New harvest for Citywide

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Rhonda Dredge

Sometimes at about noon there will be a long line of street sweepers arriving from the CBD to offload their “harvest” at a large, rather complex wash plant at the Dynon Rd depot.

The tech guys at Citywide have invested in the innovative plant and have it running every day.

The sweepers drop off their mix of litter, leaves, sand and grit which has to be processed.

Since 2016 not one skerrick of street sweepings from the City of Melbourne has gone into landfill, according to depot manager Travis Martin, despite the expense of using the plant.

“None of the street sweepings go into landfill,” he said. “They come here.”

Last month sister publication North West City News reported on a new glass recycling plant at the depot that is dealing with the sugary dregs on bottles.

This month another of Citywide’s innovative operations has been revealed to CBD News as we step behind the recycling curtain that has shielded some waste disposal processes in the past.

The plant was the first in Australia when it began separating all of the components of the sweep and now other municipalities are beginning to catch on.

“You could say that we’re harvesting this from the road for processing and re-using,” Travis said.

There’s a drop-off point, a conveyor belt, a vibrator, a magnet and various pieces of equipment that divide the harvest into leaves for compost and sand and grit for the construction industry.

Street sweeping would seem to be the least of the city’s problems in terms of waste management issues, but the process is just becoming economically viable with the rise in EPA levies for landfill over the past three years.

Before that, Travis said, “the cost, I think, was an inhibitor of some ideas. This looks like an expensive exercise. It has been. For some councils the cost of these projects outweighs the good.”

He said that most streets in the CBD were swept every day and that the municipality generates a large volume of waste, sand and grit blown off construction sites and leaves, which add 30 per cent to the volume in autumn.

It is estimated that more than 6000 tonnes per annum come off the city’s streets but the plant is able to process 22,000 tonnes.

The feed material is fed into a hopper, then a wash box, then another wash program with 95 per cent re-use of water.

Travis said the improvement of technology had been the driving force behind the plant as well as the change in attitudes.

“It seems to be with the progression of technology and innovation that different techniques are able to harness waste for re-usable products.” •

 

Caption: Travis Martin with the Citywide wash plant.

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