Circular Malton & Norton, a pilot project bringing together businesses, authorities and the public, has secured funding from the Rural Community Energy Fund to conduct a feasibility study into establishing a community anaerobic digester.
A Circular economy focuses on keeping waste to an absolute minimum in order to protect the environment and the digester would use local food and agricultural waste to create heat and energy for the towns of Malton and Norton.
Sue Jefferson, a member of the Circular team, said it would be a “great solution” for waste which couldn’t be eaten.
“We recognise that there are a number of ways to avoid food waste ending up in landfill, including great initiatives like the Ryedale Free Fridge and the Too Good To Go schemes; however when the waste is not suitable for human consumption, anaerobic digestion is a great solution,” she said.
Lucy Hopwood, director of bioeconomy consultants NNFCC, who are carrying out the study, said they would be looking at the type and quantity of waste generated locally, what currently happens to that waste and how suitable or appropriate it is to use in a community anaerobic digester.
“We will be considering options such as inedible food waste, processing residues and agricultural wastes sourced from food and drink manufacturers, cafes and restaurants, schools, residents, shops, racing stables and farms in and around Malton and Norton.
“This will allow us to determine the optimum size and location of a digester and the energy, employment and environmental benefits that can be created for the town,” she explained.
There are many options to explore, including business models, new jobs created, carbon emissions reduced, suitable sites and how best the community could benefit from the renewable energy.
Malton and Norton residents and businesses will be invited to share their views in forums and through a research survey as the project progresses with the findings and suggested next steps being shared when the feasibility project is complete.
“The team expect this way of combining waste disposal, energy generation and nutrient recovery all in one system will provide significant renewable energy for our two towns,” Sue said.
“It will also create a consistent and plentiful supply of biofertiliser for farms and potentially also local residents and allotment holders, helping to further reduce the carbon footprint of our area and improve local soil fertility.”
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