Toxfree’s top 10 tips for having a sustainable office

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Toxfree’s sustainable workplace

The Toxfree Kwinana Recourse Recovery Center is a seven star energy rated building. The Toxfree office facility is the first commercial office facility constructed from R Control SIP’s in Australia, built by JWH Group. Toxfree is proud to have invested in emerging energy efficient construction which also lessens the impact on the environment and creates greater comfort of occupancy.

For more information about Toxfree and our services, click here: http://www.toxfree.com.au

Abrolhos Islands clean-up

An interview with Errol Beere and Rick Bryant of Toxfree.

The Houtman Abrolhos (often referred to as the ‘Abrolhos Islands’) is a chain of 122 islands and associated coral reefs, in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia, about 80 kilometres west of Geraldton.

It is the southernmost true coral reef in the Indian Ocean and one of the world’s most important seabird breeding sites. It is also the centre of Western Australia’s largest single species fishery, the western rock lobster fishery. A group of retirees from Perth Friends of the Abrolhos (PFA) have been progressively recovering rubbish from the islands over several years.

This year Toxfree supported the clean-up with 12 volunteers as well as resources required for the clean-up and total removal of rubbish from 8 of the islands. The quantity of waste was 4.08 tonnes, and was contained in 407 Toxfree branded, biodegradable rubbish bags.

Kelly Morgan-Bryant, Rick Bryant, Nikki Hunt, Kelly Smith, Harry Buck, Errol Beere, Chas Hewson and Pascoe Murison.
Kelly Morgan-Bryant, Rick Bryant, Nikki Hunt, Kelly Smith, Harry Buck, Errol Beere, Chas Hewson and Pascoe Murison.

Where does all the rubbish come from?

EB: Us humans! The majority of the rubbish recovered during the clean-up was plastics which can cause harm to a variety of fauna i.e. turtles and birds due to entrapment or ingestion. Whilst there was a lot of fishing rope and floats found, the amount of plastic drink bottles and discarded oil drums was concerning considering the damage these items can cause to the environment. Many of the plastic bottles found were so brittle that they disintegrated when touched, which caused a mini environmental disaster of small bite sized pieces of plastic, and took a concerted effort to remove every fragment.

RB: It would appear that the bulk of the rubbish falls off, or is discarded from commercial and recreational boats, and it is assumed that with the current flows into the coral group, that the rubbish comes from a very wide area of the Indian Ocean.

Why did you, personally, decide to be part of the clean-up effort?

EB: Having been a part of many Toxfree emergency response tasks, I looked forward to performing a clean-up task on a bunch of islands basked in sunlight as opposed to a busy heavy traffic corner covered in ammonium nitrate at night. However, the PPE requirement was much the same! I’ve always enjoyed the teamwork and experience gained on clean-up tasks such as this. Not only was it a great opportunity for team building, but it is always a proud feeling when you’ve been a part of a volunteer effort giving back to the community and environment in which we are all a part of. Very rewarding!

RB: Having been involved with a client who has a significant focus on the environment, the opportunity to participate in a very personal way to clean up a virtually untouched part of the world, for the benefit of the environment, was a fantastic opportunity. I immediately saw the benefits of building a relationship with the client within an area which is important to their ethos. In addition; to foster a team building activity that binds the team with a personal common goal – that is to say that environmental issues are very topical and we have actually gone out and done something that makes a difference. We also took advantage of a unique opportunity to harness a follow up media story about the waste activity, with the hope to broaden the company’s brand.

Island rubbish

What was the best part of the experience?

EB: Seeing the differing geology and landscapes between the islands as well as the local seal population. One island had a beach made entirely of bleached coral pieces, probably 2 metres deep and ten metres wide in some spots, which stretched for a couple of hundred metres. The locals also took interest in our work, with some team members being followed along the coast line by inquisitive seals.

RB: I am completely overwhelmed by the attitude and commitment that my team gave to this excursion. The team maintained a high professional demeanour throughout the activity and rewarded me daily with the commitment to the task at hand. The resulting bonds that were forged on this excursion will pay dividends well in to the future.

Were there any bad parts of the experience?

EB: There really weren’t any bad moments, but I guess the moment when a 3m bronze whaler shark showed up minutes after our Chevron Contract Manager had been for a brief swim around our boat was a little concerning at the time.

RB: Aside from seeing the shark only one metre from the boat, minutes after I had climbed out of the water; the ocean voyage from Geraldton to the islands and return was not the most fun…. Let’s just say I was thankful for the magic sea sick tablet!!

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Was there any strange waste you didn’t expect to see?

EB: Intact light globes, the old style, and we found many of them! How a light globe stays intact after washing ashore across reef and onto beaches made predominantly of rock was a surprise to me. It made you think of how many didn’t make it.

RB: And not just intact globes… there were a small handful of intact fluoro tubes! We also plucked a couple of tyres, and a surprisingly large number of jandals!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

EB: The exposure Toxfree has gained from this initiative has been fantastic and it was a wonderful opportunity for all involved; the PFA, the boat crew, the Toxfree team, as well as the wider community.

RB: This entire activity was absolutely rewarding from beginning to end. I feel extremely privileged to have led this amazing team on an activity that presents multiple benefits across multiple areas, including the team, the client, Toxfree and the environment. I am extremely grateful to the team who also gave up their own time to work damn hard collecting small pieces of rubbish in a very isolated and uninhabitable, but beautiful, part of the world.

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High Pressure Lance

How Toxfree provided cleaning for Fluid Dynamics with high pressure water blasting and air driven rigid lance at 36000 psi of pressure.

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Fluid Dynamics required the clean and waste removal for a heat exchanger. The heat exchanger is used on the application of cooling exhaust gas from bio gas engines. The exhaust gas heat exchanger (EGHE) takes incoming waste heat exhaust gas from the engine and the gas is used to heat process water from the waste water treatment plant. This causes the exhaust gas to be cooled to a temperature that is safe enough to be sent to the exhaust stack.
With the use of the EGHE the plant is becomes self-sufficient; generating heat and power to the plant using naturally generated bio gas from the waste water treatment plate (WWTW) through the engines. The processed water is on a closed circuit ring flowing around the plant and is heated using the waste exhaust heat. Waste builds up in the heat exchanger which can affect its efficiency, it is important to keep them clean and working well.

Before
Heat exchanger before high pressure clean.

Toxfree used a 220 horse power pump with a maximum pressure usage of 36000 PSI and a performance flow rate of 28 litres per minute using a rigid lance and hand gun method of cleaning. A Revard combination unit was used to vacuum all the waste from the tube that was captured within the Bunded area then taken to a Toxfree EPA approved facility to be treated.
The first step was to wash the external faces of the heat exchanger and the outside shell with a volume hose to limit overspray of product when high pressure blasting. The next step was to hand gun the external ends and outer tube with high pressure using an operator hand-held gun.
Next a rigid lance was set in position to clean two tubes at a time with maximum pressure of 36000 PSI. This method cleaned the internal walls of the tubes to a very high standard and removed all contaminants from the internal tubes.

After
Heat exchanger after high pressure clean.

The tube bundle was returned to the client within a very short time-frame, the client was very impressed with the standard of the clean and the cost efficiency of the job.

To learn about other services provided by Toxfree, visit our website: http://www.toxfree.com.au

To watch a video on this project, visit our YouTube Channel: https://youtu.be/-nWhNM-YMM0

Top tips for recycling in schools

Protecting our environment starts with you! Follow these simple steps for recycling, every little bit counts.

Toxfree Top Tips

In the classroom

Use both sides of the paper! Write or draw on both sides of every bit of paper, including in your work books! When printing you should print on both sides of the paper and remember to put all paper in the recycle bin.

In your lunch box

Don’t wrap your lunch! Use re-useable containers and lunch boxes to store your lunch. Re-use zip lock bags for your sandwiches each day.

Don’t buy bottles of water every day; buy a re-useable water bottle that you can fill up again and again.

Put your lunch scraps in the food waste bin, not in the recycle bin.

In the playground

If you see someone drop rubbish in the yard, ask them to pick it up and let them know they are helping to protect our environment.

At home

Rinse your used plastics before putting them in the recycle bin.

Start a worm farm for all food scraps.

Australian First: Toxfree introduces revolutionary landspray truck

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Drilling by-products are produced as a result of drilling wells and comprise of a mixture of drilling fluids, mud and solids. Typically, these muds and fluids are transported from mine sites in vacuum tankers and sent to a special facility to be processed. This method uses up time and resources, with the transport adding to the environmental carbon footprint.

Toxfree is constantly looking for innovation to benefit customers and the environment, after much research a specialised vacuum tank was found in Canada capable of Landspraying While Drilling (LWD). This is a method of managing water-based drilling by-products that can further minimise disturbance associated with drilling operations. The tried and tested Canadian technology was the ideal starting point for the new truck. Volvo Australia worked closely with the body manufacturer in Canada to ensure that all standards were met and the two major components were 100% compatible. The result of this partnership was that the body and the cab chassis fit perfectly. The landspray truck combines the vacuum tank and navigation technology with the Australian custom built Volvo 10×6 chassis, featuring variable tire pressure control for instant stability over all types of terrain.

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Variable tire pressure control

The vacuum tank contains agitators that spin to keep the drilling by-products moving and to stop it drying out. As the rotation increases the muds are separated from the fluids, the separated mud is then sprayed into nearby designated agricultural land.

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To ensure that the mud spray is used in the most efficient way possible, navigation technology is used to map out the land area for tracking and monitoring. This ensures no path is covered twice, allowing maximum coverage of the mud spray. The Geofencing technology maps out the path the driver will take and then manages the spray so nothing is wasted. After completing a line of spray in the field, the system is automatically turned off while the truck turns and then comes back on when it is on track again.

Example of path taken by landspray truck.
Example of path taken by landspray truck.

The truck demonstrates that drilling mud can be managed by landspraying in a manner that preserves soil chemical, biological and physical properties, does not harm vegetation and protects the quality of the surface and groundwater, and is EPA approved. This method for managing drilling mud minimises the environmental footprint associated with drilling operations. Toxfree are also reducing the amount of heavy truck traffic on roads as the result of transporting drilling by-products to a processing facility.

Before
During landspray trial
5 months after landspray
5 months after landspray

Toxfrees’ technology and employee recognised by Refrigerant Reclaim Australia

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Refrigerant Reclaim Australia (RRA) is the voluntary product stewardship organisation for the Australian refrigerants industry. RRA is a not-for-profit organisation created to work nationally with industry to share the responsibility for, and costs of, recovering, reclaiming and destroying surplus and unwanted refrigerants.

RRA’s charter is to improve the industry’s environmental performance by reducing the level of emissions of ozone depleting substances (ODS) and greenhouse gases (GHG) through its take-back program. Since being established in 1993, RRA has become integral in the management of used and unwanted refrigerants, and the reduction in emissions of ozone depleting and synthetic greenhouse gas refrigerants.

Created by industry, for industry, RRA has achieved global recognition for its work in preventing emissions, and has to date been responsible for the collection and destruction of over 5000 tonnes of gases that otherwise would have contributed to ozone depletion and global warming.

Toxfrees’ Involvement

Toxfree assisted RRA by utilising a unique Plascon® technology. Plascon® is a world leading technology for the environmentally responsible destruction of complicated and hazardous waste streams.

The Plascon® process is a system utilising the extremely high temperatures present in a plasma arc to completely decompose the molecules present in a waste stream. Plascon® is designed to treat concentrated hazardous wastes such as ODS and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) that others either can’t destroy or would rather avoid. The technology has been approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in Australia, Japan, England, Mexico and the USA and is currently being used in a number of applications in Australia, Mexico and the USA.

Toxfree currently operates two Plascon® systems. One in our Narangba facility which is used for the destruction of POP’s such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB’s), scheduled pesticides and other chlorinated liquids, and the other is located at the Laverton North facility where it destroys ODS, refrigerant gas and other greenhouse gases such as SF6.

Toxfree employee, Plant Manager, Michael Girgis talks about what it was like to be involved in the first ‘Plascon® Process’.

Michael

The first Plascon® process to destroy ODS and synthetic greenhouse gases (SGG) substance was conducted in February 1997 at the first National Halon Bank in Tottenham, Victoria. The National Halon Bank was established by the Australian Government in 1993 to store decommissioned halon for destruction or reclamation, to meet essential uses until an alternative was found for all current uses. Halons are firefighting agents that were introduced into Australia in the early 1970s. They quickly replaced many previously accepted firefighting products because of their superior firefighting characteristics and ease of use.

Halons are fully halogenated chemicals that have relatively long lifetimes in the atmosphere. They are broken down in the stratosphere releasing reactive bromine that is extremely damaging to ozone. Reactions involving bromine are estimated to be responsible for 25 per cent of the chemical destruction of ozone over Antarctica and 50 per cent over the Arctic. The ozone depleting potential of halons is 10 times greater than that of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC’s). As such, halons are a very aggressive ozone depleting chemical. One kilogram of halon 1211 can destroy 50 tonnes of ozone.

Australia continues to be a world leader in the phasing out of ozone depleting substances and has made significant advances in the responsible management and phasing out of halon in Australia.

Since ceasing the import of halons at the end of 1992 and with new halon no longer available inside the country, Australia’s success with halon phase out resulted in stocks of halon rapidly accumulating within government, business and the community from the decommissioning of halon firefighting systems and portable equipment.

At the time of this first process, Michael Girgis was completing six months of industry training with SRL Plasma (a division of Siddons Ramset Limited Plasma) for his chemical engineering course at Swinburne University. He was fortunate enough to be part of the team on the day, employed as a process engineer, later to become a full time employee after graduation. In the first few years hundreds of tonnes of halons were destroyed, mainly Halon 1211 and some 1301 for the Department of Environment. One of Michael’s proudest moments was being a part of the team when SRL Plasma were awarded the Society of Chemical Industry, Plant Of The Year Award for the Plascon® process in 1998. It was quite an achievement to destroy that amount of halons in the first few years as halon was banned for use in 1995, after the Ozone Protection Act came in place in 1989.

In order to cater for the safe disposal of halon, the Commonwealth committed resources in 1992 to establish a purpose built facility, the National Halon Bank, to collect and store surplus halons and then safely dispose of them using the Plascon® process. The bank was established in a Government Business Enterprise named the Department of Administrative Services Centre for Environmental Management (DASCEM). Following a decision to dispose of Government Business enterprises in 1997, the National Halon Bank was incorporated into the Department of Finance and Administration. DASCEM was taken over in a management buyout and continued to manage the facility under contract to the Commonwealth. The National Halon Bank was transferred to the Department of the Environment and Heritage in 1999.

By 1999, there were four Plascon® processes nation-wide, one at Tottenham Victoria treating ODS and SGG, two at Nufarm in Laverton to treat waste chlorophenols from their 2,4-D herbicide manufacturing process and the fourth at BCD Technologies in Narangba treating POP’s such as PCB oils and Organo-Chlorine Pesticides (OCP’s).

In June 2000 Siddons Ramset was bought out by Illinois Tool Works and consequently SRL Plasma was sold to one of its customers; BCD Technologies, Narangba QLD.

Michael continued working for BCD Technologies at the National Halon Bank in Tottenham, treating mainly SGG gases (CFC) for Refrigerant Reclaim Australia. By this time Michael was the only employee left to run and manage the plant and continued to do so for a few years. During that time a few changes took place; Dolomatrix bought out BCD technologies and then were acquired by Toxfree in 2012.

In 2013 the National Halon Bank at Tottenham closed down and the Plascon® operations were moved to Toxfree Laverton.

Through his years involved with the Plascon® Process, Michael saw the Australian technology improve and the Plascon® technology was sold to America, Mexico, Britain and Japan.

Toxfree continue to make a difference to the environment by destroying CFC through the running of the Plascon® technology. RRA recently celebrated the recovery and destruction of 5,000 tonnes of ozone depleting and synthetic greenhouse gas refrigerants, saving 10 million tonnes of ozone. That was another proud moment for Michael and quite an achievement for Toxfree and RRA.

What is Non-PCB Oily Water?

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Whilst oil and solid materials, such as soil, are classified as Non-PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyl) when under 2ppm*, this is not the case with water. The industrial trade waste limit most commonly encountered across Australia is 2ppb^ for PCB’s in water with some authorities advising their discharge limit is nil detect. This is 1,000 times less than that of the perceived PCB free threshold of 2ppm. Storm Water run-off is lower again at <0.5ppb. This creates confusion in the market place with many waste handlers perceiving the oil concentration to be the only result of concern. However, simply removing the oil component, as is the case with most forms of oily water treatment, is not enough to remove the PCB contamination to meet regulatory requirements for discharge.

It has taken Toxfree several years to achieve a viable option for the removal of PCB’s from water and we believe our oily water plant is unique in Australia as it is specifically designed and capable of reducing PCB concentration to <2ppb for sewer discharge.

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Toxfree utilises an innovative hydrocyclone design oily water separator that works on a powerful but simple vortex principle. The Oily water is pumped tangentially into a cone shaped separator. This creates a spinning vortex which creates the separation force. The vortex accelerates as it moves down the cone. These strong centrifugal forces separate the heavier water phase to the outside of the vortex while the lighter oil phase moves to the centre. The separated oil is removed through an orifice located in the inlet end and goes on to be treated through the BCD Process; the treated water is discharged through the opposite end and passed through a series of specialist filters devised from closely working with a filtration industry leader when it comes to innovative, state-of-the-art filtration product manufacturing.

*ppm – pumps per million

^ppb – pumps per billion

Toxfree is one of Australia’s leading integrated waste management and industrial service providers. Our core values, “Safe, Reliable and Sustainable”, underpin our commitment to offer our customers the safest, most reliable and sustainable waste management solution we can.

Call us today on 1300 toxfree.

Australia’s first Euro 6

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Toxfree has purchased Australia’s first Volvo Euro 6 truck, which was officially handed over at the International Truck, Trailer & Equipment Show in Melbourne.

Toxfree’s FE has been fitted with a vacuum body and equipment by Vacuum Truck Supplies located in Mansfield, Victoria and will become a part of the east coast operations. Trucks currently sold in Australia only need to meet the Euro 5 emission standard, but Toxfree has taken the lead by showing that we care about the environmental impact of our fleet.

What are the benefits of a Euro 6 truck?

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The Volvo FE Euro 6 is powered by the Volvo D8K engine, which develops 320 horsepower and uses a combination of technologies to meet the stringent Euro 6 emission standards, including selective catalytic reduction (SCR), a variable geometry turbo, a cooled EGR (exhaust gas circulation) system and an exhaust particulate filter.

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The environmentally conscious Euro 6 fits in with Toxfree’s core values of being safe, reliable and sustainable. The truck gives Toxfree a competitive advantage when it comes to being environmentally friendly and shows a commitment to reducing emissions on our planet.

PFOS and PFOA

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Perflourinated compounds (PFCs) are man-made and contain long, fully fluorinated carbon chains with different functional head groups. PFCs are used in products to resist grease, oil, stains and water. They are also used in fire-fighting foams and appear in products which have water and soil repellent properties. Speciality fire-fighting applications have included Aqueous Film Forming Foams (AFFF) and Alcohol-Type Concentrate (ATC) that were used to extinguish Class B fires that involve flammable fuels.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are the most researched of the PFC substances, but recent studies have identified at least thirteen other related chemicals that are largely un-researched. The carbon-fluorine bond of these chemicals is incredibly strong, which makes it resist breakdown and causes PFCs to build up in the food chain. Once PFCs are released into the environment they remain there indefinitely and are not believed to undergo metabolic or other degradation in the environment.

According to the US EPA, PFCs have become concentrated in humans and other animals due to their presence in the environment as well as exposure from food and consumer products. The Stockholm Convention is an international environmental treaty that aims to eradicate some of the most toxic chemicals known to mankind. In 2009, nine additional POPs were listed under the Stockholm Convention, including PFOS and PFOA. Australia is a signatory to the convention and is bound to assessing the risks of PFCs and is conducting research into the presence of PFCs in human and ecological populations.

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Toxfree has a state-of-the-art “hazardous chemical” destruction technology developed by CSIRO called PLASCON®. The PLASCON® process produces a high temperature plasma arc by ionizing argon gas in a 150 kW DC discharge between a separate cathode and anode. A mixture of waste and oxygen is injected radially into the plasma at a specially designed injection manifold. This process is known as pyrolysis. Unlike incineration, dioxin formation is avoided by the use of pyrolising conditions and rapid quenching. PLASCON® can achieve Destruction Efficiencies (DE) in excess of 99.999999%. PLASCON® waste destruction eliminates a wide variety of concentrated organic waste types listed on the Stockholm Convention. This included PFCs, PCBs and pesticides such as 2,4-D, DDT, DDE, Dieldrin, Aldrin, Lindane, Malathion, Heptachlor, Ethion, 2,4,5-T, Carbaryl, Dichlorovos, Chlorpyrifos.

Thermal Desorption is a “physical separation process” where heat is used to desorb (evaporate) moisture and contaminants from solids. Evaporated contaminants are either converted (generally to Carbon Dioxide and Water) or condensed and collected. The temperature in the Thermal Desorber vessel is increased above the boiling point of the organic compound to be removed. Samples of the treated waste are analysed to verify complete decontamination prior to reuse, recycling or disposal. Toxfree operates an In-direct Heated Thermal Desorption (ITD) – a dual shell process with a condensation unit for small oil volumes and specialist removal of organic contaminants from solid material i.e. PFCs from soil.

 

Toxfree is one of Australia’s leading integrated waste management and industrial service providers. Our core values, “Safe, Reliable and Sustainable”, underpin our commitment to offer our customers the safest, most reliable and sustainable waste management solution we can.

Call us today on 1300 toxfree.

Dolocrete®: Reducing mercury harm to you and your business

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Mercury is a naturally occurring heavy metal that can exist in many different chemical forms in the environment. Mercury is released through both natural geological and industrial processes. Industrial activity and past practices now account for the majority of mercury emissions and environmental contamination. The chemical properties of mercury allow transmission between air, water and land.

Increasing environmental awareness has identified mercury and its compounds as a serious pollutant. Today it is considered a highly toxic substance for humans due to its toxic and bio accumulative properties. Mercury poisoning can cause central nervous system, kidney and liver damage in humans. The proven Dolocrete® treatment process delivers outstanding performance for the chemical immobilisation & stabilisation of mercury and its associated compounds.

How can Toxfree help?

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Dolocrete® is a patented catalyst and binder system. The combination of specifically chosen materials in the Dolocrete® system enables waste to be chemically bonded within a stable and inert matrix. The system has been rigorously tested by accredited independent laboratories and universities.

Toxfree can handle a range of mercury, including brine sludge, filter cake and iodine.
For further information about Toxfree, please visit our website – http://www.toxfree.com.au