Fonterra's waste not, want not approach to wastewater


New wastewater treatment technology at Fonterra’s Edendale site is turning dairy waste into fertiliser that is helping local pastures flourish.

The Co-operative’s southernmost site has created a fertiliser product from the microbial treatment of wastewater. Tests show the treatment creates some of the most nutrient rich dairy-derived fertiliser in the country that is proving a hit with farmers.

“Our manufacturing process produces wastewater that contains dairy solids. We use microbes to consume those solids which in turn produce a dense liquid. Thanks to new technology in the plant we are now able to decant that liquid into a rich fertiliser that is producing exceptional results on pasture,” explained Fonterra Environmental Manager, Ian Goldschmidt.

The sophisticated plant technology – which is also being used at Fonterra’s Stirling, Pahiatua and Lichfield sites – is helping deliver on the Co-operative’s sustainability commitments.

“Since the upgrade, the quality of the product we’re making has seen demand take off and farmers are coming to us directly to put their names on the list,” he said.

The fertiliser is one of three products that are made at the wastewater plant that benefit local farmers. Fonterra is working with new technology to turn the other by-product into stock food and the increased capacity of the new wastewater storage pond enables the Co-operative to return as much water as possible to the land through irrigation.

“The role of sustainability in food production is becoming increasingly important as we look for new ways to feed the growing global population, and Fonterra is committed to becoming a leader in this space,” explained Mr Goldschmidt.

“In line with that goal, we have introduced new guidelines across the business around sustainable wastewater treatment and disposal that, in many cases, will see our environmental standards far exceed what is required by regulation.

“Plants like the one at Edendale are part of a programme of investment aimed at seeing Fonterra leading global industry water standards, ensuring our outputs have good environmental outcomes.”