AD could provide stop-gap for farm waste surplus

Leaders of the anaerobic digestion (AD) sector have praised WRAP’s research into levels of waste in the agricultural supply chain and are optimistic about the role AD could play as a short and medium-term solution to managing this.

Phil Gerrard, CEO of specialist energy from waste funder, Privilege Finance, says that although cutting down waste at source should be the priority, looking at ways to handle this surplus in the interim should not be forgotten.

“Food waste is a significant contributor to UK carbon emissions, so it’s fantastic that WRAP have invested in this research, to understand more about what can be done at primary production.

“However, implementing these changes will take time and requires major behavioural change,” Phil says.

“Having worked with the farming sector for over 15 years and supplied over £300m in funding for energy from waste plants, we believe AD presents an interim solution to this challenge.”

Data from the AD and Bioresources Association (ADBA) shows that there are already over 320 biogas plants on farms across the UK, some of which are successfully processing over 2.4m tonnes of farm waste to produce a green source of electricity or gas.

AD is also currently mitigating 1%, or around 4.7m tonnes, of CO2 equivalent each year in the UK, capturing methane that would have otherwise been released to the atmosphere. At the same time, the number of food ‘waste’ plants in the UK is also on the rise.

All of this contributes towards the UK ‘leading the world’ in delivering its net zero targets – a goal stated by Boris Johnson in his inaugural speech as Prime Minister to Parliament yesterday.

“With opportunities to decarbonise the grid and reduce emissions in the agricultural supply chain, the role that AD can potentially play is undeniable,” explains Phil.

An on-farm AD plant