Australian firm eyes WTE plant to clean up Inayawan landfill

A COMPANY based in Australia has proposed to the Cebu City Government the construction of a US$1 million modular waste-to-energy (WTE) facility that it claims can clean tons of waste that are still stuck in the closed Inayawan Sanitary Landfill.

The NRG Group Australia stated in its unsolicited proposal that it will build the WTE facility at no cost to the City Government, but the project will be carried out through a joint venture agreement (JVA).

Anthony Aucone, the company’s executive director, visited the City Hall and submitted copies of his company’s unsolicited proposal to Mayor Michael Rama, Vice Mayor Raymond Alvin Garcia and all members of the City Council on Monday, Nov. 5, 2022.

The plant, if it is already operational, can employ up to 300 individuals.

“Many companies are participating in the Waste to Energy (WTE) industry; however, NRG Group confidently believes none of these companies are organized to leverage the supply of waste like us, working together with municipal authorities and local groups,” Ancoune said.

NRG Group Australia will start constructing the WTE facility and complete it in one year’s time after Rama signs the JVA. The City Council must first approve the JVA and authorize the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Australian company.

According to Ancoune, cleaning the 15-hectare Inayawan landfill would take up to seven years. The waste will be processed via pyrolysis, which is one of the technologies available to convert biomass to an intermediate liquid product that can be refined to drop-in hydrocarbon biofuels, oxygenated fuel additives and petrochemical replacements (US Agriculture Department).

An NRG biodiesel plant can process 10 to 200 tons of waste every day. It can operate round the clock by using solar, wind or biofuel generators.

Acoune said a waste weighing 10 tons can make 1,000 to 4,000 liters of a biofuel product depending on the type of waste.

2 phases

The NRG Group Australia’s unsolicited proposal has two phases.

Phase 1 involves pre-planning that also adopts the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals which are a “collection of 17 interlinked global goals designed to be a ‘shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.’” (UN).

The aims of the first phase are the following: review existing waste and infrastructure; examine needs and expectations from local government; conduct sustainability workshops to analyze strategic needs; define and agree on the scope document for the program, including the timetable, deliverables and criteria strategies; prepare general outlines; start feasibility studies, including environmental, social and economic impact of the project; and setup program management structures.

The project’s Phase 2 involves construction of the plant, development and implementation.

Before NRG Group Australia can start the second phase, it must conduct a dumpsite waste audit and assessment; the City Government’s approval for the proposed project; licenses and permits from the City Government and Environmental Compliance Certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The company must also be allowed by the City to process waste from the landfill.

The City Government must also “assist or provide” the company “a piece of land through public private partnership agreement or lease with long-term agreements near or on the sites, minimum area required is 1,500 square meters per 10-ton capacity WTE plant.”

The NRG said it “would expect 100 percent commitment from the government and authorization for either a tax-free export on finished product or a purchase agreement on the biodiesel or power to be generated.”

The company explained that its proposal is focused on cleaning up the former landfill in Inayawan, and it will not compete with the New Sky Energy Philippines, which has already entered into a JVA with the City Government.

Last Sept. 22, Rama signed the notice to award to New Sky Energy Philippines for the construction of the P4.8-billion WTE facility that will burn newly collected garbage to generate electricity.

Environmentalists are against the construction of WTE facilities in Cebu City saying there is scientific evidence that they produce and release harmful toxins that cause serious respiratory diseases. (PAC / KAL)