Not wasting a minute - Barwon Water takes next step with the Regional Renewable Organics Network

20 Oct 2023

Barwon Water will be out and about this month to share information with the community on the latest development of the Regional Renewable Organics Network (RRON).

This project, which will revolutionise waste management in the region, has reached a significant milestone with the appointment of Hitachi Zosen Inova Australia Pty Ltd (HZIA), to help design the RRON and support the submission of the EPA Development Licence Application (DLA) and planning permit application to the City of Greater Geelong. These submissions are expected to occur in December.

HZIA is the Australian branch of Hitachi Zosen Inova, a global company specialising in renewable energy from waste initiatives, and a leading provider of solutions for energy transition and circular economy projects.

The RRON facility will be situated in the heart of the Black Rock Water Reclamation Plant precinct near the existing biosolids facility.

It is part of plans to transform the site to a circular economy hub for the region, leveraging Barwon Water’s expertise and infrastructure to help manage the region’s organic waste.

The EPA Development Licence conditions will ensure that the facility's operation will minimise the impact on neighbouring properties and the surrounding environment. Barwon Water Managing Director Shaun Cumming said the water corporation remains dedicated to minimising any potential impact on the community.

“As we move forward, our next steps involve submitting a planning permit application to the City of Greater Geelong and a development license application to the EPA.”

One of the exciting aspects of RRON is the transformation of organic waste into biochar, which not only sequesters carbon but holds great promise across a range of industries, from improving soil quality on farms, to possible use as anodes in batteries.

“We are already making strides in biochar research and development and look forward to sharing more about our progress during the upcoming community engagement sessions,” Shaun added.

Community engagement on the RRON began in October 2021.

“We have actively listened and learned about what matters most to our community members. To further strengthen this connection, we will be conducting a series of community information sessions across various locations, including central Geelong, Torquay, Bannockburn, Queenscliff, and Barwon Heads, from late October to mid-November. Additionally, we will provide an online session for those who are unable to attend in person. We look forward to engaging with the community and working together to shape a more sustainable future for our region.”

See for more details and information.

About the RRON

Barwon Water and four local councils are joining forces to transform organic waste into biochar - high value product for agriculture that also sequesters carbon dioxide - and at the same time generate renewable energy in a big step forward for the circular economy in Victoria.

In a significant innovation in how the benefits of a circular economy can be realised, Barwon Water has signed waste supply agreements with the Borough of Queenscliffe, City of Greater Geelong, Golden Plains Shire, and Surf Coast Shire to take organic waste from kerbside collection and process it at the Regional Renewable Organics Network (RRON) when it is built at its Black Rock water reclamation plant in Connewarre.

Borough of Queenscliffe CEO Martin Gill said he was pleased to be part of the RRON.

"We’re facing the same challenges in transitioning to a cleaner, circular economy where sending rubbish to landfill is increasingly problematic. It makes sense for councils to partner with Barwon Water on this solution, and I’m delighted that the borough is part of it."

Surf Coast Shire Council CEO Robyn Seymour said the Surf Coast Shire Council was working collaboratively to create local circular economy solutions in the region.

“We’re already diverting our food and organics from landfill to provide quality compost for agriculture, and through RRON, we’ll be helping to keep this valuable material local."

Golden Plains Shire CEO Eric Braslis said the RRON coming online fitted with the Shire’s introduction of a Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) collection service.

“At the heart of our waste strategy is a commitment to reduce the amount of waste we send to landfill. As a regional council this can be challenging, so the ability to partner with other councils and Barwon Water has been a core part of our plans. We look forward to the RRON opening in 2025/2026, in time for Golden Plains Shire introducing its new FOGO bins and service.”

City of Greater Geelong CEO Ali Wastie emphasised the city's commitment to sustainability.

“We adopted our Sustainability Framework in 2020 with ambitious targets that focus on the best outcomes for the community, the environment, and the economy. I’m pleased that the City is a partner in this project."

Image courtesy of Hitachi Zosen Inova and NALG