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Australian partnership to convert food, garden waste into energy

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Barwon Water and six local councils in Australia have partnered to transform food, garden, and commercial waste into renewable energy and fertiliser.

The company has signed a Heads of Agreement with the councils to explore opportunities for a Regional Renewable Organics Network (RON) at its Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre and the project has received support from the Victorian Government with funding for the business case.

“The project will convert 40,000 tonnes of organic waste each year into 8,000 tonnes of high-value, nutrient-rich soil enhancers to support local agriculture,” said Tracey Slatter, managing director of Barwon Water.

“It also provides a local, long-term and lower financial and environmental cost waste solution for councils and their ratepayers, and reduces Barwon Water’s energy costs by helping to power the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, keeping customer bills affordable.”

The project will generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 500 homes and reduce the region’s carbon emissions by between 10,000-15,000 tonnes - equivalent to taking more than 4,000 cars off the road.

The Regional RON would boost the local economy by also creating 75 construction jobs and 36 ongoing jobs. The state-of-the-art, sustainable organics processes facility would be operational by mid-2024.

The facility will operate under the same principles as the Colac Renewable Organics Network at Barwon Water’s Colac Water Reclamation Plant, which, among other things, converts the gas produced by the organic matter into renewable electricity.

Minister for Water, Lisa Neville, said the Regional RON would help the water sector lead the way in tackling climate change.

“Projects like this play an important role in Victoria’s target of zero emissions 2030 as well as lowering Barwon Water’s production costs, which will help keep water bills down for their customers,” she said.