Bio Culture closes waste plant deal

A PERTH company has signed up a $54 million deal to establish two waste treatment plants in Indonesia.

The memorandums of understanding between Bio Culture and Surabaya and Solo in East Java gives the WA company an entry into the lucrative Indonesian waste industry.

Headed up by City of Wanneroo deputy mayor, Bio Culture’s 20 per cent partner Sam Salpietro is now in negotiations with investors who will own the plants in partnership with the municipalities.

Capable of processing about 2,500 tonnes of waste per day, the plants will convert organic garbage into pelletised marketable organic fertilisers.

The plants will be able to handle the total waste needs of the two cities. Surabaya with four million people produces around 2,000 tonnes a day.

Around 500 kilograms of fertiliser is expected to be produced from every tonne of waste, with the fertiliser selling for around $22 a tonne.

Mr Salpietro said the plants were relying heavily on manual work, making it ideal for countries with relatively cheap labour. Around 300 people would be employed at the two Indonesian plants which will operate 300 days a year for 10 hours a day.

“Bio Culture is not planning to apply its waste solutions in Australia, as its technology is labour-intensive and not feasible for countries with high labour costs,” Mr Salpietro said.

“The biggest difficulty lies in separating the organic from the inorganic waste.”

He said at the moment this could only be achieved manually. A company in Wollongong is said to be able to employ just 15 people for every 1,000 tonnes of waste, but this was achieved by using a magnet metal separator while the plastic and glass was processed with the compost fertiliser.

Driving the interest from the local Indonesian governments is a shortage of good land.

“They are getting to a stage where they are asking where can we put the rubbish. They are getting pressure from the central government, which is getting pressured from international aid agencies, including the International Monetary Fund, which is putting conditions on the government when they lend them money,” Mr Salpietro said.

The deputy mayor and former World Bank employee is hoping the plants will finally bring in the money, after a four-year drought with nearly three quarters of a million dollars being spent.

Work being carried out by the organic Waste Management Division at Murdoch University may bring an even greater windfall by improving waste-handling efficiency.

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