The largest retail user of anaerobic digestion (AD) has warned the industry of “unacceptable” practices.
Sainsbury’s head of waste, Dave Timson, criticised AD plants’ operating hours, saying many customers of them were “24 hour, 365-day businesses” and nine-to-five weekday operation by AD plants is “totally unacceptable”.
“Bank holiday opening is vital, as it’s a peak trading time for us when waste levels are at their highest,” Timson told the Anaerobic Digestion and Biogas Association (ADBA) national conference in London,
“From a customer perspective, for the AD industry to continue to build momentum it must consider the needs of the customer”.
Timson said quick turnaround facilities were important to keep logistics and vehicle costs down for customers. He also said expecting customers to repackage waste going to AD is “unacceptable”.
“The AD industry needs to invest in robust, flexible packaging machinery” he said.
Sainsbury’s signed a deal with Bifa earlier this year to make it the country’s largest retail user of AD. The company now sends all its food waste to AD and says it will achieve zero-waste to landfill in the next 12 months.
Timson warned major industry players that AD operators must have contingency plans in the event of plant failure and sudden increases of feedstock supplies. He said it was unrealistic to expect feedstock suppliers to sign up to long-term fixed supply contracts.
He said whilst AD is the right thing for food waste, as the market matures and alternative solutions to deal with food waste become attractive, in order for momentum to build the AD industry must work in partnership with customers to make AD easy and cost-effective.
“In order to capture the public’s imagination the industry needs to come up with a better name; anaerobic digestion doesn’t do it.”