15,000 tonnes of Christmas leftovers converted into green energy

More than 15,000 tonnes of unused Christmas food - weighing the equivalent of 45 Boeing 747's - was diverted from landfill and transformed into festive renewable energy by one food waste recycler over the festive period.

The excess festive food, including turkey and the much-maligned Christmas pudding, was used to generate electricity for the national grid and bio-fertiliser for UK farmland by Bedfordshire-based firm Biogen.

Colin Burns, plant engineer at Biogen’s newest Merevale AD plant in Warwickshire, said: “We made contingency plans for all needs – early starts, late finishing, night shifts all factored in.

“While most people were having a well-earned break over Christmas the guys at the plant were shovelling and processing enormous piles of leftover brussels and turkey.”

With Christmas typically generating around 30% extra food waste volume, Biogen worked closely with customers such as local authorities, retailer and restaurant chains to create individual action plans to divert the waste to its AD plants.

Simon Musther, head of commercial operations at Biogen, added: “Over Christmas and New Year, our operation teams processed food waste throughout the night to ensure they were ready to receive the early morning influx the next day.

“This approach meant our plants comfortably managed all the extra waste our customers produced and importantly it also meant we minimised any delays for vehicles tipping waste. The average turnaround time was less than 20 minutes, which is unheard of at such an incredibly busy time of year.”

Proof in the pudding

The excess amount of ‘giving’ over the Christmas period has caused large amounts of waste in the past. As edie’s sustainability stats Christmas special revealed, more than five million Christmas puddings are discarded each year. Wrapping paper and cardboard are also major waste issues over this period.

Ashridge Business School’s business director Chris Nichols recently shared his Christmas hope for a worldwide ‘confrontation’ on the looming issue of climate change in the wake of the historic Paris talks.

Matt Mace

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