Turning stale sandwiches into energy for cash

Story about the toilets having honesty box rather than having to pay for them.''Pictured:  Chair of parish council Carroll Reeve ANL-140306-191002009
Story about the toilets having honesty box rather than having to pay for them.''Pictured: Chair of parish council Carroll Reeve ANL-140306-191002009
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An eco group is looking at the feasibility of building a green waste disposal centre to convert food into energy.

Transition Lavenham has won a grant to look at the pros and cons of developing an anaerobic digester near the village.

If proved viable, the next step would be to look at getting funding for the centre, which would cost up to £10million to build.

The aim is for it to be self-funding with bio-gas energy – produced from food waste such as stale sandwiches, vegetable peelings or supermarket food past its sell-by date – being sold.

Carroll Reeve, chairman of Transition Lavenham and also the parish council, said: “This is a really exciting chance for us to access expert advice to investigate a way in which we can develop a renewable energy project which provides real benefits to local people while allowing us to make a positive impact in tackling climate change.”

Transition group member John Busby said the anaerobic digester could be similar to one built in Halstead on an industrial estate which converts food waste into energy.

If one was to be built in Lavenham, it would need a two-hectare site, he said.

The group has appointed an energy consultancy called Farm Renewables to carry out the feasibility study following the grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund.

He said: “We will be reviewing the progress of the feasibility study as it proceeds. The team will assist Farm Renewables as unpaid volunteers.”

Mr Busby said anaerobic digestion was a process where the organic matter gets broken down into bio-gas which can fuel an electricity generator or be processed for injection into the gas grid.

“It works on a similar basis as wind and solar power and the Government feed-in tariffs which mean you are paid for what you generate.”

He added that the group expected the feasibility study to take at least six months to complete.

Transition Lavenham was formed in 2008, and the group has put together an action plan for the village.

Its main objectives are to research and implement alternative means of energy production, give help and advice on energy and to encourage local food production.