LAMB and beef processors have joined dairy and pork producers, universities and water authorities in a national project that aims to turn waste costing up to $200 million annually into energy, fertiliser, livestock feeds and bioplastic.
At the Australian Lamb Company’s Colac plant today, deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce with Member for Corangamite Sarah Henderson announced Meat & Livestock Australia will receive $6 million to help industries turn animal waste into wealth.
Australia’s animal industries produce significant quantities of wastes from on-farm production, intensive feeding and processing of livestock.
The project funded under Round 3 of the Rural Research and Development for Profit program will develop technologies and business models to reduce the cost of waste and to capture a market opportunity estimated to be worth more than $100 million a year by 2025.
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MLA’s value chain relationship manager Doug McNicholl said waste treatment is estimated to cost the red meat industry – feedlotting and processing — up to $200 million per year.
“In addition to that we believe there is a $100 million per annum market opportunity to convert that waste into higher value products.”
Mr McNicholl said cross-sectoral collaboration and aggregation of waste streams was needed to create markets.
“Otherwise they are too niche, they’re not scaleable and there is no business model.
“This program creates an opportunity to aggregate those waste streams and to in some ways, increase the feedstock, to create a market to solve the problem,” he said.
“We would be looking aggregation areas, south-east Queensland is a logical starting point, because of the (beef) processing and feedlotting that goes on there.
“There will be another area around Colac and there will be another area in Western Australia,” he said.
Project partners include MLA, Australian Meat Processor Corporation, Dairy Australia Ltd, Australian Pork Ltd, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, Murdoch University, JBS Australia, Teys Australia, Australian Lamb Company, Australia Country Choice, Harvey Beef, Queensland Urban Utilities, Barwon Water, Ridley Corporation Ltd, Zeolite Australia Pty Ltd, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Aduro Biopolymers.
But Mr McNicholl said there will opportunities for new partners in the aggregation areas to join the program to provide suitable waste or feedstock from farms, processors or municipal waste facilities.
The project’s four key areas include business models for waste treatment and new product generation; advanced anaerobic digestion technology; generation of new feedstocks, energy and nutritionally-enhanced feeds, and; niche applications for bioplastics, he said.
ALC to explore gas-to-energy generation
Australian Lamb Company general manager Darren Verrall said ALC is pleased to be participating in the joint project with the Federal Government and the MLA.
“We are very keen to investigate how we can work with Barwon Water to better manage our waste products.
“Using innovative methods we will explore ways to turn costly waste into useful by-products like gas to produce energy to reduce our electricity costs,” he said.
Mr Joyce said ALC, which employs more than 750 employees, will be involved in the project by testing whether waste from their processing plant can be converted into energy, fertiliser or nutritionally enhanced feeds.
Ms Henderson said the project would see MLA work with 18 project partners, together contributing almost $8 million in cash and in-kind support for the project, with ALC committing $80,000 in cash support
“The Warrnambool and south west region of Victoria generates almost 20 percent ($2.4 billion) of the state’s $13.1 billion agricultural production, so that’s a lot of waste.
“It is estimated that the management of wastes costs Australia’s agriculture industries as much as $200 million each year and this work has the potential to deliver exciting opportunities for many producers here in the Corangamite region,” Ms Henderson said.
The Rural R&D for Profit programme funds projects that address the government’s rural RD&E priorities: advanced technology, biosecurity, managing natural resources, and promoting industry and on-farm adoption of R&D.
The first two rounds of the Rural R&D for Profit programme delivered grant funding of almost $79 million for 29 projects, matched by more than $109 million in cash and in-kind contributions from successful grantees and their partners.