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Woodlawn Bioreactor: Turning 20% of Sydney’s waste into energy


The Woodlawn Bioreactor currently accepts around 20% of Sydney’s putrescible waste and is recognised as an example of best practice landfill technology.

Woodlawn

 

THE CHALLENGE

Reducing landfill waste will continue to be a major challenge for Sydney and other municipalities within New South Wales. Diverting domestic waste from landfill through sustainable waste management practices and resource recovery solutions are critical in meeting this challenge.

To help tackle the rising tide of putrescible waste, in the year 2000, the Minister of Planning approved a proposal from Veolia to develop the Woodlawn Bioreactor. Woodlawn Bioreactor is located in a former open cast copper, lead and zinc mine. Following an approval process for the construction of a rail transfer terminal to Woodlawn from Clyde (21 kms south west of Sydney’s CBD), the bioreactor came on-line in 2004.
 

THE SOLUTION

The Woodlawn Bioreactor currently accepts around 20% of Sydney’s putrescible waste and is recognised as an example of best practice landfill technology. It supports existing source separated initiatives such as kerbside recycling, by recovering energy from the residual waste stream. Since opening in 2004, over 4.1 Mt of waste has been used to generate green electricity, and the facility now exports enough power to supply over 6,000 households.

Veolia are currently producing green energy using the methane created by this waste. At the Woodlawn Bioreactor every megawatt of power produced correlates to about 0.75 tonnes of waste recycled through the removal of organic matter in the form of methane. Therefore every tonne of biodegradable waste deposited will yield approximately 1.33 MW of power. Overall, the Woodlawn site is comprised of several key sustainable and innovative elements including:

Overall, the Woodlawn site is comprised of several key sustainable and innovative elements including:
  • Bioreactor facility recovers energy from what would otherwise be waste material to produce green electricity.
  • Agriculture incorporating a working farm that applies nutrient and grazing rotation to improve meat and wool productivity while reducing impacts on the soil.
  • Aquaculture and horticulture utilising the waste heat produced from the energy generation process for fish farming, incorporating hydroponics in the filtrations system to remove excess nutrients.
  • The development of a Mechanical and Biological Treatment (MBT) facility designed to extract the organic content from the mixed waste stream to produce compost for onsite mine rehabilitation.
  • Windfarm (operated by Infigen Energy) that harnesses 50MW energy per year.
 

THE RESULT

  • Environmental benefits: The facility reduces the State’s environmental footprint by processing 20% of Sydney’s putrescible waste and diverting 45% of the waste received from landfill. Also, Veolia will increase recycling volumes for the state even further with the introduction of a Mechanical Biological Treatment (MBT) facility which is due to come online in 2016.
     
  • Social benefits: Veolia’s Woodlawn Bioreactor development and ongoing operations has involved an ongoing engagement with the local community. This includes a community liaison committee, regular updates in the Tarago Times, email and SMS alerts and regular representation at local community meetings. Veolia created the Veolia Mulwaree Trust which provides funding for charitable purposes and worthwhile community projects to benefit communities within or surrounding the former Mulwaree Shire Council area.
 

KEY FIGURES

  • Processing 20% of Sydney’s putrescible waste
  • 45% of the waste received from landfill
  • Exports enough power to supply over 6,000 households.