A resourceful inquiry

In April 2017, the NSW Parliament’s Planning and Environment Committee established an inquiry to examine the waste industry, with particular reference to energy from waste technology. The inquiry is looking at the provision of waste disposal and recycling services, the impact of waste levies and the capacity to address the ongoing disposal needs for our state’s waste needs.

What has struck me about the Inquiry is the level of engagement and the contribution of private industry players, local governments, industry associations and consulting firms. While the inquiry has some way to go, there appears to be a level of consensus from initial submissions. Read more

Local emergency waste management planning

Many local governments are reactive to such events and are trying to do the best they can. This approach can be inefficient, costly and may result in large quantities of waste going directly to landfill. This in turn utilises valuable landfill void space with materials that could have otherwise been diverted.

Wollongong City Council (WCC) is taking a proactive approach by strategically planning its waste management response and recovery for emergency situations (such as natural disasters). By doing so, WCC will reduce the public health risk, manage the waste more effectively, and divert recoverable and recyclable materials from landfill, thereby preserving the valuable void space at its Wollongong Waste and Resource Recovery Park (WWARRP).

WCC engaged Talis Consultants to prepare the Emergency Waste Management Plan (EWMP) with the primary objectives to understand the volume and profile of waste generated by disaster scenarios, and provide a framework to coordinate the waste management response and maximise diversion from landfill. Read more

Time for action: getting industry out of the corner

Speaking to industry players including NSW EPA director waste and resource recovery Steve Beaman, ACOR CEO Grant Musgrove, WCRA executive director Tony Khoury, Polytrade Rydalmere manager Nathan Ung, Bingo Industries CEO Daniel Tartak and Dial A Dump chief executive Ian Malouf, Four Corners’ “Trashed” showed viewers scenes of waste management practices, saying these would “seriously threaten the community’s faith in the billion-dollar recycling industry.”

Fixing the broken

Turning first to glass recycling, Four Corners took viewers inside Polytrade’s facilities where thousands of tonnes of glass are being stockpiled, and some landfilled, instead of being recycled. Read more

Innovative hub for advanced recycling proposed for Fyshwick

CRS has proposed the comprehensive solution to significantly increase recycling, reduce landfill and produce renewable energy to power Canberra homes. The project includes the construction of a freight rail terminal to take trucks off roads.

The $200 million factory will process Canberra’s waste streams – particularly unprocessed municipal solid waste and commercial industrial waste currently going to Mugga Lane landfill – to divert more than 90% of the waste that is currently going to landfill, significantly increasing ACT’s recycling, while also generating electricity from waste.

The waste-to-energy plant would be a joint venture with electricity retailer ActewAGL and would seek a feed-in tariff from the government for the electricity produced.

According to the project director Ewen McKenzie, the government’s recognised the landfill issue in Canberra and has been working hard over the last 10 years to try and identify alternative solutions to their landfill problems.

“We saw an opportunity to take the European experience and looking at other ways to handle our waste streams,” McKenzie said.

“There’s a lot of landfill diversion initiatives going on in Europe that have been successful for some time, so we are taking up a proven model from Europe and applying it to the ACT circumstance.

“We’ve identified a big site in Fishwick that we want to connect to the rail system to allow us to move recyclables, because currently there aren’t a lot of reprocessing plants in Canberra.

“Connection to the rail system is very difficult in Canberra and there really isn’t one at the moment for container handling, so we are looking at incorporating that in the proposal.”

The concept is a response to the ACT government’s call for innovative and sustainable proposals on how best to improve recycling and reduce landfill in the ACT, as the Mugga Lane tip has limited space available in future.

CRS has put a scoping document to the government and is now preparing an environmental impact assessment, including a health impact study, which McKenzie hopes to have released for public comment within a couple of months.

The project would divert trucks carrying rubbish to Mugga Lane to Fyshwick instead, where they would enter via Ipswich Stree, dump their loads indoors, with negative pressure to minimise smell, and leave via the back of Lithgow Street.

Rubbish would be sorted to extract recyclables, before being used to fuel the waste-to-energy plant.

Mugga Lane currently accepts about 300,000 tonnes of rubbish a year, and McKenzie said 90% of that could be diverted to Fyshwick. Of the 270,000 tonnes a year that comes in, he expected about 20% would be recyclable, leaving more than 200,000 tonnes to be burned for energy.

It would produce up to 30MW a year, sufficient to power 28,000 homes and is being touted as a green solution that would put Canberra at the forefront of waste management.

Four percent of the amount going into the plant would be left as residue and returned to landfill. Read more

Inside Waste (Aug): From journo to president

Now, Re.Group’s business development manager, former Inside Waste journalist and editor, and former Hyder Consulting (now Arcadis) consultant is the Waste Management Association of Australia’s (WMAA) new president – and quite possibly the association’s youngest president as well.

Inside Waste (IW) caught up with Lamb in the August issue, now ready for download, to find out how his first few weeks as president had gone and what some of the challenges and opportunities were for WMAA. Read more

WaterGroup partners with Thinxtra to deliver major water savings

This will be achieved by connecting WaterGroup’s leading-edge IoT-based smart water meters with the Sigfox Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN). The Sigfox network will cover 95% of the Australian population by the end of the year. Currently, the network covers 71%.

WaterGroup managing director Guenter Hauber-Davidson says they spent 18 months researching and developing multiple LPWAN wireless technologies to find out which will work best with its smart water metering systems.

“In the past, the cost of connectivity to a network such as this has been a constraint,” Hauber-Davidson said. Read more

World’s first international standard for sustainable procurement explained

Sustainable procurement presents an opportunity for organisations to develop systems which allow for the prioritisation of growth whilst balancing this against the needs of society, the economy, and the environment. It also recognises that progression towards a sustainable world will involve the full participation of diverse stakeholders and consideration of diverse issues.

ISO 20400, Sustainable procurement – Guidance is the world’s first international standard for sustainable procurement and aims to assist organisations in meeting their sustainability responsibilities by providing guidance as to the effective implementation of sustainable purchasing practices and policies. Read more

Ethical and responsible investments continue strong growth in Australia

Released by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA), the report shows ‘core’ responsibly invested Australian share funds and balanced multi-sector funds have outperformed their equivalent mainstream funds over three, five and ten-year periods.

RIAA CEO Simon O’Connor believes one of the biggest drivers of this has been that more Australians want to see their investments and savings invested in line with their values and their beliefs, and this has caused a significant shift on the financial markets to be more ethically minded.

“It’s really helping superannuation funds, banks, and fund managers to prioritise their focus on sustainability related and ethical investments, and we’ve seen in the last couple of years a noticeable jump in funds going into what we would traditionally see as ethical and socially responsible investment options,” O’Connor said. Read more

“Game-changing” street lighting standards will save council millions

The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA) – the peak body that advises local, state and federal governments on best practice engineering – has released the long-awaited Model LED Lighting Specification and its companion, the Model Public Lighting Controls Specification.

IPWEA CEO Robert Fuller believes the Model Specifications will remove the uncertainty around street lighting procurement, which has resulted in impediments, inefficiencies and cost overruns from poorly drafted and often technically inconsistent specifications.

“These new specifications will be a ‘game-changer’ for accelerating the rollout of LED lighting and smart controls across Australia and New Zealand, helping parties successfully navigate the maze of new lighting technology,” Fuller said. Read more

Increasing landfill efficiency

The Dulverton Landfill manages 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes of waste a year and it is also home to the state’s largest composting facility, processing around 30,000 tonnes of organic waste per year. It’s a relatively small operation compared to its interstate counterparts, but one which follows prudent environmental management.

Mat Greskie, Dulverton Landfill CEO, says its landfill operation undergoes rigorous environmental testing. He explains that every aspect of the company’s landfill operation is aimed at optimising airspace, which helps extends the life of the landfill and reduces the carbon footprint.

“Unlike many sites that only cap their landfills at the end of the cell life, we use a different capping methodology which is to cap two or three times throughout the year to keep leachate generation to a minimum,” Greskie said. Read more