Summary

This public/private partnership between an Australian company Global Renewables and two Sydney Municipal governments, is a highly successful waste recycling model - saving 210,000 of tons CO2 emissions annually and generating $11.6MUSD every year. Using a unique biological digestion and composting process the company is turning methane to energy without incineration, and creating 30,000 tons of certified organic fertilizer for farmlands across the State. This compost is improving the quality of soils for crop-growing, putting back into agricultural land nutrients used by the city. The Eastern Creek facility generates $11USD revenue annually and is expanding globally.

What is it?

The Urban Resource – Reduction, Recovery and Recycling (UR-3R) Process® is a mechanical biological treatment (MBT) that treats municipal solid waste from two Sydney municipalities through integrated sorting, biological digestion and composting processes.

The process separates and cleans the organic fraction of household waste, producing renewable energy and returning carbon to the soil. The UR 3R Process® also differentiates itself from other processes that use both mechanical and biological treatment (MBT) to process waste, as incineration is not required. It also avoids dumping more than 70% of the resource rich waste into landfill.

The result is a fully integrated waste management process with the ability to recover the maximum possible amount of recyclables, compost, electrical energy and Emissions Reduction Units (‘carbon credits’) plus reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of leachate entering the soil and water.

Key features of the process are that it:

  • captures and recycles more than 70% of the household waste stream
  • generates bio-gas to create enough green energy to power a UR-3R™ Facility with excess bio-gas exported to the local grid
  • recovers enough water from the waste stream to be self-sufficient in water
  • reduces the need to use virgin materials to replace those dumped in landfill
  • reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than one ton for every ton of waste diverted from landfill.
  • produces clean recycled organic material that can close the carbon loop to farm soils.
  • acknowledged by Greenpeace as theoretical best MBT for residual municipal waste

How does it work?

The Facility at Eastern Creek was built at a site 35km west of Sydney, previously used as a landfill. Built, owned and operated by Global Renewables in a public private partnership with WSN Environmental Solutions (formerly Waste Service NSW), it processes 175,000 tons of municipal solid waste per annum and employs 100 people.

Although initial design capacity was 175,000 tons per annum, provision has been made for expansion to 260,000 tons per annum without the need to enlarge the five-hectare site.

The pre-sort process contained in UR-3R™ facilities acts as a gatekeeper to help prevent hazardous waste present in the State, such as lead acid batteries, pesticides, paint and household chemicals, being consigned to landfill. The Eastern Creek facility captures an estimated 15,000 lead acid batteries annually.

Under the public private partnership, household waste is collected and delivered to Global Renewables’ facility by WSN Environmental Solutions. The 25 year contract provides a tipping fee of $80 AUD/ ton of rubbish. This is paid by the local councils.

Composting

The company makes compost from household waste, which is sorted and processed at its’ Eastern Creek facility. The company packages and transports up to 40,000 tons of compost annually to regional NSW, where it is sold at the farm gate for $20 to $30 per ton. This has enabled nutrients and carbon to be returned to agricultural soils, thereby closing the carbon loop and improving crop-growing ability. The take-up of the certified organic compost from Eastern Creek is increasing.

Next steps

UK

Global Renewables and Lend Lease Corporation were awarded the contract for the United Kingdom’s largest waste Private Finance Initiative (PFI), earlier this year. The Lancashire Waste Partnership PFI Project is worth $5 billion over the next 25 years and will see Global Renewables and partner Lend Lease Corporation design, build, own and operate two cutting-edge UR-3R™ Facilities.

The facilities, located in the Lancashire towns of Thornton, in Blackpool and Leyland, near Preston, will incorporate the UR-3R Process® and will form the key components of a larger network. Its development will go hand in hand with a community awareness campaign to encourage recycling throughout the county through purpose built education facilities.

The facilities will service a population of 1.4 million people. Once fully operational in late 2010, the facilities will reach a diversion from landfill rate of up to 75 per cent. This will result in the mitigation of at least 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the life of the project.

Asia Pacific

Global Renewables has developed and submitted a proposal to The Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate (AP6) that is underpinned by the key objectives of sustainable energy production, greenhouse gas reduction and sustainable poverty reduction through collaborative development.

The company has reviewed the waste markets in each AP6 country (Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of Korea and the United States) and has recommended demonstration projects applicable to each country. AP6 countries generate some 1.5 billion tons per annum of municipal solid waste – there is the prospect of mitigating 2 billion tons per annum of greenhouse gas across the AP6.

Application

The UR-3R recycling infrastructure can be implemented in any urban area where in excess of around 150,000 tons per annum of municipal waste can be collected and delivered regularly (weekly or fortnightly) to the facility.

The UR-3R facility is designed to be energy self sufficient, with zero water balance (depending on waste composition) and with odour and noise emissions that make it suitable to be located in an industrial zone in reasonably close proximity to residential areas, thus minimizing transport effects.

The UR-3R has a minimal environmental and social impact, and so facilitates planning approvals, and creates around 100 jobs (compared to only a few in the landfill it replaces) and delivers recyclable materials into the local value add industries.