Robots could one day sort our rubbish

DISPOSAL: The view most residents see as they approach the waste transfer station, off Broughton Road.
DISPOSAL: The view most residents see as they approach the waste transfer station, off Broughton Road.

As the waste from civilisation piles high around the planet, a new form of management may step forward – the Rubbish Robot.

VISION: The man responsible for the waste transfer station, Grant McKenzie, has a bold vision for future rubbish disposal and recycling.

VISION: The man responsible for the waste transfer station, Grant McKenzie, has a bold vision for future rubbish disposal and recycling.

The machine that never sleeps would sort waste at a transfer station such as that in Port Pirie.

This is the dream of Port Pirie Regional Council’s development and regulation director Grant McKenzie.

“I would love to get one of them,” Mr McKenzie said in an interview with The Recorder.

He was outlining the future in waste, one of the most exciting areas of research and development in the world today.

The council is reviewing all its waste operations as well as looking at setting up a high-temperature incinerator and becoming a hub for disposal from other regional councils.

“We are looking at everything,” Mr McKenzie said.

“We are definitely looking at the potential of whether we can do something regionally … looking outside our boundaries.

“Nothing stays on site – everything that comes in has to be treated, sorted and sent somewhere.”

He said rubbish previously was tackled by dumping it in a “hole in the ground”.

In exploring the regional hub idea, he said that If green waste was collected from Northern Areas Council, Port Augusta and Copper Coast and other councils, a private company could become involved and “it can reduce our operating costs”.

This could create extra jobs at the waste transfer station.

The waste review is being done by nationally-renowned consultant Rawtech, led by Mark Rawson, with a preliminary report due in the New Year.

“It will focus on what is ‘around the corner’ … opportunities,” Mr McKenzie said.

“The waste industry is exciting. It is the most changing and fluid part of council operations and the corporate world.

“Never a day goes by that there is not something new.”

He said the “recycling” robots cost $1 million and featured an “arm” which sorted waste under the gaze of high-tech cameras and sensors, operating 24 hours a day.

The review will look at the option of a “waste-for-energy” incinerator.

The incinerators are costly and have been subject of concern from the Environmental Protection Authority about emissions.

But locals including businessman “Bluey” Johnson are strong advocates of such a venture, citing job and energy creation.