With the recycling market collapsed, can Australia leverage the surplus of recyclables to create energy?

In the wake of China’s ban on waste importation, the value of recyclable material is at an all-time low. With the recycling market in collapse, the waste industry is facing a mounting crisis as companies search for temporary or permanent waste solutions.

While high-value recyclables like timber, steel, soil, and concrete are more easily resold, more labour-intensive items like plastics and glass are becoming increasingly difficult to move. These low-value plastics are often small in size, and as a result can end up in waterways and oceans.

Currently, companies face limited options when it comes to waste. Storing waste incurs significant costs, and can be potentially hazardous. Ten percent of Sydney and Newcastle’s fire emergencies were attributed to transfer and landfill stations that caught alight.

With such a surplus of recyclable materials on the market, those looking for new markets to sell recycling to are having difficulty. Lobbyists in New South Wales and Victoria have asked the Government for funding to produce more favourable market conditions, but even this is a temporary solution.

Ultimately, many companies are forced to send their materials to landfills as a temporary storage option. Landfill has developed a bad reputation in society, however, landfill removes the risk of sea waste and limits land used for storage.

In addition to this, nearly all landfills produce gas that can be converted to energy. Ti Tree Bioenergy, Glenorchy Land Fill, as well as several sites managed by Energy Developments, have utilised this method. In this way, landfill can serve to remove waste from society, particularly low-value small waste, while creating energy to power the community.

Harbak is currently working with a local authority to assess waste disposal options, which include disposal at their own site compared to transporting to a private facility. Harbak can provide effective procurement and strategy options for councils and businesses.

Keiran Travers is the Founder and Director of Harbak. Our company offers a comprehensive suite of services to the waste, recycling, and circular economy sectors. Benefit from our expertise as we provide market research, infrastructure strategy, and procurement management for waste companies and local governments. Uncover hidden revenue opportunities and forge valuable connections with industry stakeholders through Harbak. Take the next step in driving your business growth. Reach out to us today at Harbak.