Turning waste into wealth

NARELLE HENSEN
Last updated 14:04 16/05/2014
 Dr Owen Catchpole
Peter Drury/Fairfax NZ
Dr Owen Catchpole of the Bioresource Processing Alliance helps businesses turn waste into wealth.

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Turning waste streams into revenue streams was the theme of the day at Waikato Innovation Park today.

 Dr Owen Catchpole of the Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA) spoke to around 80 people representing 42 businesses about the opportunities to turn industry waste into wealth. 

In an interview with Fairfax he said the government-funded alliance of Callaghan Innovation, Scion, Plant and Food Research and AgResearch was available to partner with businesses on initial research and development of new products.

None of the $2.5 million allocated to the body was available in the form of grants.

''The money will be spent on research and development by the four industry partners and the companies will also be inputting funding as well,'' he said.

''To start with the level of input from the company may be quite small, as we approach commercialisation then we would expect the company to be putting in a much larger amount.''

The BPA is currently working on more than 40 projects for businesses, with Catchpole saying there had been ''a very good take up by industry''.

''We are already making some pretty good progress with commercialisation.''

One of the projects was turning avocado puree, a waste product from avocado oil production, into a ''high value food product''. 

Avocado Oil New Zealand launched the avocado powder, called Avopure, last year. It is currently selling successfully in America, Japan, China and Australia.

The BPA has tagged $28,000 for work on scaling up commercialising of the product which is underway at Waikato Innovation Park. It includes a $13,000 upgrade of a spray dryer to be able to process the solid waste product. 

Catchpole said waste products were produced ''pretty much everywhere'' including in the horticultural sector, agriculture, forestry, and microbiological resources.

''The waste starts right at the point of harvesting,'' he said.

Just under half the kiwifruit harvest each year were not good enough to export, while a fifth of harvest trees in New Zealand are currently left on the ground, he said. 

''Waste is also generated in processing plants turning the fruit or vegetable or fish or forestry product into an added-value product,'' he said.

Catchpole said the BPA was hoping to get the interest of companies who produced waste, had access to it, or had technology to do something with the waste.

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The BPA programme has been running for a year and a half, and was set up by the government to generate an additional $100 million in added value products to the New Zealand economy by 2020.

- Waikato Times

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