On-site aerobic digestion with ORCA

Disposing food waste at the source prevents on-site decomposition, reducing odour and the presence of pests like flies, rodents and cockroaches. This is the idea behind the ORCA, which mimics the natural digestion process using microorganisms to transform food waste into an environmentally safe liquid.

iugis, an internationally managed service technology company, introduced the technology to the Australian market over two years ago, after six-years of operations in Canada and the United States.

The ORCA aerobic digestion process uses natural microbes, which are automatically sprayed into the unit, oxygen and naturally occurring heat to digest food waste down to a liquid. Once the material reaches liquid form, the ORCA passes it through an in-built filter and discharges it from the unit.

Additionally, the metabolisation and digestion rate is accelerated by continuous feeding, meaning operators don’t have to wait until the end of a cycle and material can be fed into the machine 24 hours a day.

Unlike traditional dehydration systems, the ORCA uses minimal energy, needing just single-phase power to operate. The ORCA is available in four sizes ranging from seven to 45-kilogram processing capacity per hour.

In addition to landfill diversion and reduced energy use, the ORCA allows businesses to diminish emissions through a reduced reliance on kerbside waste collections.

Turning waste into water in the City of Melbourne

More than 60 tonnes of waste have been diverted from landfill thanks to a machine installed by the City of Melbourne that turns food scraps into waste water.

Over the last year, the ORCA aerobic digestion system has used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the busy Degraves street face precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in Australia.

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ORCA Enviro Systems Executive General Manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digest the waste, creating wastewater that goes straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

The ORCA is basically a mechanical “stomach” that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” Mr Papas said.

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road.”

Because space is a premium in the city centre, ORCA was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste being generated from the busy café district.

“The ORCA has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” Mr Papas said.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling Facility in May 2017. The ORCA is rolling out across Australia in pubs, shopping centres, food courts and hotels.