Janet Street-Porter has this morning opened the North East’s first commercial food waste anaerobic digestor which is capable of powering 2,000 homes.
The biological power plant in County Durham uses bacteria from manure to generate electricity, heat to keep its surrounding industrial estate warm, and liquid fertiliser to grow more crops.
And the firm behind it is hoping it could be just the start of an oxygen-less alternative to incinerating all of the region’s household rubbish.
“This facility will bring a range of benefits to the north east community, including reducing the need to send food waste to landfill, and the creation of green energy and fertiliser,” said Janet.
“In other regions across the country, local authorities already collect food waste from residential areas, which is food for thought indeed.
“I am passionate about protecting our countryside and feel we should be doing even more to look after our local community, and as part of this strategy, supporting local businesses and jobs.
“And I think people like the idea of recycling, so what I’m campaigning for is to take food out of wheelie bins and put it into places like this.”
Run by Emerald Biogas, the £8m power plant at Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate will process 50,000 tonnes of leftover food from businesses across the region, including Vale of Mowbray, Greencore and SK Chilled Foods.
Its construction has been aided by a £2m grant from the government, with waste minister Dan Rogerson saying that such technology would not only help Britain go green but support the economy too.
“Dealing with waste properly not only benefits the environment but will also help create jobs and build a stronger economy,” he said.
“Our £2m grant has helped develop this plant which will treat food waste and recycle valuable nutrients back to the land.”
Adam Warren, Director, Emerald Biogas, said the new plant would build on the experience of regional firms John Warren ABP and Agricore. “Through this investment we will contribute a continued source of renewable energy to local businesses, while also providing a sustainable solution for dealing with food waste which traditionally goes to landfill,” he said.“Food waste is a major concern for the north east, where 800,000 tonnes is generated every year and as part of today’s celebratory launch I am delighted that we as a company are playing a valuable role and providing a long term regional solution to this national problem.
“As part of our commitment to reducing food waste to landfill and creating green energy, we also launched a campaign for schools across the region and are inviting pupils to become ‘waste warriors’, with school and site visits, educational activities and a poster competition as part of the initiative.”