Netherlands: Unilever unveils waste-to-energy system for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream
Unilever has unveiled a new initiative designed to reduce waste and generate sustainable power at its Ben & Jerry’s ice cream plant in the Netherlands.
The result of two years of testing and trial runs, the company’s newly-developed machinery is claimed to take waste products from the ice cream manufacture process and convert these into energy.
The BIOPAQ®AFR Biodigester – dubbed ‘The Chunkinator’ – is an anaerobic flotation reactor taking waste products including wasted milk, cream, syrups and pieces of fruit from the production process. 24 billion natural micro-organisms are said to break down the particles, turning them into biogas which is then used for the factory’s GreEnergy project, which acts like a battery by insulating water at the correct temperatures for ice cream creation, according to Unilever.
Arjan Vloon, Head Engineer, commented: “By its very nature, manufacturing produces waste. Our goal is to reduce waste first and then ask ourselves how best to use the waste we do produce in a productive manner. The biodigester gives Ben & Jerry’s the opportunity to take what had been a waste product and turn it into a benefit for our business – producing our own energy”.