From trash to treasure

The Latrobe Valley is being considered as the potential future site of a $30 million facility which takes waste and converts it into high-end products.

Melbourne firms KiStrategies, along with Engineering and Maintenance Solutions travelled to the region last Monday to investigate the possibility of bringing the American-developed technology to the region.

It is early days but the two firms hope to undertake a feasibility study to assess the potential to set up a facility in the region.

KiStrategies principal Grant Scott said the Latrobe Valley was a promising location because of the wide varieties of waste available.

“You’ve got a lot of dairy here and that’s always been a bit of a contamination issue with the high nitrates and all this other stuff that gets out of the dairy farms,” Mr Grant said.

“There’s a way to take some of those wastes and convert some of those into valued products.”

Other potential waste sources for the facility include municipal waste, paper, grass and other organic materials.

The technology was developed by Texas A&M University and a pilot facility has been established in Bryan, Texas.

“They’ve run a lot of field-scale studies right now on this biowaste technology and right now they’re in the process of commericalising the technology,” he said.

“They’ve got a couple of good-sized companies that have taken this on and they’re building their plants in the US.”

Northern Victoria is also being considered as a potential site for a biowaste facility due to the waste offered by the region’s agricultural and food manufacturing industries.

Flavourings, fragrances, animal feed supplements and herbicide products are among the different products which can be created at the facility, depending on the waste sources available.

“You guys have a sizeable airbase nearby,” Mr Scott said.

“There’s an opportunity to maybe look at some of your municipal sewage waste and being able to convert that into let’s say, bio-jet fuel or something like that.”

Representatives of the two companies visited the region last week to investigate the possibility of establishing the facility.