Where your recycling goes – food waste

A vehicle collecting food waste from a warehouse at GENeco

Where does Bristol's recycled food waste go?

Our Community Engagement Team are exploring the journeys that your recycling takes once it leaves Bristol. First up we visited the GENeco plant at Avonmouth to discover what happens to all our leftover food.

Separating waste materials
Getting more people to recycle their food waste is really important for us. Not only can food waste cause major problems when left unseparated from waste going to landfill, but it can also be fully recycled with nothing wasted. Did you know every tonne of food waste diverted from the landfill will displace 0.6 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere?

All the food waste created by Bristol is processed by a company called GENeco – they have pioneered a technique which allows them to generate biogas from our leftover food. They also create a useful fertiliser from the remaining solids.

The process goes like this:

  • Food waste is collected by Bristol Waste and stored in a separate container from other materials
  • This is then transported to the GENeco plant in Avonmouth
  • They have a machine which opens all the food waste bags and separates out the loose material
  • The food waste is pasteurised into a bio-fertiliser which is then used by farmers
  • The waste from the pasteurisation process is fed into anaerobic digesters where micro-organisms break it down, producing methane-rich biogas.

This biogas is used to generate electricity and provided fuel for the Bio-Bus and Bio-Bug. The solid by-product of the anaerobic digestion is called “cake” and can be used by farmers as an alternative to conventional and unsustainable fertilisers.

The “cake” used as a fertiliser by farmers.

Seeing the process in action is amazing, and GENeco is able to process all sorts of food and liquid waste, ensuring the nutrients and energy in food which would otherwise be sent to landfill is harnessed and utilised.

Making sure you recycle your food waste is an important step if you would like a new food caddy or food waste bin you can order one for free here. Compostable bags can be purchased in most major supermarkets, and you can use newspaper to wrap your food waste in too.

Everyone has food waste, whether it’s just teabags and apple cores or the leftovers you forgot about, so please get involved and start recycling your food waste. It’s one of the most problematic materials in the landfill, and we have a simple solution for solving it.

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