Speaking to letsrecycle.com last week (September 17), the company's commercial team manager, Suzanne McDermott, said that its current priority was making councils, food retailers and food producers aware of the energy potential of food waste.
The calorific value of food waste means it's absolutely perfect for producing energy
Suzanne McDermott, of PDM said:
"The calorific value of food waste means it's absolutely perfect for producing energy," she said, explaining that "we're telling local authorities, commercial food companies etc. that its worthwhile getting it source-segregated to get that energy out of it."
She added that PDM was now talking to "a lot of councils", noting that some local authorities were currently composting a "small proportion" of food waste alongside green waste.
However, Ms McDermott acknowledged that there would be a "cost implication" for councils that did decide to introduce source-segregated collections of food waste.
PDM has traditionally drawn the majority of its customer base from the commercial food and catering sectors, and in January 2009 it signed a 'long-term' contract to deal with all Sainsbury's food waste (see letsrecycle.com story).
Earlier this year, the Doncaster-based company also revealed that it had plans to invest £110 million in the energy generation side of its activities, including building a number of anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities (see letsrecycle.com story).
In June 2009, it set up a joint venture, known as ReFood UK, with German AD specialists SARIA Bio-Industries to establish the facilities, the first of which is expected to be up-and-running in Doncaster early next year.
Ms McDermott explained that "we have gone with the German model because it's solely for treating food waste," and added that "what's already in the UK is working well but it's mainly for agricultural purposes".
Outlining the company's exact plans with regards AD, she said that it aimed to develop "a further six AD plants over the next five years which map us out across the country", with each facility offering the capacity to treat up to 45,000 tonnes of food waste a year, producing 2MW of electricity.
PDM also has two biomass waste-to-energy facilities - in Widnes and Rushden - which use fluidised bed combined heat and power technology to treat meat industry residues, and a network of rendering facilities, and Ms McDermott explained that "whatever's closest becomes the first port of call" as the company looked to reduce the carbon impact of treating the waste.
With regards the outputs from the ReFood AD process, she acknowledged that "sometimes farmers might not want it, so the alternative is to put it straight into the CHP," explaining that "we always have to have a back-up, we have always got the alternative - we can send it to our rendering or energy plants."
PDM is currently in talks with farmers located near to the Doncaster site about using the digestate produced by the AD process, and the company has previously said that it will look to gain the PAS110 standard for the digestate when the facility is up-and-running