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Waste ‘chocolate soup’ powers Nestlé

Rolos, Toffee Crisps and Caramacs are producing renewable energy and clean water
Chocolate Picture from MyGreenPod Sustainable News

A year after its launch, the anaerobic digester at Nestlé’s Newcastle factory is converting four tonnes of solid waste and 200,000 litres of liquid waste into renewable energy and clean water each day.

It’s turning waste chocolate – from Rolos and Toffee Crisps to Caramacs – into a ‘chocolate soup’, that’s then fed into the anaerobic digester.

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Power from chocolate

Bacteria in the airtight tank decompose the waste chocolate and convert it into by-products such as biogas.

The biogas produced fuels a combined heat and power engine, which produces 200kW of electricity, meeting about 8% of the site’s energy needs. As a result, greenhouse gas emissions from the factory in Newcastle are expected to fall by around 10%.

Zero waste to landfill

Since launch a year ago, the system has improved the quality of the water discharged from the factory. The equivalent of 41 Olympic-size swimming pools of clean water has been released from the site in the past year.

Greenhouse gas emissions at the factory have also improved, falling by approximately 10% as a result of the heat and power generated from the biogas produced at the Fawdon site in Newcastle.

‘We’re proud to announce that one year on from launch, we’ve achieved our target of zero waste to landfill at our Fawdon factory, thanks to the installation of a new anaerobic digester.

‘The system allows us to convert a large amount of waste that would otherwise enter sewage, used as feed stock or landfill systems and generate methane and other greenhouse gas emissions.’

Andrew Griffiths, Sustainability Manager, Nestlé Fawdon

The 2020 target

The digester at Fawdon, Nestlé’s biggest UK factory, was introduced as part of Nestlé UK & Ireland’s commitment to achieving zero waste for disposal in 10% of its factories by 2015, a target that was achieved two years early in 2013.

Across Europe, Nestlé is increasing its zero waste commitment, guaranteeing all of 150 factories do not send waste to landfill by 2020.

To help reduce the company’s carbon footprint and improve the environmental impact of the Fawdon factory, Nestlé turned to UK-based renewable energy expert Clearfleau, which built the bespoke industrial anaerobic digestion system.

Click here for the Nestlé Policy on Environmental Sustainability.

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