Focus is on City of Ballarat’s long-term waste management strategy as the date for a final decision on a proposed waste to energy plant approaches.
Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB) is expected to deliver a response to a non-binding heads of agreement on a waste to energy facility in Ballarat by December 11.
Council signed a non-binding heads of agreement with MRCB in August for a 120-day feasibility study into an incineration plant to be situated at the Ballarat West Employment Zone.
If we get a waste to energy plan up that current estimate of 30 year life of the tip could become a 300 year life.Terry Demeo, City of Ballarat
City of Ballarat director of infrastructure and environment Terry Demeo said council would make a decision on a waste to energy facility after receiving MRBC’s response to the heads of agreement.
“Until we see that we really don’t have a specific view as to how we are going to move forward,” he said.
“Council will be advised on their response and we will seek a view as to how to move forward.”
If an agreement is finalised, MRCB would have a contract to privately own and operate the plant for 25 years.
The current non-binding plan details an incineration plant that would require up to 400,000 tonnes of waste per year, a 1200 per cent increase on current waste levels.
Ballarat produces 30,000 tonnes of waste for the tip each year.
An incineration plant would also produce ash output, which would need to be disposed of. Increasingly ash is regarded as a toxic output, containing molten heavy metals that need to be removed using power-hungry eddy current separators.
Questions remain whether incineration would be the best waste to energy option for Ballarat.
Mr Demeo said other waste decisions hinge on the outcome of a waste to energy facility, particularly for the Smythesdale landfill site.
“We are currently on a 12 month renewal basis with the current landfill manages until we decide whether to manage waste in house or re-engage with the contractor,” he said.
“We have to decide how we want to manage it and that is all related to the waste to energy discussion. If we get a waste to energy plan up that current estimate of 30 year life of the tip could become a 300 year life and a completely different scenario.”
Hepburn Shire Council is preparing to undertake a pilot of its own waste to energy facility in Creswick in 2019 for the process of aerobic digestion.
The process involves organic waste breaking down to produce biogas, which can then be burnt as fuel, and digestate, which can be used as fertiliser.
In 2017, Hepburn Shire Council was successful in receiving a $650,000 grant from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), through the New Energy Jobs Fund, to assist with implementing an organic waste to energy project.
Council also committed $525,000 towards funding the full scale waste to energy plant.