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What Happens With Your Food Waste?

Understanding the long term environmental and economic benefits of food waste recycling can deliver huge benefits to a business, the local environment and long-term sustainability.

We recently discussed food safety and the hierarchy of waste. In that post, we discussed how food waste recycling can be managed properly so it doesn’t impact the environment.

The two recommended methods that are used to recycle food waste are composting and anaerobic digestion. However, the government guidelines suggest that, for food waste, anaerobic digestion be the first course of action instead of composting.

What is anaerobic digestion?

Anaerobic digestion (AD) is an environmentally friendly process of creating a renewable form of energy from waste. The process uses bacteria to break down waste, producing methane and nutrient-rich fertiliser for farmlands.

It is a sustainable method of recycling large amounts of food and animal waste, backed by local, national, and government regulated bodies.

Find out more about how we process your waste using anaerobic digestion in this video.

What is the anaerobic digestion process?

The process of anaerobic digestion starts with sending your food waste to an AD plant. This is a two-step process, which includes the collection and transportation of the waste.

However, when you work with us, we take care of both these steps, so you don’t have to worry about storage or transportation of the waste. We will handle it for you, helping you manage your business in a more efficient and environmentally friendly way.

Here’s how we do it.

Once collected, your food waste is transported to one of our six AD sites across the UK.

Step 1: Sorting

At the site, the food waste is sorted, separated, and any packaging is removed. Then, all the waste, both solid and liquid, is mixed until it forms a liquid ‘slurry’. This liquid is then pumped into a hydrolysis tank, where it is pasteurised.

Step 2: Pasteurisation

Pasteurisation is the process of killing any pathogens in the liquid using heat. The slurry is heated to a temperature of 70 degrees C for an hour. This ensures that it enters the digestion chamber completely sterile.

To make this procedure even more efficient, we, at BioteCH4, use energy from our Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engines to heat these tanks. This is the excess energy produced in the process, which means the entire operation is completely sustainable.

Step 3: Digestion

After the pasteurisation process, the slurry is fed into the digesters, where we introduce the good bacteria. These bacteria start breaking down the waste in the absence of air, producing methane (CH4) and a small amount of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The gases rise above the liquid and are transported to the gas holders. These holders are used to regulate the gas, which is then used in the CHP engines to produce electricity.

This electricity is used by our own sites, as well as local businesses. The excess is then sent to the National Grid. As a result, your food waste is used for good, helping you reduce your CO2 emissions. And, it helps improve your business’s green credentials and sustainability.

How do I get value from food waste recycling?

Food waste recycling can help your business in many ways. Here is a summary of the benefits.

Waste weight reduction

Since your food waste is now separate from the other kinds of waste, you reduce the weight of your other bin collections. This helps streamline your waste managing process, while your food waste is put to good use at an AD plant.

Lower cost

Sending food waste to a landfill isn’t just bad for the environment; it’s also bad for your bottom line. This method of waste disposal can be expensive. By recycling your food waste, you can lower your costs.

Corporate social responsibility (CSR)

Food waste recycling reduces your business’s environmental impact on the local, as well as the wider, community. Instead of waste, your actions create green renewable energy and reduce the level of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

How much food waste is recycled in the UK?

It’s estimated that around 10 million tonnes of food waste is generated in the UK each year, according to this report. Of this, the amount of food waste recycled in England is around 2 million tonnes.

Looking to dispose of your commercial food waste?

We will make it really straightforward. Just get in touch with us. After an initial enquiry, you'll be asked to complete a waste agreement form.

Once this is complete, we'll undertake a series of checks on the waste. So, if it’s liquid we'll undertake some tests in advance of accepting the waste. We need to do this as part of the regulated processes we follow.

Rest assured that our team of highly trained professionals will ensure each stage of the process is as transparent and easy as possible and we'll adapt it to suit your business needs.

Want to talk about food waste?

We’d love to hear from you, our team of experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have about the whole ‘food waste collection to anaerobic digestion’ process. Get in touch today.

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