Identifying sustainable technologies to achieve zero waste in South Australia

In recent years, South Australia has led the way in waste management reform and resource recovery. It currently has the highest landfill diversion rate of all the Australian states, with much of this progress achieved through its Waste Strategy 2005 – 2010. Zero Waste South Australia (ZWSA) aims to build on this progress in its 2011 – 2015 strategy, which sets further targets for landfill diversion of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW), Commercial and Industrial (C&I) waste and Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste.


The South Australian Waste Strategy 2011–2015 recognises the need to support new technologies that either enhance performance or replace landfill as a disposal option. However, the technologies and their suitability for different feedstocks are evolving as more providers enter the market. Through the development of a Waste-to-Energy (W2E) Policy, the State Government will be in a better position to respond to W2E proposals using best available information from around the globe. To help inform policy, Ricardo Energy & Environment was commissioned to provide a background paper detailing the available W2E technologies and their role in the global waste market; the economic, social and environmental factors of different technologies; and their range and suitability for various feedstocks at different scales.


Ricardo Energy & Environment profiled and reviewed international case studies of energy-from-waste solutions including anaerobic digestion, thermal treatment, and combined heat and power. The review established energy outputs using different feedstocks, socio-environmental impacts, and potential success factors of different technology options. A review of W2E strategies, plans and policies identified key drivers/barriers, potential investment streams and an analysis of state and federal legislation. Case studies were developed to highlight potential success factors and benefits which may also be relevant in South Australia’s policy development. We then developed a high level W2E strategy which included a matrix of technologies, policies and mechanisms, supported by strategy recommendations. 


Ricardo Energy & Environment’s W2E Background Report provided ZWSA with a foundation on which to form a clear W2E policy statement. ZWSA has since published an Interim Consultation Position Paper on W2E in combination with the background report, providing a platform for it to commence dialogue with stakeholders and other relevant government agencies with the aim of developing and securing endorsement to formulate a State Government position on W2E. The report can be found here.