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Biffa and Sainsburys work together to recycle food waste

Biffa has signed a 3-year contract with Sainsbury’s to recycle food waste from 40 of its stores in the Midlands by anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is Sainsbury’s preferred solution because it is the most energy efficient way to generate energy from food waste. Sainsbury’s aims to use anaerobic digestion as its sole method of food waste management by 2012, as soon as there is sufficient capacity in the UK – the supermarket currently uses a number of different management methods as part of its Zero Food Waste to Landfill Network.

Neil Sachdev, Sainsbury’s commercial director said: "We are the industry leader in the use of anaerobic digestion and with this additional capacity provided by Biffa, we put ourselves even further ahead. Respect for the environment is one of our key values, and as such, we will completely stop sending food waste to landfill within the next few weeks. We are desperate for greater anaerobic digestion capacity and would therefore like to see greater, clearer incentives for investment in this green technology."

Biffa and Sainsbury’s have been working together since October 2005. Biffa provides a comprehensive range of recycling and waste management services to almost 600 stores, and manages specific waste streams at the remainder of Sainsbury’s stores nationwide.

This includes recycling of waste oil, the management of confidential paperwork, ABP wastes and in-store photoshop waste, front of store recycling at 26 London stores, and back-of-store residual waste collection, treatment and disposal.

Biffa operates the first mixed waste anaerobic digestion plant to be built in the UK, at Wanlip, Leicestershire, which is where the food waste will be treated. The plant was designed to receive food waste mechanically separated from household refuse and was commissioned in 2004. Since then the plant has been reconfigured to increase capacity and enhance performance, and is now equipped to remove packaging materials from food waste. The plant has received approval to treat Cat 3 ABP waste so can now receive all types of food waste for treatment.

"Securing this contract with Sainsbury’s for the management of food waste from their Midlands stores has been the culmination of 18 months hard work to optimise the performance of the Wanlip AD plant and then to secure the necessary authorisations to receive food waste direct" said Biffa’s Engineering Director John Casey. "We now have a state of the art plant achieving best in class reliability and optimal biogas production. We are now driving forward the development of new AD capacity in the Midlands and elsewhere to meet the growing demand of our customers."

Work on the company’s new plant in Cannock, Staffordshire commenced earlier this month and is due to be fully operational by
Autumn 2010.

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