Waitrose closes loop by powering beer production with food waste

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Waitrose has announced it will use food waste from its new shop in Ipswich to power the production of beer which it will then stock on its shelves.

The food retailer will have its left over food waste taken to the Adnams anaerobic digestion plant to be converted into gas for insertion into the national grid. The gas will then be used to power the production of beer which will be stocked at the new shop.

The shop will be the eighth Waitrose store in East Anglia to partner with the Suffolk-based plant and the retailer claims this demonstrates its commitment to finding efficient and local ways to reduce carbon footprint and increase green energy.

In 2008, Waitrose was the first national food retailer to use anaerobic digestion for its food waste and subsequently became the first food retailer to use Adnams' plant.

In partnership with British Gas and National Grid, Adnams Bio Energy generates up to 4.8 million kilowatt-hours of gas per year - enough energy to heat up 235 family homes for a year.

The plant, launched in 2010, is the first commissioned in the UK to use brewery and local food waste to produce renewable gas for use in the national grid.

Waitrose Recycling and Waste operations manager Mike Walters said: "This innovative plant allows us to make use of unavoidable food waste.

"This month we have reached our goal of sending zero food waste to landfill, three months ahead of our target which is a fantastic achievement. It is partnerships with other businesses, such as Adnams, that have made this possible."

Waitrose Ipswich branch manager Paul Reeley was enthusiastic at the prospect of closing the loop.

"We're really looking forward to seeing everything come full circle in this process - from seeing the waste getting processed into gas, seeing the gas help to brew the beer and then see that beer end up on our shelves.

"It's great to work with local suppliers, but even better that we can work in such a way that will benefit the environment," he said.

Waitrose should be seen as an example in this field and others should take a leaf out of their book and the government especially would do well to take note that it can be done.

Far too often we hear and have heard from the British government that while so many of those things can work in other countries they cannot and could not work in Britain. This shows different and it can and should also be employed on a large scale.

However, if we ever want to see renewables, including gas and energy from waste, in the mainstream in Britain we will have to re-nationalize the utility companies and yesterday would be a good time.

© 2012

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