A Wollert food waste recycling plant is generating enough energy each hour to power 1500 homes.
Yarra Valley Water’s ReWaste facility, which turns food waste into energy, has been operating next to its Aurora treatment plant in Wollert for almost six months.
The plant is the first of its kind in Victoria and the only ReWaste facility in Australia to be associated with a water company.
The facility can produce one megawatt per hour, which according to manager Damien Bassett is enough power for 1500 homes.
It is licensed to process 33,000 tones of waste each year.
Mr Bassett said that since June, the facility had processed 6000 tones of waste to generate 11000 megawatt hours of electricity.
“Even with small volumes of waste, there is significant electricity generated,” he said.
The facility takes in food waste from local cafes and restaurants, large supermarket chains and Epping’s fruit and vegetable market.
It also accepts waste from meat processing facilities and liquids such as grease and expired dairy products.
Trucks arriving at the plant are weighed and allocated to bays to unload their waste. Staff then sort the waste before it is processed through hoppers and fed into two tanks.
Mr Bassett said the tanks were like having “two stomachs”. Each tank holds 3.5 megalitres. When the methane gas in each tank reaches a certain point, it is transferred to engines.
“We produce enough energy to take this facility and the treatment plant next door off the grid,” Mr Bassett said,
“We are sending close to 70 per cent of our energy back to the grid.”
Yarra Valley Water has been planning for the facility since 2011, when the drought forced it to consider ways to reduce its water costs.
The company was recently recognised for its innovation, winning the Banksia Sustainability Award for leadership in the circular economy award. The Banksia Sustainability Awards, are regarded as the most prestigious and longest-running sustainability awards in Australia. The category recognises approaches that allow the economy to develop.
Mr Bassett said the award was good recognition for those who spent six years working on the project.