Biogas – the perfect solution to sustainable growth
New Zealand’s first large-scale anaerobic digester to power region, heat glasshouses and use CO2 to enhance growth
Project based on principles of ‘Kaitiakitanga’, “which for T&G means treating our land, people, produce, resources and community with the greatest respect and care, as guardians of their future”
New Zealand’s first large-scale anaerobic digester was announced by Minister Shane Jones at Turner & Grower’s (T&G) covered crops facility at Reporoa on July 8. The purpose-built facility will use food waste from the region and from T&G’s tomato vines to create renewable natural gas, which will be used to enhance growth in the company’s glasshouses and power up the region.
Sustainable food waste recyclers, Eco Gas – a joint venture between Ecostock and Pioneer Energy – received a loan of $7 million from the Government to build the facility, which will recover energy, carbon dioxide and nutrients from food waste.
A catalyst for sustainable development
“Every year 327,000 tonnes of food waste goes to landfills in New Zealand which could be turned into biogas energy to fuel an engine for electricity or heat, as well as help us achieve lower carbon emission targets. Biogas plants are common overseas, particularly in Europe, but this will be the first waste to energy plant of this scale in New Zealand. If it proves commercially successful, it has the potential to act as catalyst for others being set up in regions nationwide,” Minister Jones said.
The Reporoa Organic Waste Recovery Facility will be built on two hectares of land adjacent to T&G Global’s tomato glasshouses. T&G Global will buy the renewable energy and supply its own organic waste, around 1,000 tonnes of tomato vines per year. The facility will also take more than 20,000 tonnes of organic food waste a year from major local food manufacturers, such as dairy factories, commercial bakeries, cool stores, milk sheds and fruit grading facilities .
A circular solution to climate change
T&G Global welcomed the partnership with Eco Gas. “Like all growers in New Zealand and around the world, we know the challenges of a changing climate and the need for us to utilise renewable, circular solutions to support our planet and leave a lighter footprint on the planet, “ T&G Managing Director NZ Produce, Andrew Keaney said.
He said discussions began several years ago after Ecostock approached T&G about the potential of an anaerobic digestion plant, which had already been commercially proven overseas. At that time, T&G were investigating alternative solutions to their heating and CO2 needs in their glasshouses.
“Having had a relationship with Ecostock for nearly five years, that saw Ecostock collect T&G’s existing food waste from their Auckland site and turn it into animal feed, we were excited and keen to explore this opportunity further,” Keaney continued. “Anaerobic digestion seemed the perfect solution, to take 1,000 tonnes of organic waste from our tomatoes, turn it into renewable biogas energy, power up our glasshouses with natural heat and enhance the growth of our tomatoes with CO2”.
The project also aligns with T&G’s philosophy around ‘Kaitiakitanga’, “which for T&G means treating our land, people, produce, resources and community with the greatest respect and care, as guardians of their future”.
“The initiative allows us to utilise our waste products, use renewable energy to power up our glasshouses and our tomatoes, and be part of future growth in the region,” Keaney said.