Energy from anaerobic digestion on the rise

The number of sites processing food waste and manure to make energy and fertilisers rose a third over the last year. A new recycling survey from waste body WRAP reveals […]

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By Vicky Ellis

The number of sites processing food waste and manure to make energy and fertilisers rose a third over the last year.

A new recycling survey from waste body WRAP reveals there were 117 working anaerobic digestion (AD) sites in 2013, up from 87 the year before.

This doubled the amount of organic matter churned through in the UK, from 1.69 million tonnes (mt) to 2.55mt.

Jobs rose a third (36%) as well, with 482 full-time equivalent jobs compared to 354 in 2012, said WRAP.

Food manufacturers and processors give the biggest amount of feedstock to AD but local authorities boosted the amount they gave by more than a third.

Ian Wardle, Head of Organics and Energy at WRAP hailed the “fantastic” results of the survey.

But industry warned a landfill ban and enforcing waste collections which separate food from other rubbish are needed to keep up momentum.

Chief Executive of trade body ADBA Charlotte Morton said: “With only about 7% of our food waste recycled through AD the potential is far greater…

“If we were to recycle all the food waste which is unsuitable for consumption, the AD industry could be five times bigger than it is today. Overall we could generate enough green energy to meet over 10% of the UK’s domestic gas demand, reduce carbon emissions by 2%, recycle essential nutrients for food production and deliver new high value biotechnology products, such as biochemicals and bioplastics.”