The report, which has been developed by Arup and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), said that the investment could deliver benefits for the economy, create thousands of jobs and drive down emissions from landfill by as much as 60 per cent on current forecasts.
The report, Energising resource recovery: the Australian opportunity, found that the areas with the strongest investment potential were in large-scale energy-from-waste and bioenergy facilities. These have the potential to reduce significant volumes of waste going to landfill thus reducing carbon emissions while at the same time recovering energy, it said.
Other significant opportunities were in refuse-derived fuel facilities and in processing specific waste types especially paper and card, glass, plastics and tyres, which are all subject to a federal government export ban.
“The waste and bioenergy sector has shifted radically over the last five years, and this market outlook review is vital to provide evidence and confidence for future potential investment opportunities,” said Joanne Manning, Arup’s resource and waste management lead for Australasia.
She added that the employment benefits include the potential to create up to 9,000 construction jobs, 2,600 indirect jobs and as many as 1,400 direct and ongoing jobs, including in regional and rural areas.
CEFC is a leading investor on behalf of the Australian government in bioenergy, recycling and energy-from-waste, having committed investments of more than AU$400m to the sector for a total project value of AU$1.7bn. CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “Australia’s recycling and resource recovery sector is undergoing considerable transformation, driven by global market pressures, evolving consumer preferences and an increasing focus on reducing our carbon footprint.
“As an experienced investor in the bioenergy, recycling and energy-from-waste sectors, we see immediate and important investment opportunities in recycling and resource recovery, drawing on proven technologies with the potential to deliver long term economic and environmental benefits.”
He added: “We also recognise the critical importance of supporting the circular economy, to back the development of new industries and jobs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions and making more efficient use of finite natural resources.”
The report discusses the key factors influencing market developments and identifies five principles for investors and decision-makers:
- adopting mature and proven technologies, adapted to meet Australian markets and context
- developing a robust strategy for securing suitable waste and feedstock materials and supplying recovered products or energy to market
- implementing a mature commercial approach to infrastructure delivery and operation for long-term performance
- clearly committing to community engagement, delivering a social licence to operate, and
- taking an informed approach to site selection, balancing transport and energy efficiency consideration alongside land use and community expectations.
Manning said the sector could contribute significantly to Australia’s economic, employment and emissions goals with additional social benefits. New and expanded infrastructure requirements for waste, recycling and bioenergy projects have the potential to generate between AU$4bn and AU$7.8bn in new investment in the period to 2025.
“Emissions reductions are also significant, with the potential to cut emissions from landfill by as much 60 per cent by substantially reducing, reusing and recycling materials before they enter the waste stream, in line with the waste hierarchy. And importantly, increased investment will result in provision of the necessary infrastructure required to support a circular economy,” she said.