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Two years on Yarra Valley Water’s waste to energy plant is still a game-changer

Yarra Valley Water’s waste to energy plant, “ReWaste”, has transformed more than 45,000 tonnes of food waste into 10,000 MWh (megawatt hours) of clean energy capable of powering over 2000 homes since its launch two years ago.

ReWaste is Victoria’s first waste to energy facility and powers itself, the adjacent Aurora sewage treatment plant with excess energy, around 70 per cent, exported to the grid.

The plant is thriving proof that waste to energy technology is the next big thing in tackling climate change and similar technology could be used to manage different types of waste and landfill in the future as Melbourne’s population continues to grow.

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director, Pat McCafferty said that the premise behind the plant is to help transition Yarra Valley Water towards generating 100 per cent of its own renewable energy by 2025 and to help maintain affordable bills for customers.

“The future security of water in Melbourne relies on our response to climate change now, that’s why we have a strong commitment to embracing renewables and reducing our carbon footprint.

“The electricity generated by the plant has saved us $1 million on energy, allowing us to invest in other sustainable projects and to maintain affordable customer bills, at a time when the cost of living is a very real struggle for some people,” Mr McCafferty said.

Yarra Valley Water has partnered with over 20 businesses which provide spoiled food waste to power the plant, ranging from fruit and vegetables, dehydrated egg waste, grease trap waste and shopping centre and restaurant food waste.

ReWaste is now operating at near full capacity, processing on average 2700 tonnes of organic waste per month. One of the facility’s biggest suppliers is the Melbourne Market Authority which has supplied over 1460 tonnes of food waste in the last 12 months.

With demand from businesses to contribute waste at an all-time high, ReWaste is an example of how an organisation can successfully partner with businesses to tackle climate change.

Mr McCafferty said that Yarra Valley Water strategically incentivised businesses financially and environmentally to become partners, and that the waste to energy model could be moulded to offer a solution to the way waste and landfill is managed in Melbourne.

“We deliberately designed the project to be more cost-effective for businesses than taking their waste to landfill.

“Melbourne is growing rapidly, and it is inevitable that we are going to have to reassess the way we manage landfill. The same waste to energy technology we’ve used can be harnessed to create clean energy from different types of waste which is really exciting.

“We launched the facility hoping that businesses would get behind it and they have, to the point where we’re having trouble keeping up with demand. It shows that businesses want to get behind sustainability if it’s fit-for-purpose and accessible,” Mr McCafferty said.