Ipswich/Southwold: Waitrose extends food waste bio-gas link with Adnams plant

SUPERMARKET chain Waitrose has extended its partnership with Suffolk-based Adnams Bio Energy, under which food waste from its stores is turned into “green” energy.

Waitrose, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, is already sending waste from seven stores in Suffolk and Norfolk to the anaerobic digestion facility which operates alongside Adnams’ distribution centre a Reydon.

The plant, a joint venture between the Southwold brewer and Bio Group, headed by Suffolk businessman Steve Sharratt, converts waste from Adnams’ brewing process and other food waste from the local area into bio-gas which is then supplied to the national grid.

Waitrose has also been sending waste to the plant for the last two years and, in the past month, the John Lewis Partnership has completed a national project to ensure that food waste from all of its stores is diverted from landfill to anaerobic digestion.

Besides the Waitrose stores in Saxmundham, Bury St Edmunds, Sudbury, Newmarket, Norwich, Wymondham and Swaffham, the John Lewis department store in Norwich also sends food waste from its restaurant to the Reydon plant.

And now, with a new Waitrose supermarket and a neighbouring John Lewis at home store due to open in Ipswich on November 8, the partnership has ensured that it will maintain its 100% record by sending food waste from both new stores to the Adnams site as well.

Mike Walters, the John Lewis Partnership’s operations manager for recycling and waste, visited the Reydon plant yesterday, together with Paul Reeley, who has been appointed manager of the new Waitrose store in Ipswich, and deputy manager Ken MacDonald.

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Mr Walters said: “We are really pleased that we are able to continue our relationship with Adnams and add the new Ipswich branch to the scheme, which already covers seven of our branches in East Anglia.

“This innovative plant allows us to make use of unavoidable food waste. This month we have reached our goal of sending zero food waste to landfill, three months ahead of our target which is a fantastic achievement. It is partnerships with other businesses, such as Adnams, that have made this possible.”

Mr Reeley added: “We’re really looking forward to seeing everything come full circle in this process – from seeing the waste getting processed into gas, seeing the gas help to brew the beer and then see that beer end up on our shelves.

“It’s great to work with local suppliers, but even better that we can work in such a way that will benefit the environment.”

Adnams Bio Energy generates up to 4.8million kilowatt-hours of gas per year, which is enough energy to heat up 235 family homes for a year or run an average family car for 4 million miles.

It is the first commission in the UK to use brewery and local food waste to produce renewable gas for use in the national grid, with many other anaerobic digestion facilities instead using the gas produced to generate electricity.

In 2008, Waitrose became the first national food retailer to adopt anaerobic digestion as the best environmental solution for its food waste and subsequently became the first food retailer to use the Adnams’ plant.

Waitrose currently has 285 stores across the UK, including 34 “Little Waitrose” convenience stores, and there are 38 John Lewis stores, consisting of 30 department stores and eight John Lewis at home outlets.

Besides food waste from the new Waitrose store in Ipswich, waste from the staff and customer restaurants on the site will also go to the Adnams Bio Energy plant.