Waste-to-fuel plant opens in Western Sydney
Minister for the Environment and Energy Josh Frydenberg yesterday unveiled a new state-of-the-art resource recovery facility at Wetherill Park in Western Sydney, said to be the largest of its kind in Australia.
Providing employment for 50 people, the multimillion-dollar facility will transform non-recyclable waste into solid fuel known as processed engineering fuel (PEF), which can be used as a substitute for fossil fuels in high-combustion facilities such as cement kilns. Co-owned by ResourceCo and Cleanaway, the facility is expected to reduce the equivalent of at least 4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions during the expected life of the equipment.
The plant is licensed to receive up to 250,000 tonnes per annum of dry commercial and industrial, and mixed construction and demolition waste, recovering commodities such as metal, clean timber and inert materials, with the balance converted into PEF. According to ResourceCo’s Chief Executive Officer Sustainable Energy, Ben Sawley, it will divert up to 50,000 truckloads of waste from landfill, while also reducing reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas.
“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,” Sawley said. Cleanaway’s customer base and waste supply in NSW will help to drive volume to the facility, recovering even more waste from landfill.
The plant 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 Chief Executive Officer Vik Bansal said this is an important new resource recovery solution that creates a landfill diversion option for commercial and industrial, residual recycling, and some construction and demolition waste. The technology is also eligible for Australian carbon credit units (ACCUs) due to its diversion of biomass waste from landfill.
The project was supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which lent $30 million to ResourceCo to help fund the Wetherill Park facility as well as a second in a location to be announced.
“By turning waste into PEF, this facility is showing how industrial processes can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels,” said CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth. “We can also reduce the amount of waste materials going into landfill, an important factor in cutting our national greenhouse gas emissions.”
The facility also received $5 million worth of grant funding from the NSW Government’s Environmental Trust as part of the NSW Environmental Protection Agency’s Waste Less, Recycle More initiative, funded from the waste levy.
“This partnership between industry and government is particularly powerful because now, more than ever, we need facilities like this with pioneering solutions to re-use waste and stop it going to landfill,” said NSW Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton.
“This project delivers jobs, a solution to a waste problem and a source of alternative fuel — a three-way win for the community, the environment and the economy. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
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