A power plant in Cheshire has begun generating electricity from unsold sandwiches, pizzas, and quiches that would previously have been sent to rot in landfill.

Food waste recycler PDM Group said it had adapted the power plant in Widnes to take all kinds of food waste after running it successfully on meat waste.

PDM collects unsold food nationally from supermarket chains, including Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and M&S, as well as c-stores. The food is taken to the plant where it is used to generate enough energy to power 20,000 homes.

"The process has the added benefit of being able to take food in packaging, including plastic, tins, card and glass," said Philip Simpson, commercial services director for PDM Group. "It also produces more energy per tonne than alternative systems."

PDM also takes in food waste from foodservice outlets. Simpson said there was no reason why the plant could not burn some of the seven million tonnes of food waste generated annually by the public.

Government waste agency Wrap is working with 17 local authorities across England to trial new services where household food waste is collected separately and taken to anaerobic digesters or in-vessel composting sites.

But this waste could just as easily be sent to power plants, said Simpson. PDM has another waste-powered plant in east London and has secured consent for a third in the Midlands.