Sainsbury's food waste recycling
A West Midlands Sainsbury's store has become the first retail outlet in the UK to come off the National Grid.Greg Gavedon Flickr/CC

A Sainsbury's supermarket has come off the national grid and will instead be powered by energy generated through anaerobic digestion from its own food waste.

Sainsbury's announced today that it has worked with waste recycling company Biffa to supply a recycling plant in Cannock with waste from its supermarkets around the UK.

The food waste is then converted into bio-methane gas to generate electricity, which is used to power a nearby store through a newly constructed electricity cable.

It makes the West Midlands store the first retail outlet in the UK to remove itself from the national grid.

"Sainsbury's sends absolutely no waste to landfill and we're always looking for new ways to re-use and recycle," said Paul Crewe, head of sustainability at Sainsbury's.

"We're delighted to be the first business ever to make use of this linkup technology, allowing our Cannock store to be powered entirely by our food waste."

A 'more sustainable future'

The supermarket chain already generates enough electricity to power 2,500 homes, making it the largest retail user of this method of power generation.

Sainsbury's claims that the initiative makes both environmental and financial sense, as sending food waste to landfill can be costly.

It is hoped that other retailers will join Sainsbury's in converting food waste into energy. Richard Swannell, a director at the recycling organisation Wrap, says that there are already 60 anaerobic digestion plants recycling food waste in the UK.

"[The recycling plants] can process up to 2.5 million tonnes of food waste per year and generate enough renewable electricity to power a city three times the size of Cannock," he said.

"So when you recycle your food waste at home, at school or at work, it is being put to great use delivering a more sustainable future for us all."