WA senators Jordon Steele-John and Peter Whish-Wilson have called for a ban on federal funding for waste-to-energy incineration.
The Greens senators have instead announced a $51 million package administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation which could incentivise WA manufacturers to make more easily recyclable products.
Mr Steele-John said WA had the lowest rates of recycling in the country - 36 per cent - and it was critical that action was taken at a federal level to intervene.
“I am absolutely appalled that off the back of the senate inquiry into the waste and recycling industry in Australia, the CEFC announced they were open to using public funds to finance waste-to-energy incineration schemes instead of addressing our waste and recycling crisis.
“I’m concerned that waste-to-energy incineration will be touted as a viable alternative at a municipal level and ultimately undermine the imperative that we should consume less, recycling and reusing those products that don’t have to go to waste.”
Greens waste spokesperson senator Peter Whish-Wilson said it was an opportunity to incentivise a circular economy to ensure recyclable materials were used again and again, reducing the need for new materials, and create jobs.
CEFC bioenergy and waste sector lead Henry Anning said waste to energy incineration used combustion technology to produce clean energy from waste streams.
Mr Anning said it had two important benefits: one being energy could be used by councils, businesses and industrial companies to replace their use of fossil fuel derived energy.
He said it could also cut down on the harmful methane emissions which were produced when waste end up ended up as landfill.
”At the CEFC, our role is to increase investment in projects and programs that cut Australia’s emissions,” he said.
“We do this across renewable energy, such as solar and wind; energy efficiency programs for businesses, buildings and communities; and low emissions technologies.
“For all the projects we finance, right across our portfolio, we look at their potential to reduce emissions. Any project we finance must also have relevant environmental approvals.
“When organic waste, such as food and green waste ends up in landfill, it breaks down and produces methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.
“By focusing on clean energy technologies, we can reduce carbon emissions by diverting waste from landfill as well as help ensure that waste processing and resource recovery operations are as efficient as possible.”
Mr Anning said the CEFC invested in energy from waste technologies where they could reduce the emissions produced by landfill, and also harnessed an alternative clean energy source.
“We have previously financed energy from waste solutions including Richgro’s anaerobic digestion plant at Jandakot, WA,” he said.
“This takes organic waste, including food waste from supermarkets, and uses micro-organisms to break it down.
“The gas and heat produced by this process is harnessed for other purposes and the digestate that remains is used as an input to fertiliser products.”
Transition Margaret River member Lyn Serventy said their group supported cool technologies which treated waste to extract energy including biodigesters and composting.
“Both produce useful end products,” she said.
“However Transition Margaret River has concerns with hot technologies which burn or incinerate waste.
“We are concerned that waste incineration produces toxic air pollution and also worked against recycling and reducing waste which we see as the most productive approaches communities could take to deal with our current excess of waste.”
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