Friday, March 1, 2024

Moonee Valley takes step toward lighter carbon footprint

Technology that generates renewable energy from waste is on the horizon for the City of Moonee Valley.

By 2026, Moonee Valley will be one of three Councils alongside Monash and Melton that will send waste that would otherwise go to landfill to a brand new, cutting-edge ‘gasification’ plant.

Moonee Valley City Council says construction for the Laverton North facility has been approved and will revolutionise its waste management processes. Work on the Recovered Energy Laverton’s (REL) Waste Gasification to Energy plant is due to begin in 2024 and the plant is scheduled to be operating by late 2025.

The REL plant will process up to 240,000 tonnes of residual waste annually – enough to service several councils. The plant will convert this waste into renewable base load energy – about 17 megawatts, enough to power around 30,000 homes a year – that it will send back into the grid.

As part of its MV2040 strategy, this move will underscore Moonee Valley Council’s commitment to reducing its landfill disposal by 90% by 2040. Along the way it will also meet the State Government target for all local councils of 80 per cent landfill diversion by 2030.

By sending its residual waste to the REL plant instead of landfill, Moonee Valley will reduce community greenhouse gas emissions by 79%, or 33,098 tonnes a year. Gasification is a thermal waste-processing technology. Instead of burning waste, very high temperatures in a low-air environment are used to convert waste to a gas, similar to natural gas, that is then used to produce high-pressure steam and electricity.

Mayor, Pierce Tyson said Council’s contract with REL was a significant milestone towards slashing community emissions and bidding farewell to the negative impacts associated with traditional landfills like odour, vermin and air pollution.

“By entering into this contract with REL without making any capital contributions, we hope to showcase our commitment to innovative sustainability without breaking the bank,” he said.

Mayor Tyson said REL would not only receive landfill waste from residential red-lid and commercial blue lid bins, but also from Council’s public litter bins and that this would not replace the need for the green-lid food organic garden organic (FOGO) waste service currently being rolled out across the municipality.

“While the new technology will help Moonee Valley to reach its ambitious 2040 target, the green-lid FOGO bins and yellow-lid recycling bins will remain important weapons to reduce waste.”

By pioneering this new technology, the Council says Moonee Valley will be a local government leader in the waste and recycling processing space. Gasification has successfully been used internationally for more than 20 years, with more than 30 plants currently operating globally.

In Australia, the technology has met the most stringent guidelines and has all federal, state and local government approvals, including from the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

REL Director, Ian Guss said the facility would be the first residual waste-to-energy facility operational in metropolitan Melbourne.

Mr Guss said that while rubbish sent to landfill took decades to break down – leaving future generations to manage it – gasification would process the same waste in minutes.

“All of this will take place on only three hectares of land that will be as clean the day we leave as the day we commenced,” Mr Guss said.

“This is a practical and technically advanced environmentally responsible resolution to our growing urban waste disposal problem.

“We applaud Moonee Valley for demonstrating leadership and resolve in joining with Monash and Melton in this opportunity to achieve its strategic objectives of diverting waste from landfill,” he said.

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