Marlborough Research Centre Trust – Upscaling Organic Waste Streams

AGMARDT provided funding that enabled the Marlborough Research Centre Trust to undertake a waste mapping study across Te Tau Ihu, the top of the South Island. This will support strategies for upscaling organic waste streams.

Industrial scale use of insects to convert waste streams into high quality animal feed is just one of the potential outcomes that could spring from the Te Tau Ihi waste mapping study.

Marlborough Research Centre (MRC) recognised that a comprehensive inventory and analysis of bio resources (waste streams) across the top of the South Island would be a valuable starting point to develop regional strategies and multi-sector business opportunities to recycle and upcycle waste.

MRC associate John Patterson said significant economic benefits are expected to come out of the study, which is now publicly available. It will provide a valuable resource for organisations considering launching new ventures using waste. It is also hoped it will provide a step towards establishment of an industrial waste upscaling plant to produce high value animal feeds.

“The region wishes to establish an environment of cradle to cradle nutrient circularity and reuse,” said Mr Patterson. “The findings of the study can be applied to progress multiple upcycling of organic waste streams. The study has identified what and where the waste streams are and what the resources are and is a fundamental first step to progressing a strategy to upcycle waste streams.”

MRC contracted the study to Plant & Food Research which worked with a bio-waste and insect bioconversion technology expert John Macdonald, of Food Security Solutions Ltd, to survey businesses across the regions that produce waste streams, including the wine industry, other primary producers and processors.

“For instance, grape marc, such as residual skins and leaves, is the waste stream for wine production,” said Mr Patterson. “The Marlborough region produces around 70 to 80 tonnes of this annually.

“Insect farming is one of the opportunities. Insects can potentially be fed using waste streams and then processed for use in high quality animal feed. However, a range of waste streams is needed to create the ‘recipe’ of ingredients required to feed the insects. Organisations considering new insect farming ventures now have easier access to information showing whether sufficient quantities of those waste streams might be available in the region.”

Industrial scale insect farming would implement the latest innovations in sustainable protein production, using the Buhler Insect Technology Solutions (BITS) which uses insects to turn organic residues into protein for feed. While further feasibility studies would be needed, it is estimated such a project would create 50 new full-time jobs and bring investment of $85 million to the region, plus associated value creation.

“The information is now out there and people are starting to use it,” said Mr Patterson. “We have had interest from companies nationally including those looking to understand the financial viability of insect farming, so we will be doing some collaboration to progress how insect farming might evolve in the region. There has also been a lot of interest from the industries that are producing the waste streams.”

The waste mapping project cost $69,000 in total and Mr Patterson said that is unlikely it would have been possible without AGMARDT funding.

“The funding was very valuable. To be truly effective the study needed to cover the entire Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough regions. Different regions have different priorities and it would have been difficult to get everyone lined up. AGMARDT support enabled us to do a comprehensive cross-region study.”

The waste mapping report is now available on MRC’s website at