WestRex takes on QLD organics opportunities

Westrex organics

Queensland-based resource recovery business WestRex, a subsidiary of Pure Environmental, is helping reduce the impact of waste on the environment and communities.

The fundamentals of composting have been around for thousands of years, but for the highest quality outcomes it’s important to understand the science behind the process.

Kali Martin is combining a chemistry background and a passion for sustainability and soil health to improve the management of organic materials for regional Queensland.

Kali, General Manager of Organic Recycling for WestRex, a subsidiary of Pure Environmental, says the quality of the end-product is optimised by getting the foundations of composting right.

“It’s about understanding the nature and ratio of the feedstocks and optimising the conditions of composting to harness natural microbiological processes and ensuring nutrients are retained,” she says. “We are monitoring and optimising these conditions through the entire process. 

“Taking a scientific approach has allowed WestRex to meet compost specifications that are not typically produced in our region.”

Specialising in finding niche solutions for resource recovery, WestRex recruits chemists and engineers to ensure it delivers best practice outcomes for customers and the environment.

Kali describes the company as socially focused, and while it may have a smaller platform, it aims to have a big impact through an investment in people, innovation, and technology.

Leyburn Organic Recycling opened in January 2022 to process compostable materials including food processing waste, animal waste, grease trap, green waste, and other agricultural residues.

Located between Toowoomba and Warwick, the Leyburn facility is located within a diverse agricultural production region – suitable for both feedstock, and end-markets.

Kali says moving into the organics space was always on the cards – it combines the company ethos of finding ways to have a positive environmental and social impact, with the farming and agricultural background of company directors.

The timing was right for Leyburn in terms of expertise within the company and a need for quality compost in the region.

“Leyburn is ideally situated because we’ve got materials from local agricultural industries coming in, and the compost can be returned to the soil in that area,” Kali says. She says farming applications have their own specifications and are a growing area for compost application as more people become aware of the benefits compost can provide in improving soil health and quality.

“We’re undergoing a huge evolution in this industry, where people are more concerned about their environmental footprint,” she says. “Carbon abatement and sequestration are emerging areas with farmers becoming more aware that Australian soils are carbon depleted and understanding the importance of increasing soil carbon.

“Farmers affected by drought are also investing in compost because they understand it builds up organic matter and soil structure which improves water retention. Compost ticks a lot of boxes.”

Kali says the benefit of having technical expertise within the business means there is a constant review of new information and technology and how to optimise its application.

Westrex organics
Joe Mildren, also known as Farmer Joe, checks the quality of the compost.

That expertise will help guide local industry and regional councils as they work toward implementing the Queensland Government’s Organics Strategy which aims to halve the amount of food waste generated in the state, divert 80 per cent of organic material generated from landfill, and achieve a minimum organics recycling rate of 70 per cent, by 2030.

Kali says she’d like to see development of localised closed loop systems for organics where waste materials are generated, processed and the compost used locally, returning the carbon and nutrients to the soil they came from.

“At the moment we’re supplying a range of horticulture and agricultural applications and some of the material we produce travels a long distance,” she says.

“Among the reasons we moved into the composting space was a desire to help divert volumes of material from landfill, as well as reducing global warming and the impact of emissions.

“I’d like to see the high quality compost we’re making return locally where it can have a greater impact.”  

For more information, visit: www.westrex.com.au or www.purenv.com.au 

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