The UK’s first ‘super’ anaerobic digestion (AD) plant dealing with food waste has been launched by Biffa, a leading waste specialist. Based at the company’s Poplars waste management site in Cannock, Staffordshire, the new facility, which is the biggest in the UK, will process up to 120,000 tonnes of food waste from homes and businesses in the West Midlands every year to produce enough renewable energy to power 6,000 homes and a soil improver that can be used in the same way as compost.
“This is the future of waste. It is taking food that could once only be sent to landfill and turning it into something of value on a truly industrial scale. It is a key milestone in society’s drive to reduce waste, cut emissions and recover the inherent value in our waste,” comments Ian Wakelin, chief executive of Biffa.
Planning permission for the facility was granted in November 2009 and construction started in January 2010.
The Cannock facility is the latest in a long line of commitments from Biffa to handle more of the UK’s food waste. It forms part of Biffa’s expanding network of AD plants and follows on from the launch of its National Food Waste Recycling Service for businesses earlier in the year.
Biffa already operates a number of food waste treatment facilities in the UK, enabling up to 100,000 tonnes of food waste per year to be recycled or reused.
Ian Wakelin adds: “We all want to recycle more. It is initiatives like this which allow us to do so with minimum effect on our day to day lives at home or at work.”
Every year, the UK throws away around 15 million tonnes of food waste (source: Defra/WRAP) and it is thought that around half of this comes from businesses. Much of this food waste is currently sent to landfill sites where it breaks down into methane and carbon dioxide, both powerful greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change.
Biffa is an integrated waste management business providing collection, treatment, recycling and technology-driven energy generation services.