Several of Britain’s largest grocery chains are reducing landfill waste contributions by converting food scraps and rotten food items into usable electricity. Rotten fruit, moldy bread, spoiled eggs, scraps from the butcher shop and more are transported to a third-party company that transforms the waste into usable power through a process called anaerobic digestion.
The anaerobic digestion (AD) process intrigues me because it addresses two big environmental issues: waste and power generation. Anaerobic digestion reduces waste while generating clean, renewable power. How this happens, though, is fascinating.
British grocery chains including Tesco, the company that operates American-based Fresh & Easy stores, are expanding their use of waste-to-biogas technology. Increasing the amount of food waste sent to an AD facility reduces overall company expenses, because Britain charges a fee for all waste that ends up in a landfill, while reducing the company’s carbon footprint.
An article in Bloomberg Businessweek highlights how one company, Sainsbury, is going beyond the simple waste-to-biogas outsourcing process. “In February, the U.K’s No. 3 supermarket chain announced an investment in Tamar Energy, which plans to build 40 plants within five years that will use waste to generate electricity. The business is backed by financier Jacob Rothschild and the Duchy of Cornwall estate held by Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. About 2,500 homes are currently powered by Sainsbury’s unsold meals and rotting vegetables, the company says.”
I love how this is quantified – rotten food from one company is able to provide power to 2,500 homes. That’s a lot of homes powered from garbage. I am excited to see how this technology continues to grow over the coming years.