ARE to manage Edinburgh and Midlothian food waste

A joint venture set up between Kelda Water Services and Scottish Water Horizons, Alauna Renewable Energy (ARE), has been awarded a new contract with the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian councils to ‘design, finance, construct and operate’ a facility to process and recycle local food waste.

ARE was selected as preferred bidder by the two councils in October 2012 and has now signed a 20-year food waste contract which includes plans to build and operate a 30,000 tonne anaerobic digestion (AD) facility at the former rail marshalling yards near Millerhill in Midlothian, Scotland.

Food waste collected from the City of Edinburgh and Midlothian Councils will be treated in a composting process at the plant to produce biogas, used to generate power, and ‘a soil conditioner and fertiliser high in valuable nutrients, particularly nitrogen’, which will be available for use by local farmers.

Electricity produced by the plant will be used to power water and drainage services provided by partner company, Scottish Water Horizons (SWH).

SWH’s existing AD plant at Deerdykes near Cumbernauld currently processes Edinburgh’s food waste and will reportedly be used ‘to provide back-up to ensure the councils have complete continuity of service’.

Construction on ARE’s plant is expected to begin in 2014, with site becoming fully operational the following year. According to ARE, the plant will create 50 jobs during the construction process, with nine full time jobs becoming available once the facility opens.

The contract forms part of the two joint procurement exercises (for food waste and residual waste) under the ‘Zero Waste: Edinburgh and Midlothian’ initiative which looks to increase recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill to bring the council’s in line with national targets set out in the Scottish Government's new Waste Regulations.

‘Central role’ in decreasing landfill

Speaking of the project, Environment Vice Convener at the City of Edinburgh Council, Jim Orr said: "This facility will play a central role in our ongoing plans to reduce landfill disposal and increase recycling. A staggering one third of the rubbish in our bins at home is made up of food waste, and the introduction of food waste recycling in Edinburgh last year has already led to a drop in the amount of waste being buried in the ground. I look forward to working in partnership with ARE and Midlothian council on this exciting project."

Peter Sharpe, Managing Director of ARE, mirrored Orr’s sentiments, saying: "We are delighted to have been appointed to deliver such an innovative project that will make a significant contribution to the sustainability of the local communities and environment. We’ve been working hard with the councils to finalise the contract details and we are pleased that these are now all agreed and we can look forward to helping realise their aspirations."

The councils are in the process of procuring a residual waste treatment contract and state that ‘initial dialogue with four remaining bidders is nearing conclusion’. An invitation to submit detailed tenders is expected to be issued to the bidders [FCC Medio Ambiente S.A., Urbaser, Veolia ES Aurora Ltd and Viridor Waste Management Services Ltd] later this year.