Media releases

NSW first trial uses insects to transform food waste

Published 19 June 2024

In a first for New South Wales, maggots will consume food scraps collected from residents as the City of Sydney investigates more sustainable solutions to process waste.

The trial with circular economy solutions company Goterra will be operational later this year. It’s expected to turn up to 600 tonnes of food waste into protein-rich animal feed and fertiliser over the 12-month trial.

“This is the next step in our war against waste. Using maggots is an innovative and sustainable solution for this growing problem,” Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore AO said.

“This service will be set up at a facility in Alexandria, meaning our fuel costs and emissions will greatly reduce because we are transporting this food waste shorter distances.

“This is a brilliant circular economy result as we regenerate what was once considered waste into sustainable commodities: insect protein for animal feed and a natural low-impact fertiliser, both essential for food production.”

Food scraps make up around one-third of the waste in general waste bins. When they reach landfill, the organic material decomposes, emitting methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases on the planet.

The process works by collecting food scraps from Sydney residents and then feeding them to Black soldier fly larvae housed inside shipping container-sized units. The larvae can eat twice their own body weight every day, before their manure is processed into fertiliser and the maggots themselves are processed into protein, rich in vitamins and minerals that can be fed to fish and poultry or even turned into pet food.

Unlike other insects, the Black soldier fly isn’t a vector for disease and its larvae breaks down bacteria in the organic material consumed.

“We're really excited about this project – it has the power to revolutionise food waste management for residential food waste and logistics in Australia’s largest city,” Goterra CEO, Olympia Yarger said.

“We know food waste represents 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions. If it were a country, its emissions would be the 3rd largest in the world.

“Our Modular Infrastructure for Biological Services are working hard every day to reduce this and turn food waste into a regenerative resource, creating insect protein and fertiliser to help plug the food production shortfall predicted to be 20% by 2050.”

The processing trial with Goterra will begin in late 2024 and run for 12 months. The City of Sydney and Goterra will evaluate the trial with a view to expanding the service in the future.

More than 21,000 households are part of a food scraps recycling trial, which began in July 2019. Residents of apartment buildings can submit an expression of interest for their building to join the program.

The City of Sydney is working to extend the service to all residents in line with the state government’s mandate for councils to provide food and garden waste collections to every NSW household by 2030.

For media enquiries contact Andrew Booth: 0482 530 091 or email abooth@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Clover Moore AO, Lord Mayor of Sydney contact Zoe Delamare. Phone 0477 263 615 or email zdelamare@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For Goterra media enquiries contact Jessica Evans: 0423 340 700 or email jessica.evans@goterra.com.au