The food we toss in the trash can do more than littler a landfill. Food waste can be turned into biogas, which can power everything from electricity to 18-wheeler delivery trucks, as one United Kingdom grocery store chain has recently shown.
Grocer Waitrose has rolled out a line of 10 lorries that run exclusively on renewable biomethane gas, created from the by-product of rotting vegetables and other food waste. It's the first retailer in Europe to use the technology, according to The Times.
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In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are at hundreds of operations using biomethane gas to power electricity in landfills and farms across the country, but few use the renewable gas to fuel vehicles and other transportation.
Waitrose says the trucks can run up to 500 miles without needing a refill of the gas, provided by CNG Fuels, which is about double the mileage of other renewable fuels. It's also cheaper to fill up these trucks: The gas costs 35 percent less than diesel, and that could save Waitrose about $25,000 a year in fuel costs—so it's no wonder other companies across the country are lining up to use the renewable fuel.
As a bonus, using biomethane gas cuts carbon emissions by up to 70 percent. That's a real appeal for a company that's been rolling out eco-friendly initiatives for years. Last year, Waitrose introduced new packaging for its pastas made from green peas and red lentils. And since 2012, Waitrose has committed to giving any unsold food—that is not fit to be donated—to companies that create electricity through anaerobic digestion, according to the grocer's website.
While Waitrose may be paving the way for biomethane gas to be used in vehicles, other companies around the world have long been coming up with creative ways to fuel cars. In New Zealand, for example, a brewery in 2015 rolled out "brewtroleum," a fuel made from beer by-product. And Scottish company Celtic Renewables has made strides in recent years to make biofuel from whiskey fermentation by-product.