ROBE District Council has secured funding to pilot a new thermophilic composting machine next month, in an effort to improve community waste streams and reduce landfill transport costs.
TOGO is a fully automated composting machine, able to convert organic waste – such as food scraps – into compost within 24 hours.
Funding for the project was secured through Green Industries South Australia with Enpro Envirotech commissioned to design the solution, supply the equipment, and provide technical assistance.
Enpro Envirotech Director Jayant Keskar said the foodie waste solution represents a cost-effective way for regional councils to lower waste transport costs, with the added benefit of repurposing organic waste into compost that can be used in public gardens and/or sold to recoup costs.
“I travel in regional areas of Australia and I could see that there are a lot of councils who transport [organic] waste 200-300 kilometers one way, which ends up in landfill or somewhere else,” he said.
“And landfill is definitely not a good solution for moving or removing food waste.
“Unless it is engineered landfill, you’re not able to capture the methane, and that will generate greenhouse gases.”
Beyond the environmental impacts, waste-related transport costs remain one of the most significant expenses for regional councils.
Robe District Council chief executive James Holyman said while the council had multiple proposals aimed at various waste streams, the decision to target organic waste was influenced by a large number of restaurants and cafes operating throughout Robe – and the cost-saving potential represented by removing organic waste from the community’s waste stream.
“Everything from here, in a waste sense, is transported from Robe, so anything that we can manage ourselves [in a closed-loop recycling system] is a good cost-saving for the community,” he said.
Similarly, business owners will be able to reduce their own waste disposal costs as they decrease the number of bins needing to be picked up by the council.
“Anecdotally, I’ve been told that a restaurant here in the middle of summer produces enough waste to fill the small size Foodie machine once per day,” Mr. Holyman said.
Robe District Council will trial the smallest Foodie model – able to process 25kgs of organic waste per day – with plans to implement the larger one-tonne machines if the trial is successful.