The investment will help build four new food waste transfer stations, which will be used to collect and sort food waste before it is sent to be treated at the company’s anaerobic digestion plants in Staffordshire, Leicestershire and West Sussex.

Biffa said the infrastructure upgrade will will enable it to internalise the volume to its own AD networks producing a 20% uplift in power generation, equivalent to the energy demand of 2000 homes.

The first transfer station has now been installed inside Biffa’s existing waste transfer plant in St Helens, Merseyside, with further transfer stations planned in Yorkshire, the South West, the South East and Scotland.

Chris Savage, general manager of Biffa’s anaerobic digestion plant at Cannock, one of the largest anaerobic digestion plants in Europe, said: “The UK generates around 15 million tonnes of food waste each year, with businesses in the food service sector accounting for just under half of this. Sadly, 40% of this waste is currently lost to landfill due in part to a lack of regulation which would enforce food waste segregation among businesses as well as a lack of facilities to collect food waste.

“Biffa has a long-term commitment to diverting food waste away from landfill. Our investment into the new transfer stations will create great efficiencies in the collection and preparation of food waste before it is sent to our anaerobic digestion plants. There, the waste is treated and converted into renewable energy which is exported to the National Grid, as well as an energy rich ‘liquid gold’ digestate derivative which farmers can apply to agricultural land.”

National issue

Disposing of food waste responsibly is becoming increasingly important as landfill diversion becomes the focus of waste management policy. Research by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) says the UK could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 27m tonnes and businesses could save £2bn, if we achieve zero food waste to landfill by 2020.

Biffa’s anaerobic digestion facilities currently enable up to 240,000 tonnes of food waste per year to be recycled.

Food waste has become a global hot button topic in recent months. Just last week, two major international initiatives were launched to fight the problem – ‘Champions 12.3‘, led by Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis and the Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise initiative.

Nearly a third of all food is lost or wasted globally, costing $940bn per year and accounting for around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Brad Allen

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