It is important to make it clear that CRS has proposed a recycling, resource recovery and renewable energy plant, not an “incinerator”. Its primary output is recyclable materials and electricity generation to 28,000 Canberra homes, not residual ash.
The facility would significantly increase the percentage of MSW and C&I waste that is recycled and reused and reduce reliance on the Mugga Lane landfill. Part of the remaining waste that cannot be recycled would be converted to renewable energy. With respect, our project is no more of an incinerator for waste than a car engine is an incinerator for petrol. We propose to take a waste product, that would otherwise be landfilled, remove the commercially recyclable commodities (which ought not be landfilled!) and then properly prepare the residues to become a fuel, and then create electricity all in a controlled and monitored environment.
An incinerator has connotations of volume reduction being the main purpose, or destruction of materials, for example medical waste. It also has connotations of uncontrolled emissions. This proposal does not meet that definition. This is a recycling and reuse and energy production facility, with air scrubbing systems that are extensive and proven. Almost 50% of the infrastructure cost of a modern waste to energy plant is for the emissions capture and air quality management equipment.
It is worth noting that the IPCC, European Environment Agency, Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Clean Energy Council (Australia) and the ACT Government’s own consulting advisors (MRA) all recognise that MSW that would otherwise be landfilled, when properly treated in a thermal waste to energy plant, results in net carbon emission reductions and should be considered as a worthwhile carbon emissions abatement strategy.
Regarding sludge, CRS has had preliminary discussions only with Icon Water on the potential for its sludge to be included in the Fyshwick project. As we explain below, we anticipate sludge is unlikely to be a significant feature of our proposal.
Examples of existing incinerators built for destruction purposes (as opposed to electricity generation) are the old Total Care waste incinerator at Mitchell as well as the Icon Water bio-solids incinerator at Lower Molonglo. Icon Water currently processes some 15,000Tpa using their own systems. During the treatment process all of the solid material, called “sewage sludge”, is removed and incinerated in a high temperature furnace. The resulting ash (Agri-Ash) is sold to farmers as a soil conditioner” https://www.iconwater.com.au/LMWQCC.
According to information provided in Icon Water’s Price Proposal they have plans to upgrade the solids handling process and refurbish the incinerator to ensure they can operate efficiently and continue to meet their EPA Licence requirements.
As Icon Water will be upgrading their incinerators, the only possible role for the CRS centre may be as a backup capacity at low volumes (as the Mugga Lane landfill currently is).