Consortium to harness value from agricultural waste

A new $10.9 million research consortium is set to increase the value of agricultural waste by turning it into new products, led by the University of Adelaide.

A total of 18 partners will come together to develop high-value products from agricultural waste, including nine South Australian based companies from the agriculture and food sector alongside nine national and international academic institutions and industry partners.

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The Agricultural Product Development Research Consortium has been granted $4 million over four years by the South Australian Government, with the University of Adelaide contributing $2.3 million, with the remaining support coming from partners.

Biomolecules that can be derived from crop waste show potential anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-cancer or gut health properties. Other uses include providing mechanical strength or texturizing properties in food, structural materials, lubricants and cosmetics.

Waste from apples, cherries and mushrooms could be used in skin care products thanks to their biological makeup while waste from broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts or cabbage could have potential benefits for diabetic patients.

Research Consortium Lead Investigator and Director of Adelaide Glycomics Professor Vincent Bulone said Agriculture is a key contributor to SA’s economy which has a potential to generate high value products and create post-farm gate industries.

“Our agricultural and horticultural industries generate abundant waste biomass, which is currently disposed of at a cost to the producer, or only a low return. But there are compounds we can derive from this waste – a range of different ‘biomolecules’ – that have high-value potential applications for their structural or health properties,” he said.

Some consortium partners include CSIRO, University of South Australia, KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Sweden), Coopers Brewery, Carlsberg Group (Denmark), Raw Nation Wholefoods, Vanquish Technologies and Ingredion Inc (USA).

SA Minister for Industry and Skills David Pisoni said South Australia’s agricultural sector is a significant contributor to the growth of the state’s economy.

“The outcomes from this major research consortia that includes local, national and international research institutions along with industry partners, will contribute to the creation of new post-farmgate industries through the development and commercialisation of value-added products from agricultural waste,” he said.

HZI consortium sign 20-year waste to energy supply deal

A Hitachi Zosen Inova (HZI) led consortium has signed a 20-year agreement with the Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council (EMRC) for the supply of waste to the East Rockingham Recovery Facility.

Approximately 330,000 tonnes of waste are converted into renewable energy at the East Rockingham Resource Recovery Facility (RRF), producing 28 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 36,000 homes.

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HZI’s partners in the consortium include the New Energy Corporation and Tribe Infrastructure Group.

The project will set a benchmark in the Perth market for waste to energy projects in terms of flexibility and value and represents a $400 million private sector investment in the metro area.

Under the agreement, the EMRC’s participating councils will supply residual waste to the RRF and will only pay for capacity they use. This means councils that have successfully implemented landfill waste reduction schemes will receive no penalties.

This system favours a service provider model that supports higher order utilisation or recovery of waste resources instead of a take-or-pay structure which can lead to financial penalties if committed volumes are not met.

HZI will act as the technology provider, engineering and construction contractor and will execute long term operations and maintenance contract for the project.

The RRF will divert 95 per cent of the waste it receives from EMRC away from landfill.

New Energy Chairman Enzo Gullotti said he supports waste minimisation and composting should councils choose to do that.

“It’s an important part of our social licence to operate our RRF over the long term. We’ll deliver the EMRC the best possible environmental outcome for residual waste streams and certainty of price over the period of the contract. This presents a real opportunity to divert waste from landfill and deliver value for money to the ratepayers of the EMRC councils,” Mr Gullotti said.

“The EMRC should be commended for showing leadership in diverting waste from landfill. This signing represents the delivery of a strategic commitment the EMRC undertook back in 2000 in this regard. It’s not only a win for the environment but also for the member council ratepayers who are now insulated from the ever-increasing cost of landfilling, due at least in part to the state’s rising landfill levy,” he said.

The consortium currently working through the pre-engineering and update of the site environmental approval. The project is scheduled to begin construction in Q3 2018.

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