Organic waste, particularly food waste, can be turned into green energy which can be both sustainable and economical. Read on to learn how Cleanaway is turning food waste into energy with EarthPower.
Opened in 2003, the EarthPower food organics processing facility offered a sustainable and economical alternative to landfill for items including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, grease trap and bulk-packaged waste.
EarthPower uses anaerobic digestion technology to convert food waste into a combustible gas similar to natural gas, which is used to produce green electricity. The facility faced significant challenges and, following an initial capital outlay of $35m which exceeded the initial budget, the operation struggled to source the optimal volume and quality of material.
In 2007, Cleanaway (then Transpacific) formed a joint venture with Veolia and purchased the EarthPower business. Processing around 30,000 tonnes per annum at the time, operations were taken back to first principles and significant investment was made to upgrade the facility.
A new liquid and sludge receival area, upgraded digester mixing system, and upgraded water treatment plant, coupled with improved maintenance and innovative management has increased plant capacity. The facility now accepts an average of almost 870 tonnes per week of food organics. The electricity is sold into the grid for distribution to domestic, commercial and industrial customers.
The partnership is continuing to invest in the EarthPower business, with upgrades expected to allow processing of over 52,500 tonnes per annum of food organics. At full capacity, EarthPower is capable of producing enough green electricity to power over 3,600 homes. With EarthPower providing a cost-effective alternative to landfill, Cleanaway is able to make a sustainable future possible for more of our customers as we divert organic material from landfills.