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Working on waste: are we losing ground with contamination issues?

25 July 2019

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We live in a world that is slowly waking up to the fact that our economy doesn’t have to be linear but rather with the right processes we can reduce, reuse and recycle to create a circular economy with waste becoming resources again. However, contamination seems to be getting in the way.  We see more and more that certain wastes are being recycled while others that contain valuable resources are disposed of because they're more 'difficult'.  Not only that, but these ‘difficult wastes’ such as contaminated soils, are the ones we should be focusing on, because not only do they harm the environment but they could be harmful to people and animals both now and for years to come.  

A global problem, at home

Protecting the purity of soil continues to be an issue of concern worldwide. Contamination stories are a common occurrence, about chemical leaching, industrial residue, fire retardant damage after crisis fires, sewage contamination, and even uranium contamination in groundwater, reported in July 2019 from Adelaide. It means our ground is in grave danger.

In Australia in 2018 alone, at least 90 sites were identified across Australia with the possibility of having harmful contaminated soils, earmarked for investigation. Residents and businesses are sharing the space above ground, with the contaminated land nearby, as it quietly threatens the soil and water tables below.


It's about ethos

The secret to soil cleansing and management is approaching the issues with sustainable innovation, and a total life cycle and re-use attitude where possible. We need to look for opportunities where soil can be remediated, and any materials of value can either be placed back into the land or re-used elsewhere, which also presents a possible revenue stream.

As CDEnviro looks ahead to 2019 exhibitions No Dig Down Under and Waste Expo Australia, we’re mindful of our messaging to the industry. The focus of the show is the future of waste recovery in Australia, from collections, wastewater, re-use and recovery, to landfill, transfer stations and waste to energy. CDEnviro will join the conversation and champion finding every opportunity for remediation and re-use.

Considerate management of processes in our construction and water management activities will also play a vital part in protecting from, mitigating and reversing soil damage. There are many ways we can treat soil contamination but the key is that the treatment method must be specific to the individual contaminants.  This is no mean feat, but with expertise it’s very possible.


Earth economies

The three key elements of sustainable practice are Environment, Society and Economy. They should all work together, allowing for perpetual growth of safe practices and the ability to re-invest in them.

The opportunities are many, such as the hidden potential found in road sweepings as an example of how we can do more to make good use of valuable resources. A driving  incentive to encourage this activity is about having greater control to recover reusable material from this waste, resulting in a significant reduction in the volume sent to landfill and the associated disposal costs. At CDEnviro, we have the technology and ability to recover clean, dewatered sand, stone, and aggregates which can be sold for low-grade construction applications, creating a new source of revenue.

Whether its contaminated soils, road sweepings or hydro excavation wastes, cost effective and sustainable practice means that we give our environment healthy longevity, while putting the benefits back into society. We need to think about the long term and that’s exactly the aim of working with waste.  What are you doing to ‘work’ with your waste to champion sustainability?


We look forward to seeing you at No Dig Down Under 2019 and at Waste Expo Australia 2019. For more details on where to find us, visit our Events page.

Contaminated soils Circular Economy Contaminated land Groundwater contamination