Kerbside food waste collection scheme brings Auckland 'up to date' with overseas models

New Zealand is two decades behind other parts of the world, but is now catching up when it comes to turning food scraps into energy.

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Ecogas Limited director Andrew Fisher explains the benefits of Auckland’s new food scraps processing contract. Source: Breakfast

Auckland Council yesterday announced a food scraps processing contract with Ecogas Limited to collect kerbside scraps throughout the city.

Ecogas Limited director Andrew Fisher told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning that the 20-year partnership means waste could now be used to produce energy in gas, electricity and heat, as well as for fertilisers.

Mr Fisher said he meets up with similar businesses using the model in the UK every year.

"We've gone from 20 years behind to we're going to be up to date," he said. "We're trying to bring the wheel to New Zealand, not trying to invent it."

At the moment, people use their red bin for food scraps, but the new initiative adds a third bin to residents kerbside. The food waste bin will be for items, including tea bags, meat, fruit peels, bread, chips and leftover meals.

The waste will then go to Ecogas' site where it will be proceed. They're expecting between 60 and 70 bus loads every day.

"When we get the food in it comes in a sort of bank of machinery, we take out if there's metal and spoons, take out the plastics, take out gloves etcetera that all turns up," Mr Fisher said.

"[The] same model that's used for recycling, from your recycling bin, is what we're doing."

However, recycling is running out of places to go since Malaysia will no longer take the waste.

But with food scraps there's always somewhere it can go. Ecogas has partnered with Ecostock and Pioneer Energy - which have been around for 13 years and 86 years respectively.

"It's end up as energy, so in gas, electricity and heat. Then you've got bio-fertilisers as well, so you're replacing imported organic fertilisers. So it's a really proven world model and we're just catching up," Mr Fisher said.

"We're taking a science-based approach to it. We've got chemists, we've got biotechnologists, we've got computers, IT platforms. This is real science.

"For us it's pretty humbling to be awarded it and it's going to be exciting times for New Zealand."

Yesterday, Auckland Council’s environment and climate change committee chairman Richard Hills said it was a "major step forward to bringing daily solutions to the climate emergency to every Auckland home by diverting waste from landfill and putting it to use for our planet".

It follows on from a two-year pilot in Auckland. 

The kerbside food scraps collection is expected to rollout from October 2021 and will continue in the areas that already have this service in place.