1-May-2015

Sainsbury's powers store with own food waste

 

A 1.5km cable has been installed connecting its Cannock superstore in Staffordshire with the nearby Biffa anaerobic digestion facility.

 

Waste food
Sainsbury’s has a policy of zero operational waste to landfill. Any unsold food that is still suitable for human consumption is given to charities. Some will be turned into animal feed, but any surplus will be sent to Biffa’s advanced anaerobic digestion facility. Photograph: Alamy

Sainsbury’s has a history of environmental firsts. Its Hythe store in Kent was the world’s first smart grid supermarket, and now its Cannock superstore, in Staffordshire, is the first to be entirely powered by the retailer’s own food waste.

 

Sainsbury’s has a very clear policy of zero operational waste to landfill. Any unsold food that is still suitable for human consumption is given to charities. Some will be turned into animal feed, but any surplus will be sent to Biffa’s advanced anaerobic digestion facility in Cannock.

 

Here waste food is broken down into bio-methane gas which, in turn, is used to generate electricity. Digestate, a further by-product of the process, is supplied to local Cannock farmers to use as a fertiliser.

 

All Sainbury’s supermarkets in the UK supply their food waste to the nearest Biffa facility. But because the store and the Biffa plant are so close, the two companies felt more could be done. They have installed a 1.5km cable linking the power plant to the superstore, providing a direct supply of renewable electricity.

 

The link means that the Cannock store can use renewable energy produced from Sainsbury’s own food waste, ending its reliance on the National Grid for day-to-day power supplies.

 

The project involved an investment of around £280,000 for installation of power cables, switch gears and legal fees. Yet the retailer estimates that, in one year , it may save £140,000 in reduced energy costs thanks to the project.

 

Sainsbury’s is already the UK’s largest retail user of anaerobic digestion, generating enough energy to power 2,500 homes a year.

 

The Cannock power link represents a small, but pioneering, contribution to decarbonising the grid and ensures that the store will receive a guaranteed low cost and sustainable supply of renewable energy for the foreseeable future.

 

 

Nicolette Fox - The Guardian