A new era has begun at Boral Cement Works in Berrima.
This week, the company began the transition to solid waste derived fuels (SWDF) to operate the kiln at the 80-year-old site, completing a more than six-year and $11 million project.
Berrima operations manager Stuart Hutchings said project would secure the company’s future in the Southern Highlands and help manage the growing problem of landfill waste in the state.
“From a wood waste point of view, there’s around 200,000 tonnes that goes into landfill in the state every year,” Mr Hutchings said.
“We’ve got a permit to burn 100,000 tonnes of SWDF per year in our kiln and that’s 100,000 tonnes that would have otherwise gone to landfill,” he said.
There are two types of SWDF used: wood waste and residue derived. They are both made up of materials from construction demolition and industrial waste that is then processed and used as an alternative fuel source which is considered to be more sustainable.
“For example, if you’re demolishing a house and you’ve got all that old timber and material; that gets brought in to a factory, it’s checked and then processed to take out any recyclables before it’s then brought to our facility and used as a fuel here,” Mr Hutchings said.
This technology is widely used in similar plants overseas, but is the first of its kind in NSW. While SWDF is a sustainable fuel source, the emissions created when burned are on par with coal.
“When we received approval for this project, we agreed to tighter limits on emissions than we had before, so the emissions won’t change but the actual regulation has got tighter and we were happy to commit to tighter regulations on this,” Mr Hutchings said.
Mr Hutchings said they were currently in the process of testing the new source of fuel, but were so far encouraged by the results.
Until this week, the kiln was operated using energy from coal, but once testing is complete, SWDF will replace up to 30 per cent of coal use.
“At the moment we’re starting at a low rate and part of the process is receiving feedback from the community, if they see anything different or have any concerns, we’d like to know about it,” Mr Hutchings said.