Oxfordshire County Council and Agrivert have received a national award for treating the county’s food waste at a state-of-the-art facility. The authority signed a 15-year contract with the company in 2009 to deal with left-over food collected from doorsteps across the county, and the work has now received a ‘Gold’ Green Apple Environment Award for best practice. Some 15,600 tonnes of domestic food waste was treated at the Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant in Cassington in 2011/12, with the facility generating enough renewable energy to power around 4,200 homes.
The award was received at a ceremony at the Houses of Parliament on Monday.
The technology works by breaking the waste down to produce methane which is then ‘captured’ and converted into electricity. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas which would be emitted to the atmosphere if the food waste were landfilled instead. The effect is equivalent to taking 70,000 cars off the road each year.
The process also produces fertiliser for around 3,000 acres of local farmland, providing a huge boost to local farmers and cutting down on transport mileage.
Improving recycling performance
Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Growth and Infrastructure Hilary Hibbert-Biles said: “The AD plant at Cassington has changed the way in opening up an entirely new means of dealing with food waste, creating green energy and helping the local economy in the process. This award is hugely deserved for everyone involved in the project and the success we have seen over the last few years.
“Thanks to the effort of our residents, Oxfordshire has the highest recycling and composting rate of any county council – more than 60 per cent in total. The District and City councils have excellent comprehensive kerbside collection schemes, which includes food waste from all houses. Through our contract with Agrivert all food waste is treated within county helping achieve this fantastic performance and reducing the mileage waste is transported.”
Alexander Maddan, Agrivert’s Chief Executive said: “All districts in Oxfordshire have had tremendous success with their organics recycling, and the introduction of food waste collections has enabled the local authorities to reach their excellent recycling rates. Agrivert are proud to support the councils in meeting these targets and look forward to continuing to build on this success in the future.”
Oxfordshire has achieved an overall recycling and composting rate of more than 60% for 2011/12. Food waste treated at the Cassington AD Plant contributed seven percentage points to the overall recycling rate.
Green Apple Awards
The Green Apple Awards have become established as the country’s major recognition for environmental endeavour among companies, councils, and communities.
They are organised by The Green Organisation, an independent group dedicated to recognising and promoting environmental best practice.
Judges for the Green Apple Awards are drawn from the Environment Agency, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the Chartered Institution for Wastes Management and other independent bodies.
Photo: Councillor Hibbert-Biles with Agrivert Commercial Director Harry Waters at the award ceremony.