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Food giant looks to potato power

A major British food manufacturer is to power its factory in Carlisle, northern England through potatoes.

2 Sisters Food Group says it is pioneering the process having installed a à‚£50m plant that allows surplus mash from its production line to be converted into on-site electricity, in a move that should cut carbon emissions by a fifth.

The plant’s owners claim the technology will produce 3,500 megawatt hours per year of electricity, or enough to power around 850 homes, and generate a further 5,000 MWh per year in heat for its manufacturing processes.
2 sisters food
The anaerobic digestion plant takes peelings, unused potato and even whole cottage pies if they would otherwise go to waste. It is the size of a five-storey building and will produce gas that can be used to generate electricity and heat.

Andrew Edlin, group sustainability director for 2 Sisters, told FT online that it was as much about cutting costs as saving the planet. “This is not just corporate PR. We will have improved profitability.”

The major supermarket supplier has developed the bio refinery through outside investors and is a partnership with H2 Energy, a Liverpool-based company that developed the technology. The investors will be paid for the power produced.

Because it is dealing predominantly with a single source of waste, the digestion plant is more efficient than other types that handle mixed waste.

The waste residue can be used as fertiliser and could complete a circular journey back to one of 2 Sisters’ 700 chicken farms.

The company hopes to equip 10 plants with the bio refineries and aims to cut carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2018, generating 35,000 tonnes of carbon savings a year and cutting 20,000 truck journeys.

The next four refineries will use the remains of chickens. 2 Sisters produces about a third of the poultry products eaten every day in the UK, processing 6m chickens a week.