Using a bio-digester, the plant will derive energy from waste products including milk, cream, proteins, syrups and pieces of fruit.
Now, there’s another reason to scream for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream: one of the company’s plants in Holland will soon supplement a significant portion of its energy needs with power generated from wastewater and other organic by-products of the ice cream making process.
Unilever, the global corporation that owns the Ben & Jerry’s brand, recently announced that it has started the construction of a Paques bio-digester at its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory in Hellendoorn, the Netherlands. Unilever opted for a new type of bio-digester, the BIOPAQ AFR (Anaerobic Flotation Reactor), in which 24 quadrillion – or 24,000,000,000,000,000 – natural micro-organisms ‘eat’ waste products and convert them into biogas.
Unlike other older bio-digesters, the BIOPAQ AFR can handle wastewater streams that contain fat and oil in one compact reactor together with degradable particles. In conventional systems this is only possible by going through a number of processing stages. Construction of the bio-digester started in Autumn 2010 and should become operational by mid-2011.
Last year, Unilever announced some aggressive environmental goals in its Sustainable Living Plan, including plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, water use and waste output in half, and sustainably source 100 percent of its agricultural raw materials.
The company also plans to more than double its use of renewable energy to 40 percent of its total energy requirement by 2020, and what better way to start than by closing the loop and using energy-generating materials they have lying around the factory? It’s a safe bet that the Ben & Jerry’s bio-digester will smell better than the ones powered by poop anyway.
Article by Beth Buczynski, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.