Exmouth Shire eyes tech strategy for recycling service

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
Recyclables arrive for sorting at a recycling centre.
Camera IconRecyclables arrive for sorting at a recycling centre. Credit: WA News

Long-awaited recycling in Exmouth could be on its way, with the Shire working on two different strategies, including an innovative waste technology system which would deliver on the community’s wish for sustainable alternatives.

At last month’s meeting, the Shire council passed a motion to call for tenders on kerbside recycling and, more excitingly, another which would see officers investigate an entirely new technology for waste disposal.

Perth-based company Renergi and Curtin University have developed technology that converts municipal solid waste, including almost everything except metal and glass, into products useful for horticulture, oil and as an alternative fuel source.

It works by feeding the waste into a rotating drum with large steel balls which smashes it up while simultaneously heating it under conditions that are able to convert that waste into pyrolysis oil and biochar.

Shire president Matthew Niikkula said they were looking at several possible solutions to ensure they achieved the best possible outcome for residents.

“This not only includes examining the cost of implementing a kerbside recycling program, but investigating innovative new technologies that could put us at the cutting edge of waste management,” he said.

Renergi director Rohan McDougall said the project, which is funded through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, had been developed to pilot scale and the next stage would be to role it out commercially.

“We’ll build a unit which can process at least 10,000 tonnes per annum of municipal solid waste,” he said.

“The commercial plant for council operations could be completed in two years and we would probably set it up at one of the Shire’s existing waste facilities.”

The council has signed a confidentiality agreement with Renergi and Curtin University to further investigate the implementation of the technology and, in the meantime, will continue to look into the cost of kerbside recycling.

“Once we have a thorough understanding of all the costs, benefits and risks associated with these options, we will be in a position to have an informed conversation with the community about the future of waste management in Exmouth,” Mr Niikkula said.

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