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AD plant calls for NE organisations to take action on food waste

05 August 2013

As Emerald Biogas - the region’s first commercial food waste anaerobic digestion (AD) plant - approaches the end of its commissioning phase it is calling on north east food producers to take action and address the amount of food sent to landfill.

Antony Warren, director, Emerald Biogas said: “Food, drink and packaging waste in the UK supply chain is currently 15 million tonnes per year, with the commercial sector throwing away over 7.8 million tonnes of food waste annually. It is a growing concern across the UK and the North East is no exception.

“We encourage food manufacturers, retailers, hotels, restaurants, pubs and indeed local authorities across the region to help tackle this problem and manage their waste responsibly through effective and environmentally friendly solutions such as anaerobic digestion (AD). Currently only seven per cent of the commercial food waste generated annually is sent to AD facilities and we would like to see a dramatic increase to divert such waste from landfill.

“We have employed the latest technology to make AD a feasible and cost effective alternative for commercial organisations in the north east and to boost the campaign to reduce the amount of food waste created locally. We would like to actively encourage all companies and organisations who produce food waste to consider AD as a viable option.”

One of the companies already signed up for food waste collection by Emerald Biogas is SK Chilled Foods, leading UK manufacturers of chilled snack foods and ready meals based in Middlesbrough. 

Tony Harvey, manufacturing director from SK Chilled Foods said: “As a UK food producer, we take waste management very seriously and will be working with Emerald Biogas to divert all our food waste from landfill. This is both an environmental and commercially viable strategy for us, as it will enable the company to reduce food waste management costs across all three of our sites while managing our waste responsibly. We are delighted to work with the team at Emerald Biogas in their new venture and to help contribute towards the production of valuable commodities such as fertiliser and renewable energy.”

The £8m facility, based at Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate, is the first plant of its type in the region and will soon begin processing food waste and creating energy and fertiliser for use locally.

During this current first phase, the plant will process 50,000 tonnes of food waste produced across the region to generate the renewable energy and heat. The facility will produce 1.56MW of electricity when fully engaged, generating enough energy to power 2,000 homes each year, which will make a significant contribution to the region’s renewable energy sector. 

For phase two of the development, the biogas plant will double the capacity of the facility, allowing up to 100,000 tonnes of food waste to be processed each year and doubling the power generated. With planning and permits already secured for phase two, as well as two additional phases beyond this, Emerald Biogas is now putting the wheels in motion and preparing a plan for the additional construction on site. 

Formed in 2009, Emerald Biogas is owned by three partners with a wealth of experience in agriculture and recycling. Antony and Adam Warren are the owners of long established food and animal by products recycling business, John Warren ABP. Together with Ian Bainbridge’s diverse farming, land and resource management Agricore, they will provide the region with a beneficial sustainable resource. 

The funding for the project was made available through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.

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