July 25, 2014

This Supermarket Runs on Its Own Food Waste! ~ Brenna Fischer

Screen Shot BBC News

It seems the UK supermarket chain, Sainsbury’s, has figured out a way to power themselves entirely by their own food waste.

Though turning food waste into energy is nothing new, the fact that a huge chain like Sainsbury’s is using it exclusively to power their store, is huge! They have succeeded in producing zero operational waste going to the landfills.

According to BBC News, the head of Sainsbury’s sustainability department, Paul Crewe, said:

“Sainsbury’s sends absolutely no waste to landfill and we’re always looking for new ways to re-use and recycle.” 

How are they doing it?

Here’s the break-down:

First, if it’s still good for human consumption, the produce that hasn’t been purchased by the end of the day gets marked down (smart, right? I don’t know why stores don’t do this already). After that’s done, anything left over is picked up by charitable organizations and re-distributed.

Next, if it’s not fit for humans it moves onto the next stage and is turned into animal feed.

If the food waste makes it past these two stages without getting used, it’s picked up by Biffa—the waste management company—and taken to an anaerobic digestion plant.

Ok, so pay attention here, because this is really cool.

Biffa and Sainsbury have devised giant silos that act like human stomachs and actually break this food down into bio methane gas, and this gas can actually generate electricity!

Finally, in order to re-route the energy back to the store, Sainsbury has installed a 1.5km electricity cable that runs directly to the store. On top of that, if too much energy is created for the store to use, it all goes back onto the National Grid—talk about sustainability!

Fun fact: Sainsbury’s generates enough energy to power 2,500 homes each year.

Think of what we could do with that kind of energy production.

Hearing this news fills me with hope and excitement about where our future is headed. Knowing that these corporations are starting to move in the direction of sustainability speaks loudly of our voice as consumers.

Decisions at this level are based on what the costumer wants and, let’s face it, what they demand. It’s nice to see that we, as costumers, are starting to demand a better place to live.

I never liked the phrase, “The costumer is always right.” It implies the right to act like a jerk and skit responsibility, just because money is involved. However, it seems in this case we’ve finally decided to use our consumer-powers for good rather than evil.



All supermarkets should do this!


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          Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

          Photo: BBC News

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