Press release

Food waste helps fuel economic growth

A new food waste recycling facility which supports economic growth and a healthy environment was opened by Defra Minister of State David Heath…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

A new food waste recycling facility which supports economic growth and a healthy environment was opened by Defra Minister of State David Heath today.

Wessex Water’s sewage treatment works in Avonmouth could create jobs and new business opportunities and is the first such facility in the area.  Built and operated by Wessex Water subsidiary GENeco, the new anaerobic digestion plant can annually turn 40,000 tonnes of food waste into a renewable energy supply equivalent to serving 3,000 homes.  It also produces a nutrient-rich organic fertiliser to help local farmers reduce their costs and reliance on non-organic chemical fertilisers.

Speaking at the official opening, David Heath said:

“We see here the ideal balance between good business sense and environmental protection.  A growth investment which helps business reduce its costs and build new commercial and job-creating opportunities, while resolving an environmental problem.  Money has gone into creating new jobs and an economic growth opportunity rather than paying the costs of disposing of Bristol’s food waste.

“The Government is actively supporting this sector, and in the past year alone the UK has doubled the amount of food waste converted into renewable energy.  Growth in this sector not only provides jobs in construction and waste industries, but helps British companies develop export opportunities.”

During his visit to the plant, Mr Heath found out how Wessex Water had invested in GENeco to solve a serious business problem caused by the growing costs of both electricity and of waste disposal.  Now they have turned a problem into a resource, which has cut their business’s electricity costs and is helping them develop new business opportunities which will create jobs locally and across the UK.

Mr Heath added:

“The GENeco plant is also unique by being the first food waste anaerobic plant in Britain to be built in a sewage treatment works.  Water companies can provide a significant boost to the expansion of waste food anaerobic digestion in this country by using their expertise from treating sewage.

“This could potentially create thousands of new jobs and generate significant amounts of renewable energy, while solving a major environmental issue in the disposal of waste food.”

Mr Heath was shown around the new plant by GENeco General Manager Mohammed Saddiq, who commented:

“The opening of the food waste plant builds on the success and experience of using anaerobic digestion to treat sewage sludge and generate power.

“Through this investment we will produce significantly more renewable energy, while also providing a sustainable solution for dealing with food waste which traditionally goes to landfill.

“Dealing with food waste in the this way is better for the environment as it prevents greenhouse gases, by capturing methane which can be used to produce power.”

Wessex Water said it was building anaerobic digestion plants at other sites in its region due to the environmental benefits they offered and because they helped tackle the problem of growing electricity and waste disposal costs.

Wessex Water Chairman Colin Skellett said:

“GENeco provides the opportunity to extend this to food waste so that what we all produce - whether in the form of sewage or food - is being put to good use and helping to generate renewable energy.”

Published 3 December 2012