Anaerobic digestion is a form of biological treatment which digests food waste in a closed bioreactor. As recycling and recovery targets increase, Local Authorities must look for new technology to manage waste more effectively.
Organic waste - usually food - produces a biogas which is captured to produce energy and heat. The by-product, a digestate or residual organic waste, can be used in agriculture, often after composting.
Anaerobic digestion (AD) depends on better segregation of waste at its source and accepts fewer waste types than ordinary composting, so it is less popular than other, more widely used techniques.
We support the development of AD and believe it will play a role handling source segregated organic wastes in integrated waste management strategies.
The cost of AD (with source separated input) is likely to be comparable to the cost of energy recovery incineration, but with higher collection costs. Like all the other ways in which we deal with household waste, we believe AD should be considered within a wider framework which takes into account all waste streams, collection and separation methods and local factors before choosing the right solutions.
Veolia recognises that AD can play an important part in the management of organic waste. Our contribution to the DEFRA AD Task Group and European FP7 programme reflects an ongoing commitment to AD in the UK and further afield.
Where it offers the best-fit solution, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with our partners to develop and use AD for the efficient management of collected food waste.
We support the application of standards such as PAS 110 to the production and use of digestate. Anaerobic Digestion can also be used to recover energy from residual municipal waste which we are already doing in reference facilities in Europe.