Waste used as biogas for carpet production

by Tania Wannenburg
KBAC fish waste Jnl 7 15

Taking an innovative approach by creating biogas produced from fish, chocolate and other food waste.

Biogas produced from anaerobic digestion of fish, chocolate and other food waste is partly what drives Interface’s main modular flooring production plant in Europe.

The company’s flooring is used throughout South Africa in upmarket interior design specifications, particularly those seeking maximum sustainability attributes. Interface products are solely distributed in South Africa by Kevin Bates Albert Carpets (KBAC) which has operations in both Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The anaerobic digestion which produces the biogas consists of a series of biological processes in which micro-organisms break down biodegradable material in an oxygen-free environment. According to Neil Duncan, Chief Financial Officer of KBAC, using biogas as a component of the renewable energy used for carpet production forms part of Interface’s quest towards ‘Mission Zero’, a campaign to achieve a zero environmental footprint and become the world’s first sustainable, restorative carpet manufacturer by 2020.

“The decision to now add biogas to the green power at Interface’s main European production plant at Scherpenzeel in the Netherlands brings the company closer to its Mission Zero 2020 target,” states Neil. “Through the use of biogas – derived from fish and other food waste, including chocolate waste – the Scherpenzeel plant is now almost carbon dioxide-neutral,” says Neil. “Waste is employed in an innovative way that benefits both business and the environment.”

The supplier of Interface’s biogas, Eneco, sources the gas from a Dutch fish processing plant that constantly generates massive stocks of fish waste because the edible portion of fish can be very low, particularly in some species such as catfish (only 35% edible) and herring (53%). The processing plant also obtains other food waste, including rejected chocolate (which is sourced from local bakeries and other chocolate outlets), to add to its biogas ‘recipe’. Once the biogas has been compressed, dehydrated, filtered and odorised, it is transmitted via a gas grid to the Interface plant.

“All bio-degradable production residues can theoretically be converted into biogas and there are now an increasing number of initiatives in this regard worldwide with major factories investing in the salvaging of fish, chocolate, confectionery, and other ‘green waste’ – even from whisky distilleries – from the sewer to generate energy,” Neil concludes.

For more information visit www.kbacflooring.co.za

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