Wanless CEO Dean Wanless. The company wants to build a waste facility in Ebenezer on a 600ha site.
Wanless CEO Dean Wanless. The company wants to build a waste facility in Ebenezer on a 600ha site.

Waste company partners with uni for environmental research

A WASTE company which wants to construct a new facility in Ipswich has partnered with the Queensland University of Technology to undertake environmental research at its proposed site.

Wanless wants to build the Wanless Recycling and Innovation Park on a 600ha site on Coopers Rd in Ebenezer.

The company says about 15 per cent of the site will be used for industrial activities.

Wanless says it intends to take household, industrial, demolition and construction waste to recover materials such as timber, paper, cardboard, metals, aggregates, soils, bricks, green waste, concrete rubble, plastics and fabrics.

Wanless claims 450,000 tonnes of waste per annum, or 45 per cent of all waste received at the site, is expected to be recovered.

Residual waste will go into landfill.

The development application for the facility was lodged with Ipswich City Council in December last year.

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CEO Dean Wanless said the proposal is still progressing through State Government referrals and assessment.

"This is expected to conclude in late or early 2021, and once complete, the council's decision-making period begins," he said.

Mr Wanless said the collaboration with QUT started after in interest in the university's Centre for a Waste-Free World.

"We want to work with the Waste-Free World team to test some of their innovations at the Ebenezer site and help progress breakthroughs in this field," he said.

"In the meantime, we're working in partnership with other QUT research centres, and have welcomed to the site three teams conducting research related to the groundwater, surface water and vegetation.

"We'd like to restore the conservation values on this site because when we acquired it, it was degraded and hazardous to the surrounding communities.

"We've already done various environmental investigations, so we shared this data with the research teams, and they have also gathered their own samples to analyse.

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"Their reports and recommendations will contribute new knowledge and ideas about how Wanless can best manage this site."

QUT Associate Professor Susan Fuller said the student research team she supervises is assessing and analysing two vegetation communities and the soil on which they grow to identify potential restoration activities.

"Wanless is allowing QUT students to apply learnings from their degree to an environmental challenge faced on many legacy industrial sites," she said.

Another research team of five students are assessing groundwater at the site and its interaction with vegetation and surface water.

QUT Associate Professor Sara Couperthwaite is leading a third team, which will monitor water quality using a small robotic boat.

A QUT research team will use a small robotic boat to monitor water quality at Wanless' proposed waste facility site in Ebenezer.
A QUT research team will use a small robotic boat to monitor water quality at Wanless' proposed waste facility site in Ebenezer.

"The robotic boat can monitor water quality in real-time using a QUT-developed portable spectroscopic sensor, which can be calibrated to measure different elemental species," she said.

"The QUT research team will return to Wanless on 17 December to commence the second phase of work, which involves mapping the water body, collection of samples at different locations and depths via an on-board water sampler, and an assessment of the sensor's performance.

"The benefit of the real-time monitoring sensor is that you receive water quality data within minutes of a water sample being collected on the robotic boat, which would normally take days using traditional bottle sampling methods."

All three projects started in August and once complete, Wanless says it will share the findings publicly.

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.