Burning reclaimed waste

Wednesday, 11 October, 2006

Thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste are being harnessed to manufacture Australian cement in an initiative to clean up the image of one of the world's biggest polluting industries.

Flammable industrial waste, including oils, pesticides and chemical by-products, are replacing fossil fuels in powering high-intensity kilns at one of the nation's biggest cement manufacturers. The process reduces greenhouse gas emissions by reclaiming waste that would otherwise go to landfill.

Geocycle, a subsidiary of Cement Australia, reclaims about 12,000 tonnes of industrial waste each year and is the only Australian company to reuse hazardous materials. The waste is transported to a processing plant in Dandenong, in Melbourne's south-east, where it is analysed and blended to produce an optimum burn potential. The waste is then loaded into 20,000 L tanks and transported to Cement Australia's manufacturing kilns in Gladstone, Queensland, where it is burned at 1200°.

Currently, 6% of fuels burned at Cement Australia is reclaimed waste. The rest comprises fossil fuels, including coal, but the company aims to increase that to 20% within 10 years.

Geocycle charges up to $600 a tonne for disposing of industrial waste. With the cost of landfill for hazardous waste set to increase to up to $1000 a tonne in future, there is a financial incentive for industry to find greener alternatives.


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