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QLD professor has the mission to turn waste into opportunities

Professor Bernadette McCabe

By Juliano Oliveira

It is on the hands of Professor Bernadette McCabe the mission to discover alternatives to transform 19,000 tonnes of organic waste into revenue for the region of Toowoomba.

The project revolves around calculating the quantity and quality of waste products that end up in the local landfill and assessing the possible technologies to convert it into high-value products such as energy and solid or liquid biofertiliser.

“Ultimately the project is about putting a value on something that is otherwise a liability and what opportunities and technology exist to convert it into something that can produce an income stream,” says Ms McCabe. She is a University of Southern Queensland Professor.

“Toowoomba is home to significant agricultural and food processing sectors so with our project partners we want to get as clear a picture as possible around the overall organic waste stream situation in the Toowoomba region, and then work together to identify potential beneficial uses of waste that could inform investment attraction activities, and promote the opportunity to potential investors.”

The initiative counts on financial assistance from the Fight Food Waste CRC, the Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise (TSBE) and Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC).

Bruce McConnel, the General Manager of TSBE’s Food Leaders Australia, said the project offers a unique opportunity to Toowoomba and the Darling Downs.

“There’s a growing need for regional economies to create a circular economy out of traditional waste streams, and we’re well placed to capitalise on that need with the support of our local university working to a national agenda,” Mr McConnell said.

“This process of investigation will make sure we know quantity, and quality of our organic waste streams, allowing us to attract world-leading technology and businesses to the region to grow our ‘clean, green’ image.”

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said exploring the viability of various collection and processing options for organic waste material was an essential exercise for a growing local government area.

“This partnership with USQ and other local stakeholders ensures that the type and quantity of organic waste in our region is properly understood so we can move forward with attracting organic processors to the region,” Mayor Antonio said.

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