A new resource recovery centre in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales will see 90 per cent of red bin household waste recycled when it is built by 2021.
The Shoalhaven recycling facility will be the first of its kind outside Poland and just the third centre built in the world.
Residents will put their normal rubbish in the red-lidded bin, as they do now, and have it collected as usual.
Contents will then be taken to the new facility for sterilisation, drying, and separation into various groups of recyclable materials.
Anything not able to be recycled would still be sent to landfill, but would be inert and much less risky for the environment than the current waste output.
Plastic, glass, metals and organics will all be separated and put back into construction aggregate, bricks and glass wool.
Sterilised organic matter will be used for bricks, render, and has the potential to be used as fuel for energy recovery.
Head of Bioelektra Australia, which will build and run the facility, Freddie Itaoui, said the idea was to get consumers thinking about what they were consuming, rather than which bin it was being thrown in.
“We want people to be conscious of what they are throwing in the bin,” Mr Itaoui said.
“That’s the whole idea behind our technology.
“It’s going to be a revolution in the Shoalhaven economy by creating resources out of the red bin.”
Two autoclaves in the Polish Bioelektra recycle facility where household waste is processed and recycled. (Supplied: Bioelektra)
Three-bin system could be replaced in other areas
The current green bin system could be replaced if more areas take on the technology.
Many councils currently use green bins for food waste, however this technology would eliminate the need for those bins as the centre would sort out food waste automatically.
There had been a push for green bins in the Shoalhaven, but Mayor Amanda Findley said the problem with those bins was the levy charged by the State Government as waste goes over the weighbridge and into landfill.
“What this technology will do, is stop it going into landfill from the get-go,” Ms Findley said.
Bioelektra said the facility in the Shoalhaven could also accommodate much of the waste from neighbouring areas, with the capacity to process around 150,000 tonnes of waste a year.
The Shoalhaven only produces 55,000t annually.
The company had also been in discussions with councils in the Sydney metro area and Geelong in Victoria, which were considering their options for waste management.
“Every council is looking at ways to manage their red-lid bins,” Mr Itaoui said.
The future of waste management
The concept design for the new recycling facility in West Nowra.
Head of development for the project, Michal Paca, said the new building would blend in with the environment and would not produce any smell.
Waste will also be transferred to larger trucks before being taken to the centre to limit the amount of traffic coming in and out.
He said part of the design for these waste management centres was to make them into something people would want in their backyard.
The facility’s interior has just one “dirty area” before the waste is put into vats to be dried and chemically treated.
“It’s more like a lab than a recycle facility,” Mr Paca said.
“It’s a job that’s clean, our facility is clean.”
The company has been trialling the technology for 12 years and would operate on a 20-year contract in the Shoalhaven, with plans to expand into other council areas as soon as possible.