FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Cogeneration?
Cogeneration is the production of two forms of energy. The proposed plant at Port Botany will produce steam and electricity.
How will the Cogeneration Plant at Botany work?
The proposed fit-for-purpose cogeneration plant at Botany would convert non-hazardous, non-recyclable material that would otherwise go to landfill, into steam and electricity. This in turn would be used to power the Botany recycled paper mill.
In the same way as a boiler works, the fuel would be used to heat water, with the steam produced to turn a turbine and create energy to run the recycled paper mill. This process would be completely enclosed within the cogeneration plant structure.
What will the fuel be made up of?
The fuel would include materials from the recycled paper-making process on site that cannot be recycled further and would otherwise be transported to landfill. It will also include some carefully sorted and processed non-recyclable materials from the SUEZ processing centre in Chullora. This material is called Processed Engineered Fuel (PEF) and comprises dry waste materials, such as non-recoverable timbers, textiles and non-recyclable plastics. PEF is created under controlled and carefully monitored conditions at a site in Chullora to make sure any hazardous material is removed.
No materials from red-lid household bins will be used as fuel.
Isn’t that just an incinerator?
No. The Botany Cogeneration Plant is what’s known as an Energy Recovery Plant. The cogeneration process will capture energy generated from burning materials (including residual materials from the recycled paper making process) and use it to power the Botany recycled paper mill.
Is it safe?
Yes. Energy recovery technology is a proven and safe technology that is already used by countries extensively across Europe and the UK. The technology is also approved for use in Australia and continues to grow here.
The Environmental Impact Assessment for the project will include an independent human health risk assessment. The assessment will consider risks presented to humans from any exposure (inhalation, ingestion, skin contact) to pollutants relevant to the project. The report will be available to the community.
How does this help Australia’s efforts to reduce landfill and impacts on the environment?
If the plant proceeds, it will remove 165,000 tonnes of materials from landfill to power the mill. This is the same weight as the Sydney Opera House.
Furthermore, initial calculations suggest that the plant will offset approximately 80,000 tonnes of CO2-e per year – the equivalent of removing close to 28,000 small passenger vehicles from our roads each year.
How will emissions be managed?
Emissions management is a large component of the proposed plant. In fact, two-thirds of the footprint of the plant will be dedicated to emissions control.
During the Environmental Impact Statement preparation, a detailed air quality impact assessment will be undertaken and the outcomes of this will be considered as part of project determination.
If the plant proceeds, it will be licensed by the NSW Environment Protection Authority who will set and regulate monitoring requirements and emission limits, in addition to the limits set out in the development approval conditions.
Furthermore, it will be designed and constructed to the guidelines in the European Union Industrial Emissions Directive. These are the world’s highest standards for air quality.
The proposed plant will be equipped with sophisticated 24-hour a day monitoring. There will also be automatic shut-off mechanisms and treatment processes to ensure these high standards are met.
Will you be burning plastics?
The plant will use PEF which comprises dry waste materials, such as non-recoverable timbers, textiles and non-recyclable plastics. PEF is created under controlled and carefully monitored conditions to make sure any hazardous material is removed.
PEF excludes household garbage of any type (processed or not).
Will the plant be noisy?
A detailed noise study will be undertaken as part of the environmental impact assessment and the results will be shared with the community.
The design of the plant will consider the outcomes of the noise study and, if required, will include features to mitigate any noise impacts.
Noise, during both the construction and operation of the plant, will also be regulated under the development approval conditions.
Will the plant pollute the air?
Air quality will not be adversely affected.
The proposed plant would be designed and constructed to meet guidelines set out in the European Union Industrial Emissions Directive, which are the highest international standards for air quality.
Air emissions from the plant will include steam, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon dioxide, all which exist in the atmosphere naturally.
Before being released, these compounds go through a multi-stage cleaning process to make sure they are neutralised. Preliminary modelling, subject to further review, indicates that emissions from the proposed plant could be compared to the operation of around 14 diesel buses and would be monitored on a continuous basis, with the results published for review by the community and the regulator.
What will the plant look like?
As we are at the beginning of the planning approval phase, no decisions have been made about the design of the plant.
We would seek to involve the community in the design process as we progress.
Will the plant be constructed on the vacant land behind Moorina and Partanna Avenues (Candella development)?
No. It is proposed that the plant will be constructed within the boundaries of the existing Orora site and located where the decommissioned B8 paper mill currently sits.
Will there be more trucks coming and going once the plant is operating?
Initial investigations indicate that there would not be a significant change to truck movements to and from the site, given current truck movements that transport mill waste to landfill will no longer be required if the plant proceeds.
The net increase in truck movements would be less than 10% of the current movements. These are initial estimates and a traffic study will be prepared as part of the Environmental Impact Statement to further investigate transportation requirements, routes and mitigation.
As is already the case, all trucks would follow approved Roads and Maritime Services roads and routes and not access residential areas.
Is cogeneration and energy recovery technology used in Australia and elsewhere?
The Boral Cement Works at Berrima in the Southern Highlands uses similar fuel feedstock for cement production works. Visy operates a similar plant in Tumut, NSW.
There are hundreds of energy recovery plants across the UK, Europe, USA and Japan. These countries would not have met their EU waste recovery and landfill diversion targets without significant investment in energy recovery technology.
In Europe, these energy recovery facilities are built in the middle of major cities, such as Paris, London, Copenhagen and Monaco, and are regularly constructed in built up residential neighbourhoods.
Who decides if this project will go ahead?
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment will assess the proposal as a State Significant Development.
The Secretary’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (SEARs) outline the work that SUEZ must undertake in the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS will be placed on public exhibition before the final decision on the project is made by the Minister for Planning.
When will the community have a say?
SUEZ and Orora are committed to ensuring the community and other stakeholders are informed about the proposed plant throughout the planning process and we welcome any input to the project. We have conducted a number of engagement activities over recent months, including written communications, direct door knocks, email and phone contact and briefings to multiple stakeholder groups.
Community consultation will continue throughout the development of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
Once the assessment work for the project is complete the EIS will be placed on public display and community and stakeholder feedback will be sought.
Is Orora selling the Botany recycled paper mill?
In October 2019, Orora announced to the ASX that it had entered into a binding agreement to sell its Australasian Fibre business to a wholly owned subsidiary of Nippon Paper Industries Co. Limited (including the Botany recycled paper mill). The announcement is not expected to impact on the progress of the planning approval process for the Botany Cogeneration Plant.
How can I get more information?
We are committed to working closely with the community throughout this process.
We will provide regular updates on this website or you are welcome to email us at any time on us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also sign up to receive updates about the Botany Cogeneration Plant by clicking here.