Ipswich launches waste-to-energy program
The City of Ipswich has abandoned its waste recycling program, but will instead pursue new waste-to-energy projects for dealing with a portion of household waste.
The company will by mid-year invite tenders to bid on waste-to-energy projects, a concept that involves incinerating household waste and converting the output into thermal energy via turbines.
Such plants are already in use in Europe and Asia, but the concept is relatively new in Australia with only a handful of waste-to-energy projects having been approved.
The council’s plan comes in the wake of the decision to send all recycling to landfill instead due in part to the growing costs of recycling contracts and its potential impact on rates for home owners.
The council said it has been advised that if recycling were to continue rates charged by recycling contracts could increase costs by around $2 million per year, potentially equating to an up to 2% rate rise.
Another motivation is the “unacceptably high” levels of contamination in the city’s recycling. Almost half of the waste collected from yellow bins in the city is not able to be recycled.
The council wants to become a leader in the waste-to-energy space, which will in the medium to long-term provide it with an environmentally friendly energy source, jobs and a better economic outcome for Ipswich.
“We’ve actually been looking at waste as an energy source for some time, and this gives us the ideal opportunity to be ahead of the game in that space. While it is fair to say the national recycling system broke sooner than we expected, Ipswich has been looking to the future. We’re making sure we tackle this issue head on,” Ipswich Mayor Andrew Antonolli said.
“I have spoken personally to the Minister on this issue, and made it clear that we’ve been backed into a corner on recycling.”
Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch expressed disappointment with the decision, but said it is in part the result of the previous government’s decision to repeal the waste levy in 2012.
“Council’s decision today is the long-term impact of the LNP’s short-sighted decision. Councils are stuck without an opportunity to recycle this waste, which is a terrible outcome for the environment,” she said.
“Our government is in discussions with other Australian states and territories about China’s ban on importing recycled material. China’s decision is a national issue for our waste and recycling industry and the federal government needs to show leadership to deliver a national solution.”
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