A distinctive new truck is collecting food waste and creating a buzz on the streets of Bristol.
The Bio-Bee is the UK’s first vehicle to both collect and run on commercial food waste and is operated by GENeco, the renewable energy company based in Avonmouth.
With Bristol among 40 places in the UK that consistently exceeds air quality limits for nitrogen dioxide, the Bio-Bee demonstrates a real alternative to diesel RCVs and HGVs by running on clean biomethane.
It also offers a cost-effective and more sustainable way for food waste to be collected and recycled, and it follows in the footsteps of the Bio-Bus – or ‘poo bus’ – which ran on human waste and was trialled in Bristol in 2015.
Boston Tea Party and St Monica Trust care homes are among the first companies to use the service, and it is hoped the Bio-Bee will increase food waste recycling levels in the city.
Charlotte Stamper, project manager at GENeco, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer customers a UK first – collecting their food waste using a vehicle running from their food waste.
“This clean fuel helps to improve Bristol’s air quality and creates a sustainable circular economy for the client’s operations.
“Bees are renowned for the good work they do for the environment, and their daily routine involves collecting valuable natural resources and then bringing them back to a hive to make renewable and nutritious products.
“The Bio-Bee operates the same way. It runs on biomethane that has been produced by the anaerobic digestion of food waste and sewage from houses in Bristol, Bath and the surrounding area.
“In turn, its total carbon footprint is around 90% lower than a diesel equivalent and it is quieter than standard diesel models.
“The Bio-Bee is also intended to be fun and engage youngsters in the topics of food waste, recycling and air quality.”
A video about the Bio-Bee is available to view here.
Every year each person in the UK throws away enough food to power the Bio-Bee for 25 miles.
If Bristol recycled all the food waste generated by the city’s residents in a year the Bio-Bee could run every day until the year 3,000.
Food waste is collected in the Bio-Bee and brought back to GENeco’s anaerobic digestion plant in Bristol. The waste is depackaged – and plastic is removed – and is then used to produce sustainable electricity for homes and communities.
The remaining food waste undergoes a pasteurisation process before being fed into the anaerobic digesters, where micro-organisms break down the waste in the absence of oxygen and produce methane-rich biogas.
This biogas is either used to produce renewable electricity or it is converted in our gas-to-grid plant to enriched biomethane, which is injected into the gas grid. At this stage it can be used as fuel in the Bio-Bee and other vehicles or to supply local homes.
The solid by-product of the anaerobic digestion process is used as a nutrient-rich and sustainable biofertiliser for farms.
Jesse Scharf, Green Gas Certification Scheme manager at Renewable Energy Assurance, said: “GENeco is playing an important role in the growing UK biomethane industry by continuing to innovate and show that, with creative thinking, we can find solutions to the challenges we face around waste, energy, carbon and air quality.”
Shelley Wadey, finance director at Boston Tea Party, has been working with GENeco on the Bio-Bee project from the start.
She said: “Although we have been recycling our food waste from our six Bristol cafes for three years through GENeco, this is another step forward to make things better by generating a sustainable circular economy.
“Through this partnership we hope to inspire other food operators to follow our lead, demonstrating it is possible to be greener and reduce the amount of waste going to landfill.”