Waitrose receives award for food-to-fuel recycling

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 16th February 2010

UK supermarket Waitrose and recycling experts Cawleys have jointly been awarded by the Association for Organics Recycling for their pioneering waste-to-energy recycling program, where food waste is sent for conversion to energy and fed into the national grid.  To date, Waitrose has generated a total of 400 megawatt hours of electricity using the process, enough to boil almost eight million kettles.

The process, known as anaerobic digestion, uses microorganisms to break down biodegradable material.  The process generates a methane-rich bio-gas, which can be turned into heat and electricity.  The broken-down food product can then be turned into fertiliser. The process eliminates the need to send waste to landfill, reducing greenhouse gases and other associated costs.

Jon Cawley, Managing Director of Cawleys, says: “Waitrose has pioneered the use of anaerobic digestion in the retail market, showing that retailers can make positive environmental changes at all stages in the food chain, treating food waste management as seriously as food sourcing.”

By May, it is estimated that more than half of Waitrose’s waste will go to the program, with a target of 95% by 2013.  Waitrose Recycling & Waste manager, Arthur Sayer says: “We work to reduce the amount of waste we produce, as it’s not in our business interest to produce any waste at all. Inevitably though some food waste does occur and AD has proven to be a sustainable way of eliminating the need to send it to landfill, reducing our impact on the environment and creating renewable energy along the way.”