£8m AD plant officially unveiled in County Durham

Emerald Biogas has officially opened an anaerobic digestion facility which will recycle commercial food waste and create renewable energy in the north east.

The £8m facility, based at Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate, is described by Emerald Biogas as the north east’s first commercial food waste facility, and will generate enough energy to power 2,000 homes each year. 

Emerald Biogas will process waste supplied from local authorities, food manufacturers and retailers from Northumberland down to York and across to Cumbria. The plant will initially process 50,000 tonnes of the region’s food waste. Planning permission has already been secured to expand the capacity to four times the current size.

The company is a partnership between food waste and recycling business John Warren ABP and farming, land and resource management firm Agricore.

Emerald Biogas director Antony Warren said: “I am delighted with the progress made in terms of getting the plant to this stage. It is fantastic to see it up and running, as this truly is a one of a kind facility in the north east and the first in the region to begin operating.

“We are now in the position to accept and process unwanted commercial food waste and employ the latest AD technology to create a valued commodity that will be extremely beneficial to the local business and farming community.

“We are all excited for the positive journey ahead, with expansion a strong possibility, as we would like to see Emerald Biogas reach its full potential in the near future.”

Resource Management Minister Dan Rogerson said: “Dealing with waste and recycling properly is good for the environment and good for businesses, creating a stronger economy and jobs.

“Our AD loan fund has helped to support the development of this plant which will treat food waste, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and recycle valuable nutrients back to the land.”

The AD facility at Emerald Biogas can process card, plastics and other materials often associated with waste from supermarkets, fast food outlets, businesses and schools. 

Emerald Biogas stated that the heavy duty depackaging process can handle “the more difficult waste streams such as supermarket waste, which is often triple packed and manufacturing waste streams”. The residual materials are then sent to local recycling facilities, further diverting waste from landfill and contributing to the vision of a sustainable, circular economy. 

The news comes as another AD operator, Tamar Energy, announced a deal with Essex County Council to help it handle householders’ food and garden waste.

Tamar will divert 54,000 tonnes of food and garden waste from landfill to its network of AD and composting plants, where it will produce a valuable biofertiliser and generate energy.

Essex County Council will also provide food waste from Essex households for Tamar Energy’s fast growing AD network. Around 4,000 tonnes of food waste will go to Tamar Energy’s Basingstoke AD plant while construction is completed at its new plant in Halstead, Essex in mid 2014. An estimated 7,000 tonnes of food waste will be being processed at the Halstead plant by the second half of 2014.

Mat Stewart, Tamar Energy head of feedstock and managing director of its composting business, Tamar Organics said: “This contract represents our first partnership with a local authority in England and it’s great to be working with Essex County Council. This once again demonstrates that AD is a genuine waste management option for local authorities that can provide tangible financial and environmental benefits.”

Essex County Council cabinet member for waste & recycling Cllr Roger Walters said: “We are pleased to be working with Tamar Energy to ensure we keep our waste disposal costs in line with last year during a difficult economic climate of rising prices. This contract enables Essex County Council to continue its successful waste management programme and we look forward to working with Tamar Energy.”

Liz Gyekye

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