Severn Trent Water has started processing industrial food waste in its onsite anaerobic digestion (AD) plants across the UK.
The scheme began last year, when Severn Trent signed a partnership agreement with the National Industrial Symbiosis Programme (NISP) to use the water companys established AD capacity.
One of the plants already receiving organic food waste from NISP members based nearby is at Strongford, in Stoke-on-Trent. NISP is now arranging further bio-waste supply streams with other members of its programme. Suppliers are matched with Severn Trent plants by their geographical proximity.
NISP technical manager Adrian Murphy said: It is a little early to name the industrial food companies involved as we are bound by confidentiality agreements but I can confirm that some of them make ready meals. Although the Severn Trent process cant deal with packaging, organic food waste is a good stream to exploit because the system can cope with a diverse range of food. But the animal by-product legislation means it cant process meat.
Other water companies are also in talks with NISP to discuss similar schemes. Severn Trent is the first to be announced, but Murphy told MRW that other schemes will be announced in the next few months.
The current pressure to get waste infrastructure in place has put Severn Trent in a good position to exploit its own large established infrastructure of AD. While the company didnt necessarily have excess capacity, it has been evolving its business and changing to optimise the capacity it does have. Severn Trent also has previous experience in the waste industry as it owned Biffa before it was floated, Murphy explained.
Biogas from the plants is also used to generate energy for a combined heat and power unit, which creates electricity and heat to run the treatment process. Any energy left over is sold to the National Grid.
The benefits for Severn Trent are twofold, by using the biogas to run the plants, the company is reducing its carbon footprint and it is finding new cross sector opportunities for itself, rather than remaining a water specific company. NISP is ideally placed to help them do this, added Murphy.
Image: Severn Trent's CHP plant at Strongford in Stoke-on-Trent, which is already receiving organic food waste from a number of NISP members based nearby.