British Retailers turn their waste into energy

Mon, 30-07-2012

Biogas has gone mainstream. The likes of Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Waitrose, Asda and Sainsburys are all sending their leftover food waste to biogas plants for conversion into renewable energy.

This approach to waste management correlates with their Boards' environmental aims. For example, M&S announced in June that it had reached its' 5-year target of becoming a carbon-neutral business. 
However, the increase in food waste recycling also has an effect on the bottom line: landfill tax in the UK is now £72 per ton, which is likely to increase year-on-year. Therefore, transferring vast amounts of food waste to plants where it can be converted into energy is something of a "no-brainer" for the big retailers. 
M&S generates 80,000 tonnes of waste per year, but now operates a "zero waste to landfill" policy. Some 89% of food waste from its' 500+ stores is sent to an Anaerobic Digestion facility, and the company claims savings as a result of some £105m in the 2011/12 tax year. 
Tesco estimates that low-carbon solutions reduce its' energy consumption by around £200m every year. The race to become a sustainable brand as well as a leading brand is definitely on. 
"We have noticed a growing public interest in the downstream credentials of waste in the UK" says Thomas Minter, Director of Malaby Biogas. "As retail customers these same members of the public can use their voice to increase waste and recycling efficiency even further. Source segregation of non-digestable recyclables (plastics, tin and glass) is the single most important area where this effiency can be delivered."