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Sustainable waste management in Maroondah City Council

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Top view of many hands holding different waste, garbage types with recycling sign made of paper in the center over white background. Sorting, recycling waste concept. Horizontal shot. Top view

Maroondah City Council is a peri-urban residential local government area in Victoria, Australia in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne with a population of 117,498 residents and 45,665 households (at June 2019).

In October 2022, Maroondah City Council became the first Council to supply municipal solid waste to the Maryvale Energy EfW in Victoria.

What is energy-from-waste? 

Also known as waste to energy, energy-from-waste (EfW) refers to treatment technologies which derive the energy value from waste for turning into electricity, biogas, heating or fuel. The technology creates energy from the controlled combustion of non-hazardous waste materials that would otherwise go to landfill and provides an important source of renewable, sustainable energy and is a vital link in the waste management chain.

Sustainable waste management in Maroondah 

A sustainable approach to waste is 1 of 8 outcomes in Maroondah’s long-term vision for 2040. The Waste, Litter & Resource Recovery Strategy 2020 – 2030 showed that in the 2019-2020 financial year, Maroondah City Council sent 20,144 tonnes to landfill and generated 11,259 tonnes of commingle recycling and 15,261 tonnes of garden waste. However, with 24,861 tonnes of recycling and green waste diverted from landfill in 2021/22, Maroondah creates less landfill waste than the average Melbourne household. Consequently, as of the 31st March 2021, Maroondah City Council has been certified Carbon Neutral by Climate Active for its operations as a public statutory body.

Nonetheless, population growth risks sending more waste to landfill, with general waste currently disposed of at Hanson Landfill in Wollert which uses greenhouse gas capture and management. Moreover, a significant challenge Maroondah identified is local governments limited scope of influence over the production chain which generates waste, dealing with materials at the end of the value chain – when resources become rubbish.

However, policy direction at the state level in the form of Recycling Victoria ensures the development of a energy from waste sector in Victoria with investment support, funding of research for end-use of residual products and developing a waste to energy framework.

The Maryvale EfW project

The Maryvale Energy from Waste (EfW) project is targeted for the second half of 2022, with the facility potentially operational by late 2025.

Opal, Veolia and Masdar Tribe Australia have designed this state-of-the-art EfW facility to be constructed at Opal Australian Paper’s Maryvale Mill in the Latrobe Valley. The EfW facility will use non-recyclable residual waste to produce steam and electricity to supply the Mill

The Maryvale EfW project has EPA and Latrobe City Council regulatory approvals for construction and has been granted $48.2 million through the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative.

To ensure that the Maryvale EFW plant does not impact upon waste reduction initiatives, supply plans to councils maximise higher-order solutions, meaning participating councils will only be required to pay for capacity used, incurring no penalty for councils that successfully implement residual waste reduction initiatives

With air quality impact assessment indicating no impact to human health, and the site buffered from urban development, Mayor of Maroondah, Councillor Mike Symon said supplying non-recyclable municipal solid waste will help the council meet its strategic targets.

“Our Waste, Litter and Resource Recovery Strategy 2020–2030 has identified a need for Council to focus on more sustainable waste and recycling methods, with the main objective to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill,”.

Estimations of the facility calculate a net reduction of 270,000 tonnes per annum in greenhouse gases, which is the equivalent to removing 50,000 cars from the road annually. It is envisaged that Maroondah City Council will send about 20,000 tonnes of non-recyclable household general waste to the facility per annum. Up to 325,000 tonnes of non-recyclable residual waste from Councils and businesses will be used to produce energy for the Maryvale Mill, with a net benefit to Victoria’s energy network will result in enough gas and electricity to power over 50,000 homes.

To conclude, Cllr Symon encapsulates the significance of sustainable approaches to waste, and comments that “this project is just one of the ways Council is thinking outside the square to build a more sustainable future for our community”.

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