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RISE OF THE MACHINES our e-waste challenge






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July 2019 Volume 46 Number 1




Equipment Focus

20 NWRIC News


24 Recycling 28 Waste and Wastewater 32 Renewable Energy 34 Case Study: Thermal Ammonia Stripping


38 National Precast Feature 40 Special Feature: WA Water Supply 44 ACA Corrosion Feature


Copyright ©2019 - EPC Media Group

Registered by Australia Post Publication No. 100001890

ISSN 1838-7098

About the Cover According to a recent World Economic Forum Report, 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) is produced each year. The value of resources tied up in this waste stream presents an ideal opportunity to develop a cost-effective circular economy. Turn to Page 12 for the full story.


Investing in Recycling is an Investment in All Our Futures

Dear Readers, While there is (as usual) no current shortage of pressing issues in the global waste, recycling, water and environmental sectors – including, of course, the everpresent issue of climate change – the issue currently garnering the most attention in the Australian media is the ‘Recycling Crisis’ that has seen more than 33 Victorian councils and numerous contractors left with no recyclables processing options. Now, before you reach for the email, please note that I use the term ‘crisis’ not in the regular media sensationalist sense, rather as what I believe is an appropriate term for the current situation. A situation which was perhaps inevitable given the fact that in many instances, recycling has become a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of pricing. Now, while that may be a massive oversimplification of the current recycling crisis, I believe that it does serve to highlight a critical issue with waste management in general, and recycling in particular – namely, a lack of investment that can occur when there is constant downward pressure on pricing. By this, I’m not only referring to a lack of willingness to invest in new technology, equipment and processes, but also a widespread lack of investment in ongoing public education and engagement. For over thirty years we have seen many examples of waste management services becoming ‘a race to the bottom’ in terms of pricing, especially when it comes to recycling. We’ve seen undercutting to the point where the even the slightest fluctuation in commodities pricing will render an entire 2

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

service financially unviable, leaving others to try and pick up the pieces. Even in situations where a service can manage to survive a massive downturn in commodities pricing, for many contracts, the margins (and contract conditions) are such that there is no contingency for updating equipment, integrating new technology or providing adequate ongoing education to help maximise results. Sure, there may be an annual recycling calendar to remind householders what day their bin goes out, or even a flyer telling people what goes in what bin, but as the saying goes – the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Put simply, when it comes to public engagement with recycling, there is a massive ‘disconnect’ across a lot of Australia, and the result is near record levels of contamination in source separated materials. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not for one second suggesting we abandon everything that’s been done and send everything to landfill – not in the slightest! What I am saying is: • Waste management services can not be treated as a ‘set and forget’ function – they require ongoing, wide-spread public engagement; • We need to look beyond simply separating certain categories of recyclables so we can bulk ship them somewhere else; • We need to invest in new technologies including alternate waste treatment, waste derived fuel, advanced organics processing; • We need to reconsider how we view certain components of the waste stream in accordance with the latest available

technologies (e.g. – should waste be categorised as ‘wet’ or ‘dry’, ‘high calorific’, etc.; and finally, • We need to ensure that contracts are structured (and priced) in a manner that encourages best practice services and the implementation of world-leading technologies, rather than simply looking for the cheapest possible method of getting rid of everything. In short, I think the time has come that we, as a nation, start to rethink the way we approach waste management. We need to embrace new technologies and methodologies and really consider what processes deliver the best outcomes for what materials. We need to move beyond the separate, bale and ship overseas mentality. What’s more, we need to re-engage with the wider community and get them back onside. After all, thanks to the barrage of media reports over recent months, a large percentage of the population now believes that the majority of recyclables around the country are “…just being sent to landfill anyway, so what’s the point of separating waste.” All this, of course, requires investment – and a significant investment at that! Importantly, however, if you believe like I do - that we have a responsibility to do as much as we can to minimise our impact on the planet on which we live, you will understand that it is, quite simply, an investment that needs to be made.

Anthony T Schmidt Managing Editor


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Dumped vehicles could fill the MCG over 400 times each year ‘Australia is facing an unforeseen environmental disaster if governments continue to ignore the hundreds of thousands of vehicles being dumped across the nation each year’: that’s the message from the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce. A total of 796,970 vehicles were sent to landfill in 2018. Based on the dimensions of Australia’s top selling vehicle, the Toyota HiLux, that’s an area of 7,879,761.9 square metres, enough to fill the MCG 445 times! Parked nose-to-tail, the total length would about the distance from Sydney to Auckland and back again. This year close to one million end-of-life vehicles (ELVs) will be piled on top of that, and with Australians purchasing over 1.2 million vehicles in 2018 alone - including 378,413 passenger cars, 495,300 SUVs, 279,398 commercial vehicles and 95,080 motorcycles - this problem will continue to compound. “Embarrassingly, Australia currently does not have a national policy dealing with ELVs, which leaves the auto recycling sector vulnerable to environmental breaches and rogue traders,” says Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce CEO, Geoff Gwilym.


Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

According to Yale University, out of 180 countries, Australia ranks only 21st in the world on its Environmental Performance Index with a global ranking of 13 for water/ sanitation; 46 for heavy metal exposure; 61 for biodiversity and habitat; 98 in climate and energy; and 99 for biome protection. Landfill is a serious concern. Manufactured from metals (steel, cooper and aluminium); glass, rubber and plastics, vehicles also contain oils and lubricants, detergents, and liquid fuel (petrol, diesel or liquid petroleum gas); along with leather, wool and vinyl, and in some luxury cars, carbon fibre. Many older vehicles contain asbestos in items such as brake linings and engine gaskets. Batteries can contain nickel, cobalt, silicon, lithium and graphite. All of these items are a potential threat to Australia’s environmental integrity if they infest the air, or leach into the earth or waterways. “With plastic having a half-life of up to 1,000 years and metals much longer than that, we believe the time for the Federal Government to implement a national ELV plan is now,” Geoff Gwilym added.

Waste advisory group to support reform in WA An advisory group, tasked with providing direction on waste policy and legislation, has been set up as part of the Western Australian Government’s continued push to improve the state’s recycling and waste management. Following the recent release of the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2030, WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson has established the Waste Reform Advisory Group to help inform the future direction of waste reform in the State. This new advisory group will continue the work of the Waste Taskforce – which was convened by the Minister as a response to the enforcement of the China National Sword Policy - and be the on-going mechanism to ensure up-to-date information on waste matters is maintained. It will provide advice on the direction and development of waste policy and legislation in Western Australia, including the key reforms outlined in the State’s new waste strategy and the Premier’s priority waste targets and priorities. “The Waste Strategy 2030 sets out objectives and strategies to improve waste recovery and recycling performance in Western Australia - and the Waste Reform Advisory Group will support implementation of the strategy across a range of waste issues,” Minister Dawson said. “The Waste Reform Advisory Group’s first task will be to consider an issues paper to guide legislative reforms to encourage the use of waste derived materials.” The Waste Reform Advisory Group will be chaired by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation’s Director General Mike Rowe, and will include representatives from the Waste Authority, local government, peak industry and resource bodies, community groups and non-government organisations, and material recovery operators. “I am keen to ensure legislative and policy reforms are developed collaboratively and fit for purpose to ensure we deliver outcomes in the long-term best interests of the State, the community and industry,” the Minister added.


It’s all at sea: new clues to coastal erosion New research has uncovered a missing nutrient source in coastal oceans, which could promote better water quality and sand management on popular beaches. While the release of nutrients buried in the seabed ‘feeds’ coastal marine ecosystems, the latest research at Adelaide’s Flinders University has found a new physical mechanism which erodes seabed sediment at depths up to 20 metres, well outside (between 10km and 20km) from the surf zone closer to shore. This powerful natural process that is energetic enough to erode seabed sediment at up to 20 m, also adds to the nutrients stirred and moved by breaking surface waves nearer the beach, according to the new hydrodynamic modelling.

“This new knowledge has significant implications for coastal sediment management practices such as dredging,” says Flinders University oceanographer Associate Professor Jochen Kaempf. The study reveals that major sediment erosion follows from coast-parallel winds in an oceanic situation known as downwelling. “Such winds trigger a swift coastal current – left-bounded by the coast in the Southern Hemisphere – that is accompanied by a vigorous stirring zone in nearshore waters,” Associate Professor Kaempf says. While this finding explains the high proportion of recycled nutrients in coastal ecosystems, it incidentally also points to a new mechanism of wind-driven sediment

drift in coastal oceans that complements the well-known littoral drift in the surf zone. “Along the Adelaide metropolitan coastline, for example, the wind-driven sediment drift tends to be predominantly southward and opposite to the northward sediment drift in the surf zone,” explains Dr Kaempf. “On the other hand, high turbidity levels following a seabed erosion event negatively impact the health of seagrass beds, and the sudden nutrient release can also trigger potentially harmful toxic algae blooms,” says Dr Jochen Kaempf, who also is SA president of the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society. Dr Kaempf’s latest paper calls for more field research and the development of reliable ocean forecasting models to study and predict the occurrence of such erosion events. The paper, Extreme bed shear during coastal downwelling, has been published in Ocean Dynamics (Springer) and is available for download at: article/10.1007/s10236-019-01256-4

INDUSTRY NEWS The Lompolo experimental site in Finland. Photo by Timo Penttilä

Climate change impacts peatland CO² gas exchange Finland’s northern peatlands store approximately one third of global soil carbon, namely around 500 gigatons. Because the peatland carbon cycling is largely controlled by partly anaerobic soil conditions, the carbon stored in these soils is extremely vulnerable to climate warming that is expected to reduce soil moisture and therefore increase soil aeration. Understanding the interactions between warming and soil moisture is particularly important in peatland types found in boreal and arctic areas expected to experience high rates of climate warming. This region happens to be the core area for northern peatlands and therefore increased mineralization could have high potential to further accelerate climate change. A new study led by researchers from the University of Eastern Finland and Natural

Resources Institute Finland suggests that peatland CO² exchange is more strongly influenced by drying than warming as such, and that soil moisture may be critical to determining whether fen ecosystems are able to adapt to a changing climate. The study was recently published in Global Change Biology – a leading journal in environmental science. The research is based on a four-year field experiment in two Finnish fens subjected to warming and water level drawdown. The authors monitored photosynthesis, respiration, and net CO² exchange during third and fourth experimental growing seasons. While warming had little effect on any gas flux component, dryer

conditions were associated with increased photosynthesis and respiration, and warming intensified the impacts of drying so that in one site CO² uptake decreased. Based on these results, in northern fens the water table has a decisive role in regulating how much the increased temperature impacts the CO² exchange. The research was funded by the Academy of Finland (projects 138041, 287039, 140863). The research article: ‘Warming impacts on boreal fen CO² exchange under wet and dry conditions’ Laine, A. M., Mäkiranta, P., Laiho, R., Mehtätalo, L., Penttilä, T., Korrensalo, A., Minkkinen, K., Fritze, H. & Tuittila, E. S. (2019), can be found at: Global Change Biology:

New soil data and water accounting tool may save farmers a fortune A new soil data and water accounting tool being developed by UniSA Business School, may have the potential to save farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars. Dr Joanne Tingey-Holyoak from UniSA Business School is currently leading a project team to develop a farm water accounting tool that links costs to soil moisture and climate data. The tool will use soil moisture data to help farmers know where to apply water to avoid waste and save costs. This is then integrated with climate, business and accounting data to demonstrate how to facilitate a better understanding of trends, forecasts and savings on a farm. UniSA Business School has been working in partnership with Sentek Pty Ltd and a number of growing partners, and has collected multiple seasons of sensing and accounting data. This is now being fed into prototype software developed by UniSA School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences. Discussions with over 100 farmers during pilot research found over 50% have demand for cost-linked water tools as a way to 6

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

help production decision making. Through developing the tool initially for potato growing, it was found total water related costs can be much higher than expected once hidden costs like farmer time and water quality treatment were factored in. It was found that the costs of being unaware of circumstances such as crop stress, disease conditions, and irrigation ineffectiveness can be significant. Stress and disease can be unobservable to even the most experienced producer until damage is done, significantly reducing yield or quality or both.

Through developing a tool that can inform growers about trends toward stress or disease condition events and linking costs of treatments and alternative actions, such as cost of irrigating to cool soil below a certain temperature, can potentially save hundreds of thousands of dollars. “In our current climate, the need for better informed agricultural water decision making has never been so great,” said UniSA Business School Researcher, Dr Joanne Tingey-Holyoak. “During our study, we found that plant stress and soil disease conditions were unable to be visually detected, potentially wasting growers thousands of dollars on yield.” “Without linked sensing and costing information, it’s not possible to tell the precise point where plants are not getting the water they require and integrating yield outcomes. So, the aim of this tool is to alert growers to what is happening in the soil and plant climate during and between irrigations, what their cost is, and what the cost is of waiting for conditions to change,” Dr Tingey-Holyoak added.


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IBM Researchers Develop Radical New Recycling Process to Transform Old Plastic

Great interest for cleaning-up of beaches

IBM researchers have created a new technology called VolCat, a catalytic chemical process that can turn PET, a type of plastic commonly used in food packaging and polyester clothing, into a renewable resource. Developed as part of IBM's annual "5 in 5" program – which focuses on detailing five innovations that will help change our lives in the next five years - the cost-effective and sustainable innovation is capable of breathing new life into old plastic. IBM Research’s VolCat chemical recycling process can make the most commonly used plastic polymer in the world, PET monomer, out of mixed/dirty post-consumer waste. Unlike PET made from a mechanical recycling process, the VolCat-produced PET is 100 percent recyclable, giving it value far beyond its initial use and keeping our most common plastics in the recycling chain and out of the landfill. Currently, more than 272 million metric tons of plastic is produced each year around the globe, with one-quarter of that made up of PET. VolCat aims to use a precise combination of chemicals, heat and pressure to reduce this amount of plastic, and ultimately the amount of waste, produced. This could completely transform the way we discard and manufacture plastic in the next five years.

There has been great interest for the project on the Swedish island of Öland. Several camping owners want to collaborate and contribute with their experiences and methods for collection of beach wrack. During June, a number of students from the Baltic countries visited Öland to collect beach samples. “A nice and clean beach is extremely important during the bathing season, for beach visitors as well as for the tourism industry,” says Professor Hogland. The project is financed with funds from the EU’s Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme and the total budget is Euro 2,565,180 (Linnaeus University’s part is Euro 259,052). The project has 14 participating project partners and 22 associated partners from six different countries, consisting of higher education institutions, research institutes, municipalities, the public sector, and companies.

IBM Research’s VolCat chemical recycling process can make the most commonly used plastic polymer in the world, PET monomer (bottom left), out of mixed/ dirty post-consumer waste (top photo).

Research on removing and transforming ‘beach wrack’ into a resource William Hogland, professor of environmental technology, has been allocated SEK 2.8 million (approx. AUD$425,000) for the EU project “CONTRA: Baltic Beach Wrack – Conversion of a Nuisance to a Resource and Asset”. The project will study how you can clean up beaches and use the waste as a future resource. Beach wrack is organic material; for instance, seaweed, eelgrass, and brown algae that is flushed ashore after storms and sometimes covers Baltic Sea beaches. The most visible part of the problem for the tourism industry in the western and southern Baltic Sea region is the large quantities of seaweed and algae on the beaches where it starts rotting and smell bad. Beach wrack becomes an obstacle for bathers between the beach and the water and these walls of seaweed and algae can also contain high quantities of heavy metals and nutrients that leak back into the sea. On some beaches, there is also anthropogenic (human-produced) waste like plastic, wood, and oil drums. “In the CONTRA project we will compile the knowledge needed for sustainable handling of beach wrack and other waste found along the beaches of the Baltic Sea region by carrying out case studies to remove it and utilize it as a resource,” Professor Hogland said. The main objective of the project is to find the tools needed for a sustainable 8

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cleaning-up of beaches, as part of the water management in the Baltic Sea and the recycling of nutrients. The researchers will map out the occurrence of beach wrack throughout the year and try to come up with efficient solutions to the problem. It will also be studied whether it is possible to extract energy from the beach wrack.

From Waste Product To Resource As water companies face more demands than ever before, the production of highquality bioresources will play a huge role in managing these challenges. Population growth, climate change and the pressure to remain affordable are three of the largest pressures that water companies must deal with in 2019. Affordability is a particularly significant barrier to overcome as, without the money, the chances of coping with the other issues are remote, if not non-existent. The view that sludge is a waste product is changing - and it’s changing fast. Water companies will need to get on board quick and realise that soon there will be a market that doesn’t just aim to dispose of sludge for the cheapest possible price. This means what was once a cost, can soon be an asset with the right policies, procedures and equipment in place. Regulators want to see maximum benefits for

customers, the environment and the sewage treatment companies. Wastewater operations need to be as efficient as possible to deal with these growing pressures. This means that rag and grit should be removed as early as possible from incoming sludge so that the damage it can cause can be minimised. There are many benefits of removing rag and grit at this stage of the wastewater treatment process. If these materials are removed before sludge reaches a digester, grit will not be able to settle in the tank which significantly reduces. It can even eliminate the need for tank cleanouts. In addition, removing rag and grit protects other assets such as pumps and decanter separators from abrasion and wear. Grit can decrease the expected life of these assets and increase maintenance requirements, as well as eventually impacting on dewatering effectiveness.

The S:MAX G sludge screen uses vibrating screen technology and density separation to remove rag and grit at every stage of the downstream process.

S:MAX G sludge screen uses vibrating screen technology and density separation to remove rag and grit at every stage of the downstream process. Marshmallow screen mounts ensure the maximum transfer of energy to the material on the screen, and by processing at the fastest rate possible, tanker assets are optimised, and transportation costs minimised. The screened and dewatered bioresource recovered by the S:MAX G can be reused in a variety of applications, further reducing disposal costs. There is value in sludge, and the most powerful sludge screenings systems are available to create this value. For more information on sludge screening technology visit:









K Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019



Northern Beaches Council in Sydney is using Tsurumi SFQ series pumps made from cast 316 stainless steel in their pristine saltwater pools because of their corrosion resistance.

SALTWATER POOL PUMP When the Northern Beaches Council needed a seawater pump to fill and flush their beachside pool at Freshwater, they bought a Tsurumi cast 316 stainless steel submersible. The Council have been using Tsurumi SFQ series pumps to circulate the water in their pristine pools for many years. “There are a number of these submersibles, installed in various pools on the North Shore, circulating seawater to maintain a healthy swimming environment,” said Australian Pump’s Tsurumi product manager Neil Bennett. “These pumps don’t fail from corrosion; the last one only choked when blocked with a discarded shoe. We’ve been told by the council that these pumps generally last 8 to 10 years in the pools,” he said. Tsurumi SFQ series 316 cast stainless steel submersibles are designed to handle a range of corrosive applications including saltwater. Conventional cast iron and lower grade stainless steel pumps can be literally ‘eaten away’ by seawater. The SFQ range includes 2” and 3” three-phase pumps with heads to 44 metres and flows to 2,000 lpm. The pumps used in the pools on Sydney’s Northern Beaches have a 3” outlet and are powered by a 7.5 kW 2-pole motor. They feature a high capacity open-style impeller that will handle sand and solids to 23mm. The big difference with Tsurumi’s SFQ series, is their unique stator housings which are cast and machined 316 stainless steel. In simple terms, this means they last longer. Casings, impellers and suction covers are also cast 316 stainless steel. The grade of stainless steel used has a higher content of carbon for strength. It also has a high proportion of nickel and molybdenium for improved corrosion resistance. No welds are required, which means no pitting and reduced oxidisation. This material is also capable of withstanding abrasive liquids. On the Northern Beaches, the council also fits anodes to prevent electrolysis which occurs when two dissimilar metals come into contact. These are replaced annually as part of their winter maintenance routine.

Tsurumi incorporate a number of features that enhance the life expectancy of the pump and cut maintenance costs. These include a unique anti-wicking cable gland. Water is prevented from wicking down inside the cable. The motor is protected even if the cable is damaged or the end is accidentally immersed. All Tsurumi pumps have a double silicon carbide mechanical seal. Both seal surfaces are submerged in an oil chamber, well away from the pumped liquid. A patented oil lifter ensures the mechanical seal faces are always lubricated and cooled, even if the pump is installed horizontally. Tsurumi Pump developed the product range in response to requirements in the Japanese market for super-tough pumps for the chemical industry. Like all Tsurumi pumps, they are backed by a threeyear warranty against faulty material or workmanship. A comprehensive free literature pack, as well as application data, support and free advisory service is available from Australian Pump Industries’ engineering team. For further information, visit the Australian Pump website: or contact them on: 02 8865 3500.

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Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

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RISE OF THE MACHINES our e-waste challenge




We are living in an era that can best be described as ‘consumerism on steroids’. Accelerated by the advent of new technology, it’s impacting everything. Some things for the better, other things for worse. Industrialised nations have become extremely adept with the efficient manufacture and supply of products to market. Some argue this is occurring more rapidly than the market’s ability to consume these new products. Operating with what seems to be little regard for the environment, money has become King. The sad reality, however, is we have produced too much, been forced to consume more than we need, and failed to identify or address what to do with the abundance of waste we continue to generate.



According to a recent World Economic Forum Report, 50 million tonnes of electronic and electrical waste (e-waste) is produced each year. And, to make matters worse, if nothing is done this figure will double to more than 120 million tonnes by 2050. [1] This is an astronomical amount of waste – processed non-renewable resources all sitting above ground. Many argue this huge amount represents an incredible opportunity. Let’s take a moment to think about this abundance of ‘above-ground’ resources and what it means: FACT: There is 100 times more gold in a tonne of mobile phones than in a tonne of gold ore. FACT: Harvesting the resources found in used electronics produces substantially less carbon dioxide than mining. FACT: Functioning electronic goods are worth more than the materials they contain. By choosing to extend their useful life, brings an enormous economic and environmental benefit.





Today, we find ourselves working against the clock. The dramatic increase in e-waste is undeniably one of the greatest challenges today. Governments and industry have responded through waste control mechanisms, import restrictions, mandatory and voluntary product stewardship schemes. However, over a year into the start of China’s National Sword policy, we are still adjusting to the new world order – one that continues to evolve – almost daily. Recently, China announced it will also prohibit the import of low-grade copper scrap and has signalled its intention to ban the import of all solid waste by 2020.





• the manner industry and governments have managed end of life e-waste, AND • the way society perceives electronics as a single-use convenience item(s).

Selecting to transition towards a circular economy is the best way to tackle this challenge and mitigate the environmental harm is poses.


Modern society gave rise to rapid industrialisation that was needed to feed ever-expanding consumerism. Technology fuelled by innovation has been key. In the post-war era, we have witnessed IBM’s mainframe computer shrink to the size of a handheld device that is afforded by all. Communications that were once fixed and linear, evolve to portable and multidirectional devices – allowing everyone to remain engaged, informed and connected - no matter where they are. We have walked on the moon, explored Mars, flown past the farthest points in our known solar system, toppled regimes – not with guns– but with information provided through the ubiquitous internet through our hand-held electronic devices. We’ve even had time to join the largest community outside of planet Earth – Facebook. Indeed, it is easy to see how strongly electrical devices have impacted our lives. Sadly, this has come at a price. Primarily this is due to two factors:

To achieve this, we need: 1. Vision: We need to collectively rethink the manner we perceive and manage end of life electronics, and convey an emotive vision that government, consumers and industry can rally around. 2. Awareness & Education: More needs to be done to better educate the public about this global challenge and the opportunity it presents. 3. Collaboration: This is key. We need to work with all stakeholders in a deliberative process to bring about change. 4. Action: Coordinated action is needed within and across national borders by all parties including governments, manufacturers and consumers.

While many in the recycling industry have been holding out hope for a policy reversal, it is unlikely that things will ever go back. As other nations in South-East Asia follow China with their own waste import bans, Australia (along with the EU, North America, and other developed nations) is under significant pressure to develop its own materials processing capacity. More recently, the New South Wales state government has designated e-waste as a priority stream for funding. Only time will tell the shape this support will take, and the impact it will have. It is obvious that the next few years are likely to be challenging for recyclers as downstream supply chains rapidly reorganise and regulatory risks remain uncertain. According to the European Electronics Recycling Association, in a recent published report, this is an ideal opportunity for the instigation of a circular economy.


The combined effect of China’s National Sword and greater public awareness of waste is creating an environment which can drive innovation. This can be seen through the creation of: • The microfactory recycling model, which uses innovative methods to maximise value recovery from waste through its ability to be transported to the source; • The utilisation of low-energy and lowimpact metal recovery and purification technologies (e.g. low temperature methods such as environmentally friendly hydrometallurgy, or bio hydrometallurgy); and • The development of automated and robotic dismantling and sorting processes that dramatically improve economies and efficiencies of scale. Analysing the global trends and reading all the reports, it is undeniable that electronic waste will continue to grow as we all continue to demonstrate a remarkable hunger for new technology. Rapid innovation and lowering costs have dramatically increased access to electronic products and added more fuel to this fire. The unintended consequence is the ballooning global volume of e-waste. By 2020, it has been calculated that there will be between 25- 50 billion devices on the planet! [2] FACT: E-waste is now the fastest-growing waste stream in the world [3] with some forms of it growing exponentially.[4] FACT: The UN in a recent paper referred to it as a ‘tsunami of e-waste’. (5, 6,) FACT: Globally, we only deal with 20% [7] of e-waste, and there is little data on what happens to the rest, which for the most part ends up in landfill. Valued at around $62.5 billion [8] annually, we need to look beyond the mountain and see the opportunity. Let’s put this in perspective. Of the 217 global economies, this figure is greater than the GDP of the bottom 140 nations. In the right hands, all this e-waste is worth considerably more.


Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

"It is easy for e-waste to be framed as a post-consumer problem, but the issue encompasses the lifecycle of the devices everyone uses and how we choose to manage them" Materials efficiency, recycling infrastructure and scaling up the volume and quality of recycled materials to meet the needs of all electronics supply chains is essential. A new vision for the production and consumption of electronic and electrical goods is needed. It is easy for e-waste to be framed as a post-consumer problem, but the issue encompasses the lifecycle of the devices everyone uses and how we choose to manage them. Designers, manufacturers, investors, consumers, and policy-makers have an instrumental role to play. The future is literally in our hands. Let’s regard this year as an inflection point in history. One that represents an opportunity for businesses, policymakers and consumers to make a difference. Those who can rethink the value chain for electronics and prioritise dematerialisation and closed loop systems, will ultimately have an incredible advantage in the market-place. Innovative technologies do not have to mean more e-waste; they can (and should) mean less. The prevailing and somewhat draconian industrialised business model of “take, make and dispose” has dreadful consequences for society, and the environment. [9]

YES - it is time for a system re-set. We need a system that functions properly – in which the circular economy replaces the linear. Let’s move from business concepts and consumer models introduced at the dawn of industrialisation, and embrace logical work practices designed for today’s needs. Incredible opportunities are aligned to environmental sustainability and to shaping a future that works. FACT: According to the Global E-waste Monitor Report from 2017, one-half of all e-waste is personal devices such as computers, screens, smartphones, tablets and TVs - with very valuable components FACT: A recent report showed that in Europe, adopting circular economy principles could generate a net economic benefit of €1.8 trillion by 2030. [1] FACT: By 2040, carbon emissions from the production and use of electronics, will reach 14% of total global emissions [10 & 11] Let’s think of it this way - this represents half the carbon emissions generated by the transport sector globally. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), by 2060, the world’s consumption of raw materials is set to double. [12]


RESOURCE SCARCITY, EXTRACTION, EMISSIONS & CONSEQUENCES! To continue on this trajectory is madness. There are growing concerns regarding the availability and supply of raw materials for electronics and electrical devices in the future. E-waste contains many high-value and scarce materials, such as gold, platinum, cobalt, rare earths, and high quantities of aluminium and tin. There are many opportunities for better recovery.

goods would help considerably to reaching the targets set out in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

FACT: Up to 7% of the world’s gold may be contained in e-waste. [13]

The Victorian State Government has recently embarked on a campaign to tackle the growing problem of e-waste head on. On the 1st July, Victoria formally banned the disposal of e-waste to landfill. This new piece of legislation covers all products with a plug or battery, not just equipment covered by the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme (NTCRS). This move follows in the footsteps of South Australia and the ACT, and has been welcomed as an important step towards reducing the environmental impact of electronics. This ban is a key piece of policy to support material recovery which is significant given that the extraction of metals alone from Australian e-waste represents an estimated A$515m opportunity. At ANZRP, we strongly advocate for AND support an expansion of the NTCRS

The improper handling of e-waste is resulting in a significant loss of scarce and valuable raw materials, including precious materials such as neodymium (vital for magnets in motors), indium (used in flat panel TVs) and cobalt (for batteries). It is also worth noting that recycled metals are also 2 to 10 times more energy efficient than metals smelted from virgin ore. Mining discarded electronics produces 80% less carbon dioxide emissions per unit of gold compared with mining it from the ground. [14] In 2015, the extraction of raw materials accounted for 7% of the world’s energy consumption. [15] This means that moving towards the use of more secondary raw materials in electronic

"The improper handling of e-waste is resulting in a significant loss of scarce and valuable raw materials"

at the Federal level to include more types of e-waste, especially products which are most likely to be thrown in household bins, or which have low recycling value. Currently the only producers who are liable to fund the recycling of their end-of-life products are those covered by the NTCRS – computers, TVs and accessories. Responsible governance (by government, manufactures and producers) driven through Product Stewardship representing all industry players is key. Controlling the supply chain with tactical measures in place to accommodate end of life materials will inevitably establish a circular economy. Tightening up controls on landfill is a wonderful step, AND has the power to influence positive change.

WEARABLE, PLUGGABLE, AND FASHIONABLE. Just like fast fashion and fast food, electronics involve a rapid turnover in style trends, with revenues dependent on selling the latest products. Our growing relationships with electronic devices have increased as product affordability has opened up opportunities, leading to greater sales and take up rates. Eventually, all these electronic gadgets or appliances will become e-waste. In 2017, one report puts the global consumer electronics market at around $1.1 trillion, growing at a rate of 6% until 2024, when it will be worth $1.7 trillion. [16] So, from a legislative perspective, what are we doing? From a global perspective, a total of 67 countries have legislation in place to deal with the e-waste they generate.

This legislation normally takes the form of Extended Producer Responsibility, when a small charge on new electronic devices subsidizes end-of-life collection and recycling. The legislation covers about twothirds of the global population. [17] However, many countries do not have national legislation on e-waste. In many regions of Africa, Latin America or SouthEast Asia, electronic waste is not always high on the political agenda. When it comes to the export of e-waste to developing countries, it is regulated under the Basel, which has been ratified by 188 countries. [18] Even with the convention in place, large amounts of e-waste continue to be shipped illegally.

FACT: 1.46 billion smartphones were sold in 2017. [19] It is estimated that if the raw materials of these phones were recycled, they could be worth up to $11.5 billion. [20]

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WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? No chaos…no disruption. Not to mention no silver bullet.

The approach needs to be careful and considered. Staged and well executed. Providing a holistic solution to a problem affecting everyone. We talk about it all the time – the circular economy. It can be achieved through different business models including product as a service, sharing of assets, life extension and finally recycling.

"There is no silver bullet – the approach needs be careful, considered and well executed" To build a circular economy for electronics consider the following building blocks as vital: 1. Product Stewardship is key. Australia’s approach to managing the growing issue of e-waste is founded on the notion of product stewardship. This approach acknowledges that those involved in producing, selling and using products


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have a shared responsibility. This way we work to ensure that products or materials are managed in a way that reduces their impact, throughout their life cycle, on the environment and on human health and safety. A key pillar of Australia’s National Waste Policy is the Product Stewardship Act 2011. Established under the Act, the NTCRS was Australia’s first producer responsibility arrangement. Under the scheme, more than 150,000 tonnes of e-waste has been managed by ANZRP’s flagship program TechCollect. A leader in the safe and responsible collection and recycling of e-waste, ANZRP represents some of the largest and most reputable global electronics brands. As Australia’s only not–for–profit, industry– for–industry and Government approved Co–Regulatory Arrangement, it is dedicated to creating a Circular Economy, it manages e–waste recycling on a broad scale with a footprint of 280 sites in Australia and New Zealand. ANZRP’s members fund the collection and recycling of e–waste, taking responsibility for the products they manufacture and sell.

2. Design Products need to be better designed allowing easier reuse, durability and safe recycling. Many companies have made global commitments to designing waste out of the electronics value chain, whilst others have worked hard to design hazardous materials out of their products. Embracing durable designs will ensure that electronic devices are kept in circulation for longer. Configurations should have a product’s end-of-life in mind, as well as encouraging disassembly and reuse. 3. Buy-back or return systems Increasingly, producers of electronics could offer buy-back or return systems for old equipment. Incentivising the consumer financially and guaranteeing their data will be properly handled.


refurbish equipment they sell, something that has been mandated by ‘right to repair’ laws in some jurisdictions.

4. Advanced recycling and recapturing Companies and governments can work towards creating a system for closed-loop production in which all old products are collected and reintegrated into new ones. In China for example, there is a target for 20% recycled content in all new products by 2025. 5. Durability and repair Post-consumer recycling of electrical and electronic goods is simply not enough. We must be able to benefit from well designed, long-lasting products. Companies should be ready to repair or

6. Urban mining No need to go below ground with such an abundance of resources surrounding us. As an emerging industry, companies now are investing in a range of new technologies that extract metals and minerals from e-waste. Already one recycler in China produces more cobalt than the country mines in one year.

IN CONCLUSION Inevitably, innovation is unstoppable. Technology is ever evolving, and consumer demand is insatiable. Pressure on resources and landfill will continue to mount. Almost everyone reading this article and discussing this problem will find a need to update some form of electrical gadget in the coming 24 months further adding to the problem. The time to act is now.

7. Reverse logistics When a product can no longer be used, the materials are collected and sent back to be reintegrated into production. Unlike a forward supply chain, the movement and processing of materials are not subsidised by the value of a finished product. Instead manufacturers must rely on the value of the raw materials only and therefore require a highly efficient reverse supply chain to get this model to work.

We have the means, the vision, the supporting infrastructure and the compelling data to transition towards a circular economy. With the world’s e-waste markets shutting their doors, NOW never sounded so urgent.

REFERENCES 1. UN Environment Assembly, Blog post, 16 November 2017, Accessed December 2018, web.

7. Baldé, C. P., et al., The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, UNU, ITU, ISWA, 2017

2. Joseph Lauren, James Pennington “Tapping the economic value of e-waste,” China Daily, [World Economic Forum Op-Ed], 29 October 2018, WS5bd64e5aa310eff3032850ac.html

9. United Nations Environment Programme, E-waste challenge, E-learning webpage, www.

3. United Nations University, E-waste Rises 8% by Weight in 2 Years as Incomes Rise, [Press release], 14 December 2017, media-relations/releases/ewaste-rises-8percent-by-weight-in-2-years.html 4. Bhutta, M & Omar, Adnan & Yang, Xiaozhe, Electronic Waste: A Growing Concern in Today’s Environment. Economics Research International, June 2011. www.researchgate. net/publication/258379577_Electronic_Waste_A_ Growing_Concern_in_Today’s_Environment 5. Vidal, John, “Toxic ‘e-waste’ dumped in poor nations, says United Nations,” The Guardian, 14 December 2013, 6. United Nations Environment Programme, Video of Achim Steiner, accessed December 2018, https://

8. Baldé, C. P., et al., The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, UNU, ITU, ISWA, 2017

10. Belkhir Lotfi, “How smartphones are heating up the planet,” The Conversation, 25 March 2018, 11. Belkhir, L., Elmeligi A., Assessing ICT global emissions footprint: Trends to 2040, Journal of Cleaner Production, 10 March 2018, www. S095965261733233X?via%3Dihub 12. OECD, Global Material Resources Outlook to 2060, October 2018, highlightsglobal-material-resources-outlookto-2060.pdf 13. World Energy Council, World Energy Resources 2016, uploads/2016/10/World-Energy-Resources_ FullReport_2016.pdf 14. Messenger B, “EU’s First Map of Valuable Resources from E-Waste,” Waste Management World, 16 January 2018,https://waste- 15. World Economic Forum, Recovery of Key Metals in the Electronics Industry in China, White Paper, January 2018, Environment_Team/39777_Recovery_Key_ Metals_Electronics_Industry_China_Opportunity_ Circularity_report_2018.pdf 16. Zion Market Research, Global Consumer Electronics Market Will Reach USD 1,787 Billion, [Press Release] news-release/2018/06/29/1531798/0/en/GlobalConsumer-Electronics-Market-Will-Reach-USD1-787-Billion-by-2024-Zion-Market-Research.html 17. Baldé, C. P., et al., The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, UNU, ITU, ISWA, 2017 18. Basel Convention, Parties to Basel Convention on Control of Transboundary Movements: Hazardous Wastes,Accessed December 2018, PartiesSignatories/tabid/4499/Default. aspx#enote1 19. Moore Mike, “Smartphone sales see significant drop in 2017,” Tech Radar, 28 February 2018, 20. Baldé, C. P., et al., The Global E-waste Monitor 2017, UNU, ITU, ISWA, 2017

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Recyclables on the move OLI delivers specialist vibration technology for the recyclables industry From loading pits and conveyors through to sorting, separation and processing equipment and even the collection vehicles themselves, OLI Vibrators designs and manufacturers specialist vibration equipment for the waste management and recycling industry around the globe. And while it may seem a fairly straightforward solution to place a vibrating unit on a vehicle or piece of equipment to separate materials and/or get them moving, nothing could be further from the truth. “Specific materials respond differently to different frequencies, and different frequencies and vibration strengths have different ranges of influence on the materials,” OLI Australia General Manager, Mark Thompson explained. “It’s definitely not a ‘once size fits all’ equipment solution.” “For example, when it comes to waste management and recycling, we engineer solutions to suit all manner of materials from heavy and dense materials including soils, composts, construction and demolition wastes and recycled asphalt pavement materials, right through to light materials such as plastics, and everything in between,” Mark added.

Part of the global WAMGROUP & WOLONG MOTOR COMPANY, OLI Vibrators Australia is a leading supplier of specialist vibrators for a range of Australian industry sectors, including waste management and recycling, concrete construction and bulk materials handling. The worldwide leader in vibration technology, the name OLI® has been synonymous with expertise in vibration technology for over 55 years. Founded in Cassina de’ Pecchi near Milan, Italy in 1961, the company built its reputation supplying immersion vibrators (pokers) to construction contractors across Italy. Needless to say, the products’ outstanding quality and performance in the field saw a strong growth in demand not only from the construction sector, but from a range of other industries, and before long OLI had become one of the world’s premier suppliers of high frequency electric, pneumatic and shaft vibrators. “For OLI, it’s always been about quality,” Mark Thompson said. “Manufacturing high quality products and delivering high quality solutions to meet the customer’s specific needs.”

Vibrating feeder designed and built by Vibroflow for a new MRF in Perth using OLI electric vibrators.


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The vibrations are specifically tuned to move products and enhance the sorting and separation process.

“Product performance and reliability is paramount. Whether it’s a vehicle or trailer mounted unit, or installed on a hopper, along a conveyor, or as part of a sorting and separation system in a MRF, our customers need to be confident that the equipment will be working as it should, when they need it,” Mark added. “After all, if the equipment fails and they can’t move or sort materials or unload hoppers, it can bring the entire process – and an entire facility – to a stop.” Not surprisingly, together with its reputation for delivering robust and reliable equipment that keeps on working even in the harshest operating conditions, another key factor in OLI Australia’s ongoing success and growth is its willingness to work with customers to develop bespoke vibratory solutions to suit different materials and processes. “The waste management and recycling industries are always evolving, and as customers develop new processes or modify existing processes, or for that matter start working with different materials, we work them to engineer purpose-designed vibratory solutions to meet their needs,” Mark Thompson said. For further information, please visit:


Industry and local government stand together to save our recycling and create a circular economy The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) attended the recent Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly in Canberra to promote a shared approach to build a resilient resource recovery sector and a circular economy. The National General Assembly is the largest gathering of local councils in Australia, and is attended by mayors, councillors and general managers from Local Governments and Shires across Australia. At the event, the NWRIC - representing Australia’s largest waste and recycling companies - joined with local government to discuss how both can practically advance the circular economy. Speaking at the Our community, Our environment forum, Ms Rose Read, CEO, NWRIC discussed some of the key aspects of this shared approach. “Industry and local councils can work together to put recycling back on a sustainable pathway,” Ms Read said. “Central to this shared approach are activities that will reduce contamination such as consistent state-wide community education programs; smarter ways to separate materials at source; removing toxic and dangerous items from bins like batteries and electronics; along with upgrading re-processing capacity at material recovery facilities.” “These actions will go a long way to reducing yellow recycling bin contamination


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levels from as high as 40% down to less than 4%,” Ms Read added. “The implementation of container deposit schemes has started the decontamination and quality improvement process. Council trials are also underway on source separating glass and paper.” In addressing plastics, Ms Read identified a number of steps which could be taken to ensure our material recycling facilities remain viable. “We need to upgrade all our recycling facilities sorting and reprocessing capacity so they can produce higher quality outputs that meet producer specifications,” she said. “Creating local markets is also key,” Ms Read added. “It is vital that local, state and federal governments procure recovered mixed plastics for civil construction and that packaging companies are required to meet minimum recycled content in selected HDPE and PET products and packaging.” “Another option that needs to be adopted is phasing out single use plastics where no markets or viable substitutes are available.” “There is also a great opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and improve our soils by local councils working with industry in setting up food and organic collection services and composting facilities,” Ms Read said. “Key to the success of increased organics recovery will be preventing contamination, establishing local markets for the compost produced and planning for recycling precincts in local council areas,” Ms Read concluded.

NWRIC welcomes appointment of Environment and Waste Ministers The National Waste & Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) welcomed the Prime Minister’s recent announcement of the appointment of the Hon. Sussan Ley MP to Minister for Environment, the Hon. Trevor Evans MP to Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management and the Hon. Warren Entsch MP as Special Envoy to reduce plastic waste and the Great Barrier Reef. In speaking about the appointments, Rose Read CEO of NWRIC said, “appointing an Assistant Minister with specific responsibilities for waste reduction illustrates the government’s recognition of the important role it has to play to help Australia reduce waste and increase resource recovery.” “These appointments together with the Coalition’s proposed investment in recycling, product stewardship, community education, and state and local government collaboration are essential to address the waste challenges facing Australia currently”. “The NWRIC’s members are looking forward to working with the Minister Ley and Assistant Minister Evans to turn a sound National Waste Policy into a funded action plan with targets that delivers positive results for the community, the economy and the environment, now and into the future”. “This combination of strong national leadership, strategic investments, smart regulatory reforms and collaboration with all stakeholders is the right recipe for moving Australia one step closer to a circular economy that delivers new jobs, an innovative industry, less emissions and regenerates our environment,” Ms Read added.


Assistant Minister Evans tours Victoria’s leading sustainable asphalt and glass recycling plant On 25 June, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management the Hon. Trevor Evans MP visited Alex Fraser’s newly opened sustainable asphalt and glass recycling plant. Assistant Minister Evans toured the facility with Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy and NWRIC CEO Rose Read. Industry is pleased to have the Assistant Minister engage quickly with emerging recycling challenges and opportunities. The new plant supplies road base, aggregates, sand and asphalt to build greener roads and rail projects, including the Western Roads Upgrade and Level Crossing Removal Projects. The use of this material will have significant commercial and environmental savings, including the reduction of landfill, heavy vehicle movements, and the carbon footprint of new projects, by up to 65 per cent.

Currently, Victorian households generate mountains of problem glass waste every year. The glass recycling plant is capable of producing 800 tonnes of construction sand per

day – equivalent to four million glass bottles. The high recycled technology asphalt plant produces over half a million tonnes of green asphalt a year.

(L-R): NWRIC CEO Rose Read; Victoria’s Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management the Hon. Trevor Evans MP; and Alex Fraser Managing Director Peter Murphy during the Minister’s recent tour of the newly opened sustainable asphalt and glass recycling plant.

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It’s time to act on plastics A landfill levy discount for residuals would protect recycling writes Alex Serpo, Secretary of the National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC). China first notified the World Trade Organisation 18 months ago of its plan to ban imports of 24 scrap types, a move mostly targeting contaminated mixed plastics. The program known as the ‘National Sword’ continues to send shockwaves around the world. Research for the Federal Government by Blue Environment last year estimated that National Sword has left at least 125,000 tonnes of mixed plastic stranded in Australia, with no end market. This policy change by China continues to affect all states, with Victoria the most exposed as they collect and sort 50 per cent of the affected plastics. However, the plastics challenge doesn’t stop there. In 2005, a landmark study in the journal Science estimated that eight million tonnes of plastics are entering the world’s oceans each year. In this context, the South Australian Government is currently consulting on a proposed ban of various single-use plastic products. The NWRIC wrote in support of these proposed bans. This is because some singleuse plastic products are difficult to recycle, contaminate kerbside recycling plus organics processing, and harm the environment.

The problem for recyclers The plastics recycling dilemma is hurting kerbside recycling facilities in many ways. Currently, production drastically outstrips demand – as countries beyond China, including Thailand and Vietnam are also banning the import of these materials. However, kerbside recycling contracts assume mixed plastics are saleable, recycled commodities. This systemic failure has created a major unfunded liability which has resulted in excessive stockpiling. Unfortunately, excessive stockpiles of mixed plastics are a fire risk. 22

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Scrap recyclers have been facing similar financial challenges due to the growing use of plastics in cars, white goods and appliances. Many of these plastics are not recyclable, creating a processing residue known as ‘shredder floc’; a mixture of plastics and other contaminants. As there is no recycling market for shredder floc, the material is sent to landfill, which further increases processing costs for scrap recyclers. To enable Australian scrap recyclers to stay competitive in a global market, NSW currently provides a 50 per cent discount on the landfill levy. Queensland and Western Australia are also wisely considering the same approach. The NWRIC supports this approach being applied nationally.

Three steps to reinvigorate recycling According to the NSW EPA, plastics are about 10 per cent by weight of the current stream of materials coming through kerbside recycling. The NWRIC’s first recommended step is to provide a landfill levy discount to materials recovery facilities (MRFs) for unsaleable mixed plastics, for example recycling residuals. This will enable MRFs to reduce stockpiles, free up space and allow them to focus on improving the recovery of higher value plastics (and other materials), where there are viable markets. This is also a program that State Governments can implement relatively quickly. It is critical that we do not allow a relatively small amount of unsaleable plastics to constrain an otherwise healthy recycling system, which is recovering higher value plastics, paper, glass and metals. The loss of revenue to state governments and cost to the community would be minimal. Secondly, as covered in NWRIC’s response to the National Waste Policy Discussion Paper last October – federal, state and local governments

Australia-wide need to fast-track the uptake of mixed plastics and glass into infrastructure such as roads and other civil works. It is possible and is starting to happen now in Victoria, as illustrated by the NWRIC member, the Alex Fraser Group. Thirdly, banning or replacing single-use plastic products/packaging with products/ materials that are reusable, recyclable or compostable is an important step forward. In its submission to the National Waste Policy, the NWRIC advocated this measure as a means of cleaning up kerbside recycling and improving its viability. These three steps provide governments with affordable, practical and relatively simple adjustments that can reinvigorate the recycling industry, and put it back on a sustainable footing, with minimal cost to the community.

ABOUT THE NWRIC The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is the national peak body representing waste and recycling businesses priorities to government. It works to improve waste and recycling services for all Australians. The NWRIC members work together and cooperatively share a vision for a fair, safe, innovative and sustainable waste and recycling industry. The NWRIC members do this by: • transforming waste into resources for reuse or energy; • ensuring the safe handling, disposal and treatment of non-recyclable and hazardous waste; and • providing a safe and clean environment for the community. NWRIC members and affiliates, service most households and businesses across every State and Territory. The NWRIC’s 450 plus members range from small family-owned businesses to multi-billion-dollar global companies. They collectively own and operate nearly every private waste and recycling asset in Australia for collecting, recycling, processing and treating waste.

Since 1986 Pacific Materials Handling have successfully provided quality and globally renowned capital equipment to customers throughout Australia on a sales or rental basis with the emphasis on being able to provide excellent service support.

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Waste Glass Becomes High-Quality Sand Ammann Plant Part of Groundbreaking Recycling Effort

An Ammann ABP High Recycling Technology (HRT) Asphalt-Mixing Plant is playing a key role in a revolutionary recycling process in Australia. Alex Fraser Group, a leading supplier of sustainable construction materials, has opened a state-of-the-art glass recycling plant that transforms “mountains” of problem glass waste into high-quality sand. The glass recycling plant officially opened in late May on the same day – and on the same Victoria, Australia, site – as the Ammann HRT plant. The recycling plant converts the problem glass into sand that is used by the adjacent Ammann ABP HRT plant to produce asphalt mix. In addition to supplying the Ammann plant, the recycling facility provides road base, aggregates and sand for green road and rail projects. Each day, the glass plant can recycle up to 4 million bottles and produce up to 800 tonnes of high-specification sand. According to the company, the source materials come from “the most problematic glass waste streams” that were previously stockpiled or landfilled. “Our new glass recycling plant is capable of producing 200,000 tonnes of recycled glass sand per year – equivalent to a billion bottles, effectively putting an end to glass waste stockpiles and landfill in Victoria,” said Peter Murphy, Managing Director for Alex Fraser. The Ammann ABP HRT furthers these sustainability efforts. The asphalt plant is specially designed to incorporate RAP (Recycled Asphalt Pavement) and other recyclable products as the main stream 24

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materials that can produce more than 500,000 tonnes of green asphalt per year. It includes Ammann’s proprietary as1 EcoView control system software, which closely monitors energy consumption and emissions; a foaming system for warm-mix capability; and hot asphalt storage up to 72 hours. “The Ammann plant complements the other aspects of the Alex Fraser business in regard to recycling,” said Paul Vandersluis, Managing Director of Ammann Australia. “Not only is the Ammann plant equipped with technology for today, but it can also accommodate future introductions of other types of recyclable materials – be it filler, binder or aggregate substitutes.” Alex Fraser chose Ammann because of the company’s unique recycling technology; its strength and local representation in the Australian market; and its ability to boost its customers’ bottom line, Vandersluis said. “The life of ownership calculations demonstrated the Ammann plant to be the best fit for the Alex Fraser business,” he said. The company has worked with regulators and customers to develop quality products over many years. These products use innovative inputs including glass and plastic. In a time of scarce resources, this is increasingly of interest to asset owners, competitors and governments at all levels. The Ammann plant provides the capacity to increase recycled content as the industry progresses. It has already been producing sustainable asphalt to supply several major and municipal road projects. “This energy-efficient plant is capable of producing high-quality asphalt mixes, made

almost entirely of recycled materials,” Murphy said. “Our greenest asphalt mixes, like Glassphalt™, which includes recycled glass, and PolyPave™, which includes recycled plastics, are being produced here to supply a multitude of projects.” Victorian households currently generate high amounts of problem glass waste, known as CSP, every year. Made up of fine particles of glass co-mingled with other waste – including paper, plastics, metals and organics – this waste stream cannot be traditionally recycled back into bottles or jars. Until recently, an enormous volume of glass waste was accumulating, destined for landfills.

Murphy said the company combined years of recycling experience with the latest technology from around the world to design this innovative glass recycling plant that uses a range of technologies to produce high-quality construction sand from the waste materials. “Our new glass recycling plant separates the glass from the impurities and processes it into recycled sand, which complies with VicRoads (the governmental transportation agency) specifications,” Murphy said. “It directly replaces quarried sand and reduces the need for trucking virgin sand long distances into Melbourne, substantially reducing heavy vehicle movements on congested roads.” The environmental impact on the Australian state of Victoria is enormous. “The use of this material will have significant commercial and environmental savings, including the reduction of glass as landfill, heavy vehicle movements, and the carbon footprint of new projects, by up to 65%,” Murphy said. Established in 1879, Alex Fraser is one of Australia’s longest running companies. In 2019, it celebrates 140 years of operation, having recovered and recycled 50 million tonnes of material. Ammann is a sixth-generation, familyowned business that produces asphalt- and concrete-mixing plants, compactors and asphalt pavers at nine production sites in Europe, China, India and Brazil. Its core expertise is roadbuilding and transportation infrastructure. In 2019, the company marks its 150th anniversary.

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Nordic coalition to accelerate the transition to a Circular Economy Key stakeholders from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark have joined forces to accelerate the Circular Economy in the Nordic Countries at the recent World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki. The coalition aims to establish a new platform that will increase knowledge sharing about circular economy business models between the Nordic markets, while exploring the opportunities for specific circular economy projects in the Nordics. The coalition is modelled from the best practices from Holland Circular Hotspot. Stakeholders and actors interested in joining the coalition are encouraged to get in touch. The coalition will align goals and targets for the circular economy in the Nordics, building on existing efforts from each market and experience from similar companies in different sectors. The coalition will invite governments, cities and regions, companies and knowledge institutions to collaborate closely to explore practical and scalable solutions, applicable for SMEs and core industry, as well as exploring necessary policy incentives. “The consumption in the Nordic countries continue to increase at an unsustainable rate. Each of the Nordic countries are small, but together it’s the 11th largest economy in the world. Collaborating for development of education exchange and information is the Nordic model. A Nordic Circular Hotspot initiative can speed up the necessary transition to a circular economy,” says Cathrine Barth, founder of Circular Norway and one of the initiators of Nordic Circular Hotspot. “Today there is limited collaboration between the Nordic countries when it comes to concrete actions for a circular economy transition. We believe that collaboration between the Nordic countries is crucial for breaking out of the linear economy infrastructure in the region 26

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and moving towards a circular economy,” says Marthe Haugland at Nordic Innovation. Nordic Innovation are financing the pre-project for a Nordic Circular Hotspot. “The trend towards circular material flows must move faster. The Business sector is often ahead of politics. Now, new financial incentives are needed to support new business models. Nordic cooperation is particularly important for pushing for circular economy reforms at EU level”, says Anders Wijkman, Chairman of Circular Sweden. “Most important will be to introduce criteria for circular design.” Initiators of the coalition include Lifestyle and Design Cluster/National Circular Hub from Denmark; Cradlenet and RISE from Sweden; Business Finland from Finland and Circular Norway from Norway. Among other interested parties are; Sitra, The Association of the Swedish Recycling Industries and Circular Sweden. “The Circular economy increases green innovation, export and employment, reduces resource use and limits different kinds of pollution, including CO2 emissions. The Nordic cooperation will help exchange ideas and focus on this important new way of doing business and address global common opportunities. It is of great importance that we keep pushing the boundaries with the aim to be in the top of the class of green and circular innovation,” says Betina Simonsen, Lifestyle & Design Cluster, in Denmark.

ABOUT CIRCULAR HOTSPOTS Circular Hotspots are public private platforms in which companies, knowledge institutes and authorities can collaborate with the aim of exchanging knowledge and stimulating entrepreneurship in the field of circular economy. For further information or to participate in the initiative, please visit:

Call for Victoria to introduce CDS Victoria is on a course to be the most littered state with least recycling, now that it is the only state in Australia to not commit to a container deposit scheme, environmentalists said recently, after Tasmania announced it will join up. “This is embarrassing for a state that is regarded as progressive in other areas; worse still it will continue to suffer from horrendous plastic bottle litter that will break up into dangerous microplastics in waterways and the ocean. We have had numerous meetings with Victorian governments over the years and there is no logic or environmental or economic sense to their continued recalcitrance,” said Jeff Angel, Director of the Boomerang Alliance of 49 groups. “Now that Tasmania has agreed to implement a scheme, we can devote all our CDS campaign resources in Victoria. Their inaction will be a daily magnet to community and local council pressure. Last year, 80 organisations representing over 100,000 Victorians issued an Open Letter calling for a CDS,” he said. “There appears to be a lack of political will in Victoria, coupled with entrenched opposition to the scheme from senior government departments and treasury,” says Dr Annett Finger, Boomerang Alliance Victoria. “Victoria’s recycling management needs the separated, uncontaminated material streams a CDS provides. And our charity sector is desperate for the $50 million a year in fundraising opportunities the scheme will create. The scheme has been operating in SA for decades, in NT since 2011 and recently, in NSW and QLD, with reported 57% and 35% reduction in container litter rates. Unless Victoria gets a move on CDS, we will change from ‘The Garden State’ to ‘The Garbage State’,” she said. The Tasmanian government announced recently that they will introduce a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) by 2022. According to the Minister for the Environment, Elise Archer, the move will “encourage positive, incentivised recycling and re-use behaviour” and “produce purer streams or recyclable materials”. The announcement has been welcomed by environmental groups, the Local Government Association and the Tasmanian Small Business.










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WATER AND WASTEWATER PICTURED LEFT: So-called ‘flushable’ wipes are a massive problem for pipes and wastewater treatment plants, as evidenced by this blockage at the Shellharbour Sewage Pumping Station.

Federal Court dismisses case over flushable wipes In a disappointing decision for utilities and consumers, Federal Court Justice Jacqueline Gleeson recently dismissed a case instituted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) against Kimberly Clark and their “flushable” branded wipes. The ACCC launched proceedings against Kimberly-Clark Australia in the Federal Court in December 2016, alleging false or misleading representations by marketing its Kleenex Cottonelle Flushable Cleansing Cloths as “flushable”. The ACCC alleged that, by labelling the wipes as “flushable”, consumers were led to believe the products had similar characteristics to toilet paper, would break up in a manner similar to toilet paper and were suitable to be flushed down the toilet, when this was not the case. Justice Gleeson said there was no evidence from a consumer or plumber to verify that the Cottonelle wipes had caused blockages or to enable the court to exclude other causes for blockages “… including the inevitable imperfections and defects that exist in the sewerage infrastructure”. The court also found it was reasonable for Kimberly-Clark to rely on guidelines, developed largely by industry associations, to substantiate its “flushable” claims. The ACCC had argued these guidelines were not an independent testing regime, as they were developed by the manufacturers of “flushable” products, without input from wastewater authorities. 28

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Last April, in a similar case brought against consumer products group Pental, the Federal Court ruled in favour of the ACCC. Pental was fined $700,000 for making false and misleading representations about its White King “flushable” toilet and bathroom cleaning wipes. Sydney Water spokesperson Peter Hadfield said, “…we are obviously disappointed with the decision, but we must abide by the Federal Court ruling.” “Sydney Water removes over 500kg of wipes from our network every year at a cost of over $8 million dollars,” Mr Hadfield said. “We commenced our ‘keep wipes out of pipes’ campaign in 2015 and we have seen positive behavioural change in our customers. Hopefully the decision by the Federal Court won’t set back this behavioural change,” he said. “Customers across Australia have been hit with expensive plumbing bills to remove blockages or to repair damage to their private sewer pipes caused by flushing wet wipes – one Sydney Water customer reported a $16,000 plumbing bill to repair damage to her sewer pipes caused by her flushing wet wipes!” “Despite the Federal Court decision, in order to save the environment and to prevent expensive future plumbing bills for Australian households, it is up to all consumers to stop flushing wet wipes or any other bathroom or personal hygiene product down the toilet.” “We’re asking everyone to ‘Remember the three Ps’. The only things that you should flush down your toilet are pee, poo and (toilet) paper!” said Mr Hadfield. Sarah Agar, head of campaigns and policy at CHOICE, which made the original complaint against the “flushable” claims, said the group was disappointed with the court's decision. "This is terrible news for people who care about the environment and our waterways, Ms Agar said. “Calling something “flushable” when it doesn’t actually break down and can cause costly blockages isn’t good enough.” “In the testing we conducted in 2015, there was no sign of these products truly breaking up. The so-called ‘flushable’ wipes held together in our tests for hours while ordinary toilet paper broke down and dissolved in a few minutes,” she said. “Kleenex claimed that its “flushable” wipes meet guidelines for flushability, but these guidelines were written by industry, for industry. The current industry guidelines are obviously not a good standard to follow,” Ms Agar added.

‘Flushable’ wipes can also spell disaster for waterways.

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Removing a blockage of ‘flushable’ wipes at the Rouse Hill STP.

Mr Adam Lovell, Executive Director of the Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA) said, “WSAA, along with its members, is leading the development of a national standard that defines the criteria for material suitable for toilet flushing, along with appropriate labelling requirements.” “The development of an Australian Standard will provide manufacturers with clear specifications to design products that are compatible with the sewerage network,” he said. “The Australian Standard is on track for public consultation around August 2019, with publication by end of 2019.” “The international water industry has collectively committed to a position statement that all wipes and personal hygiene products should be clearly marked as “Do Not Flush” and be disposed of in the bin or trashcan. This position statement is supported by over 300 utilities and non-government organisations from 23 countries,” Mr Lovell said. “The exact cost of pipe blockages, disruption to customer services and impacts on the environment are difficult to estimate accurately but WSAA estimates that blockages contributed to mainly by wet wipes are costing the urban water industry over $15 million each year,” Mr Lovell concluded.

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A water sample is taken from the Fitzroy River in Western Australia. Picture courtesy of CSIRO.

Noble gesture unlocks secrets of ancient groundwater Sound Waves Could Save Florida from Algal Bloom Devastation The US state of Florida is investigating the use of sound waves to target and kill algae in Lake Okeechobee. Last year, the state of emergency had to be declared in several counties following severe algal blooms throughout the state. This year, Florida commissioners want to prevent algal bloom disasters by using a chemical-free solution that uses ultrasound technology to get rid of algal blooms. Lisa Brand, CTO of LG Sonic, was invited by the City of Miami to present this solution at the Smart Cities event. During the event, challenges and solutions to issues of resilience, climate change, stormwater management, and harmful algal blooms were discussed. The sound waves developed by LG Sonic target and neutralize the algae, preventing them from growing and evolving to a blooming stage. These sound waves are harmless to humans, fishes, and other aquatic life. For each type of algae, such as Cyanobacteria, LG Sonic has a specific ‘song’ to target the algae. By using real-time water quality monitoring and satellite data, LG Sonic is able to predict algal blooms days in advance. This allows the ultrasound technology to neutralize the algae before they become a problem. Based on the data from LG Sonic systems all over the world, LG Sonic has built a database of algae and water quality data which allow applying the right treatment for a specific type of algae at the right time. This technology is already being used in more than 15 countries worldwide, including the US. The technology has helped American Water to successfully control algal blooms and eliminate chemical usage for their drinking water reservoir in New Jersey. They have ensured safe drinking water to their customers. For many years, Lake Okeechobee has been suffering from severe algal blooms. Impacting not only the lake itself, but also the waterways throughout the state. Commissioner, Brian Hamman is pushing for LG Sonic to be used at certain hot spots in Lake Okeechobee. Hamman hopes that LG Sonic’s buoys can be used as soon as possible.

ABOUT LG SONIC Since 1999, LG Sonic has been a leading international manufacturer of chemical-free algae control and biofouling prevention systems. We at LG Sonic have the mission to eliminate harmful chemicals in the water treatment industry. Therefore, we developed a technology that combines real-time water quality monitoring and LG Sonic ultrasound technology to control algae in large water surfaces.


Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

The only centre of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere for accurately testing ancient groundwater up to a million years old has opened in South Australia. The Noble Gas Facility, built at Waite Campus in Adelaide, is now fully operational after a three-year build by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. It will allow scientists to test groundwater with far greater accuracy to provide new insights into the continent’s groundwater systems and better understand the effects to groundwater of further development in regional Australia. Australia is a very old and flat land mass and is the driest inhabited continent on Earth. This makes groundwater resources of vital importance. Groundwater makes up 98 per cent of the fresh water on the planet. The Great Artesian Basin in central Australia is the largest aquifer of its kind in the world, covering 22 per cent of Australia, and containing water that is more than a million years old. The Noble Gas Facility is the first in the Southern Hemisphere and one of fewer than a dozen comparable facilities worldwide. The facility uses the noble gases – helium, neon, argon, krypton and xenon – to better pinpoint and understand the age of groundwater, how long it takes to move through aquifer systems and how those systems are replenished. Unlike other environmental tracers, noble gases don’t react chemically, have a unique signature and can be used to track extremely slow-moving water. CSIRO physicist Dr Axel Suckow, who led the team through the build, has worked on similar machines in the Northern Hemisphere. “It gives us a completely new tool to investigate groundwater in Australia, providing insight on Australia’s groundwater resources from recent times to as far back as the last ice age,” Dr Suckow said. “We need a better understanding of our groundwater systems and how they are replenished to ensure that, as we continue to use this valuable resource and with a changing climate, we also protect it from overuse or contamination.” Noble gases can also determine temperatures and conditions at the time the water entered the underground system. “If you give me a water sample that is 10,000 years old then from the concentration of argon, krypton and xenon, I can tell you the ground surface temperature 10,000 years ago which is very valuable information for paleoclimate studies inland,” Dr Suckow said. “Noble gases are particularly useful in telling us about groundwater because they can be traced to show us how quickly, or slowly, water moves through underground aquifers; providing a better understanding of the connection between surface water and groundwater flow, and the replenishment of aquifers; and showing if water can move between shallow aquifers and deep underground aquifers through geological layers. “The noble gas helium, for instance, increases due to radioactive decay of uranium naturally present in the rocks through which groundwater flows.

CSIRO physicist Dr Axel Suckow at the Noble Gas Facility in Adelaide. Picture courtesy of CSIRO.

“That means the higher the helium content in the groundwater the older the groundwater is.” The facility is currently being used to assess groundwater resources and connection of aquifers in the Peel region south of Perth, groundwater resource development opportunities in the Fitzroy River basin in Western Australia as part of the Northern Australia Water Resources Assessment, and the impacts of unconventional gas development on groundwater systems through the Gas Industry Social & Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA).

Tree planting to improve Adelaide drinking water Strategic tree planting along creek lines has the potential to reduce chemical treatment of drinking water, according to new research conducted by UniSA Business School and SA Water. The study, which was sponsored by the Goyder Institute and led by UniSA Business School Professor, Jeff Connor, found that increasing vegetation along creek lines in the Onkaparinga catchment would not only significantly reduce water treatment costs, but would have other positive environmental benefits as well. “The aim of the study was to investigate whether native vegetation could act as a natural barrier to stop pollution from agricultural land use running into drinking water reservoirs, and ultimately, work as a cost-effective drinking water treatment strategy for SA Water,” UniSA Business School Professor, Jeff Connor said. “What we found was that native vegetation planted along creek lines is likely to significantly reduce phosphorous load levels in the Happy Valley reservoir, and likely to reduce need for chemical treatment significantly,” Professor Connor said. Shaun Kennedy, Specialist – Vegetation Services, SA Water, added: “It’s important to note that simply planting trees won’t have the desired result. What we really need to focus on is returning healthy ecosystems to our creek lines complete with sedges, grasses, shrubs which provide most of the filtration.” “In addition to reducing chemical treatment, trees in these settings can also sequester large amounts of carbon. So in some cases, the cost of planting trees will be far less than the value they generate as carbon emissions offset credits, in addition to the reduced water treatment costs.” The research project was sponsored by the South Australian Goyder Institute for Water and was a collaboration between UniSA Business School, SA Water, the SA Department for Water, and the University of Adelaide.

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ATCO's Clean Energy Innovation Hub opens in Perth During July, Western Australia Energy Minister Bill Johnston officially opened ATCO’s $3.6 million Clean Energy Innovation Hub in Jandakot. The research facility will investigate the potential role of hydrogen in the future energy mix, as natural gas provides a lower carbon alternative to other traditional energy sources. It will also examine how renewable energy and natural gas technologies can successfully integrate and support the electricity grid in Western Australia. Speaking at the opening, the Minister congratulated ATCO and its staff on developing this facility, and said he was looking forward to hearing the outcomes of the research undertaken at the new facility. “It is very encouraging to see industry investing in new technologies and aiding research for a cleaner, greener energy future in Western Australia,” Minister Jonson said.

Revolutionary Australian Clean Energy Startup Wins Global Award Brisbane-based startup Planet Ark Power has been recognised as the leading global energy transition pioneer by winning at the Startup Energy Transition (SET) Awards 2019. The awards, a part of the 5th Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue, were held by the German Energy Agency (dena) in cooperation with the World Energy Council. Planet Ark Power won the category of ‘Intelligent Grids, Platforms and Cyber Security’. Their pitch on their innovative gridtransforming solution received the unanimous support from the jury of global energy and climate change experts. “This is a milestone for Planet Ark Power. To be recognised as pioneers and have the global energy transition community validate our solution at the SET Awards inspires us to continue innovating and contributing to this dialogue,” Richard Romanowski, Executive Director, Planet Ark Power. 32

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“The McGowan Government is moving forward with reforms to modernise the structure and design of Western Australia’s energy market to deliver cleaner and more affordable energy to all consumers,” he said.

“Our Distributed Energy Resources Roadmap, will guide the integration of solar panels, battery storage systems, and microgrids and be ready by the end of 2019.” “The Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Council is also looking at ways to foster the emerging renewable hydrogen industry in our State,” the Minister added. ATCO’s hub is equipped with solar panels to power its facility and utilises batteries to store excess energy when the sun is not shining. Any remaining energy from the solar panels is used to power an electrolyser to produce hydrogen for use with natural gas. Additionally, ATCO’s Hybrid Modular Home at the Jandakot site will demonstrate the use of hydrogen for home use in gas appliances and to create backup electricity in a hydrogen fuel cell.

Planet Ark Power’s Executive Director Richard Romanowski pitching to the global energy transition forum at Startup Energy Transition Awards 2019

Planet Ark Power has been committed to overcoming the barriers Australia is facing in transitioning from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. Their power management technologies, which utilise artificial intelligence, solve the voltage disruption issues that new, decentralised energy generation sources like rooftop solar cause to the electricity grid. Planet Ark Power’s solution enables thirteen times more clean energy to flow onto the electricity grid and comes at no cost to the grid or end-consumer. This paves the way for large-scale adoption of solar in the commercial and industrial context, enabling the creation of virtual power

plants and facilitating future peer-to-peer trading – democratising the electricity grid overall. The grid-transforming device was conceptualised by Planet Ark Power’s team of multidisciplinary engineers who specialise in network and transformer design, computer intelligence, microgrid distribution design, data simulation, and more. “Australia is the first in the world to experience large-scale voltage disruption due to rooftop solar, with the rest of the world to follow as rooftop solar becomes more popular. Planet Ark Power’s engineers had the foresight and acumen to pre-empt and solve a global challenge,” said Romanowski.


Sun shines on Barwon Water’s renewable future Barwon Water is tripling the size of its flagship solar farm and embarking on a new solar and battery storage project that will slash greenhouse gas emissions at its treatment plants and keep customers’ bills low. New solar panels at Barwon Water’s Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant will increase the solar farm from one megawatt to three megawatts, generating enough energy to meet 35 per cent of the plant’s energy needs. A separate project to install a 300 kilowatt solar array at the Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant will also feature a 200 kilowatt battery to store solar energy – the first battery storage project for the organisation. Both projects are the biggest of their kind in the Victorian water industry to date.

Barwon Water Managing Director Tracey Slatter said the two projects will dramatically reduce energy consumption, helping achieve Barwon Water’s goal of using 100 per cent renewable electricity by 2025, as well as keeping customers’ bills low. “Reducing our energy use drives down our operating costs, which helps us keep downward pressure on water bills,” Ms Slatter said. “Treating sewage and water is an energyintensive process, resulting in Barwon Water being one of the main greenhouse gas emitters in our region,” she said. “Our Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre - which treats the majority of our region’s sewage - uses about 33,000 kilowatt hours a day, about seven times

more energy than an average household uses in a whole year.” “As a significant greenhouse gas emitter, we’re committed to developing more sustainable practices, and we’re doing that by investing in renewable energy to become more self-sufficient, and to limit our impact on the environment,” Ms Slatter added. “Developing renewable sources of energy to cut emissions is critical for a business like Barwon Water because our ability to deliver safe, reliable and affordable water depends on a stable climate.” “We’ve recently started constructing the second stage of our solar farm at our Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, which will see an additional 5544 panels added to the farm. This will boost the solar generation capacity at Black Rock from one megawatt to a massive three megawatts, making it the biggest solar array in the region to date,” she said. “During March, we also embarked on our first battery storage project at our Wurdee Boluc Water Treatment Plant, which will capture energy generated from a new 300 kilowatt solar array being installed on the site. This is significant for Barwon Water because it allows us to keep the energy we generate and use it when it’s needed, instead of sending excess energy to the grid,” Ms Slatter said.

Streamlining Australia’s future decentralised energy system An innovative new distributed energy platform designed to help electricity networks better utilise the increasing penetration of Distributed Energy Resources (DER) in the electricity grid, while helping consumers benefit from selling their generation could be available within three years. On behalf of the Australian Government, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has recently committed $10 million in funding to Australian energy tech company GreenSync Pty Ltd to accelerate the deployment of the Decentralised Energy Exchange (deX) software platform. Designed as an open access software platform, deX is “middleware” that will allow consumer energy assets to be registered and visible to the grid. The platform will

be technology agnostic and open to all technology providers, networks and retailers as well as market bodies. deX aims to become a digital marketplace that allows home and commercial buildingbased energy assets and appliances such as solar PV, batteries, smart air conditioners and hot water systems to bid into the market to be used for a range of grid services such as managing frequency, providing energy for the wholesale market and reducing network constraints. deX will provide visibility and control of DER services that conform to the operational requirements of the distribution network and unlock new value for energy consumers

while supporting the grid’s transition to a predominantly renewable future. The $32 million platform rollout is expected to be a critical enabler for the growing DER and renewable energy industry in Australia and globally. Initially created through a collaboration of utilities and technology companies during an ARENA A-Lab event in 2016, ARENA subsequently provided GreenSync with $450,000 in funding to develop and pilot the deX prototype in the ACT and Victoria. deX has delivered its first production release and now has nearly 100 organisations and utility partners across 20 countries.

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Thermal Ammonia Stripping Ammonia production accounts for between 3% and 5% of the world's natural gas production. This consumption equates to between 1% and 2% of the world’s energy supply. Here on earth, it requires a great deal of effort to produce ammonia. The following article, paradoxically, concerns efforts to remove it from our wastewaters using thermal ammonia stripping. Within our solar system, there is abundant ammonia, spread throughout the planets. Astrogeologists estimate there are approximately 220 million square kilometres of sub-surface ammoniawater oceans on 14 moons and Pluto. One on Titan is estimated to have a surface area of 80 million square kilometres. This area compares with the oceans on earth, which cover 361 million square kilometres. A 100 km high plume of ammonia-rich gas was found on Jupiter, near the Great Red Spot, by the NASA spacecraft Juno in 2016. Indeed, it is possible that ammonia gives the Great Red Spot its distinctive colour. Ammonia is also considered to be an essential ingredient to the origins of life on earth over 4 billion years ago. A team of scientists, working at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory in Washington, concluded that one of the necessary first steps for life to begin the conversion of nitrogen to ammonia might have occurred in deep ocean hydrothermal vents. Apart from being a necessary ingredient for life itself, there is a multitude of uses for ammonia and ammonia by-products. For example, the textile industry uses ammonia in the dyeing of wool, cotton, and silk as well as in the production of nylon. Household floor cleaners and detergents commonly use ammonia. Similarly, process industries use ammonia for pH control, as well as the management of NOx. NOx, when combined with ammonia in the correct conditions, produces nitrogen and water. However, despite the undoubted need for ammonia in our lives, when it permeates through to parts of the environment where it is unwanted, it becomes a source of damage to human health and ecosystems. In many countries, authorities classify ammonia as an extremely hazardous substance. In the atmosphere, gaseous ammonia reacts with other pollutants to form tiny particles of ammonium salts that degrade air quality and, by affecting breathing, harm human health. 34

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One of the primary naturally occurring sources of ammonia here on earth is from the decaying of organic matter. Ammonia forms during the degradation of amino acids within acidogenesis. It also forms part of the excreta cycle of humans and animals, as the kidneys secrete ammonia to neutralize excess acid. Consequently, it is a commonly encountered water pollutant. Although ammonia is an essential source of nutrient for bacterial growth during anaerobic digestion (AD), its inhibitory effect at high concentrations can be lethally toxic to bacteria that have benefitted from its presence at lower concentrations. With an increasing global interest in producing biogas from food waste, the difficulties encountered with ammonia poisoning of AD facilities are becoming more frequently encountered. Protein rich substrates provide a sound base for methane production. They are of great interest in commercial biogas production. Unfortunately, high loadings with such materials often correlate with process instability due to the presence of ammonia released during the acidogenic phase of AD. The same issues arise within landfill sites. In Hong Kong, the high loadings of protein in the waste streams entering the landfills, namely meat and meat products, have resulted in high ammonia concentrations within the landfill leachate. Readings of up to 6,000 ppm are not uncommon. In the UK, during the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as mad-cow disease, it was necessary to dispose of animal carcasses within sanitary landfills. In such sites, leachate contained ammonia concentrations of up to 9,000 ppm. Figures vary, but as ammonium ion concentrations increase in an anaerobic digester, typically above 1000 ppm, performance in terms of biogas production, drops off. Full inhibition of AD occurs at around 5000 ppm. It is, therefore, a crucial requirement to manage ammonia concentrations, a requirement for which there exists a wide range of options. In the past, the most commonly employed methods used with AD plant have been to lower the pH, to decrease the free ammonia concentration, or to dilute the digester contents with water. It is


also possible to add lignocellulosic biomass, with a high C:N ratio, to increase the C:N ratio of the substrate in the digester. Where such approaches are not possible, or not desirable for process efficiency considerations, there are also several technology variants that operators can deploy to control ammonia. Such approaches may also be employed to manage landfill leachate. It is not so much a lack of choice, which is the issue here, but rather an understanding of the issues that each option raises.

Biological nitrification Biological nitrification is widely employed, well understood, and generally reliable. Biological nitrification produces varying amounts of sludge and requires both oxygen and carbon to perform effectively. The process requires large holding volumes, as well as significant air (oxygen) and carbon-source additions, subject to the organic carbon and ammoniacal nitrogen loadings involved. The biological process may also produce nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas. N2O has a global warming potential 265– 298 times that of CO2. On average, N2O emitted today remains in the atmosphere for more than 100 years.

Anaerobic ammonium oxidation (Anammox) In 1995 researchers discovered that Anammox, a previously unknown bacterium, was converting ammonia directly into N2 in a fluidized bed reactor. The process subsequently developed does not require carbon and produces less sludge than the classic nitrification/denitrification process. Anammox bacteria are specialised and slow-growing, which in turn leads to increased operational risk. Start-up can often take several months.

Membrane ion exchange With this technology, ammonia passes through a membrane into an ionic fluid, driven utilizing electrical power. The process includes the possibility to recover ammonia from the fluid or to convert it to nitrogen gas. This technology is an attractive option, providing the potential for a compact and effective ammonia removal system. One study has reported that it requires 4 kWh per pound of ammonia removed by this method. A facility removing 4.5 tonnes per day would, therefore, require 1.87 MW of electricity or 44.8 MWh per day.

driven air stripping, being a physicochemical process, can provide reliable ammonia removal after reaching operating conditions.

Thermally driven air stripping This approach to ammonia removal requires the addition of heat to raise the temperature of the wastewater stream, which leads to high operational costs where waste heat is not available. The process can achieve 98.5% removal. In many situations, the process does not need pH adjustment, subject to incoming pH, and alkalinity. The airflow requirement is substantially less than that required for pH driven air stripping. Thermal ammonia stripping and pH-driven ammonia stripping employ similar techniques to achieve ammonia removal. Airstripping is itself a simple desorption process. Heat or the addition of a base breaks the ammonium ion bond. In the case of pH-driven ammonia stripping, the process requires considerably more air, perhaps as much as ten-fold. However, the process is not as temperature-dependent as thermally driven air stripping, where a drop in temperature can bring the processes involved to a halt. There are two forms of ammonia encountered in wastewater. The ionic form (NH4+) and the gaseous form (NH3). One may write the equation governing the relationship between ammonia gas and the ammonium ion as follows: NH4+ + OH- ↔ NH3 + H2O Dissociated ammonia ion (NH4+) is converted to undissociated ammonia gas (NH3) by the addition of a base (OH-), such as sodium hydroxide. As the temperature of the water increases, so the amount of free ammonia gas also increases. The balance of this equation is a function of pH and temperature. Low pH and low temperature push the balance towards NH4+. The ratio of ammonia in the gas phase to the total ammoniacal nitrogen, referred to as 'f,' may be expressed as follows: f = [NH3] / [NH3] + [NH4+] The relationship between pH, temperature, and 'f 'takes the general form represented in Figure 1 below.

Membrane contactors Ammonia diffuses through a hydrophobic membrane into sulfuric acid under osmotic pressure. It is necessary to increase the wastewater pH needs c. ph10, leading to notable chemical consumption. In many situations, the process must include pH reduction with the addition of acid. Where an operator can accommodate the logistics and cost of managing chemicals on site, this may be a viable option to consider.

pH-driven air stripping This form of air stripper requires pH adjustment to above pH10. This requirement results in issues like those of membrane contactors. A substantial airflow is necessary to achieve stripping by this means, usually in the range of 3000:1, air to wastewater. A facility treating 100 cubic meters per hour of wastewater requires an airflow rate to the order of 300,000 cubic meters per hour, making for some pretty substantial engineering works. pH-

Figure 1 - Relationship between pH, temperature, and 'f.' As the temperature increases, represented by the direction of the arrow in Figure 1, the necessary pH to maintain a value of 'f' decreases. This relationship provides the fundamental functionality of the thermal ammonia stripper: to remove the need to increase the pH while maintaining performance.

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019



The thermal ammonia stripping process involves pre-heating of the wastewater, the passage of the wastewater counter-current to airflow in the stripper column, to remove ammonia in the wastewater. In the waste-gas approach, a thermal oxidiser destroys the ammonia in the ammoniated air. The heat generated within the thermal oxidiser in turn powers the process. (See Figure 2) The systems developed in Hong Kong are for discharge flows. The West New Territories (WENT) landfill facility receives its thermal energy from landfill gas. With a design flow rate of 1,800 m3/day, recently upgraded to 3,350 m3/day, as much landfill gas as necessary was available for use. The design duty for this first plant was with an influent of 6,700 ppm ammonia for reduction to a discharge of 100 ppm.

The WENT facility now removes 14.5 tonnes of ammonium ion per day. Subsequently, operators installed similar processes on six additional sites around Hong Kong. A good example is a unit operated by at the South East New Territories (SENT) landfill site (See figure 3 below). Improvements in thermal efficiency, coupled with a deeper understanding of the processes at work, has resulted in the technology becoming less Hong Kong specific, making it suitable for adaptation for use in a range of varied applications in other countries. One primary interest is its use within anaerobic digestion to control ammonia within the process, as well as to prevent its release in discharge flows. Within a typical AD facility, there are four locations where reduction or removal of ammonia may be possible. (See Figure 4) • Before digestion at the hydrolysis-fermentation stage; • During the digestion in a recycle flow; • During digestion within the main digester vessel; and • Post digestion, before discharge. Research into the feasibility of removing ammonia during or after the hydrolysis-fermentation stage has resulted in limited success. The practical options are within the digester itself, in a recycle flow or from the effluent. Stripping ammonia within the digester vessel leaves limited scope for process control. Several researchers have completed work using biogas as a stripping medium. With low-strength ammonia, this may be an option to consider. The main opportunities for ammonia control in large-scale commercial facilities are, therefore, in recycle and discharge flows. The former impacts the AD process and leads to improved performance. The latter is a matter of discharge compliance.

Figure 2 - Thermal ammonia stripper, process flow diagram

Figure 3 - SENT Ammonia Stripping Plant rated at 2,000 m³/day 36

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019


Figure 4 - Ammonia removal options within AD In the industrial sector dealing with ammonia removal from wastewater, there are no perfect solutions. Each technology has its point of optimum application. In the case of thermally-driven ammonia stripping, there are several attributable benefits which can help indicate situations of optimum deployment: • A relatively small footprint can accommodate high removal rates • The process is particularly suited to high-strength ammoniated wastewater • Chemical additions incur no untoward costs • Avoidance of nitrous oxide formation mitigates greenhouse gas production • Compared to biological processes, achieves a relatively rapid startup (1 or 2 hours) • There is no risk of biology failure • Substantial savings may be available from avoidance of carbonsource costs • There is no sludge formation • The system is relatively easy to operate compared to biological processes Where waste heat is available in the form of steam, or heat from engine exhausts, for example, for the ammonia removal process, after ammonia stripping from wastewater there is a requirement to remove ammonia gas from the stripping air. More recently, UK-based pollution control and environmental protection specialists Organics has developed a process that facilitates the recovery of either ammonium hydroxide or anhydrous ammonia. This approach further develops two key process themes: employing waste heat and avoiding the use of chemicals. The Process Flow Diagram (PFD) for a system recovering ammonia is provided in Figure 5. Clean, cold water is used to remove ammonia from stripping air as ammonium hydroxide. Additional concentration and separation make possible the formation of anhydrous ammonia. One possibility that may prove interesting, as we move into the nonfossil fuel age, is the use of ammonia as a fuel. The energy content of

liquid ammonia is 11.5 MJ/L, or approximately 30% that of diesel. Fuelcells can use ammonia to produce power, which offers the potential for a local, revenue-generating means of disposal. Operators can use ammonia as a fuel in engines and turbines. During World War II ammonia was used to power buses in Belgium. A high-octane rating of 120 and low flame temperature permits the use of high compression ratios without the penalty of high NOx production. Another advantage is that, since ammonia contains no carbon, its combustion cannot produce carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, or soot. However, because its flame speed is slow (only one-fifth that of methane), it is challenging to use as a fuel.

Figure 5 - Process Flow Diagram for ammonia recovery Ammonia is joining a growing list of substances that need active prevention from polluting the environment and, where practical, should be recycled. Using waste heat to meet these objectives assists with ensuring a long-term sustainable solution to the challenge of ammonia disposal.

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019



Manufactured by National Precast member Humes at their Welshpool (WA) facility, the 108 CI rated large box culverts played a critical role in providing access to the Fitzgerald River National Park. Image courtesy of BCP

CULVERTS FUTUREPROOF ACCESS TO ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST SIGNIFICANT NATIONAL PARKS Project: Culham Inlet causeway, Fitzgerald River National Park Precast concrete manufacturer: Humes Australia Client: Shire of Ravensthorpe Civil Contractor & Engineer: BCP Busselton Precast concrete culverts are playing an important role in providing permanent access to one of Australia’s most stunning national parks. Destroyed in the February 2017 floods, the Culham Inlet causeway enabled access to Western Australia’s Fitzgerald River National Park. As well as being an essential piece of infrastructure for the local communities of Ravensthorpe and Hopetoun, access to the Park is vital to local tourism and for the control of Dieback infection of local species. Located in south-western Western Australia, the largely untouched Fitzgerald River National Park is one of the most botanically significant national parks in Australia. As the only home for many of the state’s flora species, the Park also boasts diversity, growing almost 20 per cent of the species that can be found in the state. 38

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

After the causeway was destroyed in early 2017, access was blocked for some six months until a temporary structure was constructed. According to National Precast CEO Sarah Bachmann, the new causeway replaces the temporary structure and will be able to withstand future floods, thereby futureproofing access to the Park. With a $5.8 million cost funded by federal and state disaster relief funding, the project includes precast concrete culverts that will not only stand the test of time, but will also enable a speedy construction time of only 20 to 22 weeks. 108 large box culverts were designed and manufactured by National Precast member Humes. With a C1 Exposure classification, the culverts measured a huge 2400x1800x1200 and were manufactured in the precaster’s Welshpool Factory. The company’s National Sales and Marketing Manager, Paul Adams, says the large box culverts form the foundations of the new causeway, which, once complete will provide safe and secure access to the stunning Fitzgerald River National Park. Designed to handle greater water flows, Mr Adams says the causeway is similar in design to the original structure. “The design of the new causeway incorporates two banks of culverts instead of

the previous one, and there’ll be a spillway in between,” he comments. “It has been designed to slow water flow and prevent further flood damage in the future.” Ravensthorpe Shire chief executive officer Ian Fitzgerald says community response to the project has been very positive. “We all understand how important access into the Fitzgerald River National Park Biosphere is, so we need to make sure we have a good solid, permanent structure that will see us have that access for many years to come.” “People are obviously very keen to see the new causeway and to see a new permanent structure in place,” he said.

THE ROLE OF INFRASTRUCTURE IN PROTECTING SPECIES Dieback – otherwise known as Phytophthora Cinnamomi - is an introduced fungal disease prevalent in south-western Western Australia. Now a serious environmental issue, the disease causes root rot and in most cases leads to the death of the plant. Infrastructure networks into and within the state’s vast, largely untouched natural areas, are critical in enabling management of the disease and protection of botanical species.

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Securing Water Supplies in Response to Climate Change Climate change is the biggest challenge for WA’s Water Corporation, which employs more than 2,700 people to deliver water, wastewater and drainage services across 2.6 million square kilometres to more than 2 million Western Australians. Water Corporation, which was previously known as the WA Water Authority until it was corporatised in 1996, has set out a comprehensive range of plans, projects and initiatives to secure the long-term future of the state’s water supplies. This article, which was prepared for and first published in Corrosion & Materials magazine is republished with kind permission of the Australasian Corrosion Association. Since the 1970s, May to July rainfall in the south west of Western Australia has reduced by around 20 per cent (Source: State of the Climate 2018, Bureau of Meteorology), and stream flows to dams have continued to decline dramatically. Before 1975, Perth’s dams would receive an average of 420 billion litres of streamflow each year. This would have been enough to supply the entire Integrated Water Supply Scheme (IWSS) even now. The IWSS supplies water to 2 million people in Perth, the Goldfields and Agricultural Region as well as some parts of the South West. In 2017, Perth’s dams received just 104 billion litres of streamflow. To put this into perspective, we supply about 283 billion litres of water to people connected to the IWSS each year. Given the changing climate, the sources of water for the IWSS have changed significantly.

Planning ahead – Water Forever Water Corporation has planned ahead to secure water supplies in response to climate change, producing a 50-year plan (published in 2009) and a 10-year plan (published in 2011) under the Water Forever title. These plans are based on a three-pronged approach to 40

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

develop new water sources, reduce water use and increase water recycling. Guided by an independent science panel consisting of eminent members of the national scientific community, development of the 50year plan was one of the most comprehensive community engagement processes undertaken by Water Corporation. Water Forever provides a portfolio of options to manage the state’s demand and supply balance by 2060 through: • Reducing per person scheme water use by 15 per cent (from 2008 levels) • Increasing water recycling in the Perth metro area to 30 per cent of all wastewater • Developing an estimated 70 to 100 billion litres of new sources by 2030, and continuing to identify, investigate and secure support for new water sources. Water supply planning is not static – it is about responding and adapting to changing circumstances, including climate, by identifying and adding new sources when needed. Groundwater Replenishment, Perth’s newest water source, ticks two boxes outlined in Water Corporation’s Water Forever plans – it increases water recycling and is a new water source.

What is groundwater replenishment? Groundwater replenishment is the process by which secondary treated wastewater undergoes advanced treatment to produce recycled water. The recycled water is recharged to an aquifer for later use as a drinking water source. Highly treated wastewater from the Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant in Craigie is processed through three water treatment methods to further treat it to the equivalent of drinking water quality, before recharging it into the ground. 1. First ultrafiltration filters out suspended materials 2. Then reverse osmosis removes any remaining dissolved materials 3. Finally, ultraviolet light is used to destroy any trace levels of micro-organisms that may remain. This water, which is now drinking quality, is then recharged into the natural underground aquifer. The water will remain in the aquifer before it is drawn out at another location, treated at a water treatment plant and added to the water supply scheme. Groundwater replenishment could supply up to 20 per cent of Perth’s drinking needs by 2060.


Trialling Perth’s newest water source in local conditions

Bringing the community on the groundwater replenishment journey

Water Corporation’s groundwater replenishment program began with a threeyear trial at the Beenyup Wastewater Treatment Plant in Craigie from 2010 to 2012. It was overseen by the state's regulatory agencies; Department of Health (DoH), the then Department of Water (DoW) and Department of Environment Regulation (DER), which is now the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. The program drew on the learnings and outcomes of a replenishment scheme that has been operating in Orange County, California, since the 1970s. The trial, which tested technology in local conditions, proved highly successful in terms of treatment (with all of the 62,300 water quality samples taken meeting strict health and safety guidelines) and public acceptance of the replenishment process. The success of the trial led to the decision by the Western Australian State Government in August 2013 to invest in groundwater replenishment as the newest water source for Perth.

Water Corporation carried out the most extensive community engagement program it had ever undertaken throughout the threeyear Groundwater Replenishment Trial. The aim was to bring the community on board with the journey and educate people about why groundwater replenishment is so important. A purpose-built Visitors Centre was constructed at the site of the Groundwater Replenishment Trial, with more than 11,000 community members touring the site of the trial. Surveys taken of people who have visited the plant indicate support of over 90 per cent once they have a thorough understanding of the processes involved in groundwater replenishment. The Perth community’s support for groundwater replenishment reached an all-time high in 2016, with 79 per cent of respondents supportive of the new water source. In 2018, Water Corporation completed an 18month research program called Tap In, where the community – its customers – provided feedback on the quality of Water Corporation’s

services and what is important to them. Of those surveyed through Tap In, 75 per cent supported groundwater replenishment as a water source. A Community Advisory Panel was also established representing different sectors, including the community, public health and environment. It met quarterly and played a pivotal role in providing detailed comment on all aspects of the trial – working together to give the community confidence. Presentations and briefings were given to more than 70 health, environment and local government stakeholder groups, including local councils and other decision making authorities, as well as local Aboriginal and community groups. Orange County in California has a similar scheme that supplies around 50 per cent of their local drinking water – Water Corporation modelled the project on this scheme, which also included a successful community engagement program.

Current status Construction of the first stage of the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme in the northern Perth suburb of Craigie was

Inside Stage 1 of the Groundwater Replenishment Scheme in Craigie

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019



Students and guide at the Groundwater Replenishment Visitor Centre

completed in late 2017. This is one of the first Groundwater Replenishment Schemes in Australia. The first stage can recharge up to 14 billion litres of recycled water to aquifers each year. Works are currently under way to double the plant’s capacity to 28 billion litres each year. This 14 billion litre Advanced Water Recycling Plant is being delivered by Clough-Suez Water Partners – a joint venture between Suez Water & Treatment Solutions and Perth-based company Clough. The expansion also includes construction of a 13 kilometre recharge pipeline extending to the north-east of the plant, and two recharge sites in Wanneroo and Neerabup. The expansion is expected to be completed late 2019.

Looking ahead Water Corporation continues to educate the community about groundwater replenishment. The scheme in Craigie includes a Visitors Centre, so the community can continue to learn about the process and the impact of climate change on Perth’s water supplies. 42

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

The careful planning and work towards targets in Water Forever – developing climate independent water sources, reducing water use and increasing water recycling - has provided more security for Perth’s water supplies in response to climate change. This is evident in the make-up of the water sources for the IWSS in 2017-18, with desalination the largest source of water.

The total, water supplied to the IWSS was made up of: • 48 per cent desalinated water • 40 per cent groundwater • 10 per cent surface water (dams) • 2 per cent groundwater replenishment The Perth community is well aware they live in one of the driest cities, in one of the driest countries in the world. They’ve made significant savings to date and these are engrained in their everyday lives. Water saving efforts in Perth helped save around 120.8 billion litres of water in 2016-17 – to put that into perspective, that’s more water than WA’s largest desalination plant produces in a year. However, while Perth households continue to reduce their water use, they remain some of the highest water users in Australia. New education programs that aim to keep saving water top of mind will continue to be rolled out by Water Corporation. For more information about Water Corporation’s plans to secure water supplies in response to climate change, please visit: Article first published in Corrosion & Materials (May 2019). Republished with permission.

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Moisture as a cause of Corrosion Under Insulation by Andy Hoffman

Moisture is one of the major factors to consider when investigating corrosion under insulation (CUI). Accumulating water within an insulation system can wreak havoc on metal piping, ventilation and other insulated surfaces, originating from a variety of sources, including condensation within the systems, water spray from deluge systems, drift from cooling towers, process leakage or rainfall. But moisture can cause another problem while it goes untreated: a reduction in efficiency. The industry consensus is that most insulation systems, in certain temperature ranges, will get wet. Corrosion rates are reduced below freezing temperatures, and at elevated temperatures above 149°C most moisture evaporates before reaching the surface. Therefore, the target temperature range for CUI is 0°C – 149°C. This is where owners should assume that these systems would become saturated. Whether the ‘cladding’ was installed improperly or was damaged from a number of possible causes, the general thought remains that moisture will eventually enter the insulation system. Regardless of the cause, once the insulation gets wet there is 44

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

a significant impact on efficiency. In heated systems, moisture ingress causes convection cells to form within the insulation where water vapor is generated on the steel surface and driven outward. It condenses on the inside of the cooler jacket wall and then is reabsorbed by the insulation in a process known as refluxing. Refluxing leads to concentrations of corrosive species in the insulation. In cooled systems, ingress of water vapor from the surrounding air condenses onto the colder pipe surface and is then absorbed by the insulation closest to the pipe. Since water has approximately 15 times the thermal conductivity of most dry thermal insulation materials, this absorption affects the insulation’s efficiency. Water in the insulating fibres also causes a matting effect where the fibres compress onto one another, negating the insulation benefits associated with the still air pockets within the insulation material. As little as 4% water absorption into dry insulation can increase its thermal conductivity by 70%. This loss in efficiency increases energy consumption where operational temperature variation cannot be managed and so avoid the issues owing to plant design and capacity.

The Promise of Aerogel Insulating Coatings

Powering a Sustainable Future

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The financial drain caused by moisture intrusion has left facility owners looking for other insulation options. An alternative to traditional insulation is using an insulating coating. Insulation coatings are not a new technology, but within the last five years insulation coatings containing aerogel have become available. On paper, aerogel-infused coatings can achieve a thermal conductivity on par with most traditional insulation materials, while also resisting the infiltration of moisture. These insulation coatings containing aerogel also have been used in other applications: to control condensation and provide a ‘safe-touch’ barrier to protect personnel from hot equipment. Researchers developed a test that evaluates the thermal performance of various insulation materials before, during, and, most importantly, after being submerged in water. The test consisted of a 1.5 m trough that could be filled with water and drained. Copper pipes, 50 mm diameter with a total bent length of 1.8m, were insulated with the appropriate materials. Thermocouples were installed on the inlet and outlet of these pipes in order to monitor the individual efficiency of each pipe. The thermocouples recorded the water temperature as it came into the pipe and also as it left the pipe. A water heater pumped 60°C water through the copper pipes, and a water chiller was used to maintain the water in the trough at 10°C when flooded. This ensured consistency in the water temperatures being circulated through each pipe.

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The Collection guarantees quality through partnerships with peak professional bodies including Engineers Australia and the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand, as well as Content Providers including EPC Media Group. The Informit Engineering Collection delivers hard to find content designed to complete and complement all your waste and water management requirements. Other key titles published by EPC Media include: Highway Engineering Australia Construction Engineering Australia

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Figure 1: Test trough with bare copper pipes Before installing any of the insulation materials, the bare pipes were run dry for several days to establish a baseline and to demonstrate consistency across the various positions in the trough.

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019



As expected, heat loss from the pipes increased dramatically when the trough was filled with water. Once the water was drained from the trough, the bare pipes returned to their initial dry performance within a few hours. Once a baseline was established on the bare pipes, they were then insulated with the appropriate test materials for longer-term evaluation. Four different pipes were tested, including: • One bare pipe • One pipe coated with an aerogel coating system • One pipe wrapped with mineral wool and cladding • One "duplex" pipe: aerogel coating underneath mineral wool and cladding In the case of the pipes coated with an aerogel coating system, the copper pipes were prepared according to SSPC-SP2 Hand Tool Cleaning. The pipes then were coated with an epoxy primer after they were first lightly sanded by hand. Since there was not extensive thermal cycling in this test, extensive surface preparation was not required. Two coats of the aerogel coating were applied for a total of 2.5 mm dry film thickness (DFT). The pipe was top-coated with a water-based epoxy. An insulation contractor completed the installation of the mineral wool and cladding after the two pipes were coated with the same epoxy primer. The duplex pipe then had two coats of the aerogel coating applied and both pipes were wrapped with 50 mm of mineral wool. The aluminium cladding was installed over the mineral wool. In all cases, the pipes were weighed before being placed back into the trough to note a baseline weight of the original insulation.

Figure 2 Thermal performance test setup


Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

All four of the pipes were run side-by-side for two weeks in an empty trough to establish their dry performance. The trough was then filled with water for 24 hours. The performance was again monitored through the thermocouples on both ends. Finally, the trough was drained, and the performance was monitored over the next few months while the pipes dried out.

Insulation in Recovery As expected, the initial dry performance of the mineral wool was significantly better than the aerogel coating. Even though the performance rating of the aerogel coating is slightly better, the mineral wool was installed 20 times thicker than the coating (Figure 3). The test data became interesting once water was introduced into the trough. The heat loss performance was first measured while submerged in water, showing a drastic spike in heat loss on the mineral wool pipe. The submerged data was telling, but the main purpose of the testing was to see how these materials reacted to getting wet and the impact on their long-term performance. Twenty-four hours after draining the water from the trough, the aerogel-coated pipe had returned to its original heat loss performance while the mineral wool struggled to dry out and regain some of its original dry performance. Ultimately, after having a full three months to dry, the mineral wool still was losing five times more heat than its original performance. The drop-in performance of the mineral wool is driven by a couple of factors. Firstly, during submersion, there was water ingress into the insulation through small leaks in the cladding. The water was absorbed by the fibres and it filled the air pores between the fibres.


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This effect was evidenced by the weight gain of the systems. The original weight of the mineral wool was 0.64 kg.; the weight after being submerged was 4.54 kg. During the 3-month check, the mineral wool still was 1.50 kg., which is over twice its original weight. In higher temperature applications, more of this water will likely evaporate, but while wet, the insulating air inside the mineral wool is displaced by moisture.

When Forces Combine

Figure 3 Insulation performance recovery results

Images Courtesy of and Tnemec Company

Waste + Water Management Australia | July 2019

The last pipe involved in the testing was a duplex system of both materials. This consisted of the same epoxy primer and 2.5 mm of the aerogel coating followed by 50 mm of mineral wool and cladding. The dry performance was very similar to the dry performance of the mineral wool, but the performance after being submerged was better. After just 24 hours of drying, this duplex system was more efficient than the aerogel coating by itself, with half the heat loss of the mineral wool pipe. This is due to the fact that the aerogel coating itself is delivering additional performance to the system and helping to overcome the deficiencies of the drying mineral wool. The duplex system that combines the aerogel coating and mineral wool brings superior performance before, during and after exposure to water. The downside of the duplex system in a real-world scenario is the cost and installation of both materials, so a cost-benefit analysis would need to be done to warrant this option. Facilities are doing more every day to minimize potential issues related to CUI. However, the economic impact of energy loss due to wet insulation is often overlooked. It can take several years to detect CUI, during which time the insulation is underperforming and costing the facility owner. An understanding of the financial ramifications of wet and underperforming insulation is a necessary step in not only developing a CUI strategy, but also selecting the proper insulating materials for any given environment.

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Waste + Water Management Australia V46.1 July 2019  

Australia's premier water management, environment, sustainability and public health magazine.

Waste + Water Management Australia V46.1 July 2019  

Australia's premier water management, environment, sustainability and public health magazine.