Cleantech
Veolia Powering UK Homes with Inedible Ice Cream Waste; Chocolate Still a Favorite

Not only is chocolate ice cream one of the most popular flavors worldwide, it has now emerged as the most powerful flavor: A new partnership between the world’s third-largest ice cream manufacturer, R&R Ice Cream; resource management company, Veolia; and Iona Capital is turning inedible ice cream waste into biogas for the National Grid, with chocolate producing the most energy of any flavor.

The R&R factory based in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, is the UK’s largest producer of own label ice cream, as well as top brands such as Nestlé’s Fab, Rowntrees’ Fruit Pastille lollies, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate sticks, Oreo ice cream and Yoomoo frozen yogurt, and now what is left over from the production of these sweet treats will help power local homes. The sugary sludge consisting of sugar, fat and protein that is left behind after production line cleansing will be transformed into biomethane, which will then go to the National Grid to heat UK homes, thanks to the nearby anaerobic digestion (AD) facility funded by Iona and operated by Veolia.

Veolia says the transformation process resembles how the human body burns calories; in this case, different flavors of ice cream produce different levels of energy. As it happens, chocolate ice cream provides 10 percent more energy than vanilla, and 20 percent more energy than strawberry. The company says adding a chocolate flake to the mix could boost the energy efficiency by 20 percent (no word on how this efficiency stacks up against power generated from other foods, such as coffee grounds and rotten tomatoes).

The raw material that goes into this facility would otherwise be discarded and sent to landfill; now it is not only avoiding landfill, but the by-product produced by the AD process is a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be distributed to farms to improve crop production.

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“This summer will see the UK’s energy mix take on a new flavor and a delicious one at that,” said Estelle Brachlianoff, SEVP at Veolia UK & Ireland. “This project is a prime example of using creative thinking to turn waste into green energy. It’s innovation like this that is needed to ensure the UK meets the Government’s 2020 targets, and something we’re hoping to build on.”

The Leeming facility, one of the largest gas-to-grid energy plants in the UK, is now fully functional, and will contribute to the Government’s target for 20 percent of the UK’s energy generation to come from clean energy by 2020 – targets that hopefully remain in place under new Prime Minister, Theresa May.

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