Energy from waste sector ‘needs social licence to operate’

Local Government, along with the states and Commonwealth, can enable more waste to energy projects by helping the sector develop a social license to operate.

This means openly engaging with communities – not only on the benefits of advanced forms of waste processing but also addressing any environmental or health concerns.

In a new report on the energy from waste sector, Infrasructure Partnerships Australia says failure to support energy from waste (EfW) facilities and other forms of energy recovery will mean more waste ending up in landfill.

“With the right incentives in place to level the playing field between landfill and resource recovery, Australia could establish a new market for EfW that diverts 13.7 million tonnes of waste from landfill each year by 2030,” the report suggests.

“This has the potential to reduce emissions by up to 5.2 million tonnes of CO2 each year.”

Among other things, the report recommends that governments develop nationally consistent guidelines for EfW project development – through the National Federation Reform Council – and adopt European Union emissions standards for EfW facilities subject to nationally consistent regulation.

The report notes Europe has over 500 EfW plants thermally treating over 90 million tonnes of waste a year, and predicts the global EfW market will grow to $US40 billion by 2023.

The report also contains a case study of the Kwinana EfW facility, which has 20-year waste supply agreements with seven peri-urban councils in Perth.