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• What happens to your food waste when it leaves the recycling bin? Read on…

• What happens to your food waste when it leaves the recycling bin? Read on…

Have you ever wondered what happens to your food waste after it’s collected each week? Well, Richmond Council have the answer.

Once it’s collected, your food waste is sent to Bio Collectors in Mitcham, where it’s anaerobically digested (decomposed in the absence of oxygen), in a controlled system.

The process, say the Council, uses natural micro-organisms to break down the organic matter into a compost-like product used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser on farmland, while also producing biogas – mainly methane.

The biogas is fed into the National Gas Grid, so the energy produced from recycling food is provided straight to homes and businesses. This helps reduce the UK’s reliance on less sustainable energy sources such as natural gas, which is a fossil fuel.

According to the Council, this is what happens:

At home, first we all separate our food waste for recycling and present our food waste boxes for kerbside collection. The council’s waste collection contactor empties them and delivers the contents to the West London Waste Authority’s depot in Brentford. From there, it heads to Mitcham to begin the recycling process.

Bio Collectors do their best to mechanically remove any packaging, plastic or other materials contaminating the food waste. It’s then broken down into small particles and pumped through a series of temperature-controlled tanks, where it’s monitored to ensure the bacteria have the optimal conditions to digest the food effectively.

After 72 hours, the waste will start to produce biogas – mainly methane, which is filtered, screened for purity and then fed into the National Gas Grid. This helps to supply homes and businesses with clean, renewable energy.

Once the biogas has been released, the food waste turns into a ‘digestate’, a compost-like product which is used as a soil conditioner and fertiliser on farmland. This enables farmers to produce more food and revitalise the land without the need for industrial chemicals.

• There’s more recycling news on Richmond Council’s website

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