Emerald Biogas, which opened its state-of-the-art food waste plant last year, is launching a campaign directed at schools across the region called ‘Waste Warriors: Food for Thought’ to tackle the growing problem of food waste.

The company, which manages a commercial anaerobic digestion facility in Newton Aycliffe – the first of its kind in the north east – is giving schools in the north east the opportunity to take part in its school engagement programme and inviting pupils to become ‘waste warriors’.

Food waste is a growing concern and in the north east alone over 800,000 tonnes of food waste is generated every year, with over 80,000 tonnes of generated by schools in England every year. In response to the demand from industry to tackle the issue, Emerald Biogas developed its anaerobic digestion plant at its site in County Durham.

Adam Warren, Director, Emerald Biogas, said: “As part of the project we will work with the pupils to help them understand the growing impact of food waste disposal and the environmentally friendly solutions that are available. Food waste to landfill is a growing concern, with over 80 kilograms thrown away on average in a primary school each week. Through our initiative, pupils will have the opportunity to understand the problem of food waste and our innovative solution, which also results in the production of green energy.”

Five schools are already on board, with St. Edwards School in Middlesbrough, Coxhoe Primary School and Barnard Castle Prep School in County Durham, Hurworth Primary School in Darlington and Woodham Burn Community Primary School in Newton Aycliffe looking forward to getting started.

Stephen Jones, Headteacher, Coxhoe Primary School, said: “Coxhoe Primary is very pleased to be involved with Emerald Biogas and their 'Waste Warriors' campaign. We are very conscious about the need to recycle and pupils in our school have already set up methods to recycle plastic, paper, tin and card so this is an exciting and innovative project to help pupils recognise how they can further lower the carbon footprint they leave. The idea that we can use food waste to create energy is intriguing and I am sure will appeal to all of our pupils and further develop their understanding of active citizenship and our responsibilities to take care of the planet by seeking alternative and renewable energy sources for the future.”

Alongside a presentation from the Emerald Biogas team on the benefits of recycling, pupils will work through a simple and fun workbook that will encourage collaborative working, creative design, problem solving and mathematics amongst other core skills. There is also a chance for the schools to win a £250 voucher by taking part in a poster competition.

Adam added: “This is an exciting opportunity to talk to pupils about innovative thinking and how we can all make a contribution to the energy shortage issue whilst tackling the food waste to landfill problem.”

The project will take place over a period of two weeks and during that time Emerald Biogas will collect the participating school’s food waste to process through the plant. Schools taking part will also be able to bring pupils on a site visit to the plant to experience the food waste-processing journey in action.

The £8 million facility at Emerald Biogas has been designed to recycle food waste - leftover and unsold products - generated by commercial organisations including schools, food manufacturing companies, retailers and leisure outlets amongst others. Once the waste is collected Emerald Biogas then recycles it using the very latest anaerobic digestion technology to create valuable new commodities such as renewable energy and fertiliser for use on local agricultural land. Working with the private and public sector it is committed to recycling and reusing the region’s food waste to generate electricity, heat and bio-fertilisers.

Formed in 2009, Emerald Biogas is owned by three partners with a wealth of experience in agriculture and recycling. Antony and Adam Warren are the owners of long established food and animal by products recycling business, John Warren ABP. Together with Ian Bainbridge’s diverse farming, land and resource management Agricore, they will provide the region with a beneficial sustainable resource.

John Warren ABP manages the collection for Emerald Biogas. With over three generations waste management experience and family owned, the company offers a food disposal service at Hamsterley and has progressed into the next generation of food processing.

The funding for the project was made available through the Rural Development Programme for England, which is jointly funded by Defra and the European Union.

For more information about Emerald Biogas at www.emeraldbiogas.com

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