News, Media and Resources
Keep up to date with the latest activities for the Western Sydney Energy Resource Recovery Centre.
- Background InformationMarch 2020
Victorian EPA Review of Potential Health ImpactsProposal Information12 December 2019
Secretary’s Environmental Assessment RequirementsMedia Release12 December 2019
Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements ReleasedCommunity EngagementNovember 2019
Community Workshop NotesBackground InformationNovember 2019
Overseas ExamplesProposal Information13 November 2019
Proposal Scoping ReportProposal InformationOctober 2019
The Planning ProcessMedia Release11 October 2019
Community Engagement UnderwayProposal InformationOctober 2019
Video on the Proposal (5 minutes)Proposal Information3 October 2019
Frequently Asked Questions
Most Asked Questions
- Yes, some plants over 20 years old are closing in Europe and America, as a normal process of retiring plants that have reached the end of their life.
- Technology has progressed since these plants have been constructed meaning that they are generally using outdated technology.
- New plants are being constructed in many countries, including China, England and Sweden.
- Elsewhere, existing facilities are being expanded to increase their capacity or upgraded to improve their performance.
- Preliminary air quality studies have been conducted. These studies show that this centre will comply with the toughest, newest air quality standards from Europe.
- These air quality standards are stricter than the current NSW standards.
- Detailed air quality studies and modelling will be completed as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will be available soon to help our community discussions.
- The NSW Energy from Waste Policy requires that air quality emissions must be below levels that may pose a risk of harm to the community.
- Any proposal to recover energy-from-waste needs to meet current, international best practice techniques, particularly with respect to emission control equipment, and emission monitoring with real-time feedback
- Trucks would deliver red bin waste material to the site. They would drive into a storage bunker for the temporary storage of the waste, prior to its combustion.
- This space is completely enclosed and kept under negative pressure (air is sucked into the facility) at all times to eliminate any odours from leaving the facility.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
COMMUNITY Q + A
CLEANAWAY WESTERN SYDNEY ENERGY AND RESOURCE RECOVERY CENTRE
STATUS DATE: 31 OCTOBER 2019
This document contains answers to some early questions we believe people may ask about the proposal. As part of our community engagement, and we are committed to answering all of the community’s questions.
These questions are grouped under several headings:
Section 1: The proposal
Section 2: Waste in Sydney
Section 3: Technology
Section 4: Overseas examples
Section 5: Visual appearance
Section 6: The location
Section 7: Air
Section 8: Project cost, jobs and construction
Section 9: Energy
Section 10: Planning approvals
Section 11: Community engagement and investment
Section 1 - The Proposal
An energy-from-waste Centre is proposed by Cleanaway and Macquarie Capital. Cleanaway is Australia’s leading total waste management, industrial and environmental services company and Macquarie Capital is a specialist developer, sponsor and investor, with a mission to accelerate the transition to a greener global economy.
We are committed to engaging with Western Sydney councils and offering them a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative for dealing with the household and business red bin waste that would otherwise end up in landfill. Importantly, the size of the proposed facility would be sufficient to process approximately one third of the waste from western Sydney currently going to landfill.
Subject to the take-up by western Sydney councils, the centre may accept waste from other local council areas.
The Centre would operate in accordance with the NSW Government requirements and include an education and visitor centre.
The electricity generated is fed into the electricity grid and used in our homes, businesses, and places such as schools.
Leading cities around the world use modern waste management centres such as this to recover energy-from-waste to generate electricity.
The Energy and Resource Recovery Centre would put Western Sydney on the map as world-leading, by creating energy from waste that is otherwise destined for landfill and helping solve our landfill space problem.
Cleanaway’s energy-from-waste proposal is safe and based on proven technology that is used widely across the globe, including some of the world’s cleanest and most beautiful cities such as Dublin, Leeds, Oslo, Malmo, Paris and Copenhagen.
Energy-from-waste technology has been improved over several decades and approximately half the centre’s footprint is devoted to cleaning the emissions ensuring the best possible environmental and health outcomes.
New facilities are underway in various cities including Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Mexico City and various cities in China. Because the technology and its safety is proven, facilities are being built in city centres, urban areas, as well as in regional areas. Case studies can be found on the website at www.energyandresourcecentre.com.au.
There are approximately 500 similar centres in Europe. They are also common in Japan, USA and Singapore.
No. Cleanaway encourages Australians to continue to recycle. Australia’s recycling rates are behind some countries that also have energy-from-waste centres.
For example, 60% of waste in Germany is recycled, with the remaining 40% being processed using energy-from-waste technology.
As the proposed Centre will only be accepting residual, non-recyclable waste, we do not expect any negative impact on recycling rates.
Macquarie Capital is a specialist developer, sponsor and investor, with a mission to accelerate the transition to a greener global economy. With more than 350 dedicated green energy professionals, Macquarie Capital has invested in over 30 waste and biomass projects globally – from small scale anaerobic digestion plants to large scale energy-from-waste facilities, including Australia’s first thermal waste-to-energy project, Avertas Energy in Western Australia.
The ideas, capital and expertise of Macquarie Capital are powering green opportunities across Australia and around the world.
Cleanaway is Australia’s largest waste manager and generators of energy-from-waste. Each project reduces our reliance on fossil fuels.
There are different ways to generate energy-from-waste. Cleanaway is already operating gas capture systems that use methane from decomposing waste at its landfill sites, to generate approximately 135,000 MWh of renewable energy per annum. This is the equivalent of powering 29,000 homes.
In Camellia NSW, Cleanaway operates an anaerobic digestion facility that recycles organic waste to produce 9,297 MWh of renewable electricity each year, enough to power 3,600 households.
Cleanaway co-owns (with ResourceCo), and operates, the only Process Engineered Fuel manufacturing plant in NSW. The Wetherill Park facility converts up to 250,000 tonnes each year of commercial and industrial waste into a fuel for that is used as a substitute for coal and gas in cement kilns.
The Centre will result in a net reduction in climate change gases that contribute to the heating of our planet. These savings are sizeable. If the Centre processes 500,000 tonnes per annum of waste, it will remove the equivalent of up to 450,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2e) each year. This is the same as taking approximately 100,000 cars off the road.
Cleanaway’s energy-from-waste proposal is based on safe, proven technology that is used widely across the globe, including in the centre of some of the world’s cleanest and most beautiful cities such as Dublin, Oslo, Malmo and Copenhagen. There are approximately 500 facilities across Europe using the same technology as we are proposing.
See www.energyandresourcecentre.com.au for information on similar facilities used overseas.
Cleanaway is committed to engaging with Western Sydney councils and offering them a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative for dealing with the household and business red bin waste that would otherwise end up in landfill. Cleanaway would source waste contracts from Western Sydney Councils and businesses. The centre is sized to primarily process red bin waste from surrounding Councils and businesses and is able to deliver a lower cost, environmentally beneficial alternative to landfill.
Red bin cannot be recycled and is currently sent to landfill.
The sorts of things that people put in their red bin are plastic toys, packaging and packing materials, old games, nappies, tissues and sanitary items, torn clothes, bits of wood and unwanted kitchen utensils.
The Centre is proposed on a site that is 8 hectares. This will provide enough room to build the Centre, administration buildings and visitor centre.
Overall the main building is expected to be about 200 metres long, 60 metres wide and 50 metres tall. The centre’s stack would be built to a height of about 75 metres.
The energy centre is designed to process up to 500,000 tonnes of waste that cannot be recycled each year. This would equate to managing about one third of Western Sydney households and business residual waste.
Section 2 - Waste in Sydney
By 2020, Western Sydney will have over 1.62 million tonnes of waste going to landfill each year. This is the same as 2,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools each year!
While we are recycling, more people and new developments mean we are generating more waste. Experts estimate an additional one million people will move into Western Sydney between now and 2030 (Metropolitan Strategy for Sydney 2031 - A Plan for Growing Sydney).
Approximately 54% of Western Sydney’s household waste is currently recycled. The remainder is sent to landfill (Western Sydney Regional Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy 2017-2021)
Each year, the majority of Sydney’s household red bin waste goes to two landfills, Lucas Heights and Goulburn.
Yes, according to the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council, our landfills are filling up. By 2020 it is estimated that 1.62 million tonnes of waste will be generated each year from Western Sydney.
This means we need new solutions to meet Sydney’s growing waste management needs (National Waste Report 2018 prepared for the Department of Environment and Energy).
According to the National Waste Report 2018, approximately 9 % of Australia’s municipal solid waste is used to recover energy.
Cleanaway is committed to engaging with Western Sydney councils and offering them a more environmentally and economically sustainable alternative for dealing with the household and business red bin waste that would otherwise end up in landfill. Importantly, the size of the proposed Centre would be sufficient to process approximately one third of the waste from Western Sydney currently going to landfill. Subject to the take-up by Western Sydney councils, the Centre may accept waste from other local council areas.
Section 3 - Technology
The technology is called a ‘moving grate system’. Waste is combusted in a furnace at more than 850°C. The heat generated produces steam, which then turns a turbine and creates electricity.
Following combustion, approximately 20% of the original weight remains as bottom ash.
Metals are then screened out of the bottom ash and recycled.
The bottom ash can then be reused, for example, as a construction material. Our aim is to reduce the volume of waste going to landfill by up to 95%.
Gases are produced and the emissions are cleaned (called scrubbing). Approximately half the Centre footprint is devoted to environmental control systems that clean the emissions. As a result, 99.9% of the volume leaving the stacks are gases common to air, including oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and water vapour, which quickly disperse. What you may see coming out of the stack is steam and primarily components of normal air.
The volume of waste is substantially reduced during combustion. Approximately 20% of the original weight remains as bottom ash at the end of combustion. Bottom ash contains the non-combustible elements in the waste including metals, glass and ceramics.
- Metals would be removed from the bottom ash to be recycled and reused as scrap metal.
- The bottom ash, once matured and processed, is suitable for use in construction. This ash can replace materials such as crushed gravel and limestone in applications such as road fill. Cleanaway is currently investigating the possibility of reusing this ash as road base.
The other residues from the process make up less than 5% of the total waste. This residue is a combination of the extracted pollutants such as dioxins and heavy metals and the materials used in the air cleaning process.
These ash residues are stabilised and neutralised before being safely landfilled. We are still investigating technology and treatment methodologies that would allow this ash to be reused in construction. If we can do that - the Centre would achieve approximately 100% of the waste being diverted from landfill.
Section 4 - Overseas examples
Yes. The Economist’s annual survey, list the world’s most liveable places below.
Seven of the top 10 cities currently have operational energy-from-waste centres, all located overseas. The remaining three cities which do not are Australian cities.
Rank City Energy from Waste? 1 Vienna, AUSTRIA Yes (Spittelau) 2 Melbourne, AUSTRALIA No 3 Sydney, AUSTRALIA No 4 Osaka, JAPAN Yes (Maishima) 5 Calgary, CANADA Yes (Aldersyde) 6 Vancouver, CANADA Yes (Metro) 7 Toronto, CANADA Yes (U-Pak) 8 Tokyo, JAPAN Yes (21+ plants) 9 Copenhagen, DENMARK Yes (Amager Bakke) 10 Adelaide, AUSTRALIA No
Some plants are closing in Europe and America as a normal process of retiring plants that have reached the end of their life. Closed plants are generally older models and using outdated technology. New plants are being constructed in many countries, including China, England and Sweden. Elsewhere, existing facilities are being expanded to increase capacity or upgraded to improve their performance and extend their operational life.
Section 5 - Visual appearance15. What would the building look like and would any care be taken to ensure it is not a blot on the landscape? Expand
Quality of design is important to us.
There are examples of architecturally designed energy-from-waste facilities that have become local landmarks.
Many centres also accommodate public visits by providing educational tours for schools and interested people, or having educational or community facilities located onsite.
IMAGE 1: WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANT IN LAKESIDE, ENGLAND
IMAGE 2: WASTE-TO-ENERGY PLANT IN COPENHAGEN, DENMARK
IMAGE 3: LEEDS ENERGY-FROM-WASTE, ENGLAND
See our website at www.energyandresourcecentre.com.au for other case studies on similar centres around the world.
Section 6 - The location
Over a 12-month period, over 400 industrial sites were identified in the Sydney area. We settled on this site at Wallgrove Road next to the M7 Motorway as the best location for the community and the project for the following reasons:
- The site is situated in an existing industrialised area
- It is close to major roads, the M7 Motorway and the M4 Motorway – reducing the impact on local roads and traffic
- The immediate location is industrial with residential areas over 1 kilometre away
- It is a local solution for local red bin waste
- It is located on land where energy-from-waste development is permissible under State law.
Our case studies on the website show that modern waste centres can be located in populated close to residential areas, which is quite common in Europe and the UK. However, recognising that this is new technology for NSW, we felt that we would seek a larger buffer area to nearby residences.
Additional infrastructure costs such as water and high voltage electricity lines are also important when selecting a site. The site is in close proximity to this infrastructure.
The nearest residences are approximately 1 km from the site, on Wallgrove Road.
No site in wider Sydney completely avoids all community facilities, and this is the same with facilities across the world. However, one of the reasons this site was chosen is because it has a larger distance to houses, than other sites we investigated. The Centre will be completely safe. Similar centres overseas are located in very close proximity to domestic residents and these facilities operate safely and have shown to have no measurable impact on air quality around them.
There are several different facilities in the area shown on the image below.
Transporting waste long distances is impractical and not sustainable. Waste needs to be managed in a way that is:
- environmentally sustainable,
- economically makes sense, and,
- socially sustainable.
Reducing the vehicle kilometres travelled transporting waste and saving on greenhouse emissions, NOx and particles from vehicle exhausts wherever possible is environmentally important.
As our cities grow, it is recognised that providing local solutions for all our essential services enable communities that are sustainable and have access to reliable services essential to their liveability and prosperity.
Section 7 - Air
The emissions leaving the Centre would be cleaned using world’s best technology. Preliminary air quality studies have been conducted. These studies show that we will comply with the toughest newest air quality standards from Europe. These air quality standards are stricter than the current NSW standards. Detailed air quality studies and modelling will be completed as part of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will be available soon to help our community discussions.
The NSW Energy from Waste Policy statement requires air quality emissions to be below levels that may pose a risk of harm to the community. Facilities proposing to recover energy-from-waste need to meet current international best practice techniques, particularly with respect to:
- process design and control,
- emission control equipment design and control, and,
- emission monitoring with real-time feedback to the controls of the process.
There are at least four permanent local air quality monitoring stations within seven kilometres of the site.
We will collect air data near to the project site. As a result, we will have a clear understanding of the existing air quality, including seasonal variations.
Yes. There are NSW Government air quality monitors located all over Sydney. These monitors collect air quality data which is publicly available to everyone here:
The closest NSW Government air quality monitors to the site are located in Prospect, St Marys, Bringelly and Liverpool. Any air quality data we gather will be published in the EIS.
Cleanaway would monitor in the stack continuously, to ensure the emissions are cleaned to the highest standards.
As part of meeting our commitment to safety and community transparency, we would regularly post the measured air quality data to the project website.
Section 8 - Costs, jobs, construction
The Centre is expected to cost approximately $500 million (as of 2019).
No. The project would be funded by investment from the private sector.
Our waste contracts would be with councils, who in turn are funded by council ratepayers. One of the aims of the project is to reduce the cost of waste treatment and disposal.
The project is still a proposal. If approved in 2020, construction would commence in 2021, and some 800 jobs would be created during construction.
Construction would take approximately 36 months. Testing and commissioning would take 6 months before operations can commence. Some 50 full-time local, high skilled operational jobs would be created to run the Centre.
Energy-from-waste plants operate continually throughout the year to ensure a consistent supply of power to the electrical grid. Planned maintenance shutdowns will occur each year to ensure the plant’s reliability and safety. The Centre will operate safely at all times.
Section 9 - Energy
The amount of energy generated depends on the amount of waste handled at the Centre. The proposal can process up to 500,000 tonnes of material per year, which would produce approximately 45 MW of baseload power. This is enough electricity to power over 65,000 homes.
The energy would create electricity and be fed into the electricity grid.
Household and business rates for waste management are issued by local councils. One of the aims of the project is to reduce the cost of waste treatment and disposal. Energy-from-waste technology will allow us to deliver a lower cost, environmentally beneficial alternative to landfill.
Cleanaway is considering a range of community investment options, to ensure the local community benefits first from the project.
Section 10 - Planning approvals
The project would be considered by the NSW Government as a State Significant Development.
This process involves the preparation and submission of an EIS to the NSW Government, to support a Development Application. The EIS is displayed for approximately one month. The community is invited to make submissions during this period.
We expect the following studies to be prepared.
- Waste management
- Air quality
- Human health
- Noise and vibration
- Soil and contaminated land
- Water resources and demand
- Traffic and transport
- Hazard and risk
- Landscape character and visual amenity
- Greenhouse gas and climate change
These studies will be published on the website and be communicated to residents. They will form the basis of the EIS.
Once the EIS exhibition process is finished, the project may be referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC). The Commission’s process includes community consultation. A report is prepared that responds to all community and agency comments. The IPC reviews the project and makes a determination.
Section 11 - Community engagement and investment
There will be different ways for the community to interact and discuss the Energy and Resource Recovery Centre, including the website updates, displays in local shopping centres and community meetings.
Community information stands will be held in various locations in Western Sydney. The locations will be placed on our website.
We must consult the public, specialist interest groups, government agencies and other stakeholders in carrying out the environmental assessment. We need to demonstrate how these issues are being considered in the project’s design.
Cleanaway intends to go beyond the legal requirements for consultation. We genuinely want to establish transparent and open communications with the community. We would like to collaborate with community members throughout the assessment process. We need to understand community concerns and describe how we will mitigate impacts.
The EIS will be publicly displayed, which provides a way for people to provide comments and questions about the project and the information. Cleanaway will be required to respond to these questions by providing new information or clarifications.
Finally, there may also be public hearings organised as part of the Independent Planning Commission process.
Support for our communities goes beyond education and awareness. We work with you to invest in our communities, listen to your needs, and to consider how to improve local sustainability.
Cleanaway has set up community reference groups, offered grant programs and commitment investments into their existing sites and surrounding communities to promote and support a more sustainable and collaborative future for our communities.
Our community investment framework for this project is being considered now and we welcome your input to help shape this.
For updates on the project and to stay involved
Our commitment to engagement
To obtain public feedback on analysis, alternatives and/or decisions.
Our promise to you
We will keep you informed, listen to and acknowledge concerns and aspirations, and provide feedback on how public input influenced the decision.
Source: IAP2 Public Participation Spectrum