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Processors could reap benefits from new UK anaerobic digestion plant

By Oliver Nieburg , 18-Jan-2012

Malaby Biogas plans to build a £5m anaerobic digestion plant at Bore Hill Farm in Wiltshire, UK
Malaby Biogas plans to build a £5m anaerobic digestion plant at Bore Hill Farm in Wiltshire, UK

Food producers can cut costs and boost environmental credentials by recycling food waste at a new anaerobic digestion plant in Wiltshire, UK, according to the firm behind the facility.

Wiltshire-based company Malaby Biogas has secured an £800,000 loan from the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to build a £5m anaerobic digestion at a 12-acre site in Bore Hill Farm to the south of Warminster, Wiltshire.

The company becomes the first recipient of Defra’s £10m anaerobic digestion fund launched in July last year and administered by WRAP.

Anaerobic digestion uses microrganisms to break down food waste into biogas that can be burnt to produce heat or electricity, or cleaned to make vehicle fuel.

Benefits

Malaby CEO Thomas Minter told FoodProductionDaily.com that the facility would be open to those in the business sector and will include retailers, restaurants and food producers.

“Anerobic digestion is a cost effective alternative lower than the cost of landfill tax, which makes it attractive for food manufacturers,” he said.

He added using the plant would help promote a company’s green credentials and allow firms to better conform to Government waste policies.

Which manufacturers?

Minter said the plant would be a regional destination rather than a national one, though good road links meant the facility would be within a large catchment area for food producers.

Food manufacturers in Southampton, Bath, Salisbury, Swindon, Berkshire and Wiltshire could benefit from the plant, he said.

He confirmed that Malaby was in negotiation with a number of food manufacturing companies, but said that many food producers already had waste disposal contracts in place.

Plant capacity

“Initially the plant will process around 17,000 tonnes of waste a year and we’d hope to be able to handle up to 20,000 tonnes at full capacity,” said Minter.

The plant is expected to generate 4.3m kilowatt hours of electricity a year, enough to power 1,000 homes. However, around 7% of this is likely to be used to power the plant itself, and any excess will be sold on to National Grid.

Minter added that the plant would an integrated visitor’s centre where production could be viewed from reception and meeting rooms.

He expects food manufactures to get a promotional benefit from this feature.

On-site plants

Some food processers, such as over chip maker McCain Foods, have built onsite anaerobic digestion plants to help it produce energy to power processes.

For example, in 2008 McCain Foods announced plans to build a facility that would provide up to 70% of the annual energy requirements required to operate its plant.
McCain previously told this website that its plant would have the capacity to generate enough alternative energy to power over 7,500 domestic homes a year.

However, Malaby’s CEO said that a large regulatory barrier exists for food manufacturers hoping to have smaller on-site plants.

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