ACT Greens slam Canberra’s proposed waste-to-energy plants

Andrew Brown

  • Andrew Brown

The ACT Greens have slammed proposed waste-to-energy facilities in Canberra, saying such processes present both health and environmental concerns.

The concerns over the planned sites, such as the future Capital Recycling Solutions facility proposed for Fyshwick, have been laid out in a new policy framework document on waste management, to be released on Sunday.

As part of the policy document, the party outlined its support for a zero-waste strategy, but states it cannot be achieved through using waste-to-energy facilities.

“Burning waste is no better than burning dirty fossil fuels and will not support the ACT’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality,” the document said.

The Greens have also expressed doubt over the current ACT waste management strategy, which set a goal of recovering 90 per cent of waste in Canberra by 2025.

“The goal of recovering 90 per cent of our waste is achievable, but cannot be reached if we simply continue on our current path,” the document states.

ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury said the nine-point policy document was brought out to clarify the party’s stance against waste-to-energy after two facilities were proposed for Canberra in the past year.

Plans are under way for a $200 million waste-to-energy facility in Fyshwick, which has already faced protests from nearby residents.

The company behind the proposal, Capital Recycling Group, announced this week it would halve its capacity in order to get the proposal over the line.

The group’s director  Adam Perry said the plant will not import waste from Sydney, with the proposal being reduced from a 30 mega-watt plant to 15 mega-watts.

Plans were also separated into two environment impact statements, with plans to divert 300,000 tonnes of rubbish from Mugga Lane to the Woodlawn bioreactor at Tarago taking precedent.

Mr Rattenbury said it was important to outline the party’s position on the issue if similar facilities are proposed in the future.

“We’ve seen two proposals now, and we may see more of these over time, and we felt the need to sit down and research the issue and consult with experts to see the science behind it,” he said.

“There’s three environmental problems with the proposal: the first is greenhouse gases, the second is the toxic byproducts that can arise from it, and the third is the waste to valuable resources.”

The policy document outlined the Greens’ support for non-thermal technologies and clean-energy solutions to deal with waste in the ACT.

In addition, the party called for ACT waste management strategies to be aligned with the territory’s target of zero net greenhouse gas emissions, as well as eliminating toxic air emissions.

Mr Rattenbury said Canberra’s approach to waste should be at the source, minimising the amount that is sent to landfill.

“We need to focus on resource recovery and looking at the viable mechanism to reduce our environmental footprint,” he said.

The Greens leader said there was every possibility of further facilities being planned.

Mr Rattenbury said there has already been “significant community concern” surrounding the proposals, and that alternatives need to be explored.

“The plans are just incongruous with the recent waste strategies,” he said.

While the Fyshwick plant has been proposed, a development application for the site has not been submitted and sent to the government for approval.

With the release of the policy framework document, Mr Rattenbury said he hopes for the government to take on board some of the proposals.

“I’m optimistic that other parties will see the strength of the approach and that it’s backed by experts in the field and there’ll be commitment across the assembly,” he said.