Creating a circular economy hub for Victoria
Australia and Victoria have set net zero and recycling targets for the next decade. To make sure we reach them, we need to urgently change the way we approach and manage waste, from when we make products to when we dispose of them.
HiQ is proposing to invest in state-of-the-art energy generation and expand our treatment, recovery, and reuse solutions at the Sunbury Eco-Hub to create a circular economy hub to help Victoria reach its waste targets and adhere to the EPA’s waste hierarchy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Australia currently operates as a linear economy. This means that resources are sourced, products are made and used, then waste and discarded products are sent to landfill. To take better care of our environment, we need to transition to a more sustainable system.
A circular economy recycles and reuses existing products and materials to make new products or create energy. The purpose of a circular economy is to reduce waste going to landfill, deliver environmental benefits, and preserve precious resources.
In 2021, the Victorian Government created the Circular Economy (Waste Reduction and Recycling) Act to advance our transition to a circular economy. EPA Victoria also released its waste hierarchy model, helping businesses and individuals avoid waste and consider other uses for it than landfill.
While avoiding and minimising waste production is the most important step, we will always have some waste left to manage. HiQ is proposing to invest in state-of-the-art energy generation and expand treatment, resource recovery and reuse solutions to contribute to Victoria’s circular economy.
Our proposed activities include:
- Investing in an Energy-from-Waste facility to turn waste unsuitable for recycling or reuse into energy for nearby businesses and households.
- Developing resource recovery including soil receival and washing and more advanced treatment of contaminated soils, enabling more reuse and safer disposal.
- Expanding quarry operations to generate much-needed quality material for local and state projects.
- Continuing operations of the Bulla Spoils Facility to provide crucial soil management services for infrastructure projects.
Energy-from-Waste (EfW) refers to the process of converting non-hazardous residual waste that can’t be recycled or recovered into energy sources such as heat, electricity, gas, and liquid fuels while recovering metals and aggregate. It helps to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and divert waste away from landfills.
Energy-from-Waste facilities follow clear processes. HiQ’s proposed site will follow a four-step process:
- Non-hazardous material arrives on site. This is material that isn’t able to be reused or recycled in accordance with Victorian Government requirements, such as household waste, and pre-sorted materials from construction, demolition and commercial operations.
- The Waste material is handled through an enclosed facility for combustion and processing before it produces energy. Bottom ash will be recycled as metals and aggregate for road construction. The residue from the air pollution control would be safely disposed of.
- Energy is distributed to local users, site facilities, and to bolster Victoria’s electricity grid.
Energy-from-Waste is an established and commonly used source of generating energy around the world. There are currently approximately 1,600 EfW facilities in operation, including within major metropolitan areas such as Paris, London, Tokyo and Copenhagen to name a few.
HiQ is proposing to partner with Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZ), a world-leading technology provider to construct the facility. HZI has been building and maintaining EfW plants for over 90 years, including facilities in Australia, the UK, Switzerland, Dubai, Finland, Germany, Japan and many more.
If approved, HiQ’s facility would be governed under strict conditions set by the relevant regulators, including EPA Victoria. We are committed to best practice operations in all we do and would work to uphold best practice standards.
Material excavated or removed from construction sites, infrastructure projects and industrial operations often has quality and reusable product mixed in with waste. Due to a lack of recycling and recovery infrastructure, the material is often sent to landfill, regardless of potential for reuse.
We are proposing to expand our existing resource recovery solutions, including a drill mud plant and soil washing. The drill mud treatment plant would separate muds into solids and liquids before treating the remaining waste for reuse. Soil washing would process soil and fine materials to separate soil from liquid before treating it for reuse.
We are also proposing to establish a recycling facility and a hazardous waste treatment facility on-site. These would separate, process, and treat materials before returning them to the market or enabling safe disposal. These services will operate in fully enclosed facilities and be co-located with our Waste to Energy plant.
Between 2020-21, Australia generated approx. 75.8 million tonnes of waste, an increase of approx. 6 million tonnes since 2016-17, according to the National Waste Report 2022. While waste is increasing, the proportion of waste being recycled or reused is not.
Our natural resources are shrinking, making it more difficult to sustainably build and manage Victoria’s significant infrastructure pipeline and our fast-growing population. At the same time, Australia and Victoria have set ambitious net zero and recycling targets.
To take better care of our environment, we need to transition to a more sustainable system, by changing our way we approach and manage waste.
As part of our applications, specialist assessments have been conducted following the General Environmental Duty requirement outlined in the Environment Protection Act 2017. These include noise, visual, air quality, human health, odour, dust and vibration. Full reports will be available as part of EPA Victoria’s public exhibition process.
Hume City is one of Victoria’s fastest growing regions, with an expected 20% expansion by 2041. Currently Sunbury is expanded by two Precinct Structure Plans. These were developed to provide infrastructure, jobs, and community amenities required for Sunbury, including the 6,000 jobs to be created.
HiQ is a key part of providing these jobs. The site is earmarked for employment, and its evolution will provide skilled, local jobs for Sunbury, Bulla, and Hume City. Our proposed activities are expected to provide hundreds of direct and indirect jobs for the area.
In addition, by diverting more waste from landfill, we are reducing methane and other greenhouse gas emissions. We are also generating energy for the local area and protecting our environment for the future.
HiQ is currently completing the analyses and technical assessments required to submit applications to the appropriate decision-makers. It is expected these processes will be conducted throughout late 2024 and early 2025.
If the proposed activities are approved, it is expected that construction on the resource recovery and recycling facilities may begin in early 2025, with operations to commence by late 2025. Construction of an EfW facility wouldn’t be until mid-2026 at the earliest, if approved, with operations expected to commence by 2030. These timings are indicative and may change as the program progresses.