Warrens Emerald Biogas launches food waste safety campaign

Warrens Emerald Biogas has launched a new safety campaign to highlight key workers and their efforts to tackle food waste during the pandemic.

The campaign, which follows a huge increase in the amount of food waste being processed at the firm’s biogas facilities, features safety tips and resources to help people and their working environments stay safe and healthy.

According to Warrens Emerald Biogas, in recent weeks, food waste has become “public enemy number one”; the firm believes it is down to stockpiling during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, those working at biogas facilities have been tackling “a mountain” of food waste every day.

“At Warrens’ anaerobic digestion plant, we have already recycled more than 22,000 tonnes of food waste in the first quarter of this year,” said Jamie Burns, HSEQ manager at the Newton Aycliffe plant in County Durham, UK. “On a daily basis, this includes recycling food waste from local authorities, schools and business and converting it into green energy.

“The coronavirus outbreak has highlighted the importance of keeping everyone safe and our keyworkers have shown an incredible response during the pandemic. Their outstanding effort to keep our essential services running deserves to be celebrated.

“Our new campaign shines a light on the jobs our key workers do for everyone’s safety and highlights their dedication and commitment during this difficult time.”

According to Burns, workers are not only under pressure to tackle the increasing amount of food waste, but also deal with the associated health and safety hazards. He added: “Like many other sites, the number one hazard on our site is workplace transport, especially with the large waste vehicles we receive, but there are many other unseen dangers for our key workers too.”

Among the risks faced by workers at biogas facilities, Burns highlighted that biogas is primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide, with lesser amounts of hydrogen sulphide, ammonia and other gases, which all have associated safety risks. Food waste that is delivered to the site can also contain “all sorts of horrible pathogens”, said Burns, such as e. Coli and salmonella, which is controlled through pasteurisation.

“Good hygiene has always been paramount on the site and in the food waste industry in general,” said Burns, “but the spread of coronavirus has now given the team something else to keep in mind.”

Warrens Emerald Biogas has taken multiple steps to ensure the safety of its staff during the pandemic, including weekly safety engagement meetings, internal reporting systems, social distancing measures and alternate shifts.

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