Wales' first purpose-built AD plant officially opens

Carwyn Jones, the First Minister of Wales, has officially opened Wales' first purpose-built anaerobic digestion facility in Llwyn Isaf, near Caernarfon.

Left to right: First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, Biogen chairman John Ibbett and Gwynedd Council councillor Huw Edwards

Left to right: First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones, Biogen chairman John Ibbett and Gwynedd Council councillor Huw Edwards

The AD facility is called Prosiect GwyriAD. It will treat food waste collected by local authorities and generate renewable electricity.

The Welsh Government has provided almost £2.4m in initial funding to support the project.

Built by Biogen on Gwynedd Council land, the plant will process food waste collected from local homes and businesses by the council, diverting it from landfill to produce renewable energy and valuable biofertiliser for local farmland.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "Prosiect GwyriAD demonstrates what can be achieved by the Welsh Government working closely with the local council and the project team. Wales is the only country in the UK with a national programme to address household food waste, and we have provided leadership to local government and the market with our ambitions, as well as significant funding.

"Thanks to Prosiect GwyriAD, 11,000 tonnes of waste a year will avoid landfill, where it would generate greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, the plant has created jobs locally and generates 3,500 megawatt hours of renewable electricity for the national grid - enough to power every home in nearby Penygroes continually for a year."

Gwynedd Council cabinet member for environment councillor Gareth Roberts said: "We are very proud that the GwyriAD plant is now fully operational - it is the first facility of its kind delivered by a Welsh Council and underlines Gwynedd's commitment to finding new green ways of dealing with the county's food waste.

"As well as processing more than 150 tonnes of household food waste every week in a sustainable and responsible manner, the GwyriAD plant will also produce natural biofertiliser to be used on local farmland and produce green electricity."

Biogen chairman John Ibbett added: "We are very proud to have been involved with this pathfinder project. Thanks to the foresight of the Welsh Government, the investment from Iona Capital and Biogen's strong working partnership with Gwynedd Council, the GwryiAD plant is now making a valuable contribution to sustainable waste disposal and renewable energy supply in Wales."

The AD industry is growing in the UK. A recent House of Lords report on AD acknowledged that energy and nutrient recovery "will remain essential components of food waste management as preferred options to disposal". However, it also urged supermarkets to redistribute unsold food to food banks rather than sending it to be recycled via AD.

Speaking about the report, Philip Simpson, commercial director at AD specialist ReFood, said: "The announcement from the House of Lords EU Committee regarding cutting food waste, once again highlights that Government needs to do more to fulfil its duty to the industry and the environment.

"Industry needs a long-term, ambitious, integrated and consistent national approach to waste that will give businesses the confidence to invest in the infrastructure that will deliver positive change for all.

"In the face of growing global pressures on food production, we have not only a moral obligation but an urgent need to address this issue. It is important to note the positive impact that legislation and targets are having in both Scotland and Wales.

"The inclusion of food waste collection services in Wales has increased their average recycling rates, to a level more than 10% higher than those in England.

"Some food waste throughout the supply chain is unavoidable, but we believe that it is vitally important that the Government shows leadership and direction in dealing with it correctly, by treating it as a resource for energy generation and as nutrients for future food crops.

"The recommendations outlined by the committee reinforce those in 'Vision 2020: UK roadmap to zero food waste to landfill', which urged a range of positive actions, including a ban on food waste to landfill by the end of the decade."

Liz Gyekye
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