The country's largest meat processing company, JBS Australia, has taken a big step down the climate solution pathway with work starting on the construction of a bioenergy facility at its Scone beef plant in NSW that will replace its liquified natural gas consumption.
The system, which will capture wastewater emissions and produce a renewable energy sourced from an anaerobic wastewater treatment process, is expected to be ready to go by the end of November.
Already, JBS has a bioenergy system at its Beef City facility near Toowoomba due for completion by the end of October.
The company has invested $11.1 million into the projects.
The JBS Scone facility employs 450 people and is located in the Upper Hunter Valley region, with good access to prime grazing land important to its renowned farm-assured Great Southern beef brand.
The new infrastructure at Scone, a partnership with leading biogas handling company Energy360, will transform the current wastewater treatment process into a circular flow that captures and reuses biogas.
Biogas, a naturally occurring by-product produced from anaerobic wastewater breakdown, will be created by encasing facility wastewater under sealed pond covers. This biogas is a viable renewable energy source that will substitute the site's consumption of natural gas as a production heat source.
Two pond covers will be installed that minimise the release of biogas and odour into the atmosphere. The project will reduce the plant's carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 28,000 tonnes per annum and generate Energy Savings Certificates.
JBS has a global pledge to work towards net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. The projects will also contribute to the Australian beef industry's carbon neutral by 2030 target, as processing is part of the CN30 scope.
Chief operating officer of JBS Australia's Southern Division Sam McConnell said by harnessing the potential of renewable energy sources, JBS was not only reducing its carbon footprint but also enhancing operational efficiency.
Energy is one of the largest costs for a beef processing facility.
The company's group manager of sustainability Sam Churchill said the project would deliver a reduction of the plant's carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 28,000 tonnes per annum, through recycling biogas that would otherwise go to the atmosphere.
Plant manager at Scone James Turner said the bioenergy system was a welcome solution that alleviated the site's dependence on LNG by creating a circular production model.
"We are building on our status of being a major local employer, as this project will support an additional 30 local contract construction jobs throughout its development," he said.
"This process will transform our plant's biowaste into a valuable energy source, ultimately offsetting our reliance on natural gas to simultaneously cost save in an unpredictable gas market and improve our sustainability outcomes."
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