New waste system to be trialled

The charcoal-like carbon-capturing substance is the bi-product of the pyrolysis process, which converts organic waste into energy.
The charcoal-like carbon-capturing substance is the bi-product of the pyrolysis process, which converts organic waste into energy.

A REVOLUTIONARY new organic waste disposal system may soon be trialled in Ballina.

The innovative pyrolysis facility would reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill while generating renewable energy.

From next July, Ballina Shire Council will introduce a green waste and organics collection service.

Options for processing the waste are now being discussed and councillors are keen to investigate the viability of the pyrolysis system.

Adoption of the technology would make the council a leader in the field.

Organic waste would be turned into electricity and biochar using a thermal conversion process being developed by Somersby NSW firm Pacific Pyrolysis.

But with innovation comes risk – the research alone could cost more than $120,000.

So far, councillors have committed to spending $50,000 in the hope that the State and Federal governments may provide assistance.

The capital cost of the project, according to Pacific Pyrolysis, could be as high as $8.5 million, with development costs alone of $1 million.

Cr Keith Johnson said the pyrolysis technology offered a lot of potential.

“We are leading the push in respect of pyrolysis,” he said.

Cr David Wright agreed that the option should be progressed. “This is such a chance for us to lead in a different way,” he said. “Because (the technology) is new, and no one has done it before ... it’s going to cost a lot of money.

“But I think it’s a win-win.”

But Cr Jeff Johnson said other ways of processing organic waste should also be investigated.

“I am a big believer in the (pyrolysis) system,” he said. “It’s incredible, the potential of this technology and process. But we need to, at the same time, consider the cost benefit of other things.”

Staff from the council’s civil services group, in a report to council, said a pyrolysis plant at the landfill could be a good way to reuse waste.

But they admitted it could be costly.

“There are concerns that the council is the one carrying a large part of this research and development risk, with expenditure up to possibly $123,000 being incurred without any guarantees that the product will be viable,” the report states.

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