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In March 2021, Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, officially launched a new waste-to-energy facility for Western Water. The innovative Melton Waste to Energy Facility reduces Western Water’s greenhouse gas emissions while extracting the full value from local food waste, potentially decreasing the amount of food waste going to landfill and associated transportation costs.

The facility will treat up to 5,000 kilolitres of liquid food waste each year – including leftover cooked meals, food scraps, fats, oils, old drinks and greases – from local businesses and convert it into biogas, producing enough renewable energy to power the Western Water Recycled Water Plant (RWP).

With organic waste representing over 30 per cent of the total solid waste sent to Victoria’s landfills, this waste-to-energy facility is an important part of the Victorian Government’s targets to reduce the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfill.

The facility will generate up to 1,000MW hours of renewable electricity, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 900 tonnes annually – the equivalent of taking 300 cars off the road each year.

The biogas produced at the facility will be used to power the RWP on site, reducing reliance on the grid and cutting Western Water’s energy costs. This is in line with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets in the Victorian Government’s Water for Victoria plan.

The Melton Waste to Energy Facility will contribute to the government’s goal of halving the amount of organic material going to the state’s landfills by 2030 and assist Victoria in meeting its zero net carbon target by 2050.

The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund is part of the government’s $380 million Recycling Victoria package, which is expanding Victoria’s recycling system and reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

“This facility will turn food scraps, oil and grease from local businesses into clean power – reducing the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions by 900 tonnes a year – that’s the equivalent of 300 cars off the road each year,” said Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

“Food scraps and organic waste make up almost a third of all the, waste sent to landfill. This new facility makes use of that material and creates enough energy to power this recycled water plant.”

Putting organic food waste to work

Organic food waste comes from natural products and mainly consists of animal and plant waste. The best organic food waste materials identified for treatment at the plant are:

» Fats, oils and greases
» Liquified food waste
» Waste by-products from food and beverage manufacturing

Several local suppliers have been identified to provide the liquid organic waste suitable for treatment at Melton. They include large food manufacturing and hospitality businesses.

The facility will meet strict requirements set by the Environmental Protection Authority to ensure there are no negative impacts on neighbours or the environment.

Any odour generated by the additional organic waste treatment will be contained within the plant’s buffer zones. The new digester at the Melton RWP has been designed to meet the needs of the growing population for the next 15 years.

As a result, it currently has ample spare capacity for treatment of other waste streams. The facility will create a new revenue stream for Western Water, helping keep the costs of services down for all customers.

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