The Golden Plains Shire Council is one of six councils joining forces to transform food, garden and commercial organic waste into clean, green renewable energy and nutrient-rich products for agriculture.
In a big step forward for the circular economy in Victoria, Barwon Water has signed a heads of agreement with the councils to progress exploring opportunities for a Regional Renewable Organics Network.
A state-of-the-art sustainable organics processing facility is proposed to be located at Barwon Water's Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant in Connewarre, with construction due to begin in early 2023 and be completed in mid-2024.
The Golden Plains Shire Council says it is committed to providing sustainable and efficient waste management services for the community and understands its role in supporting a region-focused project like the Regional RON.
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It will mean a lower financial and environmental cost waste solution for councils and their ratepayers.
The Regional RON will significantly improve environmental impacts by converting 40,000 tonnes of organic waste each year into nutrient-rich soil to support local agriculture, which is Golden Plains Shire's largest industry.
Barwon Water managing director Tracey Slatter said the Regional RON would deliver significant environmental, economic and community benefits for the region.
"It also provides a local, long-term and lower financial and environmental cost waste solution for councils and their ratepayers, and reduces Barwon Water's energy costs by helping to power the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant, keeping customer bills affordable," Ms Slatter said.
"The Regional RON will lead the way in our region's transition to a circular economy, where materials are continually reused and recycled to increase their lifespan, add value and reduce waste."
Barwon Water has successfully demonstrated the concept on a smaller scale at its Colac Water Reclamation Plant, which takes organic waste from local industry and converts it into enough renewable energy to take the plant entirely off the grid.
The Colac RON converts organic trade waste from the Australian Lamb Company and Bulla Dairy Foods into soil enhancers and renewable energy, which is taking the Colac plant of the grid, saving money and reducing carbon emissions.
Both the Regional and Colac RONs have received support from the Victorian government to progress business cases and approval from the minister for water to proceed.
Minister for water Lisa Neville said the Regional RON would help the water sector lead the way in tackling climate change.
"Projects like this play an important role in Victoria's target of zero emissions by 2030 as well as lowering Barwon Water's production costs, which will help keep water bills down for their customers," Ms Neville said.
Minister for energy, environment and climate change Lily D'Ambrosio said the project would help reduce waste while producing cleaner energy.
"This project will generate enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 500 homes and reduce the region's carbon emissions by between 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes, the equivalent of taking more than 4000 cars off the road," Ms D'Ambrosio said.
Golden Plains Council's involvement with the Regional RON project aligns with its commitment to providing sustainable and efficient waste management services.
Under this strategy, the shire - which is growing each year - will transition to providing access to a food and green waste service by 2030 as mandated by the Victorian Government's recycling Victoria policy.
Community members are invited to learn more about the Regional RON proposal and to share their views.
Barwon Water will be holding a series of community webinars and information sessions with opportunities to ask questions, address areas of interest and have input into the early stages of the project's design.
"We want to hear from our community about what is important to them as we design the facility and hope they can be involved every step of the way as this exciting project progresses," Ms Slatter said.
The community webinars and information sessions will be held on October 28, while 30-minute conversations with the project team will be held from November 3 to 18.
To learn more and to register your interest, visit yoursay.barwonwater.vic.gov.au/RRON.
The Regional RON partnership involves Barwon Water, City of Greater Geelong, the Borough of Queenscliffe, Colac Otway Shire, Golden Plains Shire, Surf Coast Shire and Wyndham City Council.
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