Mixed waste composting systems (such as Bedminster) were the first types of alternative waste technologies to be introduced to Australia. However, marketing of mixed waste derived compost for agricultural applications proved to be difficult, because of concerns about product contamination.
In 2001, a tunnel composting plant to process separately collected garden waste into high grade compost products was commissioned by the waste company Rethmann (now Remondis) at Port Macquarie, on the North Coast of NSW. Later, food waste was also separately collected, and composted at this plant, with good results. The compost product from this plant is successfully marketed to residential and commercial customers.
This same plant also used its tunnel composting technology to treat the residual waste from the residential collections, with an intention of producing a refuse-derived fuel (RDF). However, this initiative was never commercially viable, since there were no obvious customers for the RDF, and the treated residual waste is simply landfilled.
Anaerobic digestion of separately collected commercial food wastes had been undertaken since approximately 2001, at the EarthPower plant in Western Sydney. Initially this plant struggled to attract commercial wastes, due to low costs of landfilling at the time and much of the material that the customers delivered was highly contaminated with non-organic wastes. The plant is currently operating successfully and accepts only contamination-free feedstock. A range of customers deliver this type of material including the Sydney Markets and a number of Coles and Woolworths supermarkets.
The largest AWT facility to be built in Australia to date has been the Global Renewables UR-3R plant at Eastern Creek in western Sydney. This is an anaerobic digestion plant with a mixed municipal waste feedstock. This plant was highly engineered, and very sophisticated, but there were issues with large quantities of lead acid car batteries received in municipal waste deliveries until GRL added additional processes at the beginning of the plant to screen these from the in-feed. While the plant produces green energy to feed into the electricity grid, the mixed waste compost it produces has proved difficult to market at various times.
The most recent AWT facility to be commissioned in Australia is the Ecolibrium facility at the Macarthur Resource Recovery Park in south western Sydney. This uses the Arrow Bio technology from Israel, which incorporates wet waste separation techniques and a patented anaerobic digestion process for organics processing,
Another AWT facility, the SITA Advanced Waste Treatment (SAWT) facility at Kemps Creek, in Sydney’s west is now being commissioned. This uses mixed waste composting technology to produce a waste compost type product to be used for rehabilitation of the Elizabeth Drive landfill site, where it is located.