This post continues our tradition of providing an annual round-up of Anaerobic Digestion UK Food Waste News, for 2023, this being a part of our policy of promoting sustainable solutions for all organic forms of waste treatment and disposal.
In this blog post, we will delve into the latest news and developments surrounding anaerobic digestion and its role in managing food waste in the UK throughout the period from May 2022 to May 2023.
Developments in Food Waste in the UK During the 12 Months to May 2023
The problem of food waste has received wider attention on a global scale than ever as a result of the ‘123 Pledge'.
The ‘123 Pledge' was launched at COP27 (in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022) to expedite action to minimise food loss and waste globally. The pledge calls on governments, businesses, chefs, and other key players in the food system to commit to tangible efforts to reduce food loss and waste as part of their greenhouse gas emissions action plans.
Why the Success of the ‘123 Pledge' is Important
Today's food production and consumption practices result in significant food loss and waste. According to UNEP:
From post-harvest to wholesale, an estimated 14% of food is lost in the food supply chain. Meanwhile, at the retail and consumer levels, 17% of food is wasted.
That's bad enough, but look at that as a financial loss and it really hits home!
Food loss and waste cost the world economy more than $1 trillion USD each year. It also accounts for more than four times the greenhouse gas emissions generated by all annual flights combined.
So, what has been the progress made in the UK in food waste, its prevention and processing this last year?
1. UK Government Delays Adoption of Universal Household and Commercial Kitchen Waste Collection
Through creative strategies like the universal adoption of source-separated collection of household kitchen waste and then sending food waste to anaerobic digestion for “energy recovery”, Wales and Scotland, have made outstanding progress in addressing this issue.
Unfortunately, impressive though this is, the population this applies to is only about 15% of the population of England.
In England, only somewhere between a third and a half of the households are provided with a source-segregated kitchen waste collection, and for many of those the local authorities send their kitchen waste (caddy waste) to composting and not the government-recognised preferred and most sustainable route via anaerobic digestion.
Although the UK government made significant efforts to promote anaerobic digestion as a long-term approach to managing food waste in 2021 when they published “The Resources and Waste Strategy”. Action since implementing their strategy has been lacking and is still awaited in May 2023.
The Resources and Waste Strategy's introduction placed a strong emphasis on reducing food waste and the value of keeping it out of landfills. So, why is there still no firm date for universal source-segregated waste collection throughout the UK?
That was a notable development in their plans. and, in order to entice companies and local governments to spend money on anaerobic digestion infrastructure, the government also promised to establish financial incentives.
An announcement was rumoured for just before the “purdah period” ahead of the May 2023 local elections, but nothing was announced.
Over £100 M has been promised to help local authorities set up their curbside collections, but LA staff can only start to invest once they know when this additional finance will be made available.
2. Expansion of AD Facilities
So, far the only scheme to assist in developing biogas plants introduced recently has been the “Green Gas” Initiative. But that scheme only provides any assistance for AD plant investment for new AD plant projects and has had both a low allocated budget and a low AD industry take-up so far.
The reality has been that in the year 2022 to 2023 UK biogas capacity has grown but only marginally.
These facilities will be essential in transforming organic waste, especially food waste, into useful resources like digestate and biogas. In addition to lowering greenhouse gas emissions. But, with the UK now outside the EU incentive schemes for AD, faster growth of AD facilities is needed if the nation is to benefit fully from its reliable supply of renewable energy.
3. Technological Progress
Significant developments in anaerobic digestion technology have been considerably improving the process efficiency of AD plants for the last 20 years. It was no different in 2023. Higher biogas outputs and greater overall performance were the results of operators being able to optimise the digestion process thanks to improved digester designs, better monitoring systems, and improved control mechanisms.
In 2023 anaerobic digestion became an even more appealing option for managing food waste as a result of these technological developments.
4. Community Participation
Communities were strongly encouraged to take an active role in decreasing food waste through education and awareness campaigns and many of these were promoted by the UK government's sponsored “Food Waste Week” held in March 2023.
The purpose of the UK's “Food Waste Week” was unchanged, and it was held to increase public awareness of the negative effects that food waste has on the environment and the advantages of anaerobic digestion.
Other minor Uk government initiatives we held in 3022-23 and sought to alter consumer habits, encourage sensible food consumption, and motivate people to segregate their food waste for anaerobic digestion.
2023 AD Success Stories from Commerce
While the UK government has been inactive several anaerobic digestion food waste project implementation success stories appeared throughout 2023. Supermarkets and Anaerobic digestion has been successfully included in the waste management plans of numerous companies, including restaurants, supermarkets, and food producers. These businesses reduced their environmental impact by sending food waste to AD facilities, but they also turned a potential burden into a useful resource, producing income from energy production.
Looking ahead, the anaerobic digestion of food waste in the UK has a bright future.
Increased public awareness and the government's commitment to decreasing food waste will (if announced) foster an atmosphere that is favourable for the industry's further expansion.
Anaerobic digestion technology will advance as a result of ongoing expenditures in infrastructure, research, and development, becoming a more attractive choice for managing food waste in the years to come.
Anaerobic digestion made major strides in the run-up to May 2023, in the commercial world, as a sustainable approach to reducing food waste in the United Kingdom.
Numerous factors, including partnerships and government initiatives, as well as technological developments and community involvement, helped anaerobic digestion systems around the nation succeed during the year just passed.
The advancements established in 2023 will lay a strong foundation for the management of food waste through anaerobic digestion to continue growing and improving. The UK may further lessen its influence on the environment, preserve resources, and get closer to a circular economy model by adopting this novel strategy.
Maintaining enthusiasm and building on the accomplishments of 2023 are crucial as we proceed.
The expansion of anaerobic digestion infrastructure and the streamlining of procedures will depend heavily on cooperation between governments, corporations, communities, and technology developers. Anaerobic digestion will become even more effective and economical with further investment in research and development.
Continued emphasis on the value of preventing food waste at the source and encouraging responsible consumption should be made in education and awareness programmes. We can all significantly contribute to the fight against food waste by encouraging people and organisations to adopt sustainable practices.
Without a doubt, the year 2023 marked a turning point for anaerobic digestion in the UK. The advancements made this year put the future on a promising course. Anaerobic digestion will continue to be crucial as we progress towards a more circular, sustainable method of managing food waste.
In conclusion, there have been a lot of positive improvements reported in the press about anaerobic digestion and food waste management in the UK in 2023. Anaerobic digestion has emerged as a valuable method for transforming food waste into renewable energy and nutrient-rich resources, thanks to:
- government programmes, partnerships, technological developments, and community involvement.
The UK can pioneer the way for a greener, more sustainable future where food waste is reduced and precious resources are reclaimed with continuous efforts. Let's embrace anaerobic digestion's promise and cooperate to create a world without waste in the future.
The following is our archive of old versions of this post:
Iceland claims 23% food waste reduction in their first-ever report
Iceland has published a food waste report for the first time, claiming a 23% reduction in the past two years. The retailer has cut out 2,500 tonnes of waste in the period, through steps such as donating 375,000 meals in surplus food to communities, it said.
It was now also giving surplus food to their staff at closing time, for them to either take home or donate to a local charity or cause, it added. The initiative is being rolled out to nearly 1,000 stores following a trial in 100.
The report also sets out a commitment to a 50% reduction of food waste across Iceland's operations by 2030, in line with the UN's Sustainable Development Goal. In 2019 and 2020 so far, Iceland had sold more than 1.3 million tonnes of food to customers and sent none to landfills, according to the report.
Instead, it had been donating it to local communities, converting it into animal feed, or as a last resort processing it into energy through anaerobic digestion. These are impressive results, and we welcome the company's commitment to halve its operational food waste in line with UN goals. via ww.thegrocer.co.uk
UK takeaway food waste rises during coronavirus lockdown
Unusual fluctuations in demand have led to an increase in food waste generated in takeaway outlets rising from an average of £111 per restaurant per week in normal times to £148 – equivalent to a £16.7m rise for the sector as a whole since the lockdown, according to the research.
Nearly half the restaurants surveyed – 45% – said they throw most food waste into the bin. Despite the erratic ordering patterns, consumers appear to be wasting less than they usually would in their own homes, the report found. via www.theguardian.com
How much food do you throw away after each meal?
According to Suffolk County Council, the county is throwing away 50,000 tonnes of good food each year.
Suffolk is throwing away more than 50,000 tonnes of potentially good food each year and a competition has been launched to inspire families to change their food habits.
According to Suffolk County Council, the average household in East Anglia wastes £810 of food every year, but new research is showing a change in behaviour due to the coronavirus crisis.
Suffolk Waste Partnership, Norfolk County Council, and environmental charity Hubbub have come together to create Food Savvy, a partnership devoted to creating positive food-related behaviour.
Hubbub has reported positive shifts recently as many families are cooking from scratch and eating together under lockdown restrictions. via www.eadt.co.uk
Original Article Posted: Jul 2013
Anaerobic Digestion UK Food Waste News Roundup June – July 2013
It has been easy for us to provide a news roundup for the state of Anaerobic Digestion UK, and UK Food Waste this month, because we are spoilt for choice!
In Knutsford, Cheshire, a power plant application seems to be stumbling somewhat, but in Scotland, it is a different matter with a £4.5m food waste anaerobic digestion plant agreed.
In Wales, they are ahead of the game with a new Biogen and Iona Capital plant opened, and in the commercial sector, Marks & Spencer is clearly doing very well to digest almost 90% of its food waste already and is reporting internally on their waste plans including plans for further Anaerobic Digestion treatment.
That just leaves the Anaerobic Digestion UK “on-farm biogas” sector to report on, and again, there is positive news with Wyke Farms including biogas power in their announced £3m spend on self-sufficiency.
We finish up with information on the Green Investment Bank's (GIB) own market report for anaerobic digestion. This report should prove to be a big boost for Anaerobic Digestion UK. Their AD Market Sector Report moves the bank on with its policy-making and investment strategy work on funding within our sector. The new report will help to inform the GIB’s strategy on debt investment in the sector as well as being a useful resource for the industry and investment community.
The Integrated Waste Plant (waste and power plant) in Twemlow by Cres Biogas has hit turbulence. See more at:
“The EA objected to the Anaerobic Digestion UK application in February, causing the applicant to make amendments that supposedly answered all its concerns.
The EA’s report prompted the Health Protection Agency to publish concerns for public health, and the local school to withdraw its support.
So, it seems unfortunate that the parish council continues to support plans that the EA have objected to.”
The proposal includes 47,000 tonnes of slurry and food waste coming in to the AD plant and 41,000 tonnes of digestate being removed.”
ᔥTEG Group secures £2m Perth and Kinross Council Anaerobic Digestion UK waste contract – The Courier
The new two-year deal will see the firm treat between 20,000 and 25,000 tonnes of garden and food waste per year at its base near Glenfarg, and includes an option to extend for a further two-year period. While TEG has dealt with the … The £4.5m plant …
“Caernarfon, Gwynedd Anaerobic Digestion UK (PRWEB UK) 5 July 2013
Biogen and Iona Capital have welcomed His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, to the Biogen GwyriAD Anaerobic Digestion plant, the first anaerobic digestion plant built specifically under the Welsh Government’s renewable energy policy.
His Royal Highness visited the plant at Llwyn Isaf in Gwynedd, North Wales ahead of the full operations starting at the end of the summer.”
“While it isn't entirely clear where all of this waste is diverted, it is evident that 89% of food waste is being composted or anaerobically digested for conversion to biogas, any clothing waste is being donated or recycled, and all construction waste …”
“An onsite anaerobic digestion plant run by crops producer Barfoots at Botley, Hampshire has won the Best AD Project Award at the UK AD & Biogas Industry Awards 2013. Dr Clare Lukehurst (left) was presented with her lifetime achievement award by Dr …”
ᔥ£3M step on the road to Anaerobic Digestion UK self-sufficient energy – FoodManufacture.co.uk
“Cheesemaker Wyke Farms is aiming to be 100% self-sufficient in green energy after ploughing £3M into a biogas and solar project.”
Returning now to the subject of the UK's Green Investment Bank, there is further encouragement that more funding will be available, in the extract below
“…The bank is also actively investigating the opportunities for debt financing for AD projects. Government research has indicated that AD could deliver between 3 and 5 TWh of electricity by 2020 but the industry itself remains concerned about sources of funding, particularly in relation to senior debt finance.”
Summary of this Roundup in Anaerobic Digestion UK Projects
So, despite slow and indecisive government action, the anaerobic digestion industry moves forward…
Clearly, the industry is making its case heard well enough to gain finance sufficient to power measured growth.
But, if the UK coalition government had meant what it said about being the “greenest government yet” when it came into power in 2010, we would surely be much further ahead by now.
[This post was last updated in May 2020.]