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Valorising food waste at Network Rail

Prior to the food waste digester, the site had 120 tonnes of food waste collected every year, but after its installation, this has been decreased to 24 tonnes per year, reducing the waste by 80% per annum. The reason for this enormous reduction in the volume of waste is due to the food digester’s ability to efficiently turn leftover food into a resource.

Valorise: to enhance or try to enhance the price, value or status of by organised action
 
Background

Network Rail, the infrastructure manager for the majority of the rail network across the UK, has been a client of Mitie since 2010.

Working in partnership with Mitie’s waste management business, Network
Rail has recently installed a top of the range food waste digester at its head office, The Quadrant, in Milton Keynes.

What was the issue?

The office, with around 2,700 employees, has a number of on-site restaurants, cafés and shops, resulting in a large amount of food waste from leftover plate scrapings and unsold food items.

How did we help?

Mitie worked with Network Rail to assess their current waste situation, coming to the conclusion that a food waste digester would be the most viable route to take.

After a straightforward training session with Network Rail employees, it was clear that everyone was engaged with the process, and that it would be an easy transition. The food scrapings are simply placed into one compartment of the digester, where a unique blend of microbes is added, breaking down the food down into valuable biomass in about 12 hours.

Results

Prior to the food waste digester, the site had 120 tonnes of food waste collected every year, but after its installation, this has been decreased to 24 tonnes per year, reducing the waste by 80% per annum.

The reason for this enormous reduction in the volume of waste is due to the food digester’s ability to efficiently turn leftover food into a resource.

Network Rail is really pleased with the success of the digester, how quickly the staff took to it and how easy it is to use. Since its installation, the number of bins needed to be collected per week has reduced from 15 to three – which is significant from both a monetary and environmental perspective, as well as reducing the company’s carbon footprint.

“I’m really pleased that Network Rail chose to invest in this new technology; we’re always looking for ways to help reduce our environmental impacts and this initiative has been a real success. The savings are excellent; 96 tonnes of waste reduced means fewer collections, transportation, and treatment emissions. We are very happy with the results, and are now looking at other sites that would benefit from a food digester”
Duncan Rutter
Sustainable Development Manager for Network Rail