New way with waste studied

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett joined Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tim Milsom on a trip to Tokyo recently to see first hand how the plants work and what effects, if any, they had on the population.

The experience, Mr Milsom said, was an eye-opener.

‘Before we left I had concerns about what the plants emit, its cleanliness, odour… and I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea or not to have one in Perth,’ he said.

‘We visited four plants, most of them in residential areas, and the first reaction I had was there is no smell, and you wouldn’t actually think that you can burn things at that temperature and not produce any smell.’

Last December, Phoenix Energy entered into a 20-year agreement with the City of Kwinana for the proposed $380 million facility on Leath Road. However, construction can’t proceed unless neighbouring councils such as Fremantle agree to divert their residential waste to the plant.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said he envisioned it would be a contentious topic, but something needed to be done about Perth’s growing landfill.

Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett liked what he saw, but said there was still a way to go, particularly in convincing the community.

‘Landfill is the best of the worst options currently available, so looking for alternatives is sensible,’ he said.

‘The viability of waste to energy plants will depend on a range of factors including environmental, location, business cases for the owner, operator, customer, ability to source on-going feedstock, community acceptance of the technology, etc.

‘Communities will need to be fully informed on all the options available for the disposal of waste going forward.’

Phoenix Energy managing director Peter Dyson said the nature of this being Australia’s first facility meant the community had a ‘learning curve’ they needed to go through.

‘As we are using modern tried and proven technology, the opportunity for the community to do their own research and draw their own conclusions is supported by the vast amount of independently generated data and reports that have been produced,’ he said.