food waste

Tesco has slashed the cost of generating energy from surplus food with the rollout of new in-store loading technology.

Engineering company Whitham Mills has designed a bespoke system that will tackle the job of loading food waste in 10 stores without staff having to manually empty cages.

Material can now be transported in plastic-lined roll cages before being bulked centrally at Tesco’s Recycling Service Units, loaded into walking-floor trailers and sent for processing by contractor DS Smith via anaerobic digestion.

Whitham Mills’ system has reduced the time spent by operators in emptying the cages from six minutes to around 70 seconds in the two years it has been trialled.

Tesco says the system is also safer to operate. The process works by placing the cage, which can weigh up to 350kg, into the housing with its door fully open. Once a safety guard is in place, the cage is lifted and tipped in two stages to ensure the material is deposited on to a conveyor.

The contract with Whitham Mills includes 18 patented roll cage tippers, two 4m-high patented roll cage tippers, nine heavy duty conveyors and 11 patented compactor bin/roll cage tippers. Tipping units have been installed at Widnes, Doncaster, Livingstone, Avonmouth, Southampton, Didcot, Dagenham, Snodland, Peterborough and Hinckley.

“We wanted to include this waste stream into our backhaul function and use it to generate green energy,” said John Masters, procurement manager for waste and recycling at Tesco.

“With the introduction of a plastic liner, the four-side roll cages were the perfect instrument to allow segregation and removal of the 700+ compactors at stores, and consolidate the waste at our Recycling Service Units.”