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NRAs 2015 Resource Management Business: GENeco

GENeco was created by Wessex Water in 2008 to help the parent company become carbon neutral and eliminate landfill waste by 2020.

It now treats huge volumes of waste, turning it into commercial products, while diverting 100% from landfill and producing enough renewably sourced energy to power 16,000 homes. This in turn has generated profit for investment in further renewable energy schemes.

Waste comes into its treatment works with no commercial value and often with an additional cost associated with disposal. But after undergoing treatment, the waste is transformed into functional, sustainable products with significant financial value. GENeco aims to run its operations at maximum efficiency, such as retaining the heat in combined heat and power engines, exhaust gases or recycling food waste as fertiliser.

GENeco’s main site is located at Bristol Sewage Treatment Works, where it treats domestic sewage from more than a million people. It also takes in 600,000cu m of liquid commercial waste and 34,000 tonnes of food waste every year.

The wastes are treated by anaerobic digestion (AD) to produce methane-rich biogas. The biogas then undergoes processing in an innovative gas-to-grid plant to remove impurities and refine it. The resulting biomethane is pumped into the national gas grid. The technology makes its sewage treatment works energy self-sufficient, and the remnant biosolids from the process are dewatered, optimised and used as fertilisers.

“This company stands out for attitude, approach and innovation in a highly regulated and conservative sector. While its technology is cutting-edge now, the winner is also looking to pioneer new forms of biotechnology that could change the whole paradigm of its industry.”

Judges’ comment

The business takes the same closed-loop approach to food waste, where its AD plant converts inedible food waste into biogas. The treatment process means that the residual waste digestate is solid and can be applied to land as a sustainable form of fertiliser.

As well as supplying gas to 8,300 homes, the biomethane fuels the UK’s first bus powered by gas produced from food waste, commercial liquid waste and domestic sewage.

GENeco

Solid inorganics such as nappies, sanitary towels and condoms are screened from domestic sewage and treated using an aerobic composting process which produces a soil conditioner that can be recycled directly to agricultural land – unprecedented in the UK water industry.  

 

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