Anaerobic digestion opportunities grow for food processors

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Anaerobic digestion

Opportunities to divert waste from landfill are increasing for food processors as anaerobic digestion facilities spring up in Yorkshire.Selby...

Opportunities to divert waste from landfill are increasing for food processors as anaerobic digestion facilities spring up in Yorkshire.

Selby Renewable Energy Park has secured planning permission for the UK’s biggest anaerobic digestion (AD) plant on a former Tate & Lyle factory site in Selby, north Yorkshire. The £20M plant could handle 165,000t of food waste annually from supermarkets, manufacturers, local authorities and caterers, generating 8MW of energy, enough to power 10,800 homes.
In addition, GWE Biogas has received part-funding from the government’s Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) Anaerobic Digestion Demonstration programme for a £9M AD facility in East Yorkshire. GWE Biogas is one of five preferred projects selected by the programme.
Tom Megginson, GWE Biogas director, expected the plant to begin operating in July 2010, adding: “It will generate biogas and feed that back in to the gas grid, but its primary use will be electricity generation. We also hope to use the gas as vehicle fuel.
“We are looking to contract up food stocks in the supply chain and are seeking anyone who has a food waste problem and can see the benefits of sending waste to the plant.”
The facility will handle 50,000t of waste and produce enough energy to power 2,000 homes. It can de-package foodstuffs, recycling redundant materials and extracting organic material for processing. GWE Biogas will also be able to handle waste collection.
The developments followed the publication of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ draft document, Developing an implementation plan for anaerobic digestion​ earlier this month.
The paper recommended practical actions to boost the development of AD processing facilities for food and other organic waste in England. Recommendations include establishing demonstration trials and markets for products from digestion. The government-funded Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) has been proposed as the organisation responsible for monitoring the progress of AD development.
WRAP has set up a forum to aid communication between stakeholders involved in the development of the AD industry. “WRAP is already working with industry to help develop AD infrastructure through, for example, our capital investment programme,” said Dr Richard Swannell, WRAP director of retail and organics.
David Bellamy, sustainability manager for the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which was involved in producing the report, said the organisation was awaiting the government’s response in the autumn.
“We’re involved in talking to the government about how to grow AD capacity across the country,” he added. “We are supporting the need to set up an independent advisory group to track progress and are awaiting the government’s response to that plan. We’re working with WRAP and the [business networking group] National Industrial Symbiosis Programme to develop a web tool for members that links into a database that can tie up potential feedstock and facilities.”
Most FDF members preferred offsite AD facilities to ones that formed part of their own manufacturing sites, said Bellamy.

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