Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo: Making sustainability profitable

Looking at this Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo’s stellar line up of seminar sessions and respected industry and government movers and shakers, it’s evident that there’s a running theme of sustainability. Additionally, this year’s line-up of exhibitors and product offerings has a focus on sustainability with many presenting recycling and waste minimisation innovations.

From new reforms on handling hazardous waste being showcased, to efforts and initiatives towards reducing landfill waste, the two-day expo aims to educate and inform those in the waste industry that sustainable practices are essential and not a luxury.

The Energy from waste case studies and technologies seminar session will touch on groundbreaking technologies and case studies highlighting the efforts of companies like Qantas which is significantly reducing waste with rolling out a sustainable packaging program. Ancillary initiatives such as recycling on board flights, and also at various Qantas-owned facilities are all part of a long-term sustainability initiative by the airlines. Qantas has stated that it aims to reduce waste to landfill by 30% compared to 2009.

The Energy from waste case studies and technologies seminar will be held on Thursday 13 August from 11am to 12.30pm. For more details and to book tickets, go to awre.com.au/seminars

Additionally, we would like to make special mention of two initiatives where a sustainable approach to waste is at the heart of their success.

City of Melbourne - Degraves Street Recycling Facility

Prior to the recycling facility initiative, the Street was producing 700kg of food waste a day with no levels of consistency in respects of recycling. Without source separation systems in place, 90% of waste produced, which could be diverted from landfills, was not.

Geoff Robinson, Manager of Engineering Services City of Melbourne, says “This initiative had its birth in a council policy where we were required to put in place a waste action plan for council. One of those ways was to look at how we could reduce waste to landfill; improve levels of recycling; and as a spin-off to work with the community to achieve those objectives.”

Staff from food establishments are trained to separate leftover scraps to allocated bins provided by the Council. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this facility is how organics are processed. Mainly comprising leftovers from diners’ plates, organics are processed through a food dehydrator and mulches so they can be used soil conditioner or fertiliser - a significant reduction of waste that would otherwise end up in the landfill.

Some establishments have been able to reduce their 1100 litre bins to 600 litre bins while still effectively managing their waste output. This is an all-round win as cost to waste to landfill is reduced.

Education has been key to this initiative and the success of the Degraves Street Recycling Facility.

Robinson said: “If we can demonstrate a win here, then we’d like to find another place in the city of a similar demographic for a similar experience.”

AWRE are running a special guided Lunch Tour: Food Recycling in the CBD on Thursday 13 August from 12.40pm to 3.30pm for those keen to learn more and see the facility for themselves.

See awre.com.au/seminars for more information.

Integrated Green Energy

Bevan Dooley, CEO of Integrated Green Energy, shares an initiative that turns waste plastic comprising unrecyclable, mixed polymer plastics into liquid diesel and petrol. That technology cracks these otherwise ‘uneconomic’ plastic back to liquid fuels. The novel in-house technology, which has been employed for the last three years, cracks and fractionates the plastics into finished liquid fuels straight off the process.

An aggregator works as the middleman in this process, targeting businesses that have significant volumes of unrecyclable plastics, like food manufacturers, and businesses like Target or K-mart which toss out plastic items like clothes hangers which otherwise would end up in a landfill. Dooley says: “We collect these plastic products that are unfit for normal recycling, and by picking it up for free or for a nominal fee, these businesses save on landfill fees and waste disposal products. About 200 metric tonnes of such plastics are collected per day and out of that, we produce about 160 metric tonnes of finished liquid fuels. These are sold to wholesalers which end up with large fleet users.”

Dooley commented on how with the right technology, businesses built around sustainability can be profitable. He says: “Given the right technology, there are many factories and businesses can convert their waste into energy. The key is to apply the right technology.”

There are however obstacles to green energy initiatives such as this. “While I couldn’t be happier with how our end-users and clients have received our business, there are general perceptions from the government which isn’t helping sustainable energy businesses like ours. Detrimental policy changes over the last few years has seen the biodiesel industry decimated and brakes have been put on by the government in other initiatives too. This has a knock-on effect with the industry hesitant to take on sustainable energy initiatives.

To find out more about Integrated Waste Energy visit AWRE 12-13th August at the Melbourne Exhibition Convention Centre, register free at awre.com.au

About AWRE:

Into its sixth instalment, the Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo (AWRE) is back in Melbourne in 2015. It attracts exhibitors and industry professionals from Australia, New Zealand, Asia, UK and North America looking for cutting-edge innovation in end-to-end waste management solutions.

When: 12-13 August 2015

Where: Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

For more information on AWRE, seminar programs and list of exhibitors, please go to www.awre.com.au.

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Supporting Organisations

ABB
Asia Plantation Capital
Diamond Energy
Basf
City Developments Ltd
DNV-GL
Geocycle
Sindicatum
Olam