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Yarra Valley Water’s food waste to energy plant wins national innovation honour

Yarra Valley Water’s waste to energy plant, “ReWaste”, has won the National Innovation Award at the Australian Water Association National Awards, one of the highest innovation accolades in the Australian water industry.

This follows the waste to energy plant’s win at the Victorian Australian Water Association Awards in December.

The plant was the first waste to energy facility of its kind in Victoria when it opened in 2017 and since then has converted 82,000 tonnes of food waste into clean, renewable energy capable of powering 1500 homes. It also supplies 25 per cent of Yarra Valley Water’s entire energy needs.

Yarra Valley Water Managing Director Pat McCafferty said that the award was great recognition for the organisation’s efforts to improve environmental outcomes in a commercially responsible way, and he was thrilled to accept the award on behalf of the organisation.

“It’s an absolute honour to receive this award and to be recognised by our peers across the Australian water sector, particularly given the non-traditional aspect of our project.  

“We set out to create something that would help to minimise our carbon footprint, help reduce landfill and pass on cost-savings to our customers and I’m happy to say that we’re achieving all of those things,” Mr McCafferty said.

Over the past three years, ReWaste has allowed Yarra Valley Water to save money on its own energy costs and generate over $6 million in benefits – savings that allow the organisation to maintain affordable bills for customers.

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

Accepted waste is spoiled, end-of-life waste which would otherwise end up in landfill as it cannot be reused for anything else.

The plant powers itself and the sewage and recycled water treatment plant next door with enough excess energy, about 70 per cent, to export to the electricity grid.

ReWaste’s business model makes it cheaper for businesses to deposit their food waste at the plant than at landfill, while also offering them a way to support the environment.

“Our partners and suppliers have absolutely gotten behind the waste to energy plant in a big way.

“It shows that it is possible to have an environmental business model that is also commercially viable without the need for subsidies” Mr McCafferty said