The heterogeneous nature of the commercial and industrial (C&I) waste stream and the sheer number and diversity of waste generators and collectors presents challenges to the adoption of technology. In addition, waste disposal in the C&I sector is driven largely by economics. Separation plants in the form of ‘dirty MRFs’ (materials recovery facilities) are the most likely means of recovering significant proportions of this stream. However, there are not likely to be any significant increases in resource recovery from the C&I sector unless there are regulations or enforceable waste targets put into place nationally.
New AWT facilities coming on line in the near future to service municipal wastes should be able to cope with a proportion of their inputs being C&I wastes from offices and some factories (non-industrial wastes from canteens and personnel areas). Indeed, this may be an innovative way of establishing new AWT facilities, to design them with the flexibility to process up to 20-30% commercial wastes.
With long term municipal waste receival contracts underpinning the original establishment of the plants, topping up with suitable commercial wastes could be seen as an opportunity to better utilise the existing plant and equipment, with benefits shared between municipal waste customers (local councils) and the facility operators. The composition of wastes originating from office buildings and commercial premises (being mainly paper and plastics) makes production of RDF, after removal of recyclables and biological materials, a potentially viable approach for these C&I waste streams..
New research into the development of novel chemical, biological and other techniques for processing and recovery of hazardous materials is gradually creating safer and more efficient ways to disassemble and extract the valuable components and neutralise the dangerous elements found in these materials. As a net importer of manufactured goods, there is limited opportunity for Australia to apply green design principles directly to manufactured goods. However it may be possible for the Federal Government to impose some sale or import restrictions on those products that do not meet certain green design principles.
Waste from the construction and demolition industry still forms a significant proportion of all waste generated in Australia. Green design principles could be more widely applied in this sector by increasing the weighting given to waste management in green design measurement schemes. This, and accompanying material specifications to cover their application to various situations, would increase the re-processing and recovery of specific C&D wastes.