis. The recovery rate rose across all three streams, albeit only marginally for C&D waste. The fall in MSW per capita is linked to a decline in use of glass packaging, lighter plastic packaging and falling newspaper circulations.

Waste quantities by material

Figure 5 shows waste generation and fate by material in 2014-15. Masonry material, organic wastes and fly ash were the largest waste streams, representing nearly two thirds of waste generated. The highest recovery rates were of metals, masonry materials and paper and cardboard. The lowest rates were for plastics, ‘other’ and fly ash. Trend analysis presented in the National Waste Report 2016 shows that some significant material streams – paper and cardboard, glass and fly ash – are declining. Waste metals, organics and plastics also appear to be reducing, at least on a per capita basis. Masonry materials from demolitions, on the other hand, are increasing.

Establishing the national waste data system

A robust system for collating waste data nationally has been sought since the 1990s. Various ‘one-off’ national collations were produced during the 2000s, but coverage and their compilation methods were not wholly consistent. In 2010, the Department of the Environment and Energy established a framework compilation method in consultation with the states and territories. This was transparently applied to generate the data for the original National Waste Report 2013, based on 2010-11 data. Afterwards, to improve transparency and consistency, the Department developed the workbook used for this new iteration of the report. This workbook was also applied to previous data sets back to 2006-07, again with the cooperation of the states and territories. As a result, for the first time, Australia now has:

  • an agreed compilation method for national waste data that can readily be reused;
  • a reasonable waste data trend extending back nine years; and
  • the ability to maintain the data trend should methods or assumptions need to change in future.

Dr Joe Pickin is a director of the consultancy company Blue Environment. He co-authored and was primary data analyst for the National Waste Report 2016. Contact: or 0403 562 621.

This article was originally published in the August issue of Inside Waste and the National Waste Report 2016, which can be found here, was released on August 11.

Proactive monitoring critical for effective landfill management

The problem with this approach is that it forces operators to remain in a reactive mode. Faced with reports of unpleasant odours in a nearby housing estate, they will look for ways to reduce emissions. If sensors detect leachate from the site in a nearby waterway, steps must be taken to try to reduce the flow.

Alternatively, landfill operators may opt to take pre-emptive steps to address issues associated with odour and leachate emissions. One option is to install chemical spraying systems that pump special chemicals into the air 24 hours a day designed to prevent odours from leaving the site. Another is to constantly run pumps to ensure liquids seeping from the landfill are captured and remain within the facility. Read more