A massive problem on the green agenda is food waste and it ending up in the landfill producing large amounts of methane gas and carbon dioxide which we all know is a no no for the planet. A successful campaign by the increasingly popular ‘Love Food. Hate Waste’ website has highlighted the issue to the British public and made people think about what they throw away and how much it’s costing them. Though people may be reducing how much they buy, meal planning and using up leftovers in clever recipes, British households still produce 50% of all food waste.* So we need to stop buying food all together???? NO! We still have far to go on cutting down on individual waste but there is some waste that is unavoidable and this is where mouldy potato peelings come in to save the planet!
A little thing called anaerobic digestion (AD)! Basically, instead of all those evil gases going to waste in a landfill and rising up into the skies, anaerobic digestion or bio digestion turns them into useful gases. A simple description of the process being:
The food waste is taken to a bio digestion facility, where it and cow poo or any other organic waste is fermented in vats normally with the aid of added bacteria. The bacteria breaks the waste down in individual stages, from carbohydrates, proteins and fats, to their base acids, then into bio gases. The main gases produced at the end of the process are methane, and carbon dioxide, and they leave behind a nutrient rich digest. It’s a bit more complicated then that but you get the jist.
How can it be used?
1. Waste management
2.Gases can be used for heat and power
3. The end solids can be used for fertiliser
What are the benefits?
1. Could replace fossil fuels and thus reduce greenhouse gas emmissions, gases can be used to produce electricity for households, transport fuel and can be used for cooking.
2.reducing or eliminating the energy footprint of waste treatment plants.
3. Using this process reduces methane emission from landfills and is a way to recycle waste.
4. If used extensively it could replace industrially produced chemical fertilizers with an organic manure.
5. Help make Britain self sufficient in energy and not reliant on other countries, namely Russia.
So what should we be doing to get this rolling?
1. Currently only a few councils in England have separate collections of food waste where as Scotland and Wales have many. All councils should provide separate collections, which could provide the feed stocks for AD, and the best way to do this would be to ban food waste in landfills, a move scotland is already planning. People should petition their Councillors and MP to introduce green collections in their area
2.If your council does provide facilities either at home or at a centre then use them to get rid of your food waste. If you want to use it in your compost then that’s OK, but if you don’t have a compost bin or a garden then you should fill those little green bins.
3. Many farmers are turning to AD facilities as a way to manage their slurry waste and make extra money by being pid to put the energy produced back into the grid. You could find a local farmer near you to send your waste to or if you’re an inspiring entrepreneurial farmer then get one yourself. Check out this map of bio-gas plants for the nearest one to you.
For me, we don’t have food waste recycling in our area yet, though we’re working on it, but as we have just moved we hope to have a little compost heap in our little garden very soon. We try use up every last bit of food though because we hate to waste it, so overall our waste is quite low but every little helps as they say. If you want to know more, this is a brilliant guide to anaerobic digestion from the government and can answer all questions, from the processes to the legislation.
What do you think about using anaerobic digestion for waste management and green energy?