A shovel with biochar

Construction on the $10.4 million Collie Resource Recovery Centre in Western Australia has been completed with the facility set to showcase an Australian first approach to waste management.

The demonstration plant will see household rubbish and biomass turned into useful products, including biochar and bio-oil, instead of ending up in landfill.

The plant, which was built using a patented design and uses technology developed in Western Australia by Renergi, is the first of its kind and positions Collie as a pioneer in the negative-emission bio-based circular economy. 

With the potential to revolutionise the way waste is managed, the project is expected to attract wide attention as a possible clean way of converting biomass and municipal solid wastes into valuable products. 

It could also reduce landfills to low levels and convert plastic wastes into valuable industrial and energy inputs.

Renergi completed the construction of the facility in partnership with the Shire of Collie, with significant support from the Western Australia and Commonwealth Governments. Renergi also attracted investment from a private consortium to develop the project.

Federal Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, said, “The world’s climate emergency is regional Australia’s jobs opportunity and this ARENA-backed project is an excellent example.

“Renergi is laying the foundations for a new bioenergy industry that will ensure Collie seizes the opportunities of our nation’s energy transformation.

“This project demonstrates how all levels of Government – Federal, State and local – can work collaboratively to create jobs in our regional communities as the world decarbonises.”

Western Australia Regional Development Minister, Don Punch, joined Mr Bowen and representatives from Renergi to officially mark the completion of construction of the Collie Resource Recovery Centre.

“The Western Australia Government is building a strong future for Collie and is attracting new industry to the town to create more local jobs for local people,” Mr Punch said.

“Renergi is one of a growing number of trail-blazers which have seen an opportunity in Collie and with the funding provided by the State Government, they have grasped that opportunity.

“The community wins as economic and environmental opportunities flow.”

Renergi and its technology were incubated at Curtin University by an engineering team led by Professor Chun-Zhu Li.

The plant will convert rubbish collected from households as well as biomass wastes into commercially viable bio-char, bio-oil and wood vinegar.

Biochar can be sold as a soil conditioner or used in road construction, where it is recognised as a medium for secure, long-term carbon sequestration.

Bio-oil can be used as a liquid fuel or as feedstock for replacement of fossil carbon in chemical manufactures, iron-making and other industries. Wood vinegar is a valuable input in horticulture.

Local use of bio-oil and char can potentially contribute to other industrial developments in Collie and the surrounding region.

Up to twelve full-time local jobs will be created to support the operation of the facility.

Collie-Preston MLA Jodie Hanns said, “The completion of the Collie Resource Recovery Centre marks another milestone in Collie’s transition.

“There is genuine optimism in the community as the town’s bright future takes shape.

“The completion of this demonstration plant further builds confidence in Collie’s future.

“I’m pleased to see Collie at the forefront of this new technology that not only creates jobs but also tackles the problem of waste in an innovative way.”

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