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Renewable organics networks to help cut waste in Victoria

The Victorian Government has partnered with one of the state’s regional water utilities to create Australia’s first renewable organics network, including projects to reduce waste going to landfill by using organic waste to produce electricity.

As part of the initiative, Barwon Water will be creating a circular economy for the region’s organic waste, which in turn will reduce landfill costs for councils and reduce water infrastructure energy costs for our customers.

Construction for the Colac network in Victoria’s south-west, which received $240,000 of Victorian Government funding, is now underway and another is under development for the greater Geelong area.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville announced two renewable organics networks in June, saying the networks will help to improve sustainability of resource use within the state.

“We know the impact climate change is having on inflows to our water storages and the health of our waterways; it’s never been more important to deliver creative solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Neville said.

“We want our water corporations and the whole sector to help Victoria adapt to climate change — ensuring we continue to support jobs, liveable communities and a healthy environment.”

The project is expected to generate enough energy to power the equivalent of more than 1000 homes. Overall, the generation of this dispatchable renewable energy in the form of hot water and electricity results in greenhouse gas emissions being reduced by 6300 tonnes each year.

The energy will be shared back to trade waste providers, including the Australian Lamb Company and Bulla Dairy, in the form of hot water, and it will be used to power the Colac wastewater treatment, as well as supply electricity onto the grid.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio said the projects are expected to create lasting benefits, both environmentally and economically.

“This project not only reduces waste going to landfill but also boosts Victoria’s renewable energy capacity — creating jobs, reducing emissions and driving down energy prices,” she said.

Work is underway to assess the feasibility of more projects by the end of 2023 for the greater Geelong region to process organic waste collected by local councils.

The projects are in line with Water for Victoria, the state’s water sector aiming to lead the way in achieving Victoria’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.