Ealing turns food waste into energy

Image from arimoore under Creative Commons license

Digestion is, of course, the process whereby your gut breaks down food you ingest into components that it can use. Anaerobic Digestion (AD) is a the name for a similar (but industrial) process where microorganisms break down organic matter (but without requiring oxygen to do so). AD is used in some places to produce energy: when the little bacteria break down organic waste one of the resulting products is a biogas that makes a nifty fuel.

AD isn’t widespread yet. The process is a bit finicky to control, and start-up costs for an AD plant can be big. However, there is such an AD plant in Bedfordshire run by a company called Biogen. I think that’s pretty exciting. They take food waste that would otherwise simply go into a landfill somewhere, break it down, and produce methane-rich gas and concentrated organic fertiliser from the solids.

Ealing, where I live, has been improving its recycling programmes in recent years. It has a good food waste recycling programme: they offer cheap composters if you’ve got a garden (we have one), and provide you with a food waste bin so that they can collect household food waste from the roadside each week for those who don’t compost. That collection service is handy even if you do compost because it accepts things you might not want to add to your garden compost pile (e.g., meat and fish scraps).

I’ve just found out that Ealing has now become the first London borough to send its food waste to Biogen’s AD plant. Yay, Ealing! They give you composters, offer to pick up any food waste, and turn that waste into energy. They really couldn’t make it any simpler, could they?