A new way of treating waste

Veolia Australia and New Zealand

By Sustainability Matters Staff
Monday, 11 September, 2017


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When you close the lid of your general rubbish bin and wheel it out to the kerb for collection, do you know what happens to the contents?

With Australians generating 50 million tonnes of waste every year, we can’t avoid creating waste altogether, but establishing cost-effective and sustainable alternatives to landfill is vital for our future, and that’s where mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) can help.

Veolia Australia and New Zealand, in collaboration with the councils of Sydney, has officially launched the MBT facility at Woodlawn Eco-precinct, in the town of Tarago, located 240 kilometres from Sydney, NSW. Veolia is providing environmental services to process 144,000 tonnes of waste per annum and diverting more than half of the Southern and Northern councils’ general waste tonnes away from landfill, as well as contributing to the NSW Government’s diversion target of 70% by 2021.

For the Southern Sydney Region of Councils (SSROC) and the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC), the new $100 million treatment facility for household waste is turning trash into re-usable treasures to benefit the Australian economy and environment. The MBT uses resource recovery technology to extract organic content from the council’s waste streams, producing compost for on-site mine rehabilitation. The facility also has the ability to transform residual waste into clean heat for the barramundi farm and green energy for the grid.

Previously, the town of Tarago was home to the adjoining Woodlawn Mine site drilling for zinc, copper, lead, gold and silver. Veolia Executive General Manager – Eastern Region Danny Conlon stated: “This project will also save millions of dollars in waste levy charges for Sydney’s ratepayers and will additionally produce an organic compost to be re-used to rehabilitate Australian mine land, ultimately allowing us to give back to the nation’s people and communities.”

Veolia has also established a new transfer terminal within the SSROC region at Banksmeadow to accommodate the increase in tonnages, which is operating in conjunction with the existing Clyde transfer station. This will ensure all of the collected general waste is tipped from council trucks and compacted into containers for transfer by rail, and not road, to Woodlawn.

SSROC General Manager Namoi Dougall recognises the waste complexities we are facing as a country: “We are generating around 50 million tonnes of waste every year — that’s 2000 kg per person — and while we can reduce our impact by re-using and recycling, we can’t avoid creating waste all together, but we can establish ways to create cost-effective and environmentally sustainable alternatives to landfill.

Over 50 jobs have been created in Banksmeadow and Woodlawn with the development of these new facilities, contributing to the growth of jobs in both metro and regional NSW.

Organic waste transformed at the MBT:

  • All of the waste that arrives at the site for the MBT is transferred by rail from Sydney to Tarago.
  • The use of rail is resulting in significant reduction of heavy truck movements from Sydney’s roads each year.
  • Waste is combined with air and water in large rotating drums, beginning the degradation.
  • Inorganic materials and metals are separated for recovery and subsequent recycling, where possible.
  • The organics are further refined and matured into compost that will be used in the remediation process of an old open-cut mine.


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