World waste first: Hunter company's bid to lead recycling push

Millions of tonnes of Hunter waste will be diverted from landfill each year at a world-first $400million recycling plant planned for the Lower Hunter.

The privately funded Hunter Industrial Ecology Park at Weston plans to recycle products that, at the moment, are only partially recycled or not recycled at all in Australia.

The project’s proponent, Weston Aluminium founder Garbis Simonian, says that when the three-stage park is complete it will employ 500 people.

Mr Simonian wants to build the park on 120hectares of industrial-zoned land next to his Weston Aluminium plant.

‘‘Recycling as we know it in Australia is a piecemeal process. We want to revolutionise the process with science and technology,’’ Mr Simonian said.

‘‘Ultimately we will be driving the cost of recycling down and recovering a higher percentage of resources from going to landfill or overseas.’’

Stage one of the project, planned to be operational by 2013, would directly employ about 220 people.

It is estimated about a million tonnes of raw waste would be processed each year, with less than 5per cent ending up as landfill.

Mr Simonian said 11 companies had already expressed interest in recycling waste at the ecology park.

The plant could also accommodate waste from local government.

‘‘Too much of what is going into general residential waste bins ends up as landfill,’’ Mr Simonian said. But the plant was not designed to compete with existing recycling projects, he added.

The plant would take in products such as electronic and chemical waste, coal wash residue, power station ash and carpet cut-offs and turn out products for use in road, rail and drainage construction, the building industry and fuels.

The park would generate much of its own energy as a by-product of its various specialist recycling operations. Water would be recycled on site.

Mr Simonian said he had visited similar plants in the United Kingdom, Belgium and Germany but the one planned for Weston would take their processes a step further.

‘‘Everything that comes into the park has to produce something,’’ Mr Simonian said.

A development application is being prepared following talks with the NSW Department of Planning and representatives of the Department of Environment and Heritage’s Sustainable Advantage program.

Community consultation will start soon.

‘‘This is a great opportunity for the Hunter to develop a new industry and become a world leader in recycling,’’ Mr Simonian said.

He planned to develop similar industrial ecology parks in other regions of NSW in the future.

The Weston project will be launched at the Australasian Industrial Ecology Conference in the Hunter Valley on July 27 and 29.

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