Navy unveils new weapon in war on waste

Chefs Leading Seaman Christopher Martin, Seaman Christine Osborne and Able Seaman Emily Churchyard learn how to operate the dehydrator machine with John Hernage from Veolia. Photo: Able Seaman Benjamin Ricketts

Navy unveils new weapon in war on waste

Chefs at HMAS Kuttabul in Sydney have a new weapon at their disposal to aid in the fleet’s war on waste.

Defence waste management partner Veolia has installed a food waste dehydrator that is capable of reducing 100kg of organic waste by up to 90 per cent of its volume.

Personnel in the Kuttabul galley were recently trained to use the dehydrator unit, which will be trialled for three months to assess its suitability.

War on waste project lead, Captain Steve O’Keefe, said the trial would also look at the possibility of incorporating the units in Royal Australian Navy ships to reduce waste at sea. 

“Fleet has set an ambitious target of 25 per cent reduction in waste being sent to landfill by the end of June 2020 and this trial is just one of a number of initiatives being implemented to reduce the generation of waste,” Captain O’Keefe said.

“If the dehydrator is successful, our ultimate goal is to try to get this type of innovation in ships to dramatically cut the volume of organic waste on board. Minimising food waste is important in environments, like the Great Barrier Reef, with strict waste controls.”

Veolia Australia Technical Manager, John Hernage, who conducted the dehydrator training with chefs this week, said Navy was at the forefront of using new technology in reducing waste.

“We’re introducing these units on a site-by-site basis and it’s happening across Defence, but Navy is one of the most advanced with its own Fleet War on Waste Committee and serious targets for waste reduction,” Mr Hernage said. 

The dehydrators, manufactured in South Korea, come in a range of sizes and are supplied in Australia by Perth-based Zero Waste Systems.

The machines extract the water from the organic waste, which represents up to 90 per cent of the content. The remaining material is nutrient-rich and can be used as compost or disposed of in a green waste bin. 

Kuttabul Hospitality & Catering Manager, Warrant Officer Matthew Cleary, said there were a number of secondary benefits to using the dehydrators in addition to the waste reduction.

“Food waste creates issues with pest control, odours and bin cleaning, which these units can help to counter,” Warrant Officer Cleary said.

Meanwhile, Captain O’Keefe said the Fleet War on Waste Committee would continue to investigate new initiatives and seeks innovative ideas from members of the Navy. 

Last year, Navy worked with Veolia to introduce a wider range of recycling options at Fleet Base East and detailed data on the impact of the reduction efforts will be revealed soon.  

The immediate plan is to expand the Fleet Base East recycling initiative to Fleet Base West by mid-2020.

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