It is recognized that some technologies used in other countries may not be suitable for use in Australia. The economic, regulatory and technical environments are much different in Europe and the US than they are in Australia. In Germany, the TASi191 regulations have very strict criteria on the biological stability of landfilled materials (the tightest in Europe) and they also prohibit the landfilling of high calorific materials. This results in considerable efforts made to prevent high calorific wastes and untreated biological wastes from being disposed of to landfill.
In the UK, the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) results in local authorities incurring high financial penalties if they exceed their landfilling quantity limits. This, and a grant system to regional councils has pushed the development of a number of new and proposed alternative waste technology plants in the UK. In Germany, concerns about air emissions from thermal plants have driven much of the past development of mechanical biological treatment technologies, but there is an active waste to energy sector based on refuse derived fuels, rather than mass burn incineration.
Increases in the cost of landfilling and community pressure to avoid landfilling and increase resource recovery are the driving forces behind innovation in waste management in some parts of Australia and overseas, and new technology is the main means by which this is being achieved. When assessing the applicability of technologies to the local context, consideration must be given not only to the particular local situation for marketing the outputs, but also the affordability and suitability of associated collection and disposal systems.
In regional areas, there is a clear trend towards collecting and processing source separated materials using simple technologies, while in the larger population areas, collection of mixed wastes with limited source separation, and processing them at more complex facilities that use a combination of technologies is a more common approach.