Sainsbury have been trialling a scheme to use food waste from some of their stores to supply ReFood, a food waste recycling firm. ReFood use the food waste to generate biogas and fertiliser in an anaerobic digestion (AD) process. The gas is then injected to the national gas transmission system and eventually imported by Sainsbury at their stores across the UK.
Since May 2015 the supermarket chain has been supplied with 50GWh of biomethane across 10 stores via the AD process. This is enough carbon-neutral electricity to power the equivalent of 5000 homes. ReFood has since confirmed that, over the next 12 months, a further six stores will be installed with gas fired combined heat and power systems.
The programme has contributed significantly to Sainsbury’s sustainable energy aim. Its first year saw ‘biogas’ produce 10% of the company’s entire national energy use. The company is also committed to operating with zero operational waste going to landfill by finding uses for inedible food waste. Sainsbury do this through a strict hierarchy system where food waste is either sold at a discount, passed to charity partners or sent to farms for animal feed.
Paul Densham, Sainsbury’s utilities buyer said: “Increasing the sustainability of our UK stores is a key corporate priority and we’re making great progress in our drive to reduce food waste across the business. Working in partnership with ReFood allows us to effectively recycle our food waste, creating renewable energy as a result.
“What’s more, it sits well alongside our wider sustainability goals, such as working with food redistribution charities and prioritising sustainable transport strategies. The project has helped us to become a market leader in sustainability and waste reduction, ensuring that we send zero waste to landfill – a promise we’ve been able to make for some years now.“