Is zero organic waste to landfill possible?

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October 22, 2018

Tags: Organics

Australia’s Commercial and Industrial (C&I) sector creates over 1.9 million tonnes of food waste every year, with the food and beverage (F&B) retail and service sectors accounting for over half of the general waste stream.

There are several reasons why food organics recovery isn’t as high as it could be. The value of recovered materials can be very low in many areas of Australia. On-site handling, storage and collection difficulties make food organics processing a challenge. Many service sites are aware of food waste generation but either do not know where or are unable to recycle it.

The spotlight is on supermarkets, cafes, restaurants and caterers for their low recovery rates (7-14%), but the good news is that F&B manufacturers are already quite good at recycling organic by-products. A study for the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities found that 55% of organic waste produced by manufacturers are diverted from landfill every year.

The same study noted that the higher diversion rate is likely because F&B manufacturers produce relatively clean or uncontaminated waste streams which can be easily collected for recovery.

To its credit, the F&B industry have been quick to adapt their manufacturing procedures to not only find efficiencies in energy and water use, but also for ways to reuse organic by-products. Smarter use of organic by-products and better management of unusable waste is now considered best practice within the industry.


Like other recovery options, composting or co-digestion diverts waste from landfill but agricultural use of compost is low for several reasons:

  • High volume
    The product is heavy and bulky, making it expensive to transport.
  • Lower nutrient value
    The nutrient value of compost is lower compared to chemical fertilisers. Nutrient deficiency in crops are also an issue because the rate of nutrient release is slow.
  • Variable content
    The composition of compost is highly variable compared to more standardised values in chemical fertilisers.
  • Contamination
    Agricultural users might have concerns regarding potential levels of heavy metals and other possible contaminants in compost. It’s an important issue when compost is used on food crops.

Animal feed

Feeding food scraps that contains meat products or swill to pigs is illegal in Australia because it opens the door for diseases, potentially impacting human health. It’s illegal to feed pigs anything that:

  • contains meat, meat products or any other products from mammals
  • has been in contact with meat, meat products or any other products from mammals.

It’s also illegal to supply another person with animal by-products for feeding to pigs. Business owners cannot allow a farmer to collect food waste from their business to feed pigs.

This means that only organic, non-animal sources of food waste such as grains, fruits and vegetables, can be used as animal feed, provided they have not been in contact with meat.

This is obviously a huge limitation for F&B manufacturers that produce large quantities of meat by-products.

Soil injection technology – a true end to end organics recovery solution

A genuine closed loop solution for recovering organic by-product means zero waste to landfill and all materials recovered to be used as resource.

Cleanaway’s innovative soil injection technology collects organic liquid residuals from F&B manufacturers and recycles the nutrient-rich material into fertiliser for agricultural land.

Unlike co-digestion or use as animal feed, soil injection maximises the nutrient value of organic by-products by collecting and treating the biosolids without exposing them to the air, and then injecting them directly into the soil.

This method preserves the valuable nitrogen and phosphorous in the organic material that leads to stronger, healthier crops. By using organic instead of chemical fertilisers, less fertiliser is required over time, and healthier cattle is produced with excellent frame scores and marbling content.

How does soil injection work?

We collect organic by-products from F&B manufacturers and transport them to pasture sites with our fleet of purpose-built vehicles. The organic material collected is stored on site in bulk storage tanks to be assessed and readied for application.

The organic by-product is then transferred to specialised agricultural equipment and injected below the soil surface to an approximate depth of 10 to 30cm. The paddocks are then ploughed to ensure the product is incorporated into the topsoil layer. This process allows the nutrients to be extracted from organic product and returned to the soil.

How businesses can benefit

Cleanaway has performed soil injection of nutrient rich fertilisers in Victoria since 2006 where we are the only company with an EPA license for the technology.

Our F&B customers in NSW were looking for more ways to increase their sustainability rates and reduce waste to landfill. After partnering with Cleanaway for our soil injection solution, we diverted their organic by-products to be used as fertiliser at Brookhaven, chosen for its ideal logistical and farming conditions.

With this solution, our customers were able to deliver on the triple bottom line of sustainability:

  • Economic benefit by taking large volumes of by-products and converting to cost-effective fertiliser.
  • Environmental benefit by reducing greenhouse gases and improving landfill diversion.
  • Social benefit by supporting the local agricultural industry.

Cleanaway has a long and proven history of supporting industries and communities within regulatory guidelines. We are the only EPA licensed operator in Victoria with a fleet of purpose-built trucks capable of injecting 20,000 litres of fertiliser in just three minutes.

To book a soil injection recycling service for your business follow this link.

Contact us today for more innovative resource recovery solutions in every sector.