Looking for answers on small scale waste to energy

Tenterfield and Moree Plains Councils, New South Wales, together with support from another eight councils have committed funding for a major research study to identify small scale waste to energy options. 

With $160,000 out of $540,000 committed to the study so far, there is still a distance to go with the funding although more councils are signing on as the project gains momentum. 

The research project would look at how low–grade plastics, cardboard and paper in particular, are used overseas in ‘waste to energy’ facilities, reducing the ever increasing amount of material buried in landfills and creating low carbon energy to use locally or feed into the grid.

The problem so far has been the small scale of Regional NSW communities and lower population density than most city areas where waste to energy plants are already proven solutions. 

The project will determine the smallest scale solution proven to be economically and environmentally sound regionally.

Tenterfield Shire Council Chief Executive, Terry Dodds, said, “The time to hide our waste problem in ever increasing landfill sites is drawing to a close. 

“Local Government needs to seize the lead on addressing these issues given the failures at a state and federal level.”

Director of Planning and Community Development, Moree Plains Shire, Angus Witherby, said, “To finish off a single cell at our waste management facility will cost the residents and ratepayers of this Shire some $3 million to $4 million.

“We have many better things to do with that money in terms of supporting the development of our community”.

Tenterfield Shire Mayor, Peter Petty, said, “As the market for recyclables remains diminished and existing land fill sites reach capacity, a waste to energy facility could address the growing waste problem for many regional councils.

“This could include Tenterfield, as we will need to spend in the order of $4 million in two years’ time on a new waste cell.”

The NSW Country Mayors Association has invited all councils in NSW to contribute to the study. 

Chair of the NSW Country Mayors Association, Katrina Humphries, said, “We are looking at contributions of $15,000 per council which, compared to the costs of dealing with waste, it’s chicken-feed.”

Tenterfield Shire Council have met with the NSW Office of Regional Economic Development to seek financial assistance and general project assistance.