HOW FOOD AND DRINK MANUFACTURERS CAN USE WASTE AS A RESOURCE

Can your business save money by treating food waste in a different way?

As a food and drink manufacturer, you may have typically contracted with waste contractors to deal with your production residues and by-products. The waste is often collected, taken off-site and, depending on the nature of the waste, may be sent to landfill – all at a cost to you, as waste producer. 

The government is seeking to reduce the total tonnage of waste diverted to landfill – and indeed now in Scotland food waste separately collected can no longer be sent to landfill. This, combined with continued UK government support for low-carbon heat incentives, means the market is now offering alternative solutions to those increasingly expensive waste disposal. 

What if, rather than paying for that waste disposal, you were able to turn that liability into an asset? 

Harnessing the energy in your food waste 

Your food and drink waste can be used as a feedstock in an anaerobic digestion plant, which produces biogas. This biogas can be used to generate electricity, to produce heat or be processed and injected into the gas network. 

The timing couldn’t be better to consider either developing your own biogas project, or paying a lower gate fee for your food waste to be treated at this type of facility. 

Financial upside and green credentials 

Under the government’s low carbon financial support programmes, the operator of a biogas project receives the price for the injection of green gas into the gas network or the export of electricity to the grid, plus the low carbon incentive payments. If you use heat, you can also use the produced heat, which could reduce your energy bill.

It’s no secret that the government has recently cut incentive payments for renewables. However, in March 2016 the government released a consultation acknowledging the importance of biogas in decarbonising heat through a focus on waste-based feedstock – cuts are proposed for small projects, but larger projects appear to have fared well.

These types of projects enable you to reduce your carbon footprint and enhance your environmental reputation. In particular projects are also often eligible for green gas certificates, which can be traded on an emerging market.