Sainsbury's to turn food waste into biofuel

Company kicks off biofuel initiative in Scotland, vowing to stop sending all UK food waste to landfill by the summer

The green arms race between the UK's leading supermarkets continued this week as Sainsbury's followed the opening of Tesco's latest energy-efficient store with the unveiling of a major zero-waste initiative designed to ensure that all the company's food waste is converted into biofuel.

Speaking at a waste conference in Edinburgh yesterday, Sainsbury's environment manager, Alison Austin, said that the company was to fast track the scheme in Scotland and that from the end of next month it would stop sending any food waste from Scottish stores to landfill.

The waste, totalling 42 tonnes a week, will instead be sent to a biofuel refinery plant in Motherwell where it will be converted into fuel suitable for generating electricity.

"Each tonne of food waste diverted from landfill by Sainsbury's will generate enough power for 500 homes and will save three tonnes of CO2 compared with fossil fuels," said Austin, adding that the move marked the first step in a wider UK plan to stop using landfill for food waste by this summer and stop using landfill for all waste by the end of the year.

A spokesman for the company said it was looking to send waste food from all its stores to anaerobic digestion facilities where possible, or alternatively use biofuel refineries in regions where anaerobic digestion technologies are not available.

Austin added that the project, which has been undertaken in partnership with biofuel specialist PDM Group, would also result in about 336 waste-collection lorries being taken off the road.

The announcement comes just days after Tesco also moved to underline its green credentials with the opening of a new eco store, boasting a carbon footprint 70 per cent lower than an equivalent-sized store built just two years ago.

The company said that a wide range of energy-efficiency measures, such as skylights, automated energy management systems and new refrigerator units, had served to cut the new store in Manchester's energy bills by 48 per cent. It added that the store would now provide a template for all future new stores as it seeks to cut carbon emissions and energy bills across its supermarkets.

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