U.K. grocery store to power itself on biogas generated from its own food waste

Jul 23, 2014 by Bob Yirka report
U.K. grocery store to power itself on biogas generated from its own food waste

British supermarket chain Sainsbury's has announced that it plans to power one of its grocery stores using only biogas generated from its own food waste. The store in Cannock, West Midlands is approximately one mile away from one of British based Biffa's waste management systems, and will get its power from a single dedicated line.

Sainsbury's is already Britain's largest retail user of power generated by biogas, courtesy of systems. Food waste from its stores is used to generate enough power, the company claims, to run roughly 2,500 homes each year. In this new scheme, from several of the chains' stores will be trucked to a central depot—from there it will be trucked to the Biffa facility near Cannock. Once there it will be dumped into an anaerobic digestion system—a big tank deprived of oxygen that allows for speedy decay. Biogas (mainly methane and carbon dioxide) rises to the top and will be sent to a separate mechanism that separates out the carbon dioxide and other gases. The methane is then sent to a generator for burning. The electricity produced will be sent by a cable to the grocery store, providing all of its electricity needs—any excess will be sold back to grid providers. Excess sludge from the digestion system will be sold to farmers for use as fertilizer. What happens to the carbon dioxide has not been made clear, though the company has noted in the past that released into the air (directly or via burning) due to release from food products is not counted towards global warming gasses, because its considered neutral—the amount of the gas released by plant material is equal to the amount consumed by new plants that grow in their place.

Sainsbury's announced last year that it had met its goal of no longer sending any food waste to a landfill. Previously they had instituted a policy whereby food that cannot be held overnight is sold at reduced prices in the afternoon and evenings. Afterwards, edible leftovers are sent to charities. The remainder is sent to Biffa for processing. The grocery store receiving the electricity is believed to be the first of its kind to be run only on generated by an anaerobic digestion system.

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JRi
4 / 5 (2) Jul 23, 2014
It would be better to improve logistics so that food waste would be reduced, instead of just turning it into fuel.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (5) Jul 23, 2014
That's true, but even with the best logistics, customers want stocked shelves, and demand can be very difficult to predict. No logistical system is perfect, especially stocking shelves at a grocery store. The best way to have stocked shelves and reduce waste (or the negative effects of waste) is to do what they are doing.
rod_averbuch
5 / 5 (1) Jul 24, 2014
Food waste processing to generate electric power should be our last resort considering the very low return on energy, material, and water that were invested in the food.
There is no single cure, or silver bullet for food waste reduction therefore, we should address the food waste problem in every link in our food supply chain. For example, the excess inventory of fresh perishables close to their expiration on supermarket shelves, combined with the consumer "Last In First Out" shopping behavior, might be the weakest link of the fresh food supply chain.
The "End Grocery Waste" App, which is based on the open GS1 DataBar standard, encourages efficient consumer shopping behavior that maximizes grocery retailer revenue, makes fresh food affordable for all families and effectively reduces the global carbon footprint.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
As correctly identified by JRi and rod the problem is not "food waste" but "wasted food".
rockwolf1000
not rated yet Jul 25, 2014
As correctly identified by JRi and rod the problem is not "food waste" but "wasted food".


You are the best example of "wasted food" there ever was.

And wasted air.
Wasted time.
Wasted space.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Jul 25, 2014
It would be better to improve logistics so that food waste would be reduced, instead of just turning it into fuel.

Do you think food store managers are dumb? Of course they try to anticipate demand and minimize waste. but when all is said and done a grocery store is a profit oriented business. It's better profit to have slightly overstocked shelves than to run out (not only will they not make a profit if they run out of anything but also will shoppers go somewhere else - and maybe shop there in the first place from then on).

Foodstuffs are cheap for stores to buy (the profit margin is quite handsome). So generating waste isn't that much of a drawback from a profit POV.
antigoracle
not rated yet Jul 25, 2014
You are the best example of "wasted food" there ever was...blah...blah..
-rockturd aka gobshite
You are the worst example of human waste there will ever be.
Your mum did not tell you she left the baby in the hospital and brought home the shite.