How we recover our food waste
"Food waste generated from the preparation of our dishes in the kitchen or from our guests’ leftovers is bio-waste which can easily be recovered", explained Antoine Bregou, national procurement manager at Elior. This is the case everywhere in France, where Elior’s kitchen teams sort fruit and vegetable peelings, as well as leftover meat and bread. “The volume of sorted bio-waste is estimated at 1,400 tons per year,” he added. This waste is then collected and sent to sorting centers a few kilometers from the kitchens and school canteens. Once collected, they are recovered in one of three different ways.
The first way to recover this bio-waste is by transforming it into biogas, which is notably carried out by the company Moulinot. "Our teams collect and sort 1,500 kg of food waste per month," stressed Caroline Hamel, communications manager at Moulinot. Some of this is reduced into liquid waste which is then given to partner and local farmers for methanization (77). During the methanization process, this organic liquid waste is placed into sealed tanks, without any contact with the outside air.
These tanks, or digesters as they are called, perform the same function as the stomach of a cow. They produce biogas, which is transformed into town gas or fuel. "In this way, we connect the urban and the rural, without sourcing gas from the other side of the world", added Caroline.
This waste can also be recovered as electricity. "Via micro-methanization, organic matter decomposes and releases biogas, which is then used to produce heat and electricity," commented Cécile Piquemal-Thibault, Biowaste and Methanization Manager at Sepur. In the Yvelines, this company transforms 1,000 tons of bio-waste into green electricity per year.
Our farmers prefer compost that is derived from food waste because it is richer and nutritious for their fields.
The third and last recovery solution is compost. “At Sepur, we also let some of the bio-waste ferment on our composting platform,” explained Cécile. “For 12 weeks, this bio-waste is mixed with green waste and allowed to decompose naturally”. This compost is then used by local farmers to nourish their soil. "Our farmers prefer compost that is derived from food waste because it is richer and nutritious for their fields.” At Moulinot, some of the waste collected is also composted and bagged for individual and professional use. This longer process cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution. This is why it is combined with the methanization process.