Works starts on $48 million food waste to energy project

yarra valley water food waste

UPDATE

Yarra Valley Water’s food waste to energy facility has processed more than 175,000 tonnes of commercial waste otherwise destined for landfill.

The milestone for the Wollert facility, which was Victoria’s first food waste to energy plant, comes as construction starts on a second, larger facility in Lilydale.

On 16 April, Minister for Water Harriet Shing  \announced works have begun on the $48 million Lilydale Food Waste to Energy project – which is expected to become fully operational as early as 2025.

The new facility will generate 39,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per day – around 35 per cent of Yarra Valley Water’s energy needs or enough to power the equivalent of more than 2200 Victorian households.

The renewable electricity generated will power both the facility itself and the Lilydale Sewage Treatment Plant, with excess energy exported to the electricity grid.

This new facility follows on from the success of Yarra Valley Water’s first organic waste to energy facility in Wollert, which has processed over 175,000 tonnes of food waste since it was commissioned in 2017.

The facility will use a natural process – known as anaerobic digestion – to convert organic waste to energy, rather than using a gasifier or incinerator to burn waste.

The Victorian water sector has set world-leading targets to cut emissions to net-zero by 2035. Yarra Valley Water is on track to reach this target a decade earlier with the addition of the Lilydale facility.

The new facility has the potential to reduce emissions by 24,700 tonnes every year – the equivalent of taking 23,000 cars off the road.

It will also support Victoria’s transition to a circular economy and divert about 55,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill, while providing a more efficient waste solution for commercial operators.

“Food waste to energy is just one of the ways the water sector is helping to drive innovation in the circular economy, reduce costs and emissions, and keep water bills low for Victorians,” Shing said.

“By recovering organic waste, we also boost growth and investment in our economy, create more Victorian jobs and meet the needs of our growing population, now and in the future.”

Managing Director Yarra Valley Water Pat McCafferty said Yarra Valley Water sees its facilities as part of a wider effort to combat the problem of food waste to landfill and help Victoria’s transition to a circular economy.

Commercial food waste producers, such as markets or food manufacturers, deliver 33,000 tonnes of food waste to the Wollert facility each year.

“Food waste to energy facilities not only offer a commercially viable alternative for commercial companies to dispose of organic waste, but they also produce renewable energy,” McCafferty said.

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