Project to test waste viability
Aproject involving Environment Waikato, Hamilton City Council, Matamata-Piako District Council, Landcare Research, Lakeland Steel and Inghams Enterprises is being granted nearly $160,000 over two years to explore turning organic waste into useful nutrients, thereby benefiting the regional economy and the environment.
Environment Minister Nick Smith has announced the Government’s Waste Minimisation Fund will grant the money to allow the councils to explore using a process known as pyrolysis to deal with problem organic waste.
The Hamilton City and Matamata-Piako councils and Inghams Enterprises are cofunding the project.
Environment Waikato is co-ordinating and managing the project on behalf of the partnership.
Landcare Research is providing expert scientific advice to the project while Lakeland Steel will supply and operate the equipment.
The project will support capability development by training two engineering students co-ordinated by the University of Waikato and the WaikatoLink HotHouse.
The pyrolysis project offers significant potential benefits for the region. The Waikato produces more than 1.16 million tonnes of organic waste a year with 135,000 tonnes sent to landfills.
But it is predicted that alternative means of getting rid of organic waste in the Waikato will decrease in future meaning more will go to landfill if new options are not found.
decomposing organic waste can contribute to climate change any extra emissions from landfills under such a scenario would be taxed by the government’s Emissions Trading Scheme.
But pyrolysis – a well understood process – involves thermo-chemical decomposition of organic materials under pressure at high temperatures without using oxygen. This process can produce carbon-rich biochar which can potentially be used for improving soil condition and crop productivity, and also syngas which can be used as an energy source.
The project is to provide central and local government, industry and business with a case study on using pyrolysis to convert waste into useful products.
The vision of the project is that by 2017 pyrolysis could be a viable way to divert 32,000 tonnes of commercial organic waste a year from Waikato landfills and convert it into useful products.
The small-scale pyrolysis technology that will be used during the trial is based in Rotorua. Part of the project will involve assessing the scale of operation that would be needed in the Waikato to achieve the 32,000 tonnes target and what environmental impacts this would have.