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

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

Fires and the recycling industry

There isn’t good data on how many fires occur in recycling plants around Australia. A 2016 report for the Department of Environment concluded that “there is an urgent need for the collection and reporting of waste fire statistics in a standardised form” (their emphasis).

Ryan Fogelman of Fire Rover in the US reports that, for the 12 months from July 2016 to June 2017, there were 268 fires reported at recycling facilities in North America. This is likely a substantial understatement, because it only covers fires reported in news services. Read more

Bulk bag dischargers, a big help in the rubber crumbing process

Flexicon Corporation, which designs and manufactures bulk handling equipment and custom-engineered and integrated plant-wide systems, is in the business of helping recyclers improve their efficiency post-crumbing, through its bulk bag dischargers.

The company’s Bulk-Out Bulk Bag Discharger system promises to change the way bulk material is stored and shipped, and says the system overcomes limitations of outdated designs, ultimately improving safety, cleanliness, and convenience for the recycler.

There are three models in Flexicon’s Bulk-Out Bulk Bag Discharger range – the BFF Series dischargers with a bag lifting frame for forklift loading and unloading of bulk bags, the BFC Series dischargers with a cantilevered I-beam, electric hoist and trolley for loading and unloading of bulk bags without the use of a forklift, and the Half Frame series, which requires operators to load bags. The first two, the company says, are the most popular options. Read more

Brooklyn microgrid set to be replicated in South Australia

The significant deal will create South Australia’s first local energy marketplace and could be the start of an industry-changing renewable energy sharing revolution, enabling customers buying renewable energy to set their own price, rather than being beholden to the grid.

LO3 Energy, which has created a secure way of trading energy, battery storage and demand peer-to-peer using blockchain technology, plans to disrupt the existing market by making it possible to sell and buy energy within local virtual microgrids.

The new TransActive Grid project in South Australia will see up to 6MW of distributed solar generation made available on a local energy marketplace using LO3’s peer-to-peer trading platform, and is the first step towards developing a full-scale transactive energy market.

This will all be underpinned by the blockchain-based software, which allows a decentralised, secure, peer-to-peer marketplace to function and involves adding a meter onto a business or household that manages all energy inputs and outputs, giving participants access to cheaper electricity.

The solar power will come from six locally built solar PV plants ranging from 200kW to 1MW in size – with two having already been constructed – that are being sited on redundant farmland in SA’s Riverland region.

The PV plants will be built by Yates Electrical’s renewables offshoot Redmund Green Energy, with financial backing from Chinese investors. Eventually, each solar plant will also be coupled with battery storage.

LO3’s director of Australian operations Belinda Kinkead says this is a significant agreement and shows there is great interest in the concept of putting energy choice in the hands of consumers.

“Our systems enable people who generate renewable energy – from small scale houses to larger industrial projects – to get more income by selling direct to consumers rather than to the grid,” Kinkead said.

“They also offer a unique way to integrate distributed energy resources into communities, creating a reliable and secure energy supply that protects from power outages that have been an issue across Australia.

“We believe this partnership with Yates Electrical Services will help us accelerate our set-up process over here and take the local energy marketplace concept one step closer to an Australia-wide consumer reality.”

Working with Yates Electrical Services in South Australia has the potential to open up more than 1000 homes and businesses across the Riverland already fitted with solar energy to operate on an LO3 transactive microgrid.

The SA microgrid will begin with a ‘discrete’ market using Yates Electrical Services’ Small Generation Aggregators Licence, and at least two of their associated commercial or industrial customers, who will bid on solar electricity supplied by the firm.

This will enable Yates to get the best price possible, while giving the participating customers the opportunity to buy their electricity at a cheaper rate than wholesale.

According to LO3 founder and CEO Lawrence Orsini, it really is a win-win situation.

“The technology involves adding a simple meter into the household, which manages all energy inputs and outputs – and with the Internet of Things, it’s even possible to get paid to switch your lights off,” Orsini said.

“Brooklyn has also demonstrated that using a small network of distributed renewables rather than relying on large installations is far more efficient and secure, and we know that is particularly important in Australia.

“We are expanding this exciting new energy solution across the world right now, and we are excited that Australia appears to have embraced it and is now set to become an early adopter of this cutting-edge technology.”

The team over at Yates Electrical Services believe this is a significant step forward for them, as they further integrate new and innovative technologies into their business model.

“We look forward to a future of clean energy with the end user having the control over their own energy consumption,” a Yates Electrical Services spokesperson said.

“The TransActive Grid meter, which enables communication to the TransActive market using blockchain technology has now been installed on one of our solar farms, with more currently being retrofitted to accept the devices.

“With the rapidly rising cost of electricity and huge increases in both blockchain and renewable technology over the past few years, it’ll be exciting to see how this test goes and how much LO3 are able to grow it over the coming years.”

TransActive Grid being installed on site


Eco-conscious businesses regaining momentum

According to research conducted by the State of the Environment report in 2016, being eco-conscious has been an increasing concern among Australians with 57% of all Australian businesses making use of more eco-conscious practices in day-to-day operations since 2012.

According to Dominique Lyone, general manager of Australian-owned and operated national office products company COS, a growing number of businesses are focusing more on their environmental impact and ethical conduct than ever before.

“Businesses are driving it now on an international level and are beginning to take it upon themselves to be more environmentally-minded,” Lyone said. Read more

Waste Opportunist: Why recycled organics pose both the greatest opportunity and greatest risk to agriculture

Up to 50% of domestic waste is organic materials with other organic wastes including sewage sludge, food wastes and industrial food processing wastes. Biosolids are generated at the sewage treatment plant from the sewage treatment process, with production estimated anywhere between 30-50kg dry solids per equivalent person per day (equivalent to 150kg of dry cake per annum). The biosolids are produced as either a thickened slurry or a dewater cake and, more recently, pellets. And they contain useful quantities of organic matter and nutrients such as nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), and lead to improvements in soil characteristics such as improved microbial activities and oxygen consumption. Read more

Closing the loop of Magnetic Island

Speaking to Inside Waste after winning the Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) Transfer Stations Excellence Awards at the 2017 Australian Landfill & Transfer Stations Innovation and Excellence Awards in March, Matt McCarthy, manager of Townsville City Council’s Waste Services, said the facility has been a long time coming and a lot of planning and work was done over 10 years.

“Ten years ago, we knew we were running out of landfill space and we needed to do something more, so a lot of community consultation was undertaken around the waste management strategy for Magnetic Island, and we surprisingly got a lot of support from the community – I think it was 98% support for a transfer station,” McCarthy said. Read more