Background

The MoD’s Defence Food Service School’s £21.9 million move to refitted premises at Worthy Down, near Winchester, has led to a pioneering kitchen food waste recycling installation, believed to be the largest of its type in the world.

IMC’s multi-award winning recycling solution has been adopted by the School to enable all food waste generated from its kitchens to be cost-effectively converted into high quality compost for use on the grounds’ green and planted areas. Ultimately, this may lead to the School becoming fully sustainable by using the compost to grow its own produce.

The Challenge

The School, which relocated from Aldershot early in 2009, operates 12 highly specified kitchen classrooms and two realistic working environment kitchens that have been designed to provide the best facilities for training personnel who deliver catering support to troops on operations, in the field and in barracks. Around 140 students use the kitchens, each typically preparing 3 three course meals every day. As this forms part of their tuition, the meals can not be served for human consumption. Around 1.5 tonnes of food waste are generated every day thereby posing a massive disposal problem.

IMC’s recycling solution is already bringing about significant environmental changes for organisations operating in both the public and private sectors

The Solution

In an environment in which only the highest standards are acceptable, the MoD’s Defence Estates Operations was keen to address the disposal of its kitchen food waste in the most efficient and ecologically friendly manner possible. To find the best solution, Defence Estates conducted extensive research into market-leading methods. IMC’s food waste recycling solution was selected as the preferred solution.

Major James Marshall, Chief of Staff, reviewed the research into available solutions and assessed how they would satisfy all the MoD’s rigorous operational demands. He said: “IMC’s food waste recycling system is already proven in a number of tough surroundings including Prisons and entertainment complexes such as The O2. After a live product demonstration and reference calls we were absolutely convinced of its ability to integrate smoothly with our operations as well as enable us to divert our not inconsiderable volume of food waste from landfill and recycle it into a valuable resource.”

Starting with a virtually blank canvas at the building development stage, IMC was able to design the new food waste recycling facility to meet the exact criteria of the School and to integrate with the site layout. The process is designed so that the 1500 litres of food waste generated every day is collected from the school’s kitchens and taken to a central point where two back-toback waste processing stations, each with its own sorting table, macerator and “WastePro” dewaterer, perform the initial processes. The dewatered food is then fed into two in-vessel composters sited at the end of the Processing Stations.

IMC’s revolutionary food waste recycling solution is the result of extensive research undertaken on behalf of IMC by Imperial College, London. It uses an IMC Food Waste Disposer to first macerate the food waste before extracting the solid fraction from the macerated waste by means of an IMC “WastePro” Dewaterer. The resultant dewatered waste is then mixed with a small quantity of compressed sawdust pellets and loaded into an In Vessel Composter from which it emerges six to seven weeks later as high quality compost that conforms with the Standards for Composted Materials BSI PAS100.

The composting process complies with Animal By Products Regulations and can therefore be used for all food waste including meat and fish, which would otherwise have to be disposed of typically to landfill or incineration.

The Results

The environmental, social and cost benefits of IMC’s system are already being realised daily. Major James Marshall confirms: “We are producing from the kitchen food waste three 70 litre bags of high quality compost every week at zero cost, which we can use on the gardens and grounds. More importantly, we have also addressed our environmental responsibilities for recycling and the entire investment has proved cost effective with a calculated saving of £50,000 a year on food waste disposal costs.”

By adopting this solution, the MoD’s not only demonstrates their ethical approach and commitment to improving their green credentials but satisfies the Government’s objective of recycling organic waste streams. By removing the need for, and costs involved in, having the waste collected from site, the equipment will pay for itself in just 2 years. And, of course, by separating the food waste at source, other materials such as tin, paper and cardboard are now no longer contaminated by the food waste and can themselves be recycled.

“By going down the route of a self-contained, pre-fitted building we were able to avoid any structural changes and modifications to the College and significantly reduce the installation time.”

Award Winning

IMC has received industry recognition for its food waste recycling solutions by winning the Caterer Group’s “Green” Excellence Award and the Association For Organics Recycling “Research & Development” Award. In making their award, the AFOR judges concluded that “the quality and extent of IMC’s research programme to generate new products will significantly benefit the sustainable waste management industry.”

IMC’s recycling solution is already bringing about significant environmental changes for organisations operating in both the public and private sectors, and has become the benchmark for ‘food waste’ to ‘compost’. Systems have been adopted by numerous establishments including high profile facilities such as The O2 and the UK’s first carbon neutral ‘eco hotel’, as well as schools, universities, hospitals and over 40 prisons throughout the UK.