Focus Enviro is supporting the machinery requirements of Suez’s Green Waste Processing site at Eastern Creek, in New South Wales. Site Supervisor Teri Te Whiu explains the immediate impact the machines have had.
The incorrect disposal and storage of green waste is a widespread issue in the waste sector, requiring alternative forms of processing and treatment.
SUEZ’s Eastern Creek site, in New South Wales, uses modern technology, machinery and skilled operators to provide sustainable outcomes for the local supply of green waste.
Teri Te Whiu, Site Supervisor, says the operation is helping to establish a circular economy, a market that is still in its infancy but is a priority area for SUEZ.
“We receive green waste material, which we then recycle into top dresses and garden mixes and then distribute back to the community,” she says. “These products are mainly coming from community parks, councils and transfer stations, as well as landscapers.”
Eastern Creek green waste service not only diverts materials away from landfill but also reduces the volume of methane gas released into the atmosphere – a double win for the environment.
Once received, green waste is sorted on site at the site’s picking station. It is here that contaminants such as paper and plastic are removed, to enable efficient processing. Kerbside collections are also received at the site.
Teri explains it is at local council kerbside collections that green waste can become contaminated. She says this contamination, in many cases, can be attributed to a lack of knowledge surrounding the correct disposal of green waste.
“I think currently there isn’t enough education out there in the community regarding green waste. This is an aspect which has heavily contributed to green waste still ending up in landfill,” Teri says. “Education is proving to be effective for streams such as cardboard, plastic and FOGO, but there is still more that I believe can be done to educate the community on the importance of responsibly processing green waste.
“If there was a greater understanding it would change the whole process. We spend a huge amount of time sorting through rubbish at our picking station.”
THE COVID-19 IMPACT
Teri says that facilities such as the picking station were placed under greater pressure in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She believes that increased participation in mowing lawns, gardening and tree maintenance during COVID-19 lockdowns led to a significant rise in green waste volumes received at the facility.
“The demand placed on our facility hit us hard and fast,” she says. “The tonnage of material which was coming in increased substantially. We also had to take in products from nearby transfer stations so they could sustain their operation.”
The influx of green waste materials also placed greater pressure on the storage capacity of the Eastern Creek site. New South Wales Environment Protection Authority regulations meant that stockpiling was limited at the site.
Teri says the culmination of these factors meant efficiency was paramount.
“One of the biggest challenges for our operation is limitations on stockpile heights. Currently we are only able to stack materials up to four metres,” Teri says. “Once we did start receiving larger amounts, the four-metre restriction put pressure on the facility.
“With this large amount coming in there was also the risk of fires due to stockpiling. Processing efficiency was definitely an important aspect.”
Teri says it was the culmination of these factors that led management to look at acquiring new machinery.
An infrastructure update was also required to support the skilled workforce needed to process material quicker, reducing downtime at the site.
“Mid 2020 was when we first started looking for machines,” Teri says. “We had just completed a round of organics processing, which allowed us to have more room on site to begin processing larger sales and composting orders.
“After the first surge of COVID-19 we realised that it would be better to have a proactive approach. So, I was looking for a machine which would alter our actual footprint on site, to satisfy our needs,” she says.
It was during this period that Teri came across Focus Enviro’s FTS65 Mulch Master. The FTS65 Mulch Master has a bespoke hopper, complete with a forward and reverse auger, which it combines with a high-speed discharge conveyor thus ensuring an even spread of material. It also removes the need for separate feeders and stockpile units.
Teri says the introduction of an FTS65 Mulch Master at Eastern Creek has added greater flexibility to the site’s operation.
“The FTS65 Mulch Master is the new machine in our organic operation,” she says. “With an average throughput of 500m3/hr the FTS65 Mulch Master has allowed us to increase our ability to turn material, in comparison to what was achievable with the plant we previously operated. Its design provides optimum aeration of feed stock resulting in a dryer final product.”
“For me, it gives me the ability to manage run-off and leachate better. It really contributed to our ability to adhere to EPA regulations on site,” Teri says. “The throughput on the machine is also very fast.”
Teri says a windrow turner machine, which was elevated and on tracks, was previously used at the site. The windrow turner required a concrete hardstand and windrows needed to be a certain width, height, and size.
In contrast, the FTS65 Mulch Master is designed for quick and easy transportation, while its unique hopper design ensures all feed
stock passes through the turner – a process not possible with traditional windrow turners.
“The Mulch Master enables us to have greater mobility in our operation, so we are able to drive that machine into the windrow, rather than taking time to displace the machine,” Teri says. “It greatly reduces downtime”.
AN EYE-CATCHING FEATURE
Teri says that purchasing a second machine from Focus Enviro was not planned. But when she and her team went to learn more about the FTS65 Mulch Master, another product caught her eye.
“Initially when I went to Focus Enviro, I was going to have a look at the FTS65 Mulch Master, but we also came home with a TRT622 Tracked Trommel,” she says.
“When we got there, we were shown the 180 degree radial stacker on the TRT622 Tracked Trommel. At that point we decided to go with that product as well. I was immediately sold on that feature alone.”
The TRT622 offers a number of features including a unique load-sensing hydraulic-drive system, eco-power saving functionality that automatically reduces engine speed when material is not detected, and a user-friendly control panel to suit varying applications.
The TRT622 Tracked Trommel can process a wide range of waste streams, including C&D, industrial and skip management.
Its seven metre-long drum allows operators to use higher capacity when compared to general trommels.
The longer trommel barrel also allows material to spend more time screening, resulting in less oversize material being mixed with fine material. In turn, this means less material is required to be reprocessed, removing the need for double handling.
The screening angle of the TRT622 Tracked Trommel is adjustable, again providing added flexibility for operators. Teri says the size and remote capability of the machine have also been standout features.
“The Tracked Trommel itself is actually larger than the other trommels we have on site,” she says.
“The remote stacker was another selling point for me. We have stackers on wheels at the site, which we move with loaders. Once I saw that this product can be accessed remotely, while our workers are inside their loaders filling the screen itself, for me that was a game changer.”
Teri adds that ease of operation is an essential pre-requisite, which both machines comfortably satisfy.
“The machines on our site need to be user friendly. Our operators need to be able to look at a machine and understand its basic functions. These machines are very straight forward,” she says.
“We have a large number of machines at this site, and the EDGE products supplied by Focus Enviro have performed as good, if not better, than anything else we have in use out there.”
Teri says that Focus Enviro “is never too busy to help” when it comes to modification and maintenance requirements of the machines, although she says both machines have required minimal servicing.
“The machines do come from overseas and the Australian standards are slightly different so we have had to make safety modifications, such as hand railing at the top of the FTS65 Mulch Master,” she says.
“We purchased the Trommel in May last year and the machine has already accumulated 1300 hours of use. The Mulch Master has been in operation for approximately 700 hours. There has been very minimal downtime during this period.
“For any required upgrades we have requested, Focus Enviro has supplied the parts and supported us.
“My site now considers Focus Enviro a part of our team. They have come out and created great relationships with our operators, as well as myself.”
John McGuinness, State Manager for Focus Enviro, says it is an honour to be able to work with Teri in developing new strategies and processes to increase production and profitability at their facility.
“We were invited to demonstrate the merits of our equipment and impart the experience we have gained both in Australia and Europe in the processing of organics for recycling.
“The results ultimately ensured a fresh approach to machinery selection and the start of a great working relationship,” he says.