Saturday, November 26, 2016

UK Food Waste Recycling Action Plan and Sainsbury's

Earlier this year the UK government provided a welcome initiative in the form of the Food Waste Recycling Action Plan, for the promotion of food waste anaerobic digestion in the UK.

There are reported to be over 100 AD plants in the pipeline for instruction in the UK currently, but unfortunately, most of those will be plants which will use mostly maize and other crops to provide their feedstock.

To encourage food waste digestion development makes a lot of sense.

A far more environmentally sustainable use of AD technology is the production of biogas from food waste, especially since that waste would otherwise usually be sent to landfills.

Food waste is also the best of all the wastes to digest anaerobically is because it would be highly damaging to the environment if food waste, ever escaped from a landfill into the underlying groundwater.

Also, food waste produces more biogas per unit weight than any other waste type.
The food waste action plan was reported by ADBA in July 2016, as follows:

Food Waste Recycling Action Plan shows welcome government commitment ADBA

Responding to the launch of the Food Waste Recycling Action Plan at UK AD & Biogas 2016, Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association (ADBA), said:

“The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan has been a positive, collaborative process between government, WRAP, trade associations, AD operators and local authorities. It sets out a series of practical actions which will help increase the capture and recycling of food waste which cannot be eaten.

“The AD industry is delighted that Defra Minister Rory Steward has engaged in the plan, and welcomes his wider recognition that food waste policy is important for the UK’s economy and carbon budgets.

“ADBA is pleased to have been part of the steering group which has produced the FWRAP, and looks forward to continuing to work with partners to deliver the actions it has set out.”

The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan is available via the WRAP website,

Defra Minister Rory Stewart MP welcomed the Action Plan, saying:
The growth of the food waste recycling in the UK is a real success story, but more can be done.  I welcome the Action Plan, showing how by working together, industry, government, businesses and local authorities can drive up the amount of unavoidable, inedible food waste that is recycled, helping our environment and boosting our economy.

The Food Waste Recycling Action Plan has been welcomed by many businesses which produce food waste, but have been unable so far to dispose of their food waste to suitable AD plants. The problem has been for them to find sufficient local biogas plants to send their food waste to.

UK supermarket chain Sainsbury's has been experiencing that problem, but as food waste digesters have been opening across the UK, its ability to use them is now proving more successful as described below:

J Sainsbury plc / Sainsbury's becomes largest retail user of anaerobic digestion

Supermarket signs three year deal with Biffa.

Sainsbury's has become the UK's largest anaerobic digestion (AD) retailer after signing a ground breaking deal with Biffa. The three year deal means all food waste from Sainsbury's will be sent to AD plants around the country.

The deal will see food waste collected from Sainsbury's distribution centres across the UK, then processed to produce renewable energy to power homes and businesses. None of the food waste from Sainsbury's supermarkets is sent to landfill, but some of it goes to other waste from energy processes. This new deal will ensure all of it is sent for AD.

Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury's property director, said: "Anaerobic digestion is the most efficient way to create energy from waste, so this new contract means our food waste is being put to the best possible use.

"It has taken quite some time for us to get into a position where we are able to send all of our food waste to AD due to a lack of facilities in the UK. However, I am pleased to see that the waste industry is catching up with demand for this green technology.

"This new contract builds on our existing leadership position on AD, making us the largest retail user of AD in the country."

Food waste produces plenty of power when digested. The following article confirms just how useful, that power in the form of electricity can be:

Local Food Waste Anaerobic Digestion Plant Produces Enough to Provide 80% of the Energy to the Nearby Town

When Resourceful Earth Limited announced it would be building a facility to convert 35,000 tons of the local food waste to power each year—enough to provide 80 percent of the energy to the nearby town of Keynsham, U.K—the company became the latest to employ anaerobic digestion to reduce waste, generate energy and cut down on carbon emissions. It’s localism taken to its conclusion, not just what a community buys, but what it gets rid of, too.

“That’s our ideal plan, to make … a system where we’re actually a closed loop,” 

says Jo Downes, brand manager for Resourceful Earth.

“It’s all self contained. Food waste is produced by a community, it’s converted to electricity, and it goes back to that community again. It’s self-sustaining.”

Anaerobic digestion, as a way of converting biomass to energy, has been practiced for hundreds of years, but the effort in Keynsham is one indicator of the technology’s maturation.

As focus around the world has turned to renewable energy, anaerobic digestion has started to become an economically viable energy source that capitalizes on humans at our most wasteful—and most creative. Local municipalities, including wastewater facilities, as well as private companies and even the Department of Energy are fine-tuning the tech to make it more efficient and practical.

“Anaerobic digestion is fascinating because it’s a relatively easy, natural way of turning a broad variety of complex waste into a simple fuel gas,” 

says David Babson, a technology manager at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office.

“Closing waste loops and recovering energy from waste presents a profound opportunity to simultaneously improve waste management and address climate change.”

The technology itself is rather simple. Enclose a mixture of moist, organic material like kitchen waste, or waste from humans or farms or food processing facilities, in an oxygen-free container with naturally occurring anaerobic bacteria.

The waste breaks down through four different consecutive processes, ultimately releasing carbon dioxide, water, methane, and a dark slurry of organic material and nutrients called digestate.

The methane is siphoned off, and refined for use as a fuel, or burned to power turbines. via Why Anaerobic Digestion Is Becoming the Next Big Renewable Energy Source

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