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A smarter solution to landfill – advanced waste processing

  • Landfills are filling up, there are no plans for more to be built, and they are an expensive, environmentally damaging, and unsustainable way to manage our waste into the future.
  • Along with other participating south east Melbourne councils, we’ve formed a company (South East Metropolitan Advanced Waste Processing Pty Ltd) to deliver an advanced waste processing alternative to landfill.
  • No technology or site has been selected yet. As part of the procurement process, 3 industry candidates are currently preparing proposals to rigorously explore all the alternatives in detail. This process is expected to take up to 2 years, and it will be 5 to 6 years before a facility is operating. 
  • Safe, proven, and highly regulated advanced waste processing technologies will help councils deliver a facility that will process household rubbish instead of burying it in landfill.

2019

We joined other south-east Melbourne councils and the Victorian Government to begin investigating alternatives to landfill.

2020 

The procurement process was started with an Expression of Interest and three industry candidates selected to prepare proposals for alternatives to landfill.

2021

  • We became an equal shareholder with other south east Melbourne councils in a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) called South East Metropolitan Advanced Waste Processing Pty Ltd (the project company), formed to undertake procurement activities for the project.
  • South East Metropolitan Advanced Waste Processing continued to communicate with the industry candidates to make sure the project’s requirements were clear.

 2022

The industry candidates are preparing detailed proposals for review by the evaluation panel.

  • Landfills create litter, odours and greenhouse gasses like methane and carbon dioxide, contaminated water (known as leachate) that can seep into surrounding soils, groundwater and waterways, and attract vermin.
  • Currently Victoria relies on landfill to dispose of household rubbish, but landfills in south-east Melbourne are filling up and there are no future landfills planned to be built.
  • Melbourne’s growing population means we’re sending more waste to landfill every year. By 2046, the amount of waste going to landfill each year will have grown by 65%.
  • We are already taking steps to reduce the amount of overall waste Cardinia Shire sends to landfill, including the addition of food waste in the green bin. We are also supporting and enforcing the Victorian Government’s e-waste in landfill ban, introduced in 2019, and the single use plastics ban, being introduced by 2023.
  • Our growing communities will continue to produce large amounts of waste and we’ll have no other option but to transport that waste across Melbourne to other sites for disposal. This would be an expensive and unsustainable way to manage our waste.
  • Together we must work now to reduce our reliance on landfill in the future.

The average rubbish bin contains valuable materials that could be put to better use rather than burying it in the ground.

Advanced waste processing solutions are modern, proven technologies that process household rubbish and aim to recover more resources, materials, or energy from waste compared to landfill.

Alongside recycling, and separating food and green waste for composting, advanced waste processing is a smarter solution for household rubbish than burying it in the ground.
Waste to energy is the most common form of advanced waste processing technology, with hundreds of facilities operating safely and reliably throughout the world.

Economic, environmental, and social benefits include: 

  • increasing the recovery of waste items that would previously have gone to landfill
  • reducing the need for new landfills
  • substantially decreasing greenhouse gas emissions from landfill
  • creating up to 400 temporary jobs during construction and up to 50-100 permanent operating jobs once the facility is operating
  • producing energy from waste can be used and sold.

The advanced waste processing facility will operate alongside the future four-bin kerbside waste system being introduced across Victoria, which aims to improve kerbside recycling, and expand on the separation of food and green waste for composting.

Advanced waste processing facilities are being used safely and reliably around the world, including in the United Kingdom, Europe, Asia and North America, to recover recyclables and produce energy such as heat, gas or electricity.

  • The facilities are highly regulated, and they are inspected and tested regularly to ensure safety standards are achieved.
  • Modern, best practice facilities have strong safety track records and are designed to meet strict emissions standards.

An advanced waste processing facility in Melbourne’s south-east would be regulated by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) and managed by the participating councils.

An EPA licence would set conditions such as emissions limits, reporting requirements and how waste must be accepted, stored and treated.

Based on energy efficiency criteria, the EPA’s guidelines determine modern waste-to-energy facilities as a better option than landfill disposal. To further regulate the industry, the Victorian Government has put a limit on how much rubbish can be processed.

More info

On the type of technology being proposed: Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group - Advanced Waste Processing technical fact sheet

About the regulation and monitoring of advanced waste processing facilities: Regulating Advanced Waste Processing facilities fact sheet

South East Metropolitan Advanced Waste Processing Pty Ltd

  • We’re taking a collaborative approach to find solutions for managing our kerbside waste into the future.
  • With support from the Victorian Government, we’ve partnered with other south-east Melbourne councils in a Special Purpose Vehicle company called South East Metropolitan Advanced Waste Processing Pty Ltd.
  • The project will help participating councils deliver an advanced waste processing facility to process household rubbish instead of burying it in landfill.
  • The advanced waste processing contract will be between the chosen contractor and the project company rather than with each individual council.
  • All participating councils have equal say on how the contract is managed, regardless of their size and amount of household rubbish.

Project status: The procurement stage

  • The procurement process was started in 2020, with an Expression of Interest to identify businesses with the right experience and capability to design, build and operate a facility. Three industry candidates were shortlisted to prepare proposals.
  • Throughout 2021 shortlisted respondents worked with councils to develop outline solutions for an alternative to landfill.
  • The next step in the procurement phase is to release the request for final tender where the shortlisted respondents will submit detailed solutions in line with the councils’ requirements.
  • A suitable technology and site have not been determined yet. These will be identified during the procurement process.
  • A site will be located somewhere within the southeast of Melbourne, within an appropriately zoned industrial area. The site selection will be subject to strict Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and other legislative requirements such as requirements for land use, to ensure social and environmental health and safety.
  • Community input will play an important role in any future planning and design phases for new infrastructure. We will continue to keep our community informed of updates in this project on our website.
  • It will be 5 to 6 years before a facility is operating.
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