At our facility in Son, the Netherlands, we process organic food waste that has to be taken out of the food chain, as it might otherwise pose a health risk. These residuals range from slaughterhouse flotation sludge to organic food waste, swill, outdated or otherwise redundant food and catering products, and trapped grease. The waste is collected – either by Ecoson or by third-party collectors – from slaughterhouses, foodservice companies, supermarkets and so on. At Ecoson, every ounce of it is then used to create value.
At the heart of our business is a process called bio-digestion. The digestion process produces two substances: biogas and a digestate, which is leftover after the biogas has been produced. The biogas we partly feed into our own Combined Heat and Power (CHP) units to generate renewable electricity. Some of this electricity powers our own plant and that of our sister company Rendac; the rest is fed back to the public grid and used to power local households. The remaining part of the biogas is processed in our gas upgrade facility where we use it to produce renewable gas with the same composition and properties as natural gas. This renewable gas is fed back to the public grid to provide local households with renewable gas.
The residue leftover after the digestion of organic food waste, called digestate, is dried and transferred to our sister company Rendac. There it is combined with other animal proteins that are unfit for human consumption and sold as a biofuel to power stations. This means that our core processes at Ecoson produce zero waste, while at the same we prevent residuals from ending up in places where they do not belong, such as in agriculture or animal feed.
How does Ecoson repurpose pig manure? Find out here.