Victoria asks for advice on waste plan

23 May 2019 - 12:00 am UTC

Victoria has tasked its advisory body Infrastructure Victoria with devising better ways to deal with the state’s waste, including developing a Waste to Energy (WtE) plan.

The independent agency said in a statement on Thursday (23 May) the government’s Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, had directed it to:

– Develop Victoria’s re-processing sector for recycled material;

– Better enable the use of products containing recycled materials in a variety of Victorian industries, such as manufacturing, construction and agriculture;

– Support a waste to energy sector that prioritises the extraction of recyclable material and recovers energy only from the residual waste; and

– Support high levels of resource for organics, particularly food organics.

The government’s terms of reference say the waste to energy sector – where there is keen interest from infrastructure investors – is underdeveloped in Australia and asks Infrastructure Victoria to advise on how to overcome investment barriers and ensure waste that should be recycled or reused is not used to produce energy.

“There is a degree of uncertainty about return on investments, security of feedstock, social licence and the potential to adversely divert waste from uses higher up the waste hierarchy,” the terms of reference state.

A handful of WtE projects are being developed around the country.

In October 2018, the Kwinana plant in Perth became the first large generator project in Australia that burns municipal rubbish to produce energy to reach financial close.

Another at nearby East Rockingham is currently targeting financial close next month.

Meanwhile, rising electricity prices has prompted Australian Paper to propose a 250MW, AUD 600m plant to power its Maryvale paper mill in Victoria’s La Trobe Valley, north-east of Melbourne.

The project received approval from the state EPA late in 2018 and in April it released a feasibility study partly funded by the Australian and Victorian governments that found it would be socially, economically, environmentally and commercially viable.

The report said it could prevent waste from having to be trucked across Melbourne from landfill sites in south east Melbourne which are close to being full.

Australian Paper has been seeking advisers, including a financial adviser, as reported.

There are tenders for general waste management in the market now from amalgamated councils in Melbourne and from councils in Gippsland, to the east of Melbourne.

China ban
China decided to ban on importing various types of recyclable material in late 2017. This has had a major impact on many countries’ recycling programs that relied on exporting the waste to China to process and turn into new products, and prompted the Infrastructure Victoria study.

States and local councils that are responsible for waste management have since been struggling to work out how to set up a local industry to recycle material in Australia.

In recent months, Victoria’s Environmental Protect Authority (EPA) has issued several large fines for dangerous stockpiles of recycled waste, some of which have caught on fire in recent months. 

 

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