Food Waste Becomes Fertiliser Alternative

September 27 , 2013


One man’s waste is another man’s treasure. Wessex Water certainly understands that statement, as they are striving towards the goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020.

The Bristol Sewage Teatment Plant (STP) at Avonmouth, operated by Wessex through its wholly owned subsidiary company GENeco, is a new food waste recycling and renewable energy facility. It transforms 40,000 tonnes per year of food waste from households and supermarkets into useful by-products, such as nutrient-rich fertiliser and renewable energy which is enough to power about 3,000 homes. Once the sludge from the waste streams has been digested, it’s in a fit state to be reused as a fertiliser on farmland. The fertiliser is produced through anaerobic digestion, a process in which microbial bugs break down biodegradable material to produce methane gas. Each year GENeco recycles around 240,000 tonnes of food waste which traditionally goes to landfill. They also then are able to provide sustainable fertilisers to farmers across the region.

GENeco is looking at ways to make the site even greener in future. The company has been looking at other uses for methane from the digesters such as direct injection into the local gas grid. It has also completed an agreement with Triodos Bank for four wind turbines to be located at the site that should generate a further 20 million kWh each year.

 The company quoted David Heath, minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, as saying the start-up of such plants would open up thousands of new job positions and offer a solution to a major environmental problem in the disposal of waste food at the same time. Wessex Water already produces 30 GWh of renewable energy from sewage sludge through anaerobic digestion at the Bristol sewage treatment works, which treats waste from around one million people in Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.

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