A leading preparatory and pre-preparatory school, the Dragon in Oxford, is lighting up the town as for the last year its food waste has been recycled into renewable energy by the UK’s leading food chain recycler, PDM Group. The food waste is turned into renewable energy which is sold back to the national grid and, since commencing the scheme in February 2009, the school has generated enough energy to power more than 50,000 homes for an hour which equates to six houses for a year.
The recycling initiative forms part of the Dragon’s sustainability drive which has recently led to the achievement of the coveted Eco Schools Green Flag. The environmental programme covers every part of the school’s operations including food management. Each day, small amounts of leftovers, plate scrapings and preparation waste, such as off-cuts and peelings, are separated from other wastes and each week dedicated food waste bins are collected by PDM.
Headmaster, John Baugh, comments: "Our pupils take their individual and collective environmental responsibilities extremely seriously and are keen to see all school waste handled sustainably, recycling wherever possible. We investigated a number of options when it came to disposing of our food waste, and PDM was able to offer a most comprehensive, efficient, and cost-effective service – it even allows us to include waste packaged items. In particular, we consider the biomass-to-energy facility a particularly beneficial technique for turning food waste into energy. For the pupils, the attraction of this energy going to the national grid means our food waste, albeit perhaps indirectly, contributes to the energy needs of our school and our neighbours."
Recycling food waste offers the Dragon a double environmental whammy as not only is renewable energy generated, the waste is also diverted from landfill. Furthermore, the removal of food waste from mixed waste bins makes it easier to deal with dry recyclables such as paper, plastic, tins and cardboard and, as these are no longer contaminated by food or drink, they are potentially of a higher value to the recycling industry.
Philip Simpson, commercial director at PDM, adds: "We’re delighted to be working with the Dragon. Their pupil’s determination to see their food waste put to good use sets an example to other businesses and organisations and should be highly commended. There are still misconceptions that food waste is difficult to recycle, but it’s no different from separating any other materials. With increasing numbers of schools and businesses implementing such systems, the UK is gaining momentum in reducing the millions of tonnes of food waste that end up in landfill each year."
PDM operates a nationwide collection service of food waste and serves every stage of the food chain from farms, food manufacturers, retails, hotels and businesses.