Remember that scene in Back To The Future II where Doc Brown roots through a rubbish bin and finds banana peels and other items to power up his DeLorean time machine?
The idea of turning food waste into energy seemed pretty futuristic at the time. Well, the technology now exists in Northern Ireland to make it a reality. Ok, so time travel remains impossible, but renewable energy in the form of electricity is being created from food scraps at Granville Ecopark in Dungannon with the help of anaerobic digesters.
When food is biodegraded by bacteria in an oxygen-free environment, such as in a landfill, the greenhouse gas methane is generated. However, under controlled conditions, such as digesters, the methane can be captured and used to produce power.
Granville Ecopark produces 2.76 megawatts of renewable electricity into Northern Ireland’s local grid – enough to provide electricity for 5000 of our homes! The material leftover at the end of the process can be reused as compost in local parks.
This is exciting work. Food contains useful ingredients for industrial purposes and every bit of energy that can be drawn from it means that we don’t need to use other resources.
Now that the value of food waste has been recognised, we’re finding all sorts of great things to do with it. So, the next time you put a banana peel in your caddy, think of Doc Brown and his DeLorean! He’d be thrilled.
If your rubbish bin is overflowing with leftovers, vegetable peelings, and tea bags, why not put it on a diet? It’s easy to do. Recycling your food waste instead of putting it in the bin only takes a little effort and is an easy way to help protect the environment and save your local council money they can spend on local services.