Poplars Anaerobic Digestion Plant

Summary of Key Facts – Poplars Anaerobic Digestion Plant

The biggest anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in the UK is located in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire; it was completed in 2011 by the waste management company Biffa. The plant is located at the Poplars landfill site, which is being used to produce gas from the digestion of waste food.

The plant cost £24m to build and it is the first super anaerobic digestion plant in the UK and a strategically important step for Biffa to process waste management of food and exploit economies of scale. The plant is able to process 120,000 tonnes of commercial / industrial food and organic waste from nearby companies such as Sainsbury’s and Bakkavor.

Due to the plant being located near the landfill site, Biffa can use the existing waste management infrastructure to exploit efficiencies, such as a ready supply of suitable feedstock to allow them to produce large volumes of gas, which can be combusted to produce electricity. The total operating capacity of the plant is 6MW, which is equivalent to supplying 10,000 homes with power.

In terms of the process, waste is pumped into one of the five digester tanks, which is then heated to 70oc, allowing the AD process to work and produce the methane gas. The plant uses CHP boilers which produce both heat and electricity. About 15% of the electricity is used by the plant, but the rest is sold back to the Grid. The heat generated on the other hand is reused in the plant.

Environmental Impact Assessment of the Poplars Anaerobic Digestion Plant

This project aligns to the Government’s strategy of recycling waste to be used to produce renewable energy. One of the by-products of the digestion process is high quality soil, which can then be sold onto farms and local gardening centres in the West Midlands.

In addition, the Poplars AD plant further demonstrates its environmental credentials by helping the local community manage waste by: recycling food waste from supermarkets; digesting food and drink from manufacturers; taking waste from hotels, restaurants, caterers and homes, which is then delivered to the site from Biffa’s collection network.

Business Partners building Poplars Anaerobic Digestion Plant

Biffa had two major business partners during the building phase to complete the project by spring 2011, these were the civil engineering company GTM and anaerobic digestion technology company Ros Roca Envirotec.