Why would we convert plastic to fuel?

The draft terms of reference for the proposed plastics to fuels plant at Hume do not address the issue of whether the industry should be located in the ACT at all.

While the panel will go some way to looking at health impacts of pollution on local residents and the potential impact of disasters the panel is not being asked to look at whether this is a suitable long-term industry for the region.

The panel should be asked whether the ACT needs an industry proposing that up to 50 tonnes of plastic per day be imported into the ACT to be processed into fossil fuels and then for the ACT to manage the residues.

At a time when the ACT is supposed to be reducing emissions from the transport sector we are considering importing waste, then burning fossil fuels to generate heat to refine the plastic into more fossil fuels.

It is unsustainable to reduce future greenhouse emissions through the light rail system but then generate more emissions from imported waste.

See the Canberra Times article online ‘Panel appointed to Hume plastics to fuel factory inquiry‘.

2 thoughts on “Why would we convert plastic to fuel?”

  1. I agree – this makes no sense at all.
    Firstly: all of the ‘non-recyclable’ plastic is actually recyclable.
    Secondly: the company proposes to truck into the ACT 73,000 tonnes of waste per year (200 tonnes per day x 365 days per year) – from Queensland, Victoria and NSW (at what cost to the environment?).
    According to a recent ACT government waste study, we only make about 4,000 tonnes of this per year – not enough to warrant a contract to recover the waste from landfill so no actual ACT waste will be diverted from landfill.
    Thirdly: the NSW Government denied the company permission to do exactly this in NSW, so why is the ACT government even considering it?

  2. Dear Sir or Madam

    Thank you for the opportunity to submit a representation regarding this proposed project: a non-recyclable plastic to liquid fuel processing facility.

    The first question is: Do we need this? The answer is a resounding ‘no’. Like coal seam gas (CSG) if it is not proven to be safe from all perspectives – air, water, all things living , being impacted in a toxic manner, then don’t go there. This proposed industry on the doorstep of Canberra suburbs and to Namadgi National Park, is ludicrous. Don’t allow this to go ahead. It will become a greenlight to other such industries. Not in the ACT, not anywhere.

    Point by point regarding the environmental impact statement outlined by the FOY Group I have made a comment. The statement, I believe is misleading, because of the lack of information in it, rather than what it does say. Because it is so ‘vague’ it leads the reader to believe there is much that is unsaid, much to hide. I have attempted to highlight this.
    “FOY Group Limited
    Environmental Impact Statement
    Non-recyclable plastic to liquid fuel processing facility
    Environmental Assessment
    The environmental assessment concludes that the proposed construction and operation of the facility would have negligible environmental and community impact, and not adversely impact on neighbouring land uses.”

    These two words ‘neglible’ and ‘adversely’ are forewarnings that there will be environmental impacts as well as impacts on the neighbourhood and the land uses. If this cannot be outrightly excluded then there should be no further consideration or discussion for this project to go ahead. Alarms bells should be ringing extremely loudly, now!

    “The proposal is concluded to be consistent with all planning instrument requirements, and would enable greater recycling within the ACT. “

    The ACT already has a good track record with recycling. The proposal is not about recycling of ACT waste/non-recyclable plastic, rather it is about ‘trucking’ into the ACT this resource from other states, possibly even from overseas. This in itself is not sustainable, especially as the amount of fuel produced will then not significantly outweigh the amount of fuel used to resource the resource. A ‘no brainer’, an appalling term.
    Question: To what extent and how much is the ACT taxpayer subsidising this industry?

    “The proposed development has been assessed in terms of the
    principles of ecologically sustainable development (ESD), as required by legislation and FOY’s policy requirements. The proposed developments is concluded to be justified in terms of the principles of ESD and in social, economic and environmental criteria, and would:”

    Within this note the word development in plural was used. Is this a slip of the pen, leading the reader to believe that this proposed development is opening the door to more?

    “x Reduce the volume of waste to landfill, thereby conserving scarce landfill capacity;”
    Not substantially within the ACT because the ACT will not have enough waste to resource this and it will be trucked in. Therefore on behalf of the ACT this is not an argument.

    “x Reduce the volume and environmental risks associated with leachate and emissions from landfill;”
    But thereby increase the volume of other environmental risks associated with this industry, such as air pollution and fall out from this pollution, and they have outlined waste going into other streams (ie: water) as well.

    “x Provide benefits to the community and environment through the encouragement of recycling and cleaner production techniques;”
    Whilst it is always good to encourage recycling in every way, this is not the holy grail of recycling. It is an extremely weird form of recycling encouraging further use of fossil fuels, as the plastic came from a fossil fuel, and is returning to a combustible fuel, to further pollute the environment, yet to be proven, possibly in a more detrimental way.

    “x Enable the diversion of by-products to beneficial use streams;”
    What does this even mean? In what beneficial ways? Far too vague.

    “x Be compatible with current and future land use in the Hume Industrial Area, and create employment and opportunity in the area;”
    Hopefully there will not be another one of these industries set up in the Hume Industrial Area, and if this is to set a precedent, then certainly it must be stopped. How is it compatible with current land use? Again extremely, deliberately vague.

    “x To provide employment, training and investment to the ACT.”
    What sort of employment, training and investment? More than likely this industry will be asking for handouts under the ACT’s generous renewable energy subsidies, and this is not a renewable form of energy.

    “FOY management has operated similar facilities in NSW and across Australia for the past fifteen years.
    FOY has ISO-9000 Series accreditation for its business management systems and is going through the process of obtaining ISO14000 for its environmental management systems and ISO-4810 accreditation of its occupational health and safety system.”
    As yet FOY has not received these accreditations. They should not be allowed to build this facility without full environment management accreditation. Again, alarm bells. I also understand that they were not able to get permission to build this facility in NSW, so underlying this statement there is something not quite correct, saying that they have similar facilities in NSW. What is meant by ‘similar’? Again vague.

    “Incident management and emergency response procedures will be implemented in consultation with ACT Fire and Rescue for the development.”
    Again an issue with this. Relying on the resources of the ACT to mop up if their industry proves to have a problem.

    “FOY is proud of its record for community engagement and consultation and will proactively consult and seek feedback during the assessment process.”
    My understanding that the community engagement and consultation has not been acceptable. FOY is not listening to the feedback. The feedback is that this facility should not be built in the ACT, and it would be wrong for the ACT Government to allow this to occur, thereby setting a precedent for other such industries to follow.

    I would like more information to be channeled into the Environmental Impact Statement. This project should not be allowed to go ahead, solely from the perspective that the planet does not need toxic non recyclable plastics to be reversed into toxic carbon emitting fuels to further impact the environment. We would be better resourced to look into other ways to deal with these plastics, such as banning them altogether. Wake up people. What needs to occur here? We have the answers, we should put them into practice.

    Thank you for this opportunity to respond. I am very concerned that this project with get the green light. The ACT is trying to reduce it’s emissions substantially. By allowing this project to go ahead, we will be making this target more difficult to achieve.

    Sarah Stitt
    CURTIN ACT 2605

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