Tip Shop + Recycling Depot for Hazelmere

As a local community group, Transition Town Guildford was recently invited to a presentation by the East Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) on their proposed new Resource Recovery Park for Hazelmere. Waste and Recycling sub group members Barb Frey and myself attended. I was initially concerned that “Resource Recovery Park” might be PC-speak for “Rubbish Dump” and Hazelmere has had more than enough of that in the past. What followed was a plan for a recycling and power generating centre that appeared to be state-of-the-art though it does need some fine tuning.

Here are the basics:

Location

Just northwest of the junction of the Gt. Eastern Hwy. Bypass and Stirling Crescent.1

We did raise concerns about increased traffic congestion in an already strained area with large numbers of trucks trying to access the site. EMRC said they will carry out a full traffic study before construction. The current plan relies on access from the Lloyd St extension which is nowhere in sight. Another possible access is directly off the Bypass.

Current use

Wood shredding. Previously used for wood chips- recycled for chipboard.

Mattress recycling. Mattresses are diverted from landfill and stripped/recycled.

Proposed additions

Wood / Pyrolysis Plant

Wood is to be shredded and fed in to a pyrolysis plant. Electricity is generated by wood being heated and the gasses burnt to run a generator. 11000 tonnes of wood is expected to be burnt to produce 3MW of power annually. This would power 3000 homes. BioChar would be produced as a by-product. EMRC has yet to receive environmental approval for the pyrolysis plant.

Recycling

Kerbside rubbish collection material will be sorted and recycled.

Green Waste

Kerbside green waste will be shredded then sent to landfill. This seemed like a real waste of mulch. We suggested the mulch should be made available to the public.

Tip Shop

This is the best (in my view) bit. The EMRC will run a tip shop at the site where still useful collected items will be sold to the public.

Education Centre

To educate the public on recycling. Very worthwhile!

Timeline

Most of the construction is expected to be completed in the next 2 years.

All told it was a good presentation. There are a few bugs to iron out but we appreciated that the EMRC was consulting with the community as part of their project planning.

Image supplied by EMRC.

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3 responses to “Tip Shop + Recycling Depot for Hazelmere

  1. Dear Transition Town Guildford
    Pyrolysis is a form of incineration which requires the highest assessment for health and environment protection. Biochar is not a proven benefit for agriculture and organic material is better composted than burnt.

    The East metro region does not need anymore air quality threats as it is already disproportionately burdened with brickwork emissions. I am shocked that this proposal has been slipped through without stakeholders who have engaged with the EMRC for more than 12 years being kept in the dark.

    Australia does not currently have any regulatory framework for this industry yet they are being promoted heavily by certain politicians and misinformed groups.

    Please make yourself informed of the serious problems that these projects bring at both a local and global scale. Biomass is not a renewable energy solution and these proposals (pyroysis, gasificaiton, plasma arc and combustion) are the dirtiest forms of energy production releasing GHG’s and contributing to climate change. I don’t believe this is the sort of industry your group would knowingly support as it runs counter to your aims.

    You can read about biomass pyroysis at –

    http://www.energyjustice.net/
    http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/

    I would be happy to come and speak with your group anytime
    best regards
    Jane Bremmer
    Alliance for a Clean Environment Inc.

  2. Hi Jane
    Thanks for your contribution.
    A few comments.
    EMRC have pointed out to me that their pyrolysis plant plans are still subject to environmental approval.
    I entirely agree that this is not the best use for wood products and have suggested to the EMRC that burning them for power should be the LAST possible option for their use. The EMRC have said that they used to sell woodchip material to Laminex for use in chipboard but that this contract fell through. I have suggested that they try and attract chipboard manufacturers to their site to set up a local business. At the moment the EMRC is looking at selling shredded wood as animal bedding, again not ideal but at least it has composting possibilities beyond that life.
    The EMRC claims that the proposed pyrolysis plant will only be using dry wood waste. The gasification of plastics and general waste is an entirely different matter. I have not seen any data that suggests that the EMRC proposal would release dioxins in to the atmosphere. It should produce significantly fewer toxic emissions than home wood heaters. This is definitely not my preferred form of power generation, (see my blog post on the 100% renewable energy forum) but I would place it well above coal in terms of being a renewable resource. It also has the benefit of generating power at the fuel source (waste collection centre) and supplying electricity to a local area rather than transmitting it hundreds of kilometres, with associated losses. At the moment the EMRC is also looking at selling shredded wood as animal bedding, again not ideal but at least it has composting possibilities beyond that life.
    This blog post represents my opinion, not that of TTG
    TTG does not ally itself with any other organisation but we do try to keep our local community informed when we have information and also encourage government and business to take positive steps toward a sustainable future.

  3. Thanks for your commens Peter

    The EMRC could send the woodchip to an Anaerobic Digestor and make compost out of it and then capture the methane for energy. This is a much more sustainable model and one that they have approval for already so makes much more sense.

    The best use of this resource though is to reuse it. I wonder if the EMRC pursued other companies to further this principle of the waste hierarchy?

    There are definately exit gases involved in any pyrolysis technology which will contain dioxin (and many other harmful gases) and it may be so that the levels are low…but as Dioxin is a Persistent Organic Pollutant I would argue there is no safe level for POP’s emissions, especially near residents. If the dioxin is not contained in the exit gases then it will be in the biochar and the toxic residues in biochar are a real problem that has not been resolved yet meaning that it is not a proven agricultural benefit and could represent a major contamination risk. If you haven’t seen any data about dioxin emissions I would ask for them because this technology operates elsewhere in the world and is known to emit dioxins.

    I am also very concerned that waste wood has been treated and may include pesticides, CCA, Low Organic Solvent Pine, synthetic pyrethroids, gluelam and salts, all of which provide the pre-cursers for the generation of dioxin, furans and bromines. As I said it is the dirtiest form of energy generation.Given the technology operates at temperatures that are known to generate dioxins this makes the emissions a significant environmental health and justice risk for the Hazelmere community and surrounds.

    Comparing energy from coal to energy from waste is misleading as coal is not renewable and such comparisons should be made with solar and wind to be fair, if it is claimed to be renewable energy. In fact incineration (including pyrolysis) produces more GHG’s than coal. I am certainly not advocating for coal energy but waste to energy is as bad and in some areas worse than coal. If this technology was compared to real renewable energy such as solar and wind then it would compare badly.

    Also the claim that it will produce significantly less emissions than wood heaters is also misleading. I assume you are referring to a comparison of all wood heater contributions in WA? Wood heaters are considered a diffuse emission source whereas this plant will be a concentrated point source of emissions with 11000 tonnes of waste wood processed per year. This is a massive amount of material containing toxics that will release its waste into our airshed in an area that is already affected by BGC’s asphalt plant and Brickworks emissions.

    The greatest risk though i think that is when such technologies are approved and established it is very difficult to close them down if they breach their licences. In fact i am not aware of any industry in WA that has been closed down for breaching air quality standards. The standard regulatory response in WA is to cover it up and deny the breaches and that’s even if they are identified in the quarterly monitoring reports that won’t be released publicly until some time well after the damage is done.

    We just do not have a robust regulatory framework in WA for stack industries that will ensure compliance with health protective standards (which are also insufficient). The risk will be that they will run out of waste wood and because the MRF centre will be on site it will be very easy for other wastes to be directed into this plant and especially if we are legally committed through contracts to keep the plant operating. This is the real lived experience of communities around the world who are burdened with such technologies. Financial risk, polluted environments, undermined recycling and adverse health impacts.

    I think it is imperative that we learn from their experience and heed their warnings, before we inflict such burdens on our own communities.

    Our organisation has some expertise in incineration technologies, Dioxin and chemical regulation as well as 25 years of environmental health and justice campaign experience and work at a national and international level on these issues. As such we are always happy to provide presentations to community groups and empower communities to defend themselves.

    best regards
    Jane

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