Nothing is worth nothing. That’s a belief the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is running with its report Energising Resource Recovery: the Australian Opportunity, prepared with engineering consultancy Arup.

The CEFC has identified a potential investment pipeline of as much as $7.8 billion to 2025 across Australia’s waste, bioenergy, recycling and resource recovery sectors, delivering a triple impact in terms of economic, employment and emissions benefits.

The investment could generate thousands of jobs outside Australia’s cities and drive down emissions from landfill by as much as 60% on current forecasts.

The report considers the role of resource and energy recovery in Australia’s transition to a low emissions economy.

The authors found new and expanded infrastructure requirements for waste, recycling and bioenergy projects in Australia have the potential to generate between $4 billion and $7.8 billion in new investment by 2025.

As a result of reusing and recycling material before they enter the waste stream, emissions from landfill can be cut by up to 60%.

“Australia’s recycling and resource recovery sector is undergoing considerable transformation, driven by global market pressures, evolving consumer preferences and an increasing focus on reducing our carbon footprint,” said CEFC chief executive Ian Learmonth.

“As an experienced investor in the bioenergy, recycling and energy from waste sectors, we see immediate and important investment opportunities in recycling and resource recovery, drawing on proven technologies with the potential to deliver long term economic and environmental benefits.”

Turn up the heat

The report examined the investment and employment benefits that can be gained from strengthening the recycling, organics, bioenergy and thermal energy-from-waste sectors.

The areas with the strongest investment potential were in large-scale energy-from-waste facilities, which have the potential to reduce significant volumes of waste going to landfill while at the same time recovering energy.

The CEFC has already invested $90 million with Cleanaway Waste Management and in the Avertas Energy waste-to-energy plant in Western Australia, among $400 million committed to bioenergy, recycling and energy-from-waste.

The report assessed investment opportunities in bioenergy using 100% organic feedstocks, food and organic liquid wastes suited to biogas production and “biohubs” where industrial waste is matched with generation.