Over the last twelve months our Trust has produced a staggering 36 tonnes of food waste, but rather than send all of this waste to landfill we send our food waste to a nearby Anaerobic Digestion (AD) plant used to turn organic materials into renewable fuel.
In addition to the food waste processed by this method we recycled almost 200 tonnes of paper, cardboard, glass and batteries last year. The energy produced from our waste contributed to powering over 40,000 homes and businesses in the West Midlands over the past year.
As a major consumer of resources, we realise that our healthcare services can have a significant impact on the environment. Our Trust remains committed to reducing these impacts, whilst also working towards creating a more efficient and sustainable system. The AD process is a safe biological method in which food waste and other organic materials are broken down by micro-organisms in the absence of light and oxygen, to produce renewable energy and a nutrient-rich biofertiliser.
AD is based on a very simple, natural process. If managed correctly, with a well-constructed and reliable plant, it is a consistent and sustainable source of renewable energy and turns the problem of food waste into two valuable resources:
- Bio-fertilisers that help our farmers enrich the UK's soils without the use of petro-chemical fertilisers, which are costly to our environment. Using it improves the sustainability of farming by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases associated with fertiliser manufactures and by reconnecting nutrient cycles. AD is a biofertiliser, providing crops with readily available nitrogen and is an excellent alternative to bagged fertilisers.
- Green electricity to power our local homes and businesses – all generated from the very plate scrapings put into food waste bins only weeks before.
We also send our cooking oil away from both sites to be recycled and used to produce biodiesel. The cooking oil passes through a series of refinement, reaction and separation processes which converts it into biodiesel. The process is carefully monitored at every stage to ensure that the output will exceed the stringent requirements required by regulators to produce a clean, clear, low-odour biodiesel. This is particularly important in a world where most diesel engines and ignition systems have been technically refined to deliver extremely high levels of performance and efficiency.
The Trust in partnership with our Vital Services is working to embed environmental sustainability into the heart of the organisation. We are developing a Sustainable Development Management Plan, which will provide the foundations to guide us towards being more resource-efficient, with a view to protecting the environment for future generations and providing financial savings. Our food waste intitiative is just one step in the process to making this goal a reality.