Biffa has officially opened the largest anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in the UK, with its 120,000 tonne per year facility in Cannock, Staffordshire.
The £24m plant is the first of a run of similar facilities that Biffa hopes to locate across England. Once processing at full capacity, the facility will be capable of generating 6MW of power a year, enough energy for 6,000 homes.
“It’s the first of many large-scale plant to deal with food waste,” said Biffa chief executive Ian Wakelin. “Large plants make more economic sense, give a reduced cost to local authorities and have the ability to install higher technology equipment than smaller facilities.”
The facility, which took two years to design and build, will take a variety of organic waste mixes. It receives discarded food from food producers, restaurants and supermarkets, as well as household food waste. Director of engineering and quality Dr John Casey said the plant’s design is “unique”. He added: “It is designed to deal with material for the industry we know today, but we have also designed in with the future 20 years in mind. We have really pushed it.”
De-packaging equipment is used at the beginning of the process to process food waste from retailers and producers. Any plastic recovered from this is expected to be sent to the Biffa Polymer plant in Redcar in future.
Commenting on the waste review, Wakelin said: “There was nothing unexpected, no surprises were in it. Food and AD got a lot of high-profile support from the Government, which is absolutely right.”
But he told MRW that there is a “definite conflict” between large-scale waste facilities and the Government’s localist agenda, “but I never thought the Government would really tackle the problems in the planning system. We work on the basis that every application will be turned down the first time it is submitted”.
Pictured from left: John Casey and Ian Wakelin