Food scraps could help power 3200 homes in Western Australia under a new trial by a council in Perth’s south to transform organic waste into clean energy.

The pioneer three-month program by the City of Cockburn will collect food waste from dozens of restaurants and retailers and transform it into biogas at a processing plant in Jandakot.

The gas will then be converted into power using two generators and fed back into the power grid.

So far about 20 businesses, including restaurants, cafes and grocery stores, have signed up to the scheme, a joint venture between the council and gardening products manufacturer Richgro.

Company chief executive Tim Richards said Richgro’s Jandakot plant was able to process 137 tonnes of organic waste every day to produce the equivalent of 57,600 kilowatts.

“With an average house using 16 kilowatts per day, the plant can provide enough clean energy for 3200 Western Australian households,” Mr Richards said.

“This energy is being diverted back to the grid which will be powering homes right in the City of Cockburn as well as the Richgro site, running completely on green energy.”

The process, which uses bacteria to break down the waste and generate methane, will also produce 60,000 litres of biofertiliser a day.

City of Cockburn waste education co-ordinator Clare Courtlaud said the biggest challenge was ensuring bins weren’t contaminated by other waste, including shells, bones, cutlery and hairnets.

“Restaurants have a high turnover of staff which means the chefs would need to make sure staff are not contaminating the bins. Some people find there’s a challenge there,” she said.

Ms Courtlaud said most West Australians were used to having only one bin, which meant most people didn’t give much thought to sorting their recycling.

But she hoped the education program rolled out alongside the trial would help break down the recycling barrier and increase the number of waste processed at the plant.

Businesses wanting to join the trial will be trained by council staff and given 120 or 240-litre food waste bins and compostable liners for the duration of the program.

Participating bins will then be monitored by the City of Cockburn’s waste team to make sure there is no contamination and the trial will be reviewed after it wraps up in November.

Nationally, more than 5 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill, the equivalent to 9000 Olympic pools. Food waste makes up about 30 per cent of a household’s bin and up to 90 per cent of the waste generated by commercial food businesses.

the article is originally published at WA today.