Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Waste Technology and Innovation Study

Key emerging innovations, trends and opportunities

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Key emerging innovations, trends and opportunities

  1. Drivers

Increases in the cost of landfilling and community pressure to avoid landfilling and increase recovery are the driving forces behind innovation in waste management and technology is the means by which this is being brought about.

Previous emphasis has been on the source separation of materials, and the necessary associated education campaigns, in order to keep materials pure for the most efficient processing. This reasonably passive approach could be tolerated when landfill disposal costs were low. Diversion was high for some easily separated materials of high value but the deficiencies of this approach became obvious when landfill costs increased and attention turned to lower value and logistically problematic materials such as food.

Now the clear trend in municipal and commercial waste collection is to collect materials mixed or with limited source separation. These limited mixed streams are processed at facilities that often use a combination of technologies such as initial mechanical separation followed by biological treatment of the organic fraction. This has long been the case overseas where landfill costs are high and there are additional regulatory drivers.

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