Food waste recycler EcoStock is turning other people's rubbish into millions of dollars.

The Auckland business deals with eight double-decker buses of food waste every day - seven days a week.

The company buys vegetable scraps, bread and packaged food from manufacturers, distributors and retailers, and reprocesses it before passing on the byproduct ingredients for stock feed and bio-energy.

EcoStock managing director Andrew Fisher said it was important that companies were aware of solutions to sustainably deal with the waste they produced.


"We all think about reporting profits as being the biggest thing, but in Europe it's not about reporting profits, it's about telling your customers what you're doing to reduce your environmental footprint and accelerate greenhouse gas reductions," Fisher said.

The responsibility lay with business leaders.

"It's about directors and CEOs actually drilling down and asking what resources can be given to get this done."

Forty per cent of all New Zealand waste had food in it.

"A lot of what we see is normal food which might be expired, or might have a slightly incorrect label on it," Fisher said.

EcoStock's seven trucks collect waste from organisations such as Foodstuffs, Progressive Enterprises and Goodman Fielder. The company has 37 staff and has been growing at 35 per cent a year for 10 years.

In that time, EcoStock's revenue has exceeded $40 million. In its first year it made $100,000 worth of sales but this year it is on track to make more than $5m.

New Zealand has 33 classified-one landfill sites, with two servicing Auckland, but there are better ways to dispose of waste, Fisher says.


"In New Zealand, food waste is a dirty word. It's not seen as progressive."

Andrew Fisher, founder and managing director of EcoStock. Photo / Supplied
Andrew Fisher, founder and managing director of EcoStock. Photo / Supplied

Brian Cox, chairman of the Bioenergy Association of New Zealand, said there were many options to repurpose food waste, such as turning it into biogas to fuel vehicles, to create electricity, or use for heating.

"The simple one is electricity," Cox said. "Food to energy is an easy thing done. Internationally, it's done extensively."

The food repurposing industry had great potential: "It's not yet established in New Zealand. Partly because we currently handle our food waste in a way which ensures that it is kept as waste ... people mix in food waste with other waste and so it is contaminated, and it makes it more difficult."

Many New Zealand companies were aware of the benefits of repurposing waste and sought to decrease landfill contributions, Cox said.

Last month Air New Zealand launched its waste-reduction initiative, Project Green, enabling it to divert 40 inflight products such as sugar packets and plastic cups from ending up in landfill by reusing them.

Inside EcoStock's Auckland food repurposing plant. Photo / Supplied
Inside EcoStock's Auckland food repurposing plant. Photo / Supplied

Countdown spokesman James Walker said the food retailer saw strong social and environmental benefits to preventing its food waste going to landfill. Its initiatives included turning waste oil from cooking into biodiesel.

New Zealand was behind the world with environmental progress, but it didn't have to be, Fisher said.

"The technology is there. We can put the power straight to the grid, we can put natural gas to the grid," he said.

New Zealand is growing at a rate of 6 per cent per year, but the rate of landfill is growing at 16 per cent. Research released last week found Kiwis wasted a staggering $1.8 billion on food every year - an eighth of what they bought each week.

"We can use it as a resource instead of it going to landfill," said Fisher.