VISITS to waste treatment plants in China by a councillor and two Mornington Peninsula Shire executives “brings new insights into alternative waste technology on the peninsula”, according to a shire statement.
The 14 September statement follows criticism of the trip by Cr Hugh Fraser, acting chief operating officer Niall McDonagh and waste services team leader Daniel Hinson and pre-empts an official report to council.
The three were in China earlier this month and their report on the value of the tour and “how knowledge gained may influence the future direction of alternate waste technologies in the region and the shire” is due within 30 days of their return (9 September). The trip cost ratepayers about $7500.
“It is important council has a first-hand understanding of the potential waste technologies, how they would fit and be accepted if situated in our local community,” the mayor Cr Bev Colomb said.
“It is our responsibility and commitment to researching new technology to replace the need for landfill, and supporting our commitment to becoming carbon neutral by 2021.”
Mr McDonagh, who has since been named as the shire’s new COO, said in last week’s statement that the China trip “enabled us to see the potential of waste on the Mornington Peninsula and how it impacted their [the Chinese] local community”.
“Every year, the shire pays around $2.8 million in landfill levies to the state government. We must make the right decisions about our waste to ensure we preserve and protect our peninsula,” Mr McDonagh said.
“Some of the initiatives we are currently working on at the shire to reduce, reuse or recycle waste include educating our local community on what you can and cannot recycle, offering no charge green waste events, and advocating for a no plastic bag peninsula.”
The tour group included representatives from Greater Dandenong City Council and the Metropolitan Waste and Resource Recovery Group.
A Dandenong councillor has since been reported as saying all the information needed about waste and recycling was available at the Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo held in Melbourne in August.
During its time in China the shire’s team toured the GCL Taicang and Jiading plants. The Jiading plant receives about 1400 tonnes of garbage from 360 trucks a day – close to 1300 tonnes more than what the peninsula receives in any 24-hours.
The shire’s statement said the plant “achieves better than European standards by using generated electricity to power the plant, feed into the grid and using excess steam” as heating.
Cr Fraser said the study tour provided “great knowledge on alternatives to greenhouse gas generating landfill”.
“We gained valuable, first-hand understanding of potential waste technologies and how they would fit in and suit the needs of the peninsula community,” he said.
“We have all been extremely impressed by the technologies we saw which will play a vital role in addressing the global issues of pollution and waste.
“The knowledge we gained from this visit will ensure council is well positioned to understand, consider and take the lead with other local councils in the joint procurement of appropriate and cost effective waste technologies, which will benefit future generations.”
The delegation also visited Nanjing South’s Everbright waste-to-energy centre which treats waste from six million people. The project has a daily processing capacity of 4000 tonnes and claims 95 per cent of waste is converted to energy.
The final leg of the study tour saw the team visiting the $100 million Xuzhou GCL waste to energy plant (630,000 tonnes of waste a year and 400 trucks a day) and the Fengxian energy plant, which has a six megawatt solar plant, organics processing, bio-mass processing and a water treatment plant.