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Hazardous and liquid waste is the dirty end of the waste management spectrum

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

1 August 2022 //

With Australian hazardous and liquid waste output rising significantly in recent years – increasing at a compound annual growth rate of nearly ten percent per year since 2014 – strategies around how to manage such materials have become a far bigger priority across the waste sector. Accordingly, REMONDIS Australia has tapped into years of international experience to enhance its local hazardous waste management division, REMONDIS Industrial Services, to better service commercial and government clients.

Hazardous and liquid waste management is truly at the ‘dirty end’ of the waste management spectrum. We’re talking about stuff the average mum and dad won’t (and probably wouldn’t want) to see up close – from chemicals, paints, acids and contaminated soils to oils, slurries, glues and caustic materials. All underpin commercial and industrial progress, although amongst the broader public there can be an out-of-sight out-of-mind mentality when it comes to collecting, transporting, treating, storing, re-using and disposing of such materials.

“REMONDIS took a global lead by ramping up its hazardous and liquid waste management capability in Europe more than 20 years ago,’’ Jürgen Feiler, Director of REMONDIS Australia’s Industrial Services division, explained.

“Many would say it’s appalling that such items could end up going to landfill, but that’s exactly what’s still happening too often around the world, including in Australia, and on a large scale.

“Another scourge is illegal storing and dumping, including hazardous liquids ending up in waterways, which is often what happens when cost-effective management solutions aren’t available.

“The investments global waste management leaders such as REMONDIS have put into hazardous and liquid waste solutions are paying off in improved management practices, but there’s still a long way to go.’’

Non-destructive digging fleet

Liquid tanker servicing naval vessel

The German market take-up of REMONDIS’ hazardous waste offerings tells a promising story. In 2001 the business commenced with revenue of Euro 55 million, which has grown to more than Euro 650 million today.

That’s a success story REMONDIS is looking to replicate in Australia, relying on international experience to make big differences down under where the company’s Industrial Services division has a diverse customer base including chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturers, food and beverage manufacturers and utility providers. REMONDIS Industrial Services also works closely with schools, universities and other key scientific organisations, undertaking safe collection of surplus and obsolete laboratory chemicals. Investment in new technologies and automation to enable safer processing and less manual handling is a theme across most operations.

Acquisition of ETS

A big step was the acquisition of local company Environmental Treatment Solutions (ETS), a four-year process finalised in May 2022.

One of Australia’s foremost hazardous waste and dangerous goods processing and disposal operators, ETS is headquartered at Minto in Sydney and has regional arms at Blayney and Rutherford in NSW. Treating waste across Australia, ETS operates multiple end-to-end hazardous waste and dangerous goods disposal facilities with a focus on packaged waste streams and specialising in chemical and hazardous waste, contaminated soil, bulk liquids, industrial services and product destruction. It is currently expanding through the commissioning of new equipment and acquiring new technologies, including the addition of wastewater treatment operations at Rutherford.

“ETS is a respected and established business that can be taken to whole new levels to service the Australian market, especially when dovetailed with REMONDIS’ global experience and expertise’’ Feiler said.

“Beyond bringing such broad hazardous waste management and treatment capabilities to the local portfolio, ETS brings highly skilled and critical skill sets including chemists, Dangerous Goods trained operators and drivers.

“So many existing and new customers across Australia will benefit as ETS rolls out improved and new services. The acquisition will see us remain cost competitive across the Australian dangerous goods management landscape.”

Challenges and opportunities

REMONDIS Australia emphasised that despite so many strides in terms of handling hazardous waste, there was an onus on industry and governments to work more closely to address problems such as landfill and illegal storage and dumping.

“A landmark report[1] prepared for the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy in 2019 showed that of the top ten hazardous or harmful wastes, 57 percent were going to landfill, while only 19 percent were recycled,” Feiler added. “That’s despite so much effort and progress by private waste management leaders to keep hazardous materials out of the ground.

“REMONDIS has no doubt that Australia needs to follow countries all over America, Europe and Asia and embrace rotary kiln technology, whereby waste is safely combusted, and the heat produced used for electricity generation.

“This is tried and tested in the world’s biggest cities including London, Paris, Copenhagen and Singapore. It stands out significantly that Australia is lagging on this front.

“Other challenges include differing and contradictory legislative restrictions between the States and Territories. A unified federal position on waste licensing, treatment and management methodologies would be welcome, along with legislation enabling safe technologies in use overseas to be embraced here. Such things would enable better policy making and better position the hazardous waste industry to respond to issues and challenges.

“Perhaps one of the biggest needs in Australia is better education around waste management. It’s far easier for decision makers to make smarter decisions when communities are informed and on board. Undoubtedly, industry leaders including REMONDIS can play a bigger role here,” concluded Feiler. _ [1] Hazardous Waste in Australia 2019,


Reprinted from Waste Management Review

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