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Press release

The development of biomethane opens the way for mutually beneficial collaboration between the food industry and companies in the energy sector

16 de February de 2024
  • Anaerobic digestion to obtain biogas stands out as a way to obtain energy, decarbonise the economy and offer a sustainable valorisation of food industry waste.
  • Biomethane is an immediate option for decarbonising the food industry and providing a sustainable outlet for its waste, through its recovery.

Valencia, 15 February 2024. The associations representing food and energy companies in Valencia, FEDACOVA and AVAESEN, together with The Green Vector, a platform promoting biomethane plants promoted by Enagás Renovable and Genia Bioenergy, organised a conference attended by entrepreneurs from both sectors to discuss the opportunities for the food industry in the recovery of its waste, and to promote mutual collaboration. In addition, the conference was supported by the Valencian Administration through the presence of the Regional Secretary for Industry, Trade and Consumer Affairs, Felipe Carrasco.

The Deputy Director of FEDACOVA, Juan José Rico, stated that “the industry has been working for some time to recover its waste to try to obtain new compounds, fibres, sugars and other components”, while Pedro Fresco, Director of AVAESEN, stressed the importance of reaching a commitment with society and the business sector to commit to decarbonisation and energy independence.

Felipe Carrasco, Regional Secretary for Industry, Trade and Consumer Affairs, explained that for the Generalitat Valenciana, energy is a strategic vector, especially within the framework of the Reindustrialisation Plan that is being prepared, as well as its interest in decarbonising the economy and promoting renewable energies.  At the same time, he highlighted the Valencian food industry’s leadership in terms of both industrial GDP and employment, and also emphasised its intensive need for energy. Crossing both interests, he announced that the Regional Ministry is already working to resume the biogas strategy, which combines the advantages of increasing energy independence, decarbonising the economy and providing a solution to food industry waste, so that the projects can become a reality as soon as possible.

José Vicente Castell, head of CSR at Vicky Foods, exemplified in his own company how the recovery of waste, to which they have been devoting their attention for some time, has managed to give the more than 4,000 tonnes of waste produced each year – such as cardboard, plastic, wood and used oils – a second life in 99% of cases. Castell explained that the agri-food industry must understand waste as a resource that, if properly managed, can bring a positive balance to the results of companies and contribute to improving their competitiveness.

Along these lines, he advanced the medium-term intention of Vicky Foods to valorise organic waste, which is now destined for composting, through a model of biogas production by anaerobic digestion, as it will increase the value that can be obtained from them and further reduce the carbon footprint of Vicky Foods, generating renewable energy and organic amendments.

Antonio Illescas, business development manager at Enagás Renovable, stressed that, although Spain is among the European countries with the greatest potential for biomethane production, the country only has around ten plants in operation compared to the more than 1,300 operating in Europe.  Moreover, Illescas emphasised that the development of biomethane offers an immediate solution to contribute to the decarbonisation of all sectors – industrial, transport and domestic – and it is necessary to take advantage of its benefits throughout the value chain.

Gabriel Butler, CEO of the Valencian energy engineering company Genia Bioenergy, recalled that the modern biomethane plants being developed are not waste storage centres, but a state-of-the-art industry that transforms waste into energy and other products for agricultural applications with zero waste, in sealed circuits and through the natural action of bacteria that degrade the by-products and generate renewable gas.

He recalled that the food industry obtains a double benefit from this technology, since as a producer of waste it obtains a sustainable alternative for recovery that meets and exceeds EU requirements in this respect and, on the other hand, as an intensive energy consumer, it benefits from obtaining renewable and local energy that helps it to decarbonise its processes.

For José Güaita, director of the environmental consultancy Heura Gestió Ambiental, all agri-food companies should explore the possibility of managing their waste by anaerobic digestion, as it facilitates the logistics of the by-products and allows them to know exactly the traceability of what was their waste and has become new products, something that, he says, EU regulations will soon require, especially for industries that transform, process and elaborate foodstuffs.

Finally, a reflection was made on the social protest movements that have occurred in some localised areas. The companies in the energy sector expressed their commitment to transparency, and pledged to respond to any concerns in this regard on the part of the municipalities in which they intend to carry out the projects, in order to show them that designs are applied that eliminate odours and avoid any nuisance to the population. On the other hand, they highlighted the advantages that these projects bring to the areas where they are implemented, usually rural areas, in the form of investments, contribution to the municipal coffers through taxes, generation of employment, reactivation of the local economic ecosystem, sustainable solution in accordance with EU regulations for the management of waste from livestock farmers, food industries and city councils, and availability of organic amendments and quality biofertilisers for local agriculture.

As Vicky Foods’ CSR manager stated, waste recovery is an ethically unavoidable and economically profitable task, which generates value for companies and at the same time contributes to reducing their impact on the environment.