Queensland’s flood waste to energy in Sydney Market initiative

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th February 2013

Queensland’s flood damaged produce will not be wasted in a Sydney Market initiative that is converting damaged fruit and vegetables into green electricity.

Sydney Market, which saw a 25 per cent spike in perished produce last year during the floods, expects to turn the same amount of wasted fruit and vegetables into energy this time around.

Early damage reports following the Queensland floods reveal that vegetable and fruit crop losses could exceed $100 million, with orchards in Bundaberg, Gayndah and Mundubbera the worst affected.

Sydney Market environment manager Con Kapellos told Australian Food News today that while Sydney Market has been turning damaged produce into energy for around ten years, they keep on getting “better and better at it.”

“It’s a waste of resources to just let it sit in landfill. If we spend a little bit of time separating the waste, we can get a great end product,” Mr Kapellos said.

“Paying for it to be used as green electricity is also much cheaper than landfill,” Mr Kapellos added.

The Sydney Market pays Sydney-based facility Earth Power Technologies to convert the food waste using a process called anaerobic digestion, in which microorganisms break down the produce in the absence of oxygen.  The food waste is then turned into methane gas which can be converted into green electricity and sold back to the grid.

Mr Kapellos told Australian Food News that the initiative has saved the company around $6 million dollars over the past seven to eight years.

Sydney Market generates approximately 20,000 tonnes of waste a year, which includes damaged produce, cardboard packaging and polystyrene.

While the produce needs to be separated from the packaging to be sent to Earth Power Technologies – the polystyrene is not wasted, and is melted into plastic and used in manufacturing kitchen cabinets in Asia.

The process used by Sydney Market to generate green energy from food waste.