Climate Tech

HI FLYERS: City of Sydney gets behind Goterra’s food waste system

- June 21, 2024 2 MIN READ
Olympia Yarger and City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore
Olympia Yarger and City of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore at Goterra Barangaroo plant
The City of Sydney is hoping to turn up to 600 tonnes of food waste into animal feed and fertiliser as part of a year-long trial with climate tech startup Goterra.

Goterra recycles food waste using modular maggot-based robotic systems. Founder Olympia Yarger developed the system, which uses black soldier fly larvae to eat through the waste, converting it into high-value, low-impact protein and fertiliser in just 12 days. They’re housed inside shipping container-sized units and the maggots can eat twice their own body weight every day, before their manure is processed into fertiliser and the insect larvae become high-protein livestock and fish feed.

While the Goterra system is in place at Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct, as well as Brisbane’s Howard Smith Wharves and this is the first time the Goterra system has been used for food scraps collected from residents in NSW.

Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore said the trial will begin later this year. 

“This is the next step in our war against waste. Using maggots is an innovative and sustainable solution for this growing problem,” Moore 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. 

Food scraps make up around one-third of the waste in general waste bins and in landfill, rot and create methane, a greenhouse gas. 

More than 21,000 households in Sydney, which has a population of around 230,000 people, are part of a food scraps recycling trial that began in July 2019.

Sydney’s Inner West Council also introduced food waste recycling last year for compost in late 2023. 

The City of Sydney and Goterra will evaluate the trial with a view to expanding the service in the future. 

Yarger, Goterra’s CEO, founded the startup in Canberra in 2016 and is also building a $3.5 million processing factory at Wetherill Park, 38km west of Sydney’s CBD, to process around 6000 tonnes of food waste annually.

Goterra was named Best Sustainability Startup in the 2023 Startup Daily Best in Tech Awards.

Yarger said the City of Sydney project has the power to revolutionise food waste management for residential food waste and logistics.

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

“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.” 

Goterra raised $10 million in a bridging round last year, having previously raised $8 million in mid-2020, with backing from agtech VC Tenacious Ventures and Grok Ventures, the family fund of Atlassian cofounder Mike Cannon-Brookes.

The company is currently looking to raise a Series B.

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