Case study 2 February 2020

Network Rail: turning food waste into valuable bio mass

The challenge

Network Rail own, operate and develop Britain’s railway infrastructure: 20,000 miles of track, 30,000 bridges, tunnels & viaducts and thousands of signals & level crossing. They also manage 20 of the UK’s largest train stations.

Their head office, The Quadrant in Milton Keynes, has a range of on-site restaurants catering for around 2,700 employees every day. The cumulative effect of such a high volume catering operation was a large amount of food waste.

In fact, the company had to pay for 120 tonnes of food waste to be collected each year – acknowledging that this was inefficient from both an environmental and financial perspective, they were determined to do something about it.


Working in partnership with Mitie, Network Rail have installed a food waste digester at the site. It uses a unique blend of microbes to convert food waste into valuable biomass in just 12 hours.


Network Rail staff have found the new process easier than the previous one, and since its installation, the digester has reduced the amount of food waste that needs to be collected by 80% – a massive 96 tonnes per year.

This means the number of food bins collected per week has gone down from 15 to three, which has both reduced the company’s carbon footprint and saved them money.

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