Australia’s largest Waste-to-Fuel plant opens in New South Wales
A new multi-million dollar resource recovery and Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) plant at Wetherill Park in western Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), was officially opened July 31 by Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Honourable Josh Frydenberg. Developed by ResourceCo Pty Ltd, and owned in a joint venture with Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd, the facility is the largest of its kind in Australia.
ResourceCo is one of Australia’s leading integrated resource recovery and environmental services companies currently operating in 22 locations in Australia and South-East Asia. The company recycles more than 95 percent of incoming materials while processing over two million tonnes of materials annually.
ResourceCo has long-term partnerships with multi-national groups such as SUEZ, Lafarge and in Australia with Adelaide Brighton Cement having developed Australia’s first Process Engineered Fuel (PEF) manufacturing plant in 2006.
Provide PEF to the cement industry
The multi-million dollar Wetherill Park plant is licensed to receive up to 250 000 tonnes per annum of dry commercial and industrial and mixed construction and demolition (C&D) waste, recovering commodities such as metal, clean timber and inert materials, with the balance converted into PEF which is used as a substitute for fossil fuels in both domestic and offshore markets in the production of cement.
According to Ben Sawley, CEO, Sustainable Energy at ResourceCo, the new plant will divert up to 50 000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
The plant will transform waste from selected non-recyclable waste streams that would otherwise go into landfill into a baseload energy source, known as PEF. It will replace over 100 000 tonnes of coal usage per year alone and will take the equivalent of 20 000 cars annually off the road in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. We’re committed to playing a key role in Australia’s future sustainable energy mix, by reducing waste and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable energy product, Sawley said.
The new Wetherill Park plant, providing employment for 50 people, will predominantly supply Boral, Australia’s largest construction material company, with PEF for its Berrima cement kiln, as a substitute for coal. The remainder will be exported to ResourceCo’s Asian business.
Cleanaway to supply waste
With a fleet of almost 4 000 specialist vehicles operating from a network of more than 250 locations around Australia, Cleanaway Waste Management Ltd is one of the country’s leading total waste management, industrial and environmental services company. The company recently acquired a 50 percent equity stake in ResourceCo’s Wetherill Park plant.
According to Vik Bansal, CEO, Cleanaway the new facility is an “important new resource recovery solution in New South Wales that creates a landfill diversion option” for commercial and industrial, residual recycling, and some construction and demolition waste.
Investment in resource recovery and innovative waste to energy solutions is essential to making a sustainable future possible, and one of the ways we’re delivering on our Footprint 2025 strategy, said Bansal.
Cleanaway’s customer base and waste supply in NSW will help to drive volume to the facility, recovering even more waste from landfill.
The project was supported by loan funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) as part of its Sustainable Cities Investment Program. The CEFC had earlier committed AU$30 million in debt finance to support the development of ResourceCo’s Sydney plant, as well as an additional plant at a second Australian location still to be identified.
The priority in managing our waste must be to reduce the amount of waste we produce in the first place. With what remains, we need to invest in proven technologies to repurpose it, including as alternative fuels. By turning waste into PEF, this facility is showing how industrial processes can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. We can also reduce the amount of waste materials going into landfill, an important factor in cutting our national greenhouse gas emissions, said Ian Learmonth, CEO, CEFC.
CEFC Bioenergy and Energy from Waste Sector lead Henry Anning said the CEFC was working with the waste management sector to increase energy efficiency and energy generation, as well as reduce carbon emissions.
With Australia’s waste sector facing considerable disruption, now is the time to adopt new ways of doing business. With the right investment in proven technologies, companies can turn our urban and industrial waste into new energy sources, creating an important revenue stream while also reducing landfill gas emissions. In Australia, there is a growing commercial opportunity for resource recovery, reinforced by tightening state government landfill regulations. We are working alongside waste companies to invest in long-term infrastructure that can make a lasting difference to the way we handle our waste. Experience in Europe and Japan shows the exciting potential of these technologies to handle our increasing volumes of waste. There is a strong potential for sustainable energy and resource recovery to play an increasing role among waste management options, said Anning.
The project also gained grant funding from the NSW Environment Trust, as part of the NSW Environment Protection Authority’s (EPA’s) “Waste Less, Recycle More” initiative, funded from the waste levy. The technology is also eligible for Australian Carbon Credit Units (ACCUs) due to its diversion of biomass waste from landfill.
The opportunity to tap further into this market is huge and it makes good sense, both environmentally and economically, Ben Sawley, CEO, Sustainable Energy at ResourceCo concluded.