It’s a fact that a number of the largest and most successful UK grocery stores make biogas from food waste to power themselves. They save money on waste disposal charges and do all of us a favour by reducing the carbon emissions which are endangering life as we know it on this planet.
Think About Food Waste!
Where does all of the food that has reached the end of its shelf life go when the grocery store closes its doors at the end of the day? Is it really necessary to treat it as trash, or may it be put to good use?
What if it could help a store become self-sufficient in terms of energy? In the United Kingdom, a growing number of supermarkets are using leftover food waste to generate their own power, allowing them to function independently of the national grid.
Observing the Waste Hierarchy So That All Edible Food is Eaten
Of course, no one is advocating for the conversion of all unsold store food into biogas. The goal of these businesses is to reduce the amount of garbage that ends up in landfills. As a result, most, if not all, UK food retailers make it a point to donate all of the food that is safe to consume to their charitable partners. It is the charities whose volunteers in turn distribute it to the less fortunate.
In addition to stocking their local food banks, some of them may also donate food to zoos and animal rescue organisations to be used to feed the animals there in their care.
Biogas is Largely Methane Gas
Biogas is mostly made up of methane, which, if released into the environment uncombusted, is a strong greenhouse gas. Biogas, unlike natural gas, coal, or oil, which release carbon that was previously stored underground, is generated from organic sources that are already part of the carbon cycle and emits no carbon when consumed.
Biogas power generation may not only be a solution for supermarkets and food shops, but it may also be a lifesaver for remote areas in dire need of electricity. Wind and solar electricity can be intermittent depending on the weather, but biogas is more reliable than either. Additionally, anaerobic digestion does not require food waste to work. Biogas may be made from manure and other agricultural wastes for use in energy generation.
Now that we have explained the why and how of grocery store anaerobic digestion, we hope you will be interested enough to read on to learn more about how supermarket biogas is produced and read about UK grocery biogas plant examples:
U.K. Grocery Stores Powering Themselves on Biogas Generated from their Own Food Waste
British supermarket chain Sainsbury’s powers at least one of its grocery stores using only biogas generated from its own food waste. Other UK supermarket chains that report that they either operate their own small anaerobic digestion facilities or send food waste to external biogas plants include:
Supermarket chain Lidl cooperates with the biogas company Gasum to produce biogas from biowaste generated at Lidl grocery stores and also use biogas-powered trucks for deliveries.
In the year up to June 2021, the Sainsbury’s supermarket chain reported that they sent 26,545 tonnes of food waste to anaerobic digestion. We assume that this weight includes both their own biogas plants and that sent to external AD plants.
For example, for over 5 years their Cannock Store has been reported to be sending food waste from the local supermarket to the Biffa Poplars Biogas Facility. In return that supermarket is thought to be run off-grid and upon electricity from the nearby Biffa biogas plant which also processes food waste from kerbside household waste collections.
Food waste should only of course be sent to anaerobic digestion as a last resort, and instead of it going to landfill.
Sainsbury’s clearly recognises this and their data makes it clear that the total mass of food waste sent to anaerobic digestion is very low, at only 0.58% of their total weight of sales. Not only that, they have reduced the weight by 22% in the last year. They are clearly, acting to make the best use of their unsold food. They report that since 2013 they have sent zero waste to landfills.
The Tesco supermarket chain also uses anaerobic digestion. The most recent data we could find was that 16,391 tonnes of food waste went to anaerobic digestion and energy recovery in the financial year
2016/2017. Tesco says that it has sent no waste to landfills since 2009.
More profitable biogas production by optimization of anaerobic waste digestion
More profitable biogas production is very possible by optimization of the food industry’s anaerobic waste digestion facilities. The development of the anaerobic digestion plants at supermarkets positively contributes to effective food waste recycling when it obeys the waste hierarchy. The aim of anaerobic digestion at full-scale commercial AD plants is often:
- energy self-sufficiency
- profitable pathogen-free fertilizer production, and a
- reduction in carbon emissions for their businesses communities.
U.K. Grocery Stores could use Food Waste for HGV Fuel
By making use of a pair of the natural biochemical process of anaerobic digestion grocery stores can make biogas which in turn could be purified to turn supermarket food waste into environmentally friendly biofuel.
Biofuels can be used for cooking, heating and generating electricity, but are now thought to be most valuable when used to fuel transport vehicles especially heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), The fuel is renewable (hence emits no Greenhouse Gases) with far lower polluting emissions than regular petrol or diesel.
Determination of biogas generation potential as a renewable energy source from supermarket wastes
Determination of biogas generation potential as a renewable energy source from supermarket wastes has been reported on in the Waste Management Journal produced by Elsevier. A paper to read on this subject is the title: “Determination of biogas generation potential as a renewable energy source from supermarket wastes”; Gizem Alkanok, Burak Demirel ⇑, Turgut T.
UK Supermarket Uses Food Waste To Power Itself
A Sainsbury’s supermarket in the United Kingdom was claimed to be able to run on leftover food waste and unplug from the national grid. See our note above about the Sainsbury Cannock store.
UK supermarket will be the first to disconnect from the grid, use electricity generated entirely by its own rotten food
A supermarket in the United Kingdom became the first in the world to unplug from the power grid by generating electricity from rotting food from its premises.
A UK grocery store can reportedly disconnect itself from the national power grid. The Sainsbury UK supermarket in Cannock has become the world’s first market to remove itself from the national power grid and produce its own electricity entirely from food refuse.
U.K. Supermarket To Run On Electricity Made From Its Own Rotting Food
Sainsbury’s in Cannock, Staffordshire, has today (approximately dated July 2014) become the first supermarket in the United Kingdom to run entirely on power generated from food waste.
Sainsbury’s has a long history of utilising biogas. A Sainsbury’s store in Cannock, Staffordshire, has become the first in the United Kingdom to run entirely on power generated from food waste.
With the ability to generate up to 6.5 million MW of energy – enough to power 15,000 houses – the Cannock Biffa AD facility is the most efficient food waste processing AD plant in the United Kingdom. When it comes to offering a single point of trash disposal for packaged and unpackaged food waste, the facility is the finest in its class.
Global $88 Billion Biogas Markets to 2030
According to a report published in June 2012 by clean-tech industry research firm Navigant Research, the fast-growing biogas market generated $17.3 billion in worldwide sales in 2011 and is expected to nearly double in size to $33.0 billion by 2015.
Small-scale Biogas Reactors at Household or Community Level in Rural Areas
Small scale biogas plants at grocery stores can make biogas. Small-scale grocery store biogas reactors are also often designed to produce biogas at the household or community level in rural areas. The airtight reactors are filled with animal manure from the farm or other organic wastes.
Tesco Ireland to purchase biogas made from its surplus food
Tesco, the world’s largest supermarket chain, will soon become the first retailer in Ireland to use biogas generated from its excess food to power its stores.
Food waste from a number of Sainsbury’s stores will be trucked to a centralised facility for disposal.
Due to the fact that one shop cannot generate enough trash to power itself, The Biffa AD plant which takes unusable food waste from Cannock Sainsbury’s requires garbage from a variety of biowaste sources in order to operate. Biffa, which happens to operate a local trash recycling plant close to the Cannock shop, has already been provided with these resources.