With environmental impact being something that all businesses have to consider carefully these days, reducing waste and reliance on non-renewable energy sources is on most companies’ agendas.

Ways to make business energy consumption more efficient are numerous and M&S really have come up with a winner in their ‘Plan A’. This sustainability initiative has seen the retailer address such social and environmental issues as energy saving, carbon emissions and waste management.

A key part of Plan A is the agreement that the high street company has reached with a waste management company to turn their food waste into electricity. Under the contract, Shanks Group will use its anaerobic digestion plant (AD) to convert M&S’s food waste into biogas, which is then burned to generate renewable electricity.

When we throw food away, we are essentially throwing away energy, but with the use of AD technology we no longer have to eat our leftover takeaways in order to make use of the energy stored inside it. And since we currently dump around 6.7 million tons of food into landfills each year, th e’s a lot of energy that can be made use of.

However, the UK is really lagging behind internationally in its use of AD technology. Entire villages in India and Thailand are now being powered solely from AD-produced electricity, and countries such as Denmark have a large number of farm co-operative AD plants that are providing cheap and clean electricity and heating to local villages.

AD has the potential to provide over 2% of the UK’s electricity, significantly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and the dangerous carbon emissions they create. With AD, today’s leftovers could be used to heat tomorrow’s dinner.

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