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Sponsored Article

Food waste producers urged to chip in to food waste ‘soup’

16 July 2017

Food waste producers are being offered the chance to play a part in transforming the renewable energy landscape, by contributing to the first anaerobic digestion feedstock specifically designed to give a guaranteed production of biomethane. 

The blended ‘soup’ – manufactured from food waste and sold to anaerobic digester (AD) operators under the Ch4rger brand – is mixed to a fixed specification. It provides AD operators with a consistent product, which supports a finely-tuned biocommunity that ‘eats’ waste to produce valuable biomethane. This keeps plants at peak performance and, in turn, leads to a more regular production of gas.

Nigel Lee, General Manager at Amur – which produces Ch4rger – described the new product as a natural development for the company. Amur’s parent company, AB Agri, has been routing food manufacturing by-products into animal feeds for 36 years. He explained that by buying into the concept, food manufacturers will be able to fully exploit the value inherent in co-products and wastes by pushing them through the channel which generates the most value (animal feed or AD), while also guaranteeing the best possible environmental performance.

Lee said: “We have been generating profitable disposal routes for co-products for over 30 years, while providing the skilled technical know-how to ensure that animals are fed the right blends for peak performance. Through Ch4rger, we have applied our extensive biological expertise to offer a sustainable solution for those wastes that may not be suitable for animal feeds.

“In practice, this means we are able to advise customers on the most cost effective route for by-products. Most producers these days prefer the AD route for residual food waste, but productivity varies hugely between plants. If customers choose to send animal by-product and other wastes to Amur, they can be certain that their material will not just be a tick towards sustainability – any food waste used to make Ch4rger is having a significant impact on the productivity of the AD plant it feeds. We also work with a waste management partner to ensure that our suppliers benefit from excellent levels of packaging recycling.” 

Lee explained that many AD plants struggle to optimise gas production. This is largely due to variance in the feedstocks fed to the plant. “Just like the human stomach, the bacteria that produce biomethane struggle when the feedstock changes. Feeding a plant consistently really helps the bacterial population and health, which, in turn, helps to optimise the volumes and consistency of gas which is produced. Ch4rger is an industry first, and we are extremely proud to be able to launch it to the market.”

Amur has demonstrated its long-term commitment to AD by building its own gas to grid site. The 3MW facility in Yorkshire is processing 60,000 tonnes of food waste, to deliver 40,000 MwH per year. Lee said: “We built the plant because we wanted to show the industry that we can do a good job, but we also wanted to completely understand the pitfalls and challenges involved in operating an AD plant. Our priority is the biological health of our plant; we are feeding it 100 per cent on our Ch4rger recipe, and the biology is extremely consistent.”

Lee concluded: “We are unique in being able to mix a waste to a specification. This provides AD operators with a consistent product, which allows the plant to fulfill its potential. For food manufacturers who want to play a part in the circular economy, and really make the most of their co-products, it is an exceptional opportunity.”

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