Nestle factory reaches zero-waste milestone

Nestle's largest UK factory has achieved zero-waste-to-landfill and cut emissions by 10%, one year after installing a giant anaerobic digester.


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The Fawdon factory, near Newcastle, is converting four tonnes of solid waste and 200,000 litres of liquid waste into renewable energy and clean water each day.

The anaerobic digester produces enough biogas to fuel a 200kw CHP engine which creates 4.8MWh of electricity a day – around 8% of the sites total consumption.

The system was installed as part of Nestle’s pledge to send zero waste to landfill from its 150 European factories by 2020. The confectionary giant achieved zero-waste-to-landfill in its US factories back in April.

Process

The Fawdon factory – which produces Rolos and Toffee Crisps amongst others – turns sweet waste from the manufacturing process into a ‘chocolate soup’.

This ‘soup’ is then fed into an airtight tank, the anaerobic digester, where bacteria decomposes the material and converts it into the useful by-products – clean water and biogas.

Nestlé Fawdon sustainability manager Andrew Griffiths said: “The system allows us to convert a large amount of waste that would otherwise enter sewage, or be sent to landfill where it would generate methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.”

Shared progress

Nestle’s most recent sustainability report revealed the company had achieved a target to reduce direct greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of product by 35% on two years ahead of schedule.

It has also hit its waste target two years early, with 12% of its factories sending zero waste for disposal.

The Swiss firm has also partnered with Unilever in an effort to improve the recyclability of ‘flexible packaging’ such as sweet and crisp wrappers.

The two-year project, funded by Innovate UK, aims to create a circular economy for flexible packaging, which makes up nearly a third of consumer plastic packaging in the UK.

Brad Allen

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