Could Ballarat's landfills be a thing of the past?
Yesterday council staff were given a briefing by Canadian company Plasco, which specialises in building facilities which convert a city's waste into electricty, water and building materials.
Under Plasco's design, a metric tonne of non-recyclable waste can be converted into about 1.3 megawatts of electricity, 300 litres of water and a quantity of construction aggregate.
Converting a tonne of garbage into these products takes about 40 minutes.
"These technologies are going to become the preferred way to deal with non-recyclable waste," Plasco senior vice-president Alisdair McLean said. "In Ottawa (Canada), the plant converts just under 400 tonnes a day."
Mr McLean said the process involved converting garbage into a synthetic gas, which is then used to fuel engines to produce electricty.
"We would only charge a city (like Ballarat) a user fee," he said.
"So if they give us a tonne of garbage, they'll pay for that, but we'll build the plant with our own money."
Mr McLean said with the carbon tax, high tipping fees and a levy on landfilling, the conditions were right for these facilities to exist in Australia. He said up to 50 "green collar" jobs would be needed to run such a facility.
"If we were to build a plant in Ballarat, we would work with the local university to set up some kind of training program," he said.
Mr McLean said Ballarat did not produce enough waste to make a Plasco plant commercially feasible, but said the city's neighbouring towns could make up the difference.
City of Ballarat growth and development director Eric Braslis said the meeting had delivered interesting ideas.
"The technology in the waste to energy space is evolving constantly and we are keen to ensure that we consider and ultimately adopt waste solutions that are current practice and the most suitable to the city's needs over time," Mr Braslis said.
"Council is examining a range of options for reducing waste into landfill and delivering energy via heat, gas or electricity.
"Council agreed to seek community feedback into the waste management strategy for the city and the region at last week's council meeting.
"The strategy seeks to reduce waste into our Smythesdale landfill by 65 per cent. That would double the amount of material that is diverted to uses away from landfill."