In an effort to confront the escalating issue of food waste management, Woolworths, one of Australia’s leading supermarkets, has forged a pioneering partnership with the Australian start-up Goterra.

This collaboration is set to introduce a groundbreaking food waste management system located in Sydney’s Wetherill Park.


Innovative Partnership Tackles Food Waste in Australia

The initiative utilizes the larvae of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF), encapsulated in sophisticated, shipping container-sized modules affectionately dubbed ‘Maggot Robots.’ These units have the astonishing capability to decompose food waste on-site, drastically reducing waste volume by 95% within just 24 hours. The result? The production of organic fertilizer and a nutrient-dense protein meal, thus championing the principles of a circular economy. This aligns perfectly with Woolworths goal of to send zero food waste to landfill by 2025.


The Visionary Behind Goterra

Olympia Yarger, the visionary behind Goterra and the 2023 ACT Australian of the Year, is a pioneer in insect farming. She founded Goterra as an agritech startup focusing on innovative waste management using maggots. Yarger’s “Maggot Robot” system has significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions by processing over 35,000 tonnes of waste and saving more than 66,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. Yarger’s commitment to sustainability and climate action exemplifies her role as a leader in environmental innovation.

Speaking to Business Australia, Olympia claims that Goterra is not just a tech company that is experiencing success or growth, but is “answering a really big problem”.


Food Waste Management

Australia generates over 7.6 million tonnes of food waste annually.


The Scope of Food Waste in Australia

Australia generates over 7.6 million tonnes of food waste annually, enough to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground nine times, costing the economy over $36.6 billion. This waste accounts for around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, translating to 17.5 million tonnes of CO2 in Australia. This represents a significant challenge in Australia, with millions of tonnes ending up in landfills each year, contributing to environmental degradation and economic loss. The partnership between Woolworths and Goterra is a beacon of hope, showcasing an effective model of how technology can be harnessed to address this issue. By processing over 100 tonnes of food waste weekly, this initiative not only aids in waste reduction but also mitigates the environmental impact associated with the transportation of waste to distant landfills.

Speaking to Future Alternative, Olympia claims, “our new facility at Wetherill Park has the capacity to recover 6,000 tonnes of food waste annually and turn it into valuable and sustainable products including fertiliser and insect protein, helping to close the loop for key customers including Woolworths.” This demonstrates the immense potential of Goterra in the realm of waste management.


A Model for Sustainable Waste Management

The partnership between Woolworths and Goterra exemplifies the potential of collaborative efforts between large corporations and innovative startups in addressing the environmental challenge of food waste. By leveraging Goterra’s cutting-edge technology, which transforms food waste into valuable resources, and Woolworths’ commitment to achieving zero waste by 2025, this initiative serves as a blueprint for sustainable waste management. It demonstrates that through innovative approaches and strategic partnerships, food waste can be repurposed, contributing to a circular economy and inspiring similar actions across different sectors and regions. To read more about Goterra and its accomplishments visit their official site, here.


The Impact and Future Potential

The project led by Olympia Yarger and Goterra, particularly their partnership with Woolworths and the Fight Food Waste CRC, showcases a groundbreaking approach to managing food waste and environmental sustainability. This collaboration exemplifies how innovative solutions like Goterra’s insect farming technology can have a profound impact on global waste management practices. By transforming food waste into valuable commodities, such initiatives not only help mitigate environmental issues but also stimulate economic growth by introducing new products and job opportunities. The success of these efforts underscores the importance of joint ventures in leveraging technology for ecological conservation, potentially inspiring the adoption of similar sustainable practices worldwide.

To learn more about food waste and the people fighting it, check out our interview with Richard Tourino, founder of Good and Fugly.