Waste from ice cream plant used to power UK homes

By Jim Cornall

- Last updated on GMT

Ice-cream by-product is being turned into biogas to supply energy to power UK homes.
Ice-cream by-product is being turned into biogas to supply energy to power UK homes.

Related tags Ice cream Anaerobic digestion Milk

The world’s third largest ice cream manufacturer, R&R Ice Cream, is turning ice cream by-product into biogas for the National Grid in the UK.

It is partnering with Iona Capital and resource management company, Veolia on the project. 

The by-product, which consists of sugar, fat and protein, is left behind after production-line cleansing.

It can then be transformed into biomethane, a biogas. This will then go to the National Grid to heat UK homes, thanks to the nearby Anaerobic Digestion (AD) facility funded by Iona Capital and operated by Veolia.

The R&R factory, based in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire, is the UK’s largest producer of own label ice cream as well as for brands such as Nestlé’s Fab, Rowntrees’ Fruit Pastille lollies, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk chocolate sticks, Oreo ice cream and Yoomoo frozen yogurt.

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Meeting government targets

According to Veolia, chocolate ice cream provides 10% more energy than vanilla, and 20% more energy than strawberry.

Estelle Brachlianoff, senior executive vice president, Veolia UK & Ireland, said that the project is a prime example of turning 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,”​ Brachlianoff said.

Mike Dunn, director of Iona Capital, said that green infrastructure has the Government’s backing and it is an area more and more investors are taking an interest in.

“This is especially true with local authority and public sector pension funds who want to show their members they are investing responsibly,”​ Dunn said.

Fertilizer from by-product

Also, the by-product that is leftover at the end of the AD process is a nutrient-rich fertilizer that can be distributed to farms to improve crop production.

The AD 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% of the UK’s energy generation to come from green energy by 2020.

In April, R&R Ice Cream and Nestlé announced the creation of the Froneri JV​ to combine ice cream activities as well as Nestlé’s European frozen food business (excluding pizza and retail frozen food in Italy).

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