New waste processing plant will 'revolutionise' green technologies, help create energy

A bus load of food waste is lost to landfill every five minutes in New Zealand - but not for much longer.

A new processing plant is being built in Reporoa that will change the way New Zealand deals with waste.

World-class technology will soon divert tens-of-thousands of tonnes of food scraps each year. Not only that, they'll be repurposed to create energy and help grow more food.

"For me it's been 11 years," says Ecogas Director Andrew Fisher. "It's extremely exciting, it's going to revolutionise how we look at green technologies."

Food scraps make up almost half the weight of our household rubbish bins. Current kerbside collection schemes in Auckland's Papakura and parts of the North Shore send them to composting, but this will be next level.

"Once this plant is built we'll be collecting food scraps in Auckland. So each one of us will have a little bin that we put our food scraps in and every week it'll be collected and brought to the facility for processing," says Parul Sood, GM Waste Solutions at Auckland Council.

From 2022, New Zealand's first large-scale food waste-to-bioenergy facility will process 75,000 tonnes of food scraps each year.

Using a process called anaerobic digestion, the organic waste is broken down and converted into biogas and biofertiliser.

The process also captures the greenhouse gases and stops them entering the atmosphere.

"So this site here in Reporoa is only two hectares but it will actually process around about 300 tonne a day, so that's about eight or nine truck and trailer loads of food or 12 doubledecker buses," Fisher says.

The green energy will be used to heat and power a T&G glass house, while the CO2 will feed the tomatoes.

"At T&G, we have a goal of reducing our carbon emissions by 22 percent by 2025 and this project actually makes a significant dent in that target," says Andrew Keaney, Managing Director of T&G Fresh.

"Like all growers in New Zealand and around the world we really understand and know the difficulties in regards to what climate change is doing in terms of production, so it's really important that we're using renewable resources and circular solutions to help our planet," Keaney says.

On top of that the facility will help create jobs and boost the local economy.

It's hoped to be the first of 21 sites around the country, giving our leftovers and coffee grounds a higher purpose and us a better future.