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How Need a Tanker helps anaerobic digestion plants recycle your food waste

As one of the country’s leading specialists in collecting and disposing of liquid waste of all kinds, Need a Tanker runs a fleet of modern water tankers capable of transporting large volumes of liquid matter.

Those tankers play a big role in helping to prevent hazardous liquid waste from polluting the environment by enabling our customers to collect and dispose of it safely and responsibly.

But now we are also using those tankers to play a significant role in a technology called anaerobic digestion that can convert some of that waste into something that is having a positive effect on the world. 

Read on to find out more about anaerobic digestion, how Need a Tanker is involved, and why it’s playing a significant role in our drive towards a zero waste economy.


The importance of managing food waste

Food waste is rightly recognised as a major problem in today’s world. In the UK alone, in 2021 some 9.5 million tonnes of food waste was thrown away. While you may not immediately see this as a big issue – food waste biodegrades relatively quickly, after all – this food waste goes to landfill and then releases huge amounts of methane as it degrades. And methane is an even bigger contributor to climate change than carbon dioxide.

While there’s no doubt that the best thing that could be done with the vast majority of this waste food would be to use it to feed the poor and hungry, at least if it does get thrown away, there’s now a process that does something useful with it instead of damaging our planet even further.

That process is called anaerobic digestion (AD).

Anaerobic digesters or Biogas plant producing biogas from agricultural waste in rural Germany. Modern Biofuel Industry concept


What is anaerobic digestion?

Anaerobic digestion is a process by which food waste, farm waste and sewage sludge is used to create renewable energy in the form of electricity and heat. It is estimated that for every tonne of food waste that is processed in this way, somewhere between 0.5 and 1.0 tonnes of CO2 is prevented from entering the atmosphere. 

The waste is placed into a sealed tank (anaerobic means ‘without oxygen’), where it is broken down by microorganisms to produce biogas. That biogas is then used to mainly generate electricity for local use, as well as for feeding into the national grid. Further uses include contributing to natural gas stocks (but with fewer emissions) and creating transport fuel. 

In 2011, the UK government made a commitment to increasing energy from waste through AD in its Anaerobic Digestion Strategy and Action Plan. That commitment is reflected in the fact that in 2021, energy produced through AD amounted to 1,021 thousand tonnes of oil equivalent, the vast majority in the form of electricity.

If the creation of clean, renewable energy weren’t enough of a benefit, AD produces a byproduct called ‘digestate’, and the great news is that this also has a positive role to play.   


What happens to the digestate after anaerobic digestion?

While the clean energy is used to produce electricity and heat, the residue is a nitrogen and phosphorus-rich substance that can be used as a biofertiliser on farms across the UK. Because biofertilisers are made up of living organisms, they can boost growth by increasing the supply or availability of primary nutrients.

That makes it a great alternative to many of the commercial fertilisers that are seen as damaging the environment in which they are used.

Bio Gas Installation Processing Cow Dung as part of a Farm


How Need a Tanker can help your business

Need a Tanker is proud to be a part of this exciting chain, as we collect the digestate from AD plants and deliver it to farms and other end users across the country. Meanwhile, our sister company CSH Environmental also plays a significant role, as it delivers food waste to AD plants to be converted into energy and biofertilisers.

If you’d like to find out more about anaerobic digestion and be able to enjoy its many benefits, get in touch with the team at Need a Tanker today.

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