Sydney plans to use 95% of its waste for heat and energy | RenewEconomy

Sydney plans to use 95% of its waste for heat and energy

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City of Sydney waste treatment master plan finds converting non-recyclable waste to energy could divert landfill and save ratepayers $3.9m a year.

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Advanced waste treatment systems could divert more than 95 per cent of Sydney’s household waste from landfill and convert it into a renewable gas to power, heat and cool buildings, a plan drafted by the City of Sydney has found.

The City’s draft advanced waste treatment master plan, approved by council on Monday, shows how energy can be generated from household waste, reducing the loss of valuable resources to landfill and cutting Sydney’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The plan, which is open to public scrutiny from May 15 to June 25, aims to divert non-recyclable waste from landfill and convert it into renewable and non-fossil fuel gases, and convert these gases into substitute natural gases to inject into the gas grid as a cheaper and more efficientlow-carbon energy source.

This process would be be carried out in advanced waste treatment plants, using a chemical process that the City says would have minimal emissions and would need to comply with the NSW Energy from Waste policy.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new, but viable technology could prevent around 196,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions a year, and save ratepayers about $3.9 million a year by avoiding the waste levy costs of landfill of more than $100 per tonne.

“Currently over 40,000 tonnes of household rubbish a year is processed to remove recyclables and produce low-grade compost,” Moore said, “but one third of waste still goes to landfill. The advanced waste treatment plant could reduce this amount to virtually nothing.

“If we don’t try to reduce our waste, by 2030 the household waste of city residents is predicted to grow to 80,000 tonnes. This means after recycling and treatment, 27,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household waste would end up in landfill – equivalent to the weight of a cruise ship.”

Moore said that energy from waste technologies already played a vital role internationally, with advanced waste technologies in use across Europe, Asia and North America. Australia, as one of the world’s top three producers of waste per capita, should follow suit, she said.

Just north of Sydney, the ACT already operates a 3MW facility that generates electricity from landfill gas, andis now looking to offer feed-in tariffs for up to 23MW of waste-to-energy power plants as part of its plans to source 90 per cent of its electicity needs from renewables by 2020.

ACT minister for environment Simon Corbell told RenewEconomy in April that his government had already run an “expressions of interest” program on the waste to energy plant proposal, and expected to go to market in 2015 for the technology, which he says will be cost effective.

In NSW, under the state’s current regulatory environment, advanced waste treatment can be effectively used to deliver renewable gas straight to the grid – a substitute for natural that gas can be used for electricity generation, heating, cooking and air-conditioning. This system would also designed to fully integrate with any future trigeneration plants to produce clean, local electricity, heating and cooling.

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  1. Motorshack 6 years ago

    Of course, the name says it all: waste to energy.

    That is to say, by definition, in order to tap this source of energy the economy first needs to be wasting resources on an industrial scale. So, this is hardly the best way to save the planet.

    It might be a lot better to avoid the waste in the first place, which would certainly reduce the rate at which we are plundering our natural resources, and it might even save more energy than can be recovered by burning a lot of unnecessary garbage.

    To see how this can be done at a solid profit, and on a massive scale, readers should check out Cradle To Cradle and The Upcycle by McDonough and Braungart.

    On a personal note, my own input to the local landfill is about one cubic foot a year, and that is happening only because, for some odd reason, the plastic wrappers for ramen noodles are not considered suitable input for the local recycling system. Otherwise I would be producing almost no garbage at all.

    I would also point out that this is not hard to do, provided only that you take a few minutes a week to think about what you are buying and how it is packaged. Indeed, once you develop a few stable buying habits, it requires almost no thought at all.

    This all assumes, of course, that one actually wants to continue living on a habitable planet. If that is not a particularly pressing goal, then obviously there is no reason to trouble oneself even a few minutes a week.

    • Lily 6 years ago

      You can take your ramen noodle wrappers to coles recycling bins. They take plastic wrap and turn it into outdoor furniture, fleece jumpers etc

      • Motorshack 6 years ago

        I’d love to do that, except that I live about 10,000 miles from the nearest Coles.

        Thanks for the suggestion, though. Always trying to chip away at the remaining bits of waste. Maybe there is something local, independent of the city recycling system.

    • Eileen 6 years ago

      Hi, your experience is quite interesting. Can you give some detail about how you manage to reduce your garbage? I’m doing a project about changing people’s daily behaviour to a more sustainable way. Your experience seems to be very inspiring and helpful. So do you have any ideas that this can be shared or taught so more people can reduce their garbage just like you did.
      Here is my email address and I’m forward to discuss with you. [email protected]

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