A new program launched in Wangaratta aims to reduce carbon emissions by converting household sewage and green waste into biochar, which is a carbon-rich material made from biomass. The trial, launched by the Minister for Water Harriet Shing, North East Water, and the Rural City of Wangaratta, in partnership with Gippsland Water and the Intelligent Water Network, will mix biosolids from Wangaratta’s wastewater treatment plant with the city’s green waste and process them into biochar in Melbourne.

Biochar is used to improve soil health and boost agricultural productivity, and this project will prevent these valuable resources from going to landfill, provide potential for future carbon sequestration, and trade carbon offsets. The trial will determine if Wangaratta waste streams are suitable for processing large volumes of biochar for potential use on the region’s farmland and generate jobs for the region.

The trial will also inform the expansion of Gippsland Water’s organics recycling business at Dutson Downs, one of the largest circular economy operations in Victoria. North East Water, Gippsland Water, and the Intelligent Water Network will invest $160,000 in the first stage of the trial with the Rural City of Wangaratta.

Victoria’s water sector is leading the charge towards reaching its target of net-zero emissions by 2035 and helping create a thriving circular economy for Victoria. This initiative showcases the importance of waste management, circular economy, and sustainability in creating a cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous future.

Quote attributable to Minister for Water Harriet Shing
“The Biochar trial opens major opportunities for the circular economy and the wider water sector. If successful, it could be adopted by others to convert waste into an environmentally friendly and valuable commodity.”

Quote attributable to Member for Northern Victoria Jaclyn Symes
“The trial is a great use of resources and could open great opportunities for further investment and job creation in North East Victoria.”

Quote attributable to North East Water Managing Director Jo Murdoch
“This innovative trial has the potential to capture thousands of tonnes of carbon annually to offset emissions and also create a high strength carbon rich soil enhancer for agricultural purposes.”

Quote attributable to Rural City of Wangaratta Mayor Dean Rees
“This is a particularly exciting project and again demonstrates Council’s commitment to excellence and innovation in the waste management space, and follows the success of the organics processing facility at Bowser.”