Food waste plant opens in North West

A NEW state-of-the-art food waste plant has opened in County Durham, which will serve the North East’s need to recycle food waste and create renewable energy.


Emerald Biogas has announced the completion of its new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, which is now ‘open for business’ and the first facility of its type in the region to begin operating.


The £8m facility, based at Newton Aycliffe Industrial Estate, is the North East’s first commercial food waste facility, and will generate enough energy to power 2,000 homes each year.


The plant was constructed by Entec Biogas GmBH using the latest technology to create the technologically advanced facility. Over the past 12 months the building programme has progressed on schedule. The successful installation of the combined heat and power (CHP) system and other plant equipment has enabled the testing phase to be completed on time and the plant is now processing food waste and creating energy.


Antony Warren, Director, Emerald Biogas said: “I am delighted with the progress made in terms of getting the plant to this stage. It is fantastic to see it up and running, as this truly is a one of a kind facility in the North East and the first in the region to begin operating. We are now in the position to accept and process unwanted commercial food waste and employ the latest AD technology to create a valued commodity that will be extremely beneficial to the local business and farming community.


“We are all excited for the positive journey ahead, with expansion a strong possibility, as we would like to see Emerald Biogas reach its full potential in the near future.”


The AD facility at Emerald Biogas can process card, plastics and other materials often associated with waste from supermarkets, fast food outlets, businesses and schools.  The heavy duty depackaging process can handle the more difficult waste streams such as supermarket waste, which is often triple packed and manufacturing waste streams. The residual materials are then sent to local recycling facilities, further diverting waste from landfill and contributing to the vision of a sustainable, circular economy.


Phase 1 of the plant will process 50,000 of the region’s food waste. Planning permission has already been secured to expand the capacity to four times the current size.


In addition to power generation, a digestate will be spread onto local farmland, which will increase organic matter as well as improving soil condition and structure. Used as an alternative to chemically manufactured fertilisers, the nutrients not only provide an economic benefit to farmers but also can increase the yield of their crops and reduce the carbon footprint of agriculture.


The funding for the project was made available through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.