AN innovative pyrolysis demonstration facility could be soon built in Ballina, helping to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill while generating renewable energy.
From July next year, Ballina Shire Council will introduce a green waste collection service.
Options for processing this green waste are now being discussed, and councillors are keen to investigate the viability of pryolysis.
It would make the council a leader in the field.
Organic waste would be turned into electricity and biochar using a thermal conversion process developed by Pacific Pyrolysis.
But with such innovation comes risk – the research alone could cost more than $120,000.
So far councillors have committed to spending $50,000 in the hope that the State and Federal governments may provide some assistance.
And the entire capital cost of the project, according to a bysiness plan Pacific Pyrolysis, will be about $8.5 million with project development costs of $1 million.
But Cr Keith Johnson said it had a lot of potential.
“We are leading the push in respect of pyrolysis,” he said.
Cr David Wright agreed that the pyrolysis option should be progressed.
“This is such a chance for us to lead in a different way,” he said.
“Because it (the technology) is so new, and no one has done it before ... it's going to cost a lot of money.
“But I think it's a win-win at the moment.
“If we are going to continue to be cautious then someone else will jump on the bandwagon.”
But Cr Jeff Johnson said other ways of processing organic waste should also be looked at.
“I am a big believer in biochar,” he said.
“It's incredible, the potential of this technology and process.
“But we need to, at the same time, consider the cost benefit of other things.”
Staff from the council's civil services group, in a report to council, said a pryolysis plant at the landfill could be a way to beneficially reuse a waste product.
It would also generate renewable energy, provide carbon sequestration benefits and agricultural soil improvements while avoiding landfill use.
But staff admitted it could be a costly venture.
“There are concerns, from a financial perspective, that council is the one carrying a large part of this research and development risk with expenditure up to possibly $123,000 being incurred without any guarantees that the product will be viable,” the report states.
“Council may well wish to be a leader in this field, but leadership also comes with the risk of ptential failture.
“It would be far more acceptable from a risk management perspective if the State or Federal governments were also sharing this risk.
“Similarly, the question always has to be asked as to why the commercial sector has not taken advantage of this opportunity to date, if profits can be generated.”
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