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Max and Mhairi - pupils at St Michael's Primary School - with Esther Brown and Winston the Waste Warrior

A commercial food waste facility has visited a third school in County Durham as part of its “Waste Warriors” campaign to talk about food waste and help pupils understand the growing impact of disposing of unwanted food.

Emerald Biogas, based at Newton Aycliffe in County Durham, recently launched the campaign to schools across the north east in response to the national food waste problem and St Michael’s C of E Primary School in Ferryhill was delighted to take up the offer.

Esther Brown, Commercial Manager at Emerald Biogas talked with 32 Year Three and Four pupils about how big a problem food waste is, both locally and nationally, where the food waste comes from and why it should be recycled and not sent to landfill.

The young recyclers also learned about the process of anaerobic digestion, with the benefits of green energy and fertiliser produced at the other end, as well as what they can do to help by becoming a Waste Warrior.

Mhairi, aged seven, said: "I think the Waste Warrior programme is eco-friendly and turns food waste into something useful".

Eight-year old Max said: "It's good to think that our waste is no longer going to be waste."

Following the presentation, pupils were given workbooks with activities such as designing a team logo, filling in the gaps for the anaerobic digestion process and recording the food miles for school’s lunch, to develop their creative design, problem solving and mathematics skills.

The youngsters also have the chance to win a £250 voucher for their school by designing a series of colourful and creative posters that get the food waste message across, as part of a wider north east schools competition. The winning school will be able to purchase an environmentally friendly resource, which can be used for the school’s green initiatives.

Over the next two weeks Emerald Biogas will collect the school’s food waste to process through the plant. The pupils will also be able to visit the anaerobic digestion plant to experience the food waste-processing journey in action.

James Paley, class teacher, said: "Pupils at St Michael's care deeply about the environment and are keen to participate in another eco-friendly initiative to complement the work they already do in school. The children are excited at the prospect of visiting the bio-gas plant."

Esther Brown, Commercial Manager at Emerald Biogas, said: “We are now well into our food waste campaign with schools and I have found the pupils to be very enthusiastic and excited about the project. They also have a good understanding of food waste issues already so it has been really positive so far. I am very much looking forward to seeing the creativity and thoughts behind the posters for the competition.”

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, with over 80 kilograms thrown away on average in a primary school each week.

Six additional schools are now planning to take part, including schools from Northumberland, Middlesbrough, Darlington and Newton Aycliffe.

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 of 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.

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