Reducing emissions by using food waste can also make money for manufacturers, according to the Bioenergy Association.
Brian Cox, Executive Officer of the Bioenergy Association, said “Using food processing wastes as a source of energy for the manufacturing plant is so obvious that it is no wonder that more and more food manufacturers are starting to install equipment that turns waste into energy. The equipment and processes are proven and can be easily installed.
“The treatment of food processing waste in a waste-to-energy facility also avoids the discharge of methane to the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas contributor.
“It is a no-brainer that using waste to produce energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions also reduces manufacturing costs.”
A study commissioned by the Bioenergy Association has identified that the waste from the food processing industry can be an opportunity for reducing processing plants’ energy costs and their carbon footprint.
A review of the amount of food processing industry waste which can be converted into energy and fertiliser by anaerobic digestion shows that over 106 kt CO2-e of emissions could be avoided by 2030 and over 207 kt CO2-e of emissions by 2050 provided appropriate acceleration policies are adopted by the government.
Mr Cox added: “Overall, there is a potential for reduction of emissions from industrial wastewater treatment (mainly red meat and poultry processing) by improving the efficiency of the existing anaerobic treatment ponds and using the generated gas as fossil fuels substitute to reduce operating costs.
“In addition, replacement of primary treatment technologies with anaerobic treatment coupled with efficient gas capture and utilisation has a potential to generate additional GHG emissions reduction (i.e. carbon charge reduction for industrial emissions) and provide renewable energy source for industrial heating.”