Food waste digester would generate power to 2,000 properties

Reporter:

Rebecca Cole

HOMES in Flintshire could soon be powered by their own food scraps.

If plans to create an anaerobic digester in Denbighshire are approved, thousands of tonnes of food waste collected from houses across North East Wales, including Flintshire, could be transformed into enough electricity to power the plant itself and 2,000 properties.

The digester, a joint venture between recycling and composting company TEG and ‘clean tech’ energy company Alkane, would process up to 20,000 tonnes of food waste every year – 11,000-12,500 tonnes from household waste collected by Flintshire, Denbighshire and Conwy councils.

Between, between 7,500 and 9,000 tonnes would also be brought in from other sources such as food factories.

Mike Orr, commercial director for TEG, said: “This is a really good thing to be doing.

“The site will create green electricity from waste products. It’s a great concept.

“It works in a similar way to a cow’s stomach but we harness the gas that’s produced and use it to create green energy instead of letting it escape and damage the atmosphere.

“The Welsh Government is the first in the UK to promote and develop anaerobic digestion and it will be a massive benefit to rural communities in Flintshire as the process will produce more than 19,000 tonnes of liquid digestate, a sought-after organic fertiliser ideal for farmers, every year.”

But, following a presentation by project management at a meeting of Flintshire Council’s environment overview and scrutiny committee, a number of councillors had concerns.

Cllr Quentin Dodd asked whether bones could be processed along with other food waste and Cllr Dave Mackie raised concerns about the risk of dangerous objects or liquids getting into the mix if residents put in unappropriate material in their food bins.

Cllr Mackie said: “Surely there could always be the risk of a dangerous liquid or solid getting in if householders don’t understand what they’re allowed and not allowed to put in their food bin. How will you avoid harmful getting in?”

Mr Orr said: “Before we feed anything into the digester, all solids are chopped up very fine and it goes through a thorough investigation.

“The process kills any pathogens and destroys the threat of mad cow disease, salmonella and E.coli.

“We will also be working with the community to educate people on what can go in the bins and to explain why it’s so important only the correct stuff goes in.

“It’s particularly important that we go out into schools because if we can get kids on board the parents will follow.”

Cllr Carolyn Thomas added: “For those who aren’t interested in the benefits to the environment we should also talk about the savings that can be made on landfill tax because residents will want to know that. Anything that helps explain why ‘AD’ is a good idea can only encourage people to get behind it.”

Planning for the digester, to be built on the former abattoir site on Holywell Road just off junction 28 of the A55 in Denbighshire, will be submitted by December and if given the green light the plant could be processing Flintshire’s household waste by September 2013.

See full story in the Leader

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