Toxfree’s top 10 tips for having a sustainable office

Paper bin Phone charger water bottle Coffee dregs Double sided Ink cartridge lights off lunch box mobile photos Office Plants

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

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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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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.

Toxfree Thermal Desorption

As a waste generator or holder, you are responsible to know what your waste is and to ensure that it ends up at a lawful waste facility. This is irrespective of whether your waste is disposed, treated, recycled or applied to land. One stream of waste that Toxfree can help with is Dieldrin, often found in soils.SoilTest1

Dieldrin is a chlorinated hydrocarbon originally produced in 1948 by J. Hyman & Co, Denver, as an insecticide. Dieldrin is closely related to aldrin, which reacts further to form dieldrin. Aldrin is not toxic to insects; it is oxidized in the insect to form dieldrin which is the active compound. Both dieldrin and aldrin are named after the Diels-Alder reaction which is used to form aldrin from a mixture of norbornadiene and hexachlorocyclopentadiene.

Originally developed in the 1940s as an alternative to DDT, dieldrin proved to be a highly effective insecticide and was very widely used during the 1950s to early 1970s. Endrin is a stereoisomer of dieldrin. Dieldrin often ends up in soil after application.

However, it is an extremely persistent organic pollutant; it does not easily break down. Furthermore it tends to biomagnify as it is passed along the food chain. Long-term exposure has proven toxic to humans and a very wide range of animals, far greater than to the original insect targets. For this reason it is now banned in most of the world.
It has been linked to health problems such as Parkinson’s, breast cancer, and immune, reproductive, and nervous system damage. It can also adversely affect testicular descent in the fetus if a pregnant woman is exposed to it.

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What can you and your business do?

As a waste generator or holder, you are responsible to know what your waste is and to ensure that it ends up at a lawful waste facility. This is irrespective of whether your waste is disposed, treated, recycled or applied to land.

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. Soil is typically treated at temperatures up to 550°C and retains its physical properties after treatment so that it can be beneficially reused.
Toxfree operates two types of thermal desorption;
• Direct Heated Thermal Desorption (DTD) – a continuous single shell rotary dryer process with a converter unit for bulk soil treatment at rates of up to 50 tonnes per day.
• In-direct Heated Thermal Desorption (ITD) – a dual shell process with a condensation unit for smaller soil volumes and specialist removal of organic contaminants from solid material i.e. PCB Capacitors and Solid Pesticides.

Toxfree is one of Australia’s leading integrated waste management and industrial service provider. 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

Sources:
Australian Pesticide & Veterinaty Medicine Authority (APVMA)

Toxfree are pleased to announce that their Toxfree i-Watch Confined Space Entry System has been awarded the 2014 CME Safety and Health Innovation Award in the Systems Category

15383 (AW) Toxfree display board - i-watch

i-Watch is the Toxfree solution to Confined Space Entry

Confined space entry is one of the most hazardous tasks in workplaces.  On a daily basis, numerous Toxfree employees are required, as part of their duties, to perform confined space entry tasks.

Working in confined spaces is such a high risk task, and traditionally, does not include the use of any camera/CCTV device, Toxfree decided to implement a new system for the purpose of reducing risks associated with the works. Toxfree have created a streamlined process, allowing for operators and/or customers to review footage in real time.  In developing the final system, research was conducted and input was gathered from a number of our customers, operators, management, supervisors and leading hands.

The system introduced by Toxfree is called ‘Confined Space i-Watch Surveillance’.

The i-Watch Surveillance system utilises a GoPro digital camera with Wi-Fi capabilities. This package allows the footage to be transmitted to smart phones or tablets, thus allowing operators and/or customers to review the footage in real time and enables them to assess the job thoroughly and complete the required assessments.

The camera can be fitted to a hard hat worn by the operator or attached to a telescopic pole. The GoPro can be secured to a hard hat and/or secured to a harness. The camera is light weight and compact so it doesn’t contribute to a handling hazard.

The GoPro whilst attached to a telescopic attachment allows operators to enter a tank without actually entering to assess the conditions within. Having contained the cameras in a waterproof casing allows it to be subjected to a variety of substances that can be wiped away and the cameras remain intact.

An advantage to using the i-Watch Surveillance system is that as soon as areas of concern are identified, communication via handheld radio takes place immediately and assessments of the surrounding areas can occur to identify solutions. If required, a decision can be made to stop work immediately until adequate controls have been implemented to reduce the inherent risk operators are exposed to.

Where the risk is too extreme, resulting in the work being postponed, the footage allows the customer to assess the situation and assist in implementing appropriate controls to reduce, if not eliminate, the risk/s without having to enter the confined space to assess the situation.

We are pleased to announce that the Toxfree i-watch system has been awarded the 2014 CME Safety and Health Innovation Award in the Systems Category.

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For further information about Toxfree, please visit our website – www.toxfree.com.au

PLASCON® Technology for the destruction of waste

Plascon Photo

The PLASCON® system for the destruction of waste is a plasma based technology that destroys the molecular structure of the waste it processes.

Plasma is an ionised gas consisting of atoms, ions and electrons. It differs from the normal gaseous state because it is electrically conducting. It is often referred to as the fourth state of matter, since material passes from solid, to liquid, to gas and finally becomes plasma with increasing temperature. In the case of PLASCON®, plasma is created by passing an electric current through the plasma gas. This is known as electric arc plasma.
Electric arc plasma has been used in materials processing applications for many years, however it is only in recent years that its use in waste destruction has accelerated, primarily due to public concerns regarding incineration.
In the PLASCON® process the waste is injected directly into the plasma. This “in-flight” technique has several advantages over the majority of commercially available systems that use plasma as the energy source in a configuration that is otherwise very similar to traditional incinerators.

Advantages:
-Superior waste mixing
-Higher temperatures
-Lower system thermal inertia
-High energy efficiency
-Compact Process

However the “in-flight” technique also has limitations:
-Can only inject liquid or gaseous waste
-Limited to solid particles with a diameter of less than 0.3mm

Torch & IM close compressed

The heart of the PLASCON® process is a high-energy DC plasma torch. The core of the plasma can reach temperatures well in excess of 10000oC. At these extreme temperatures the molecules injected into the waste break down into their atomic constituents. This process is known as pyrolysis.

The hot plasma gas then cools to approximately 1200oC in a reaction chamber prior to rapid quenching to 50oC, using a direct caustic quench. This rapid quenching prevents the formation of any undesired organic molecules such as dioxins or furans. Less than 0.5 gram of material is retained “in-process” at any instant. The plant can therefore be rapidly shut down in an emergency with no risk of environmental release.

The PLASCON® process is controlled by a programmable logic controller (PLC) with a user-friendly computer interface. This control system is simple to operate service and provides high reliability. Over 100 control parameters are monitored to ensure that the process can be safely operated both remotely and unmanned. When a monitored control parameter breaches the specified set points the control system will initiate one of three automatic shutdown sequences. Data is logged and stored for analysis, fault finding and to meet any regulatory requirements.
Few special skills are required to operate the PLASCON® process.

Neville Taylor, Major Projects Manager – Technical and Environmental Services

E-waste – Upgrade to a better outcome

Computer Parts

There is no doubt that we are replacing our electronic goods faster then ever before, therefore it wont come as a surprise that 15.7 million computers reached their ‘end of life’ in Australia in 2007-2008. However only 1.5 million were recycled – that’s less than 10%.

E-waste is made up of electronic items requiring disposal. This could include, but is not limited to, refrigerators, radios, CD/DVD players, telephones, computers, televisions, washing machines, air conditioners, etc.

Electronic Waste can contain toxic materials such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and brominated fire retardants that are hazardous, difficult to dispose of and potentially damaging to the environment. Electronic waste is responsible for 70% of the toxic chemicals such as lead, cadmium, and mercury found in landfill. E-waste that ends up at landfill could cause hazardous leachate liquid and if not controlled correctly, there is a risk that this can contaminate nearby groundwater, waterways or dams, potentially creating adverse environmental outcomes.

75% of the 3 million computers bought in Australia every year will end up in landfill.

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What can you and your business do?

Valuable raw materials such as gold, copper, iron, nickel and silicon can be extracted from electronic components and re-used. Did you know that the average computer monitor contains up to 2kg of lead?

E-waste can be segregated from your normal waste streams and be recycled, as opposed to ending up at landfill. Toxfree has the ability to collect and recycle e-waste nationally to remove toxic materials from landfill and reuse various components.

Toxfree Solutions Ltd is one of Australia’s leading integrated waste management and industrial service provider. 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.

Partner with Toxfree for ecological sustainability. Call us today on 1300 869 373.

Sources: Australian Bureau of Statistics, Greenpeace—the e-waste program, E-waste 2010, Sustainability Matters, Planet Green Recycling, Recycle at Work, Mobile Muster and Zero Waste WA.

60 million fluorescent tubes

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Did you know that Australians dispose of around 50-60 million fluorescent tubes and high intensity discharge (HID) lamps each year?

Currently it is estimated that only 5% of mercury-containing lamps are recycling around Australia. The average fluorescent tube contains approximately 15mg of mercury. This equates to approximately 10,000 tonnes of mercury contaminated waste being contained within Australian landfills.

Mercury is one of the most hazardous metals due to its high toxicity to humans and the environment. Mercury converts to the toxic and volatile gas methylmercury that can spread through the wider environment and can create adverse biodiversity effects. The largest source of mercury contamination in landfills is lighting products.

This is a major ecological hazard.

Toxfree has the capability to take mercury containing lighting products and convert them into their three core elements; aluminium, mercury and glass. The process involves the crushing, separating and cleaning of the lighting products, resulting in the elements being recycling and reused, instead of reaching landfill.

What can you and your business do?

As a waste generator, it is your responsibility to know the types of waste you produce, and to ensure it ends up at a waste facility that knows how to effectively treat it! This is irrespective of whether your waste is disposed, treated, recycled or applied to land.

Through our national recycling efforts, Toxfree has the ability to recycle Fluorescent Tubes, Lamps and Globes. We are also a foundation signatory to the joint industry and Government initiative “Fluorocycle”.

Jesse Brown, Business Manager – Technical & Environmental Services

Sources: Fluorocycle, Globe Jockeys, Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population & Communities, NSW EPA & Highlands Regional Waste Management Group.