Smart dry digestion plant

A new dry digestion plant is being built in Kirchberg, Hunsrück around 40 km west of the German city of Mainz and will process around 15,000 metric tons of source-separated organic waste a year.

The municipal operating company, Rhein-Hunsrück Entsorgung (RHE), has awarded the contract to build the facility to a consortium consisting of Swiss cleantech company Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) and the German construction and composting technology specialist Eggersmann.

Eggersmann will be in charge of the conveying equipment, construction, and biological drying system, while HZI will supply its Kompogas technology, the digestate separation and storage components, as well as the combined heat and power units. The HZI/Eggersmann bidding consortium has won the pan-European public tender on the strength of the most cost-efficient solution.

The new facility will already be the second Kompogas installation in the Rhein-Hunsrück area. The first went into operation back in 1997.

“The old Kompogas plant has been operated by a private operation company and has given us exceptional service over the last 20 years, doing a great deal to assure reliable waste disposal in our region,” explained RHE managing director thomas Lorenz.

Design for greater efficiency
The plant has various technically sophisticated features: The organic waste delivered to the plant will first be prepared in a special separation process before being fed into the digester for anaerobic digestion, and subsequently sieved again. This procedure will maximise the quality of the 10,000 or so metric tons of liquid digestate produced for use as high-grade fertiliser in agriculture.

The digestion process will yield around 1.85 million Nm3 of biogas annually, which will be used to generate 4.26 million kWh of electricity. Another special feature of the Kirchberg plant will be two cogeneration units configured to generate electricity as it is needed:

While one of the units will assure a constant supply of heat and electricity to the plant, the other will only switched in during the day if electricity grid demand is particularly high. The waste heat from the cogeneration units will also be fed into an ORC turbine to generate additional electricity, further boosting the overall efficiency of the plant.

 

NSW waste facility receives $66,496 grant for weighbridge

A weighbridge at the Waste 360 waste transfer station on Cosgrove Road, Strathfield will now be installed after the organisation received a grant of $66,496.

The grant has been awarded under the Weighbridge Fund, part of the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative and will enable Waste 360 to collect valuable data that helps to provide more accurate information on the volumes of waste and recyclables generated in NSW and supports improved environmental performance across the state.

However, this grant has exhausted the Weighbridge Fund and the program is now closed, according to the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

“This is the final round of funding under the Weighbridge Fund grants program which is part of the $48 million Waste and Recycling Infrastructure Fund, targeting household, business and industry waste,” EPA Executive Director Circular Economy and Resource Management Sanjay Sridher said.

More than 35 waste and recycling facilities have received over $2 million in grants under the Waste Less, Recycle More initiative to support the installation of weighbridges.

Sridher said that this program has played an important role to support the modernisation of the waste sector in NSW.

According to Sridher, the program has enabled better data collection through the use of weighbridges at licensed facilities and improves understanding of the volumes of waste and recyclables and facilitates the collection and payment of the waste and environment levy.

Waste 2020 conference cancelled

The annual Waste 2020 Conference which was scheduled for 5-7 May in Coffs Harbour has been cancelled  with Impact Environment conference convenor Greg Freeman advising the industry yesterday.

“We have been monitoring and evaluating the situation with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) over the past few weeks to ensure we were taking proper steps to protect the health and wellbeing of all stakeholders,” Freeman said

On the afternoon of 13th March Australia’s chief medical officer has told premiers, chief ministers and the Prime Minister that mass gatherings of more than 500 people should be cancelled amid fears about the spread of coronavirus.

“As such, and in light of all the information and advice given to date, we have unfortunately had to make the difficult decision to cancel the upcoming Waste 2020 Conference which was scheduled for 5-7 May in Coffs Harbour.

“This decision is one that was not taken lightly, and we understand that there will be much disappointment within the waste industry as many of you look forward to this conference each year.

Freeman explained that the decision was also impacted after a significant number of attendees, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors notified the organisers that they were unable to take part in the event due to stringent travel restrictions imposed, making it not viable to run at a reduced capacity.

“We will make contact with all registered delegates, presenters, sponsors and exhibitors to discuss the next steps over the coming days,” he said.

Freeman advised that questions or concerns regarding the conference can be emailed to either wasteconference@impactenviro.com.au or connie@impactenviro.com.au and the team would respond as soon as possible.

“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and our sympathies are with those affected by the virus,” he said.

Waste collectors put on alert for employee safety

Members of the Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association (WCRA) have being alerted to their responsibilities to employees who may be exposed to Covid-19.

Fishburn Watson and O’Brien (FW&O) law specialists have advised WCRA that members should remind workers of their obligations of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. FW&O principal, Ross Fox advised that waste contractors and recycling employers with large workforces should consider preparing a written Covid-19 policy and circulating it to their workers.

He explained that employers in NSW had an obligation to ensure a safe workplace and this meant providing employees with personal protective equipment such as hand sanitiser and gloves.

“It may be prudent for employers to provide personal protective equipment to their employees, particularly those with public-facing duties,” Fox said. He added that many contractual obligations may become difficult to meet as a result of the pandemic.

“This may result in members being unable to comply with contractual and service obligations, such as a lack of staff to drive trucks. It’s important to get legal advice up front on these matters,” he advised.

Fox referred to a Force Majeure clause within many agreements that gives parties special rights if circumstances arise that make it impossible to perform the agreement. The text of each Force Majeure clause is different, so it is important to check specific agreements.

“If the Covid-19 pandemic makes performance of a contract impossible, then it is possible that Force Majeure clauses may apply. Alternatively, the doctrine of frustration of contract may apply to relieve parties of obligations.

“We recommend that any organisation that is considering invoking a Force Majeure clause, seeks specific legal advice as there are often specific requirements and legal impacts,” he said.

 

Unpaid carers leave

Meanwhile, Fox said that workers without personal or carers leave such as casuals can take leave, but they are not entitled to be paid for it.

“Workers with no accord paid personal/carer’s leave may wish to take paid annual leave instead. Annual leave must be taken by agreement between the worker and the employer, but employers are not entitled to unreasonably refuse a request for annual leave.

 

Potential insolvency

Fox has gone further and alerted members to the serious financial impacts on the supply chain and that some may need to delay projects and investment.

 

“Where members businesses are experiencing financial distress, it is critical to seek advice on protection from creditors and legal obligations to avoid default and personal liability. At this time, personal asset protection is also likely to become critical for members,” he said.