This week, Victorian opposition leader Michael O’Brian launched his party’s ‘zero-to-landfill’ waste policy.
The policy sets an ambitious target, to eliminate all waste to landfill by 2035, with interim reductions of 33% by 2025 and 66% by 2030.
The policy targets two key focus areas:
- Materials Recovery Facilities
- Energy from waste applications
Until now the cost of local recycling has been prohibitive, with much of the sorting being ‘exported’ to Asian countries with ‘competitive’ labour costs. We then buy back the outputs, such as ‘plastic chips’, for use in manufacturing new goods.
Most Asian countries have stopped taking our recycling forcing us to acknowledge; our rubbish, our problem.
The challenge is, we can’t cost-effectively perform a thorough separation of the paper, glass, plastics and metals by hand, so we need to innovate and leverage technology to process these recyclable materials locally.
Regardless of which party is in government, policies will need to be well-targeted to encourage research, development and innovation.
If successful, state-of-the-art Materials Recovery Facilities will deliver competitively priced raw materials for reuse in local manufacturing.
The other part of the waste equation is the non-recyclable material, mainly organic materials such as food scraps, known as municipal solid waste (MSW). This is where new applications are needed to avoid sending it to landfill, and where ‘waste-to-energy’ applications are ideal.
If sent to landfill MSW becomes a source of fugitive methane emissions as it decomposes underground. Methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.
By combusting the municipal solid waste to generate electricity, it’s possible to divert it from landfill while providing baseload power to back up intermittent wind and solar power generation.
The key factor in all this comes down to cost. For solutions to be environmentally sustainable, they must first be economically sustainable.
How does government waste management policy impact ECT?
Our own CP-WTE (Catalytic Depolymerisation-Waste to energy) process, currently in the development pipeline, is designed to take hydrocarbon-based waste such as wood chips, MSW and plastic and produce diesel fuel, providing a waste-to-energy solution for the liquid fuel market.
We aim to be part of the solution, turning your waste into liquid fuel.