Realising Smart Compost Formulations
Australia has a growing challenge in how it manages waste. The annual growth rate of food organics/green organics (FOGO) is 6.2%, (6-times faster than population growth, 2.5-times faster than GDP growth, MRA 2017). 60% of household-generated waste is FOGO, and over 7 million tonnes enter landfill each year, representing 64% of total waste production (National Waste Policy 2018). Landfill disposal costs $140-340 per tonne and will get costlier with levies and scarcity(1).
Landfill organics produce 3.0% of national GHG emissions(2). The nationally endorsed target of 80% recycled FOGO by 2030 considers FOGO as the waste stream with most opportunity for landfill diversion. FOGO recycling delivers benefit; an average council diverting a conservative 50% of 30,000 t FOGO saves $2-3M annually. Composting is a cost-effective way to divert unavoidable food waste from landfill and recycle organic carbon and nutrients to food systems.
Furthermore, smart compost formulations present an opportunity to help restore Australia’s degrading soils, contribute to the Australia’s commitment to sequester carbon through soils and reduce GHG emissions(3,4), and recycle the nutrients contained within unavoidable food waste into valuable soil conditioners and fertilisers.
There is strong demand for cost-effective products that restore soils, boost crop production, and improve efficiencies. Unavoidable food waste – transformed into Smart Compost Formulations (SCF) – is such a product that delivers comprehensive benefits by reducing landfill and GHG emission, mitigating climate change, and improving food systems. Peats Soils, in collaboration with University of Queensland and Fight Food Waste CRC, will focus on advancing the design of SCF with on-farm (field trials) and laboratory evaluation, quantification of socio-economic benefits, and communicating outcomes to stakeholders. The project will produce and test designer SCF granulates for target crops. The anticipated impact will be considerable with landfill diversion, greenhouse gas reduction, improved soil health (a national priority), protecting the ag-industry from fertiliser shortages and high prices, and supporting the expanding environmental asset markets (carbon sequestration). The project, with its design and commercialisation pipeline, will have impact through SCF commercialisation that accelerates the transformation and value-adding of unavoidable food waste.
The three key aims of this project are:
- Advance the design options for SCF and their target crops;
- Explore SCF socio-economics for crop industries and the circular economy;
- Provide the socioeconomic and cost benefits evidence of SCF to support the industry partner and communicate the benefits for modern farming.
May 2022 – December 2026