Ruddock gives AD the thumbs up

Anaerobic digestion is the "way forward" when it comes to reducing the UK's massive landfill requirements, according to a top Defra Minister.

Joan Ruddock, the Waste Minister, said the process, which turns household food waste into electricity and compost, is “extremely attractive”.

She made the comments during a visit to an anaerobic digestion plant in Ludlow, Shropshire, last week.

The plant is part of Defra’s £30m New Technologies Demonstrator Programme, which tests innovative technology that could offer alternatives to landfill.

At its full potential, it is thought anaerobic digestion could produce enough electricity to power two million homes.

Visiting the plant, Ms Ruddock said: “Anaerobic digestion is extremely attractive. Why would we go on throwing food waste into holes in the ground when we could generate our own electricity and end up with a product that can be returned to the soil?

“It seems to me that a plant on this scale would fit into any industrial estate in the country.

“While the decision has to be taken locally – and in consultation with residents – I am sure this is the way forward.”

Nearly three quarters of people living near the Ludlow plant are taking part in the voluntary food waste collection scheme which supplies the plant.

The partnership running the trial said this success was down to good communication with the local community – an idea which Defra is backing.

Defra is making a further £10m available for a programme to further test the benefits of anaerobic digestion.

This will be delivered through a capital grant competition run by WRAP (the Waste & Resources Action Programme) and the Carbon Trust.

Bidding for the grants will be opened in the autumn and between three and six projects will be selected to benefit from the scheme. More information can be found here.

Kate Martin

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