Population growth, increased consumption, diminishing landfill space and strict quality requirements in recycling markets are putting pressure on waste management systems. According to the latest National Waste Report, Australians are recycling 58% of waste generated, sending 37% to landfill and recovering only 2.8% through energy-from-waste technologies such as turning biogas from landfill and food waste into electricity.
Cleanaway CEO and Managing Director Vik Bansal said, “To make a sustainable future possible, Australia needs to improve source separation of materials, improve resource recovery through investment in processing and recycling facilities, and create robust local markets that use recycled materials in manufacturing.”
“What’s not discussed enough is ‘what do we do with the waste that absolutely cannot be recycled’? When used to supplement waste avoidance, reuse and recycling, energy-from-waste is the sustainable solution for this residual waste.”
In addition to relieving pressure on landfill, energy-from-waste is a lower cost option for councils and businesses to dispose of their non-recyclable waste and contributes to lowering carbon emissions. An energy-from-waste facility would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of taking approximately 100,000 cars off the roads.
“Around the world, modern energy-from-waste facilities have benefitted from years of innovation and advancements in environmental monitoring and controls. These facilities are highly engineered to minimise air pollution and protect human health.” explained Vik.
Europe has embraced energy-from-waste with well-established facilities that are an integral part of their waste management infrastructure. While energy-from-waste projects are underway in Western Australia and Victoria, incineration is banned in the ACT and in NSW, a bill was brought forward to ban the incineration of most waste in late 2020. Although it was ultimately rejected, the raising of the bill highlighted the need for wider understanding of the technology among communities.
“A cohesive national strategy and support at a Federal government level would open the door for better public understanding on the role, safety and technology of energy-from-waste facilities.” said Vik.
“In the meantime, Cleanaway will continue to invest in infrastructure across the waste value chain from collections to resource recovery, energy-from-waste, treatment and disposal. Since the launch of our Footprint 2025 roadmap to manage Australia’s growing waste needs, we’ve invested in a container sorting facility in NSW, a processed engineered fuel facility in Western Sydney and a plastic pelletising facility in Albury/Wodonga.”
“We’ve also upgraded material recovery facilities in Victoria and Tasmania and improved landfill engineering and technology in Melbourne, Adelaide and Queensland.”
“We’re planning more capital investment in the energy-from-waste space, including the proposed Western Sydney Energy and Resource Recovery Centre, and potentially similar facilities in Melbourne and Brisbane.”
Cleanaway is in the process of gaining approval for a proposed energy-from-waste facility in Western Sydney. The Western Sydney Energy and Resource Recovery Centre (WSERRC), is modelled on modern facilities overseas and aims to divert approximately one-third of Western Sydney’s red bin waste into electricity to power over 79,000 homes and businesses.
The facility will also facilitate the recovery of metals from the ash for recycling and the reuse of the ash in construction processes. Once accepting waste, the Western Sydney Energy and Resource Recovery Centre is expected to create a net reduction of climate change gases equivalent to more than 390,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
Learn more about the WSERRC proposal here and here.
Read our article on why energy-from-waste is necessary and how it can be done safely and sustainably here.
Learn about energy-from-waste technology safety, regulations and emissions here.
Contact us to learn more about how we’re making a sustainable future possible for communities, industry and local governments across Australia.