Green Energy: Turning Chocolate Ice Cream Into Green Energy
Wouldn’t it be incredible if we lived in a world where anything could be turned into green energy? Instead of relying on fossil fuel-generated energy, think how many problems we could solve by using the leftovers of simple household items to produce energy.
This far-fetched sounding scenario is closer to being a reality than we think, but some schemes for reusing waste for green energy may have negative consequences for the environment. In 2012 the UK paid to send 45,000 tons of household waste from Bristol and Leeds to Norway, where it was burnt in large incinerators in order to generate energy. But just how environmentally friendly is such a scheme, really? Not very, says Julian Kirby, of Friends of the Earth.
Burning waste can have drastic effects on the environment and on the recycling process. “80% of what’s in the average waste stream is easily recyclable.” he says. “If you think your waste being burned is a good thing then you are more inclined to just chuck things away rather than recycling them.”
It´s a good thing there are companies taking a more conscious approach to finding ways of disposing waste. For example, one company in the UK has found a means to produce green energy from a much-loved and very delicious source…chocolate ice cream!
Well, not exactly straight-up chocolate ice-cream, but rather the waste products that result from the production of this beloved dessert. This year the world’s third largest ice cream manufacturer, R&R Ice Cream, teamed up with resource management company, Veolia, to create a scheme in which inedible ice cream waste is converted into biogas for the UK National Grid. Incredible, isn’t it – ice cream, of all things.
The R&R factory in North Yorkshire, which produces among other things, Nestle´s Fab and Oreo ice creams, is the first to participate in the scheme that uses the leftovers of ice cream production. The sugary sludge of sugar, fat and protein is transformed into biomethane, a biogas, then sent to heat UK homes via a specifically set-up local Anaerobic Digestion facility.
But is this scheme really green energy? The leftover raw material would otherwise be thrown away and buried in a landfill. Whereas with this initiative it not only provides energy, but also, at the end of the AD process, the remains can be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer and distributed for improved crop production.
But why chocolate, specifically, you may ask. It does seem sort of weird that the most popular flavor would also be the best fuel. The transformation process resembles the human body burning calories, and like our bodies, different flavors of ice cream amount to different levels of green energy. As it turns out, chocolate ice cream provides 10% more energy than vanilla, and 20% more energy than strawberry.
With so many advantages, it won’t be long before ice cream energy catches on. And what’s best is that perhaps one day you can enjoy a bowl of your favorite flavor and congratulate yourself on helping to save the world!
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