The Member of Parliament for Braintree has taken a tour behind the scenes of a facility in his constituency that transforms Essex food waste into green energy.
Tamar Energy, one of the UK’s leading producers of renewable energy from leftover food and other organic waste, welcomed James Cleverly MP to its facility on the Bluebridge Industrial Estate in Halstead.
The visit provided an opportunity to see how as much as 45,000 tonnes of local food waste a year is converted into green energy and a natural biofertilizer using a proven process called anaerobic digestion (AD).
The AD process uses enzymes that exist within all food to break down the food waste material in airtight conditions (anaerobically), including household plate scrapings and vegetable peelings that are collected through local food waste collections.
James Cleverly saw how residents’ food waste is unloaded inside the reception hall in carefully managed, safe conditions, before being shredded to a consistent size and entered into the airtight AD tank. Here it is digested by enzymes and the biogas given off is captured and converted into electricity, which is then fed into the local grid. Tamar Energy’s Halstead plant has the capacity to produce enough renewable energy to power 4,000 homes.
Following the tour, James Cleverly MP said: “It’s been fascinating to visit Tamar Energy’s AD plant and see how people in Braintree, Halstead and beyond are playing their part in turning food waste into renewable energy. Essex sends over half its waste to compost or recycling, above the national average, which is something we can all be proud of. Not only does this divert food waste from landfill or incineration, but it is an effective cost-saving measure for local authorities.”
Tamar Energy’s Chief Executive, Dean Hislop said: “Today was a really useful opportunity to showcase the benefits of AD for people, the local economy and the environment. Essex is one of the leading councils when it comes to food recycling and turning waste into renewable energy, and we’re also doing the same across the country with food and other organic waste from places such as restaurants, food processors, schools and hospitals. AD has the potential to create reliable clean energy for hundreds of thousands of UK homes as well as produce a bio-fertiliser which can return valuable nutrients back to the land displacing petro-chemical derived fertilisers. It would be great to see the Essex approach adopted nationwide.”
Tamar Energy is contributing to the local economy both as an employer and through its use of Essex suppliers across its network of 11 AD and composting sites. Essex County Council signed a £1.7 million deal with Tamar Energy in January 2013 to recycle 54,000 tonnes of food and garden waste, much of which would have otherwise gone straight into landfill. The contract is part of the council’s successful waste management programme and is helping it achieve its commitments to responsible waste management.
Over 40,000 tonnes of garden waste collected across Essex is also recycled by Tamar Energy at its composting sites to create a quality, nutrient-rich natural soil conditioner.