Energy from waste – installation of traps

As it currently stands, Energy from Waste (EfW) infrastructure may not be able to play a role in waste management in NSW

Yes, there is the Parkes Special Activation Precinct (SAP) process, with a shortlist of sponsors not yet announced. But the logistical challenges of getting waste to Parkes and the difficulty of obtaining a social license to operate are major hurdles.

Then come the challenges of obtaining development permission and an environmental protection permit. Yes, the Environmental Protection Agency has announced four EfW priority infrastructure precincts or areas, including the Parkes SAP; but Lithgow Town Council said it was not asked when the West Lithgow precinct was chosen as the priority area.

Why should Lithgow support an EfW facility when the EPA’s infrastructure plan states that no EfW facilities will be built in Sydney because new sources of emissions must be avoided?

Why should Lithgow support an EfW facility when the EPA’s infrastructure plan states that no EfW facilities will be built in Sydney because new sources of emissions must be avoided?

Why should the people of Lithgow tolerate new sources of emissions when the people of Sydney are not encouraged to do so? A fair point to make. The councils of Northern Rivers would be expected to join in the chorus.

This then leaves Parkes and Veolia’s Woodlawn site – a typical Australian oligopoly situation, cementing economic disadvantage.

The government has allowed a number of myths to spread which have now become “sovereign risk factors” (traps) that will make it difficult to finance any major infrastructure investment.

Representatives from Lithgow City Council appear to believe that EfW is a danger to human health. They can’t be blamed for thinking that because that was the EPA’s argument against the next-generation facility in Sydney. How can it bear a risk to human health? Naturally, Lithgow Council does not want to become Sydney’s rubbish ‘dump’ either.

It all started with the EfW policy.

This author was a member of the so-called ‘CEO Roundtable’ convened by Lisa Corbyn, then chief executive of the NSW EPA.

Being seconded to the roundtable by my employer at the time, I can attest that the discussions were civil, factual and fruitful. The main concerns of the NGOs (non-governmental organizations) at the table were the leakage of recyclable materials into EfW and the consequent destruction of valuable materials.

This was a pretty hollow argument as NSW struggles to provide the infrastructure to handle all the recyclables currently collected ashore. At the end of the deliberations, draft recommendations were submitted to the EPA.

When the draft policy document returned several months later, it was unrecognizable. As a result, the waste had to be “treated” without explaining what that meant, and the amount of waste from various waste streams was limited by the so-called “table 1”, which made it de facto impossible to obtain sufficient volume for a large scale. (i.e. economically viable). The policy of preventing energy from waste was born.

The next pitfall was the requirement in the guidelines for energy recovery facilities that the applicant had to demonstrate that the proposed technology was used in “reference facilities” using the same technologies dealing with “similar waste streams”. . The roundtable rightly called for only proven technologies to be approved to avoid duplication such as the Wollongong Solid Waste Energy Recycling Facility (who remembers that $140 million write-off?).

How to prevent even the most proven technology in practice was shown when the ‘next generation’ proposal was turned down by the Independent Planning Commission.

The reference plant used in this process apparently treated mainly residual household waste whereas the Next Gen plant wanted to treat mainly residual commercial and industrial waste and construction and demolition waste. That, and the addition of shredding floc, meant a ban.

No one asked what the residual waste actually looked like and what tolerances in input the treatment technology allowed versus outputs (emissions), which would have been the right questions to ask. What is a “similar waste stream” anyway? Residual waste is not defined by consistency.

The “like waste” criterion has only one goal: to disconnect projects that are “not like”.

The quote from Henry Moore in the survey, then head of waste reform at the NSW EPA, fell on deaf ears: “Some EfW (in Europe) use residual waste and some no.

Some are mass combustion incinerators. It is a more diversified material and often less mastered in its composition. It is the technology of these facilities that addresses the inherent risks associated with them to produce the result without impact” (see also 1.27 on page 8 of the final report of the investigation, dated March 28, 2018).

In simple terms, this means that the technologies used are designed to handle a wide range of inputs. The outputs are always compliant. This technical fact is obviously not of interest to the NSW government.

The Next Gen facility investigation released on March 18, 2018 also set another trap.

He could have checked the facts and used his report to educate a nervous population.

Yes, the committee has said it supports waste-to-energy under certain circumstances, but not next-generation, which, by the way, I agree with, but for different reasons.

His report cited observations made by a wide range of stakeholders indiscriminately, even if they were factually wrong. A little fact-checking would have gone a long way to dispelling myths, such as the one that the European Union recommended member states stop building new EfW facilities and decommission existing ones.

The National Toxics Network made the statement citing a communication from the European Commission regarding the role of waste-to-energy in the circular economy.

A fact check showed that the European Commission had not stated what the Toxics Network was alleging.

What the EU communication addresses concerns the role of public financial support for EfW installations.

Basically, the European Commission said that there are already a large number of EfW installations in the EU. Therefore, public financial support for the construction of new facilities should be limited in order to ensure that the waste hierarchy is respected first; and the existing overcapacity in some countries should be used by countries with less capacity to export their waste to EfW facilities that have a demand for fuel.

He recommended phasing out public (financial) support for EfW installations. The technologies are well established and are not expected to require additional financial support. Compare that to Australia or NSW, where there are currently no large-scale EfW installations in operation. Not really a good comparison case, okay? But the myth has been created that the EU no longer supports EfW. Which sucks, pardon the pun.

The EPA and the NSW government have come out in favor of EfW on paper, but in reality they’ve blocked it at every turn, sometimes using false (“like rubbish”) arguments. ). The government allowed several projects to enter the planning stage only to later change where it would or would not support any of these facilities. Yes you can build one in the outback but not in Sydney please where we generate all the waste. . You see, there are fewer votes to lose in Parkes…

A good example of how you create sovereign risk! A bad example for a working waste management policy framework.

Frank Klostermann is director of Full Circle Advisory, a consulting firm specializing in sustainability and the environment. He has over 25 years of experience as a senior executive in the waste and recycling industries.

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