There's Basically a Giant Stomach in Oxford Digesting Your Uneaten Food

By Holly Brockwell on at

OK firstly, if you're eating, you might want to save this article for later.

Finished? Good. That food you've just eaten might well have been fertilised using manky old scraps digested by, effectively, a large-scale replica of your belly.

A new video from the BBC shows how Oxfordshire councils turn waste food thrown away by their residents into fertiliser and electricity.

Severn Trent Green Power owns 8 of these giant tummies, which work like this:

  • Food is mashed up by a machine (because you didn't chew it properly)
  • Stuff that isn't food gets removed
  • The resulting gunge is mixed with waste liquid
  • It's all pasteurised at 70 degrees for an hour
  • Huge stomach-like buildings digest the gunge for three months
  • The resulting gas is burnt to make electricity
  • The leftover solid-ish sludge is taken to farms to fertilise new food.

Grim, but amazing.

50,000 tonnes of waste food (enough to fill 300 really disgusting Olympic swimming pools) arrives at these plants every year. "Nothing is wasted once it comes here," comments the brilliantly-named Debs Barnacle of Severn Trent Green Power.

Severn Trent say they generate 58 MW of green electricity this way every year – that's enough to power 115,000 homes. The fertiliser, grossly known as Digestate, is apparently "extremely high quality and much sought after by farmers to help them reduce cost, improve sustainability and increase their crop growth yields."

We're glad this is happening, but honestly, we don't want to hear about it ever again. [BBC]